Friday, May 4, 2012

Blue Orleans - part Deux

We got up and had breakfast at the hotel. We got the buffet (which was great). Josh smartly stuck with the continental. I paid a little more (since the contintental was free) to have the full buffet. It was really good, they even would make items to order. We went to the Hickory Knoll church of Christ. As were got ready for services, imagine our surprise when a family from Josh's home congregation came in (the Neths) came in. We talked with them for a while. They had made trip as a surprise to their kids. We enjoyed our time with the congregation there. We went back to our hotel and checked out.

We decided to head down to downtown New Orleans and eat and go to the NCAAA HoopFest. Driving in downtown New Orleans was horrific. It's all one way streets and with the extra traffic, it took us a long time to finally get to the Convention Center and park. The first order of business was getting lunch. We wanted to get one of the famous Po' Boy sandwiches. In reading various reviews on the web, they all mentioned a place called the NOLA grocery. They warned it was easy to miss and somewhat of a "hole in the wall". We decided we were up for it. We finally found it. We ordered fried shrimp Po' Boys and they were fabulous. I even got in a little sports talk with the sandwich maker. We went to the Hoopfest. When we got there, the line wound all around the Convention Center. We didn't want to go that bad, so we left.

I had reserved a room in Covington for Sunday night. This required us to go over Lake Ponchatrain on the Causeway. This is the longest continuous bridge over water (close to 27 miles). The bridge had multiple turnarounds but no gas stations or rest stops. I am not sure what would happen if you run out of gas or needed to go to the restroom. We made it without incident. We checked into our hotel (the Hampton Inn) and headed for Sunday night worship. We went to the Slidel church of Christ. When we got there, there were only about 15 people there. One of the men there asked if we would want to assist with services. I ended up leading the opening prayer and Josh led singing. He thought he was only leading a couple of songs until the man doing announcements said "Josh Yancy will be leading our singing". He had to scramble to find a few more songs. He did a really good job though. After services, we talked with the people there. It turned out that they had been a congregation of over 200. Then after Katrina hit, a lot of people moved out the area. It was a sad situation but these brethren continue to work for the Lord. We went back to the hotel. I walked next door to the Piccadilly cafeteria. It was OK but not as good as usual. Josh and Curtis walked to Applebees and I picked them up later.

The next day, we decided to go play tennis. We found a city park and played. We had fun but I could tell I was really rusty. I didn't play well at all. We checked out and went back across the causeway. We stopped at a mall that was by the end of the causeway. We strolled around and ate at the food court so everybody could get what they wanted. There was a Cafe Du Monde in there as well. If you have never heard of these, they are coffee shops that serve beignets. Beignets are large puffy pastries (like doughnuts) covered in powdered sugar. I usually go to the one in downtown. However, this one was very good plus it wasn't outside and hot and humid (like the downtown one can be). After the mall, we went to the Nike Store in downtown New Orleans. I'd never been to one. Josh showed me a pair of tennis shoes that were New York Jets green. We left there for our downtown hotel. I had used Hilton points to get a room at the Homewood Suites. The cost of the room would have been 600 a night. I met a guy who stayed five nights and spent over 3k on five nights there. The hotel was very nice. The one different thing was their parking lot. It was crammed full of cars. I felt sorry for the attendant. Every time a car came in or out, he had to move cars around. It reminded me of one of those sliding number puzzles. He did his job cheerfully with a smile for everyone. The hotel had dinner and we were able to get a free dinner of chicken and shrimp gumbo. We went back to the room to rest up for the game. It started raining so we waited as long as we could but finally had to walk to the Superdome in a slight drizzle.

The atmosphere inside was electric. It was just like the 7th game of the World Series I was at. Kentucky started out well and raced to an 18 point lead and were ahead 14 at half. You knew Kansas would make a run and they did. Coach Cal let off of the gas and quit letting Kentucky run and tried to play out the clock. This strategy failed them against Vandy and almost failed them here. Kansas keep getting closer and closer. With about a minute to go Tyshawn Taylor headed to the goal for a layup on a backdoor play that would have cut the lead to four. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist swooped in blocked the shot. With about 30 seconds to go Elijah Johnson went up for a three. Anthony Davis ran out at him and came down with the ball and walked. Uk held on to win. Finally after 14 years, UK had its title. Coach Cal no longer had to hear how "he couldn't win the big one. We were ecstatic of course. We stayed for the presentation of the trophy and then left. It was raining, but we didn't care. We got back to the hotel. Josh and Curtis wanted to walk around, but I was tired. They left and I went to bed.

We got up the next morning and ate breakfast at the hotel. We got our car out of the sliding number puzzle and headed home. The trip home was uneventful. I dropped the guys off at the Memphis Airport to get their car. I got back about 8pm. It was good to get back. We had a blast and made a wonderful memory.