Cruisin' with Antsy and the Troubs to Cozumel

by David "Sumoflam" Kravetz

Feb. 12, 2008: I left Woodstock, Ontario today in the midst of a horrendously cold blizzard.  The temperature was -10 C (14 F) with a windchill of over -30 C (-22 F).  The drive from Detroit to Dayton was the most treacherous.  I counted 30 different accidents on that stretch of I-75 and counted myself lucky to have gotten home to Lexington safely.  The following photos are what my van looked like after the snow overnight.  What is not seen is the nearly 1/2 inch of ice that was coating the car underneath all of the snow.  The folks in Ontario leave their windshields up so that they will not be frozen to the windshield with all of the ice.

 

The drive to Windsor from Woodstock was not too bad.  It was icy and cold, but the roads seemed fairly clear.  I took the Ambassador Bridge into Detroit, which was a first for me.  When I came into Canada originally, I went through the tunnel from Detroit to Windsor.  But, the road from Detroit turned into an ice skating rink.  There were traffic accidents and delays all the way to Dayton.  It was a real mess.  I was so glad to finally get out of all of that by the time I got to Cincinnati.  I pulled into home fairly late, but was relieved and it was so nice to be in my own bed.

Feb. 13, 2008: Julianne and I got off on the road at around 8 AM to head for New Orleans where we would catch the cruise.  The weather was again a bit snowy.  We drove to Bardstown and it was snowing fairly heavily. However, by the time we got closer to Bowling Green on I-65, the weather was clearing up a bit.  We stopped over n Nashville to get a couple of things from Antsy McClain to take down to New Orleans with us so he wouldn't have to drag them on the plane.

As we entered Alabama, we stopped at the Ardmore Welcome Center.  I have always wanted to get a photo of the rocket that is on display, so this time we did....  It is a Saturn 1B rocket and it stands 224 feet tall. More details can be seen here.

After stopping there, we drove on through Alabama and finally found a place to stop and eat.  I was kind of hoping for some BBQ since the south is known for that.  We stopped at this one place along the highway in Priceville, AL (exit 334) called the BBQ Smokehouse...a kind of Mom and Pop shop.  They served up some good BBQ sandwiches with purple coleslaw in them.  Portions were really nice too.  The tables in the store were all covered with advertisements from local businesses.  And, ironically, while we were in there, someone came through the drive thru and they were selling Girl Scout Cookies, so we got some thin mints for the trip.

 

After eating, we headed southeast for New Orleans.  By the time we got to New Orleans it was dark, so we couldn't see much. We drove around in the French Quarter trying to find our hotel, the St. Louis Hotel, but had to drive around a couple of times before we finally found the place.  The entire area, especially Bourbon St., was filled with people.  Julianne and I got settled and then I went and joined some of the band people at an Oyster Bar a block away from the hotel.  I got Julianne some red Beans and Rice and I got myself some Jambalaya.  The stuff was good.....

Feb. 14, 2008: Happy Valentine's Day....this morning we had breakfast in the hotel.  Pauly Zarb brought out his guitar and serenaded us as well as playing with his kids, who accompanied him on the trip.

 

Some shots of the St. Louis Hotel in the French Quarter of New Orleans

 

 

Pauly Zarb serenades Kathy Denis, the tour coordinator for the Polyesterfest.  Julianne listens in.

 

After breakfast, Julianne and I took a walk around the French Quarter and saw Bourbon Street as well some of the other streets and shops in the area.  New Orleans is really a party town and Bourbon Street almost reminded me of a den of iniquity, with lurid posters all over the place.  However, just a few blocks from there, there was some fabulous architecture and some interesting contrasts in buildings.

 

   

Here I am at the corner of Bourbon and Bienville.  The other two are photos of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel

 

   

Some contrasts: Old and new...and the NBA All-Star Game Advertisements were everywhere....

 

The time finally came that we drove over to the wharf to get on the ship...the Carnival "Fantasy"...  It was an interesting and colorful drive that took us along the Mississippi River.  After paying our $58 parking fee for the garage we went through the entire entrance process, dragging our baggage and Antsy's baggage along with us.  Fortunately, Kathy Denis had arranged for us to have VIP access so we were swept through pretty quickly.  Click "On the Ship" below to see more about the ship and its events.

 

On the Ship   The Band Shows  Tulum: Mayan Ruins  

 See more of Sumoflam's Trip Journals

sumoflam@sumoflam.biz