Friday, June 10, 2011

NOLA Research Trip - Day 1

As GIFT OF BLOOD comes to conclusion, I find myself constantly thinking of book 2 of The Gift series. Since the beginning, the plot has been constantly unraveling in my imagination. A major focal point in the next adventure is the city of New Orleans. So, to satisfy my wanderlust and inspire my muse I recently traveled down south to research and get a better feel for the city

I come back from these trips with such great stories of my adventures and love to share. So, here it is, my first day in NOLA!

Monday 3:30 am:
We were so excited to get to New Orleans (NOLA), but when the alarm clock blared our enthusiasm was lack-luster to say the least. We grudgingly rolled out of bed, threw on some clothes, tossed our luggage in the car, and drove to airport to catch our 6am flight…we were in need of coffee big time.

9:00 am:
We had just landed in Denver for a 30-minute layover and hustled to find our gate. We were a little more refreshed and awake than earlier in the morning, but not my much. Kristina tried to board a plane heading for Reno, NV but was quickly redirected. Our departure gate was hidden just behind the big line of people who were waiting to board a plane to Reno. Back on track, Kristina settled down with the luggage, while Virginia ran to get a bottle of orange juice from an overpriced coffee stand. Our layover was so short that by the time the juice was gone we were ushered onto the next flight. Next stop, NOLA!

1:30 pm:
Our plane landed in beautiful and sultry, New Orleans. We collected our checked bags and caught a cab to our hotel, The Bourbon Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter. When we arrived, it was too early to check in, so we had our bags held at the front desk. We exchanged our shoes for sandals, and then headed out to explore. Our stomachs were starved for real meal since all we had eaten all morning was airplane cookies. The streets were almost empty as we walked around searching out food, and it was quite a challenge to find somewhere to eat on Bourbon Street in the middle of the day. There was a lot of places to quench one’s thirst, but not much in the way of actual food. Finally, we spied a quaint little restaurant tucked into the brickwork, Pat O’Briens Restaurant and Bar. An amiable hostess quickly seated us at a table outside, and we ordered our first Hurricane cocktails of the trip. Our drinks were delivered in stylish souvenir glasses, by our awesome server, Vanessa Carlson, who indecently is also an aspiring stand up comedian. We chatted for a bit and finally she caved to our charm, and sat down with us for over 20 minutes. By the end of our chat, we held a sheet of notepaper covered with suggestions for restaurants and other fun, local points of interest. Our Hurricanes turned out to be unexpectedly strong; what we thought was mostly juice was beginning to cause our fingers and toes to tingle. At that point we were relaxed, loosened up, and frankly, a little silly. Lesson learned, don’t drink a hurricane on an empty stomach; it goes straight to your head. Then it was, back to the hotel room to freshen up and change.

Our first Hurricane; yummy!
5:00 pm-ish
Due to the Hurricane at lunch, the rest of the afternoon gets a little hazy here. There were some paparazzi-like photos taken back at the hotel, jazz hands, a Facebook post malfunction, and probably more events that honestly, we just can’t really recall. We don’t remember where the time went between the hurricanes but we were on NOLA time so, who the hell cared?

Relaxing by the pool.

About an hour later we felt more like ourselves and headed back out of the hotel to explore and get a feel for the city. We walked not even a block down the street from our hotel and were impressed by the towering visage of The St. Louis Cathedral. Cameras in hand, we stopped for a few happy snaps and then carried on. We browsed along the small cobbled streets, looked in the windows of little shops and passed local artists and musicians until we came around to Jackson Square. The street performers in front of the square were AMAZING so we stopped, entranced for a few moments as we enjoyed the eclectic blend of instruments and harmony in the warm and slightly humid air.

Kristina strolling down the streets of the French Quarter

St Louis Cathedral 
After a few songs, we continued our adventure down to the waterfront of the Mississippi River. People were lining up to board a riverboat for dinner and the impressive paddle was churning the river’s muddy water while a horn blew its fury. A little further down the footpath we came upon a park with a pergola and a giant painted Louis Armstrong statue where posed for more pictures. Music notes skipped across the breeze to our ears as a young couple not far away was serenaded by an older trumpet player. The adventure made us hungry, and we were forced to search out nourishment once again. This time however, we had our faithful list courtesy of the best server in NOLA. With a local map in one hand, and the list in the other, we chose the CCL Brewery for its proximity. Seated once again outside in an ivy-covered courtyard. Virginia ordered the crab cake appetizer for her main and Kristina chose the shrimp Po’Boy.

Riverboat on the Mississippi!

Kristina with Louis Armstrong
Virginia with Louis
Some of the amazing street performers and a dancing couple

After dinner we headed back to the hotel to clean up, don our skinny jeans, and paint on our hooker-eyes for a casual night out. We weren’t sure what to expect from Bourbon St, but was ready for anything! Just outside our hotel doors the party was starting, the place was crazy, and it was only Monday night!

Note worthy observations from the non-NOLA-eonite:
• The streets were closed to cars so the drunks wouldn’t get hit and maimed
• There’s nothing but pedestrian traffic, dancing, and drinking in the streets.
• Drinking out in the streets is encouraged as long as you have a plastic cup
• Plastic cups come in many outrageous shapes and sizes and can be filled with varies liquid concoctions.
• Ghosts are cool
• EVERYONE is your best friend (among other things)!
• You can earn beads ANY time of the year, not just at Mardi Gras
• Bourbon St is one big party!

We adjusted to our climate quickly, like veterans, until Kristina saw the police. No cars allowed meant that the officers were clustered around sitting tall in their uniforms on horseback. Quicker than a blink, she ran over and asked one if she could to pet his horsey. It would have been much too easy to let the evening get out of hand so being, reasonable and mature women, we put a limit on our evening’s activities. We sensibly agreed to stay out only 15 minutes longer as we needed to get up early the next morning for our swamp and plantation tours. With curfew was set, we searched out a spot to sit down, relax, and have a drink before we needed to head back to the hotel.

A hint of the Bourbon St atmosphere; note the police on horseback.

An hour later, we found ourselves with beers in our hands at a bar with a live Cajun band. We were innocently enjoyed the music until one of the band members grabbed Kristina and pulled her up to the stage. The bewildered Kristina stood stunned as he outfitted her with washboard chest armor and a pair of bent metal spoons. The man gestured the band in the back that picked up the cue and began to play. When in Rome, or in this case New Orleans, you gotta roll with the punches, so Kristina stroked her washboard abs with the spoons and gyrated around the dance floor as she rocked her new look like a pro. She looked so good up there the band offered her a permanent gig playing back-up washboard.

Kristina on stage rockin' the washboard

Shortly after Kristina’s debut, we stumbled back to the hotel to get our beauty sleep.

To all of my book-loving followers out there, I'd like to give a shout out to Leslie Tentler and her romantic-suspense book Midnight Caller. A writer friend of mine, Pamela Mason, suggested this one to me because of my newfound love of all things New Orleans, and I have to say she was spot on with her recommendation!

I took a sneak-peak through the sample provided on Amazon, and was instantly hooked. Leslie grabs her reader by painting a vivid portrait of the New Orleans I experienced. For a moment, I was back in the garden district feeling the warm, sultry breeze on my cheeks, and then with the flip of a page transported to the French Quarter smelling the nostalgic scent of spilled beer on the street.

I suggest Midnight Caller to anyone looking for a steamy summer read! Take it with you on your own vacation, or crank up the air-conditioning, curl up in your favorite chair, and let the story transport you. I can’t wait to see what happens next! Check out her website for more information.

Happy reading everyone and thanks for checking out my blog- Stay tuned for more NOLA fun, it just gets better!

And for those of you anxiously awaiting GIFT OF BLOOD we are editing like crazy and hoping to have more news soon!

Best Regards,
VK Tremain


  1. Lawsy! I can't stop laughing!

    This is so good; keep the journal coming. Can't wait to hear about the swamp tour lolololololol!

    Any ragin'cajuns invite ya'll to fais do do? ;)!

  2. I am having a blast imagining Kristina with her washboard abs. Sounds like so much fun. And I missed it. :(

  3. Thanks for the recommendation! Sounds like a great trip! - Leslie

  4. No problem, Leslie! I can't wait to read the entire book :)

  5. Wow. That looks like so much fun. Good luck with your writing girls. It's a tough gig, but worth it.

    Best wishes,

    Darrell Pitt
    1001 Secrets of Successful Writers

  6. Thank you, Darrell! We had a lot of fun, and are having a blast writing together. Thanks for stopping by!

  7. EXCELLENT! Have a wonderful, safe trip and I'm insanely jealous. If you happen to stop by the Catholic church there, (Guadelupe?) see if you can find the statue of St. Expedite. I have the story and it's fascinating!

  8. Sounds like you girls had a blast!!! It makes me miss home :( I can't wait to hear about your next days adventure in the Big Easy!