Well, I thoroughly enjoyed my first Mardi Gras. After taking in the Zulu parade yesterday morning—which there are plenty of photos/video of—I took a short nap, then headed down to the Quarter. Even at one in the afternoon, it was madness. I spent a little more time sitting up on the levy, watching the boats (partially b/c it’s one of the few spots in the Quarter where you can sit down for free). After that, I wandered around a bit. I did manage to find a little bar just off Jackson Square where I had a quiet beer. Since my only food had been a piece of King Cake at 8 a.m., I figured I should get something to eat; chicken and sausage gumbo, to be precise. Then a cup of coffee at Cafe Du Monde. Just the right base layer to fulfill that appetite whetted by my first beer of the day. (Yes, I know…it’s true! I held off until almost 5 p.m. on MARDI GRAS.) Then the craziness of Bourbon Street, a few drinks at the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel, and back to Patty’s to crash.
That’s just the bare bones, outline, really…
But I’m a little worn-out and need another day to reflect.
Nevertheless, I will say that today was very much about learning how to do this walking thing. Here are my insights:
*No matter how symbolic it feels, deciding to go on a REALLY long walk the day after Mardi Gras is not especially wise.
*About 3-4 miles of walking with a 50 lb. pack on your back will work the poison right out of you. In my case, that was the end of St. Charles Avenue.
*Rain and terrain can seriously effect your foot speed. The rain was a pain, but my set-up kept me relatively dry. As for terrain, this is obvious enough, but I hit all different types today: sidewalks, gravel along railroad tracks, the sides of highways, and—best of all—a hike/bike path, which you can see a photo of below.
*I still don’t have the various straps set up quite right on the backpack. The belt is fitting fine, but the pack is pulling too hard at the shoulders. This partially explains why I stopped after 10 miles today. Okay, that and last night’s festivities.
*I’m gonna have to think hard about finding places to stay, esp. right now. I’m trying to avoid busy highways, for obvious reasons. But that’s where motels are. I’m also passing through a heavily industrial part of Louisiana right now, so private residences/churches where I might set up my tent aren’t easy to come by. Basically…the choice is between the more dangerous route a/o walking out-of-the-way to a motel, or chancing watchmen and levee police. Since I’m writing this via a Wi-Fi connection, you can guess my choice today, on the first day of walking.
Anyhow, time to get some rest. The second day of anything physically taxing is always harder, since your body still isn’t used to the labor but you don’t have quite the same adrenaline-excitement level. Nevertheless, a good start….