We woke up in the morning ready to head to New Orleans. We were making great time. Day four and we found ourselves in New Orleans. The rates for rooms were pretty outrageous. The cheapest hotel looked to be around $500. Due to the massive amount of water that surrounds New Orleans, the closest hotels with reasonable rates were 30 miles away. Not very ideal. I figured since this was going to be my fourth time in the city that I would just be designated driver so that Mikey could enjoy all of the cocktails that the city is known for. We tried getting a hotel but there was some problem with the reservation system. We got fed up of waiting and decided to spring for a hotel in the city. We got an awesome deal for the Sheraton on Hotwire, which easily ended up being the nicest hotel that we would stay in on the trip.
After we got our parking and dropped off our gear at the hotel, we ventured off into New Orleans. We needed some grub. An oyster or shrimp po’ boy would be just perfect. We passed Acme Oyster House. The line was out the door so we figured we would pass on it. I went to this place on Bourbon street that I usually go to. They no longer carry seafood po’ boys. Hmm. Ok. They recommended Pat O’Brien’s. Hmm. They have great hurricane drinks but I don’t think they have good po’ boys. They didn’t have them. They sent us across the street and that place didn’t have them. Ugg. Let’s just go to Acme Oyster House and wait in the line. The wait turned out to be only half an hour and it was worth it. Oyster shooters, crab cake, grilled oysters, and shrimp and oyster po’ boys. Perfect. This goes down as the best meal on the trip. It lived up the Acme’s legendary status and turned Mikey into an oyster eating champion.
With that, we were ready to go spend the night on Bourbon street. Sazeracs at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, the oldest continually running bar in the country. It’s lit only by candlelight. Hand grenades at the Tropical Isle. Hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s. Dancing at Razzoo’s and The Beach. With hundreds of miles to drive the next day, the alcohol transitioned into waters and gatorades. We passed on the Ramos fizz gins, the absinthe frappes, the frozen daiquiris, the grasshoppers, the huge ass beers, and all the other drinks they have in New Orleans. We eventually made our way back to the hotel very late in the morning but Bourbon street was still carrying on when we left it.
The next morning was started off with some awesome complimentary Starbucks coffee at the Sheraton. We checked out and hopped in the car. Westward still we went. On to Houston, Texas. If you’re wondering what we did while driving all of these hours, it was a combination of music and Spanish lessons. Mikey was using the Duolingo app to up his Spanish game, so that kept us occupied. Snapping picture and getting GoPro footage also occupied some time.
We were greeted in the H-Town by James Harden’s beard, which is how you always want to be greeted. Surely this was a sign of good things to come. But it wasn’t. We got into Houston and grabbed gas. We couldn’t use the restroom there for some reason. We ended up in the ghetto. Some high school aged boy was twerking on a street sign. Ok. We went into the city to check out place to hang out. I’m not sure if we missed the mark on Houston or if the city isn’t anything special. It’s forgettable. It’s lifeless. It’s boring. Supposedly the strip clubs are good, but Mikey and I are respectable mates and we don’t partake in all those shenanigans. We swung over to the University of Houston. It was even more dead than the city. We stopped at Subway to grab a quick bite. We ordered subs. We couldn’t use the bathroom there either. Jeez. Ok. Went into some college bar to finally use the restroom and ate our sandwiches on the top of our car. We decided to get out of Houston and head to Austin. We found out a couple days earlier that South by Southwest (SXSW) was going on. That was a way better option than hanging around Houston. So we hopped back in the car and made our way to Austin.
As we pulled into the outskirts of Austin you could tell we were in for a good time. I can’t really relay to you just how much of a party SXSW is. This is what is looks like.
There is music everywhere in the city. It’s in the streets. It’s on the roofs. It’s in the restaurants and the bars. It’s down side streets. There are full makeshift concert venues set up. People are playing out of garages. People are driving by in cars and vans and performing sets while driving around. We walked past some crew loading Soundgarden’s equipment into a van. Stages are all over the place. After about an hour or two of strolling the city we were pretty exhausted from all the driving and walking. We decided to head to Wal-Mart to camp out and found this sweet isolated spot in the middle of a the parking lot that we referred to affectionately as The Cove. I recommend it to anyone staying in Austin.
We crashed and when we woke up we made our way out to a motel to shower up and get ready for some more South by Southwest. We were going to head over but we decided to first watch the New York Red Bulls play a frustrating 1-1 draw. Oh well. We got out of the motel and headed back into Austin. It looked as crazy as the day before.
We went to some place for happy hour and decided to make our next great audible of the trip. We had San Antonio, Dallas, Oklahoma City and Wichita up next. Not the most stellar lineup. We decided to keep San Antonio and chop the rest and add in New Mexico and Colorado to the trip. This extended our miles quite a bit but we were used to the pace and we decided to go for it. Trading Dallas, OKC, and Wichita for Roswell, White Sands National Monument, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Denver, the family in Lafayette, Rocky Mountain National Park and Boulder was really a no brainer.
Excited by our awesome switch-up we ventured out of the happy hour and into the ruckus of SXSW. Music, music, music. We got a hand out from this one promoter who told us Talib Kweli was playing a secret show later on that night. We walked a little bit and hear Snoop Dogg playing on the roof. Artists are playing songs that you recognize from the radio all over. It’s incredible. We get handed a bunch of mixtape cd’s that we hang onto for the car ride. There’s no time announced for Talib so we just keep checking the place every once in a while. He’s playing an announced set down the block. Turns out Talib and his band broke their entire set down and moved it two blocks over to this secret venue of about 30 people. It’s after 2 AM. Someone comes upstairs and cuts the power. We’re over curfew and there’s no sound allowed. The DJ gets the sound back on. Somehow it all works out and Talib Kweli hops on stage. He has a girl singing with him. So they both need a mic but only one of the mic works. They play a half an hour set, which I’m pretty sure was the last music of the festival. It’s disastrously awesome. When we got out onto the streets they were empty of the massive crowds of people that had been there not long before.
We bounced back to the hotel to grab some sleep. Our idea to switch up our itinerary would require driving a bunch more hours. SXSW rocked. I always thought if I ever made it out there it would be for the technology events and not for the music. But I would definitely go back there for just the music. It was a killer time.