The plan was to get to New Orleans a day before Lee's parents arrive. And then spend an additional day, so they could adjust to the timezone and get over their 24+ hours of travel. And it was a good plan. We booked a car in advance, over a month in advance (pretty good for us to be that planned ahead - a whole month!!) and Keith had booked the hotel from Australia. So, all good.
You know how bad luck comes in 3's. Well, if you read my Las Vegas blog, you might remember our first disappointment with the rental car process there, eating into 2 hours of time I had pre-planned to take the kids out for "dinner in vegas". That was my #1 bad luck. Remembering, less that 24 hours we arrived in New Orleans - and went to pick up the rental car - receipt in hand, to be told there was none. Zero. Nada. No cars, no size. That was it. Bad Luck #2. Us and at least 15 other people stranded at the airport were not impressed. But what can you do? They told us to catch a cab to our hotel and they would reimburse us. We did. It was quite a ways to our hotel. We finally got there and got booked in.
The hotel was ... definitely a 2 star. But we were expecting that. I had tried my best to upgrade our accommodation within our budget, but our cruise was leaving the same weekend as the New Orleans Jazz festival. So, as you can imagine, accommodation was either booked out or at a premium. I had been a credit card verification number away from being got on a craigslist scam for "french quarter" accommodation. Lee had a feeling, and she rang the number, which was a Florida phone number for a guy claiming to be living in New Orleans, and it was a Western Union payment to a ladies name in NY state. Lee probably had a point, me I was just ecstatic I could get us out of 2 star blahness, but I was wrong, so so wrong. Thank goodness, Lee checked it out more thoroughly than I had been doing.
Next morning, Lee spent on the phone, trying to figure out if she made the $50 taxi ride out to the airport rental car center if she would have a car or not, combined with the complication of her parents, Hazel and Keith, arriving at 5pm that same day. We needed the minivan! Finally, she braved it and went. A couple of hours later, somehow, she managed to get a minivan (with bad brakes) back to the hotel in time to grab us, and get back to the airport to collect Haze and Keith. In the meantime, we had reserved the 2nd room, Hazel and Keith, would use at our same hotel. They wouldn't give us a key, or let us "check in" as it was in Keith's name. The best we could do, from the 2 rooms next to each other as originally stated on our booking, was get the same room number one flight down. So directly below us. Anyway, the hotel was filling up fast with the Jazz festival people arriving, so we took what we could get.
madi and denny
With 2 excited children, we waited for Hazel and Keith at the airport, their flight arrived at a different gate than on their itinerary. Nobody came from the gate that was listed on the light up board thingy either. Damn. I made Madi wait up top, near the empty gate, while i race back down the escalator trying to figure where they could be. One man came from a strange direction. I asked what flight he was on, and with luck it was Haze & Keiths. He said that it had to unload at a different gate number. I described who I was looking for, and because Keith had gone on in a wheelchair, they had to roll him off in one. The man said he had seen them going to an elevator. I raced back to Madi (do i get worse mother of the year award, first no "dinner in vegas" then leaving her as look out in the New Orleans airport.) We went downstairs, there were more people coming now, and 3 elevators but none within line of sight of the other. Once again, I posted her at one end and I hovered around the middle to watch her, and quickly dart to the other 2. Finally, seriously 10 minutes after I spoke to the man who said he had seen them entering an elevator, they came out in the one near Madi. Madi of course, fidgeting and a little worried and trying to keep me in her line of sight, didn't see them come out. Anyway, i waved at her from 200 yards away, to look behind her, but she didnt understand and started running towards me. (Note to self: must practice what hand signals mean with kids - before needing to use them) . I met her half way, and then turned her back to find Grandi and Poppy being wheeled in our general direction, I don't think they saw us before we saw them ... so all good. Bags got. Short walk outside straight into the waiting minivan. Quick reunion with 2 grandchildren and Lee. And off we were, driving through peak hour in New Orleans.
Number 3. You knew there was one coming right? We go to book Haze and Keith (Grandi and Poppy) into the hotel and they tell us there is no rooms. Yep, no rooms. Can you believe it. After a day on the phone to get the very last, and worst, minivan in the rental car lot. After coming to the office 3 times to make sure their was a room reserved. After telling them what time we would be there - and we were on time - they had given away the room. Three's. Bad luck comes in threes. I already know there is no other accommodation around, I had tried for the week before we got here. They say that Haze and Keith can get a room at their other hotel, 25 minutes away. So we stay here, and Grandi and Poppy are miles away, depending on us for transport. Hmmmm. I don't think so. We will both go. They say they only have 2 rooms left at the other hotel, and weren't exactly reassuring that they would hold them for us. I had unpacked quite well upstairs ready for our 3 day stay. Darn it. In our travels I can think of 2 other times we have had to pack up and get out quickly. Hopefully, this finished that set of 3 (years later) as well.
20 minutes later, we are packed, Gps set - grrr - gps isnt working. Poppy brought the gps, but had it upgraded to european maps just before he left. The guy promised it wouldnt affect the US maps, and he was right, it didnt. Plain as day, we could see our position. Problem was, US as a country wasn't on the "type in your address" list any more. Only European countries. So though we could see where we were, we couldnt enter in and find where we wanted to go. Luckily Lee had downloaded an offline ipad app called city maps or something like that. Like an old fashioned refedex (ie. paper map) with a zoom function - i could look up and direct us to the other hotel. We made it. We booked in. They had 2 rooms near each other (on the same level at least). They were 2 star - but hey, it was a bed. And after the last 2 days, all we wanted to do was sleep. In our typical fashion, after our set of 3's was over, Lee and I said that everyone was safe and well. And better we have such frustrations when we can at least speak the same language. Better to happen now, than in Europe.
Day 3 in New Orleans. We all woke up late. Decided we better go and look at something touristy, seeming as we were there and actually had a car and all Highlights .... The old oak trees in the park that the kids climbed for an hour. Our offline map app did an amazing job of listing tourist sights and getting us there. Last minute shoe shopping, and last minute throw outs (t-shirts, shoes). And last minute regrets that I packed too much already .... we are ready for the boat tomorrow. We get to board at 11. And we cant wait.
Just cruisin' the streets in New Orleans