Travels - NO/Colorado

December 19, 2006

On the Friday night after the bonfire festival, Mrs. theskinnyonbenny and I drove down to New Orleans for a night on the town.

We had a dinner reservation at Emeril's, where I had eaten a good -- but not mind-shatteringly delicious -- meal a couple of years ago. The food was doubly as good this time. Maybe not mind-shatteringly delicious, but it was really, really damned good. So I guess Emeril has gotten back to what put him on the map: making food.

It's a little bit stunning the Emeril got so nationally famous so incredibly fast. For the love of God, someone okayed him getting his own sitcom, despite the fact that he had never shown an inclination to being able to act and never showed a hint of ability to be funny. I wonder who gave that one the green-light? I bet that person's scooping leaves out of the swimming pools of more successful Hollywood types by now.

I'm off topic already, but the current celebrity chef who is getting way too much credit is Rachel Ray. Why does anyone find her to be such a genius? If there was a way to gamble on celebrities whose bubble is about to burst, I would take my K-Fed winnings and double down on Rachel.

(Alton Brown by contrast is the quiet genius of Food TV. If that guy told me that putting a scoop of dirty cat litter into my breakfast cereal would alter some molecules and make it taste like chocolate, while giving me great big muscles, I would believe him. But he would have to say it in that serious "Mr. Science but not condescending" manner that he's perfected.)

This is Amanda and Clay at The W. I don't really remember what's going on during this shot, but it wasn't far from the point where I used the candles on the bar to demonstrate my freakishly high tolerance to heat. I refer to this as "my superpower."

After Emeril's, we walked back to the French quarter, stopping at Tommy's Wine Bar (formerly The Wine Loft). Didn't even make it a full block before our first bar stop, but hey -- it was really cold that night. We then went to that trendy blue bar with all the candles at The W Hotel, followed by The Kerry -- my favorite little whole in the wall down in the quarter.

The Kerry was mostly empty. There was a band of three, a few of their friends sitting up near them, and a smattering of people at the bar. The rest of the tables in the place were empty. We joined the bar people on the last empty corner, and ordered a round of drinks. The band wasn't awful, but they were rather typical of the Kerry's normal entertainment: folksy not quite rock, not quite country, and perhaps with a healthy dose of Irish sound. We talked, and they played song after song that I didn't recognize.

After a while, I was using a urinal which although separated by a wall, was right behind the band. I started to recognize the song that was on.

While I peed, I sang the song real fast in my head, getting up to the chorus so I would realize what it was. Cheese city, but I timed my pee to come out of the restroom as they were finishing up the verse.

I have some tradition of joining the band at The Kerry. (And by "some tradition," I mean that I did it once. But my singing that time was very popular. I'll have to tell that story another time.) So there was no hesitation as I grabbed an empty microphone, slid the switch to "On," and joined their real singer:

Country Roooooaaaaadddd Take me hooooommmmmeeee To the plaaaaaaaccccceee Where I beloooonnnggggg West Virginiaaaaaaaaaa Mountain Maaaamaaaaaaaaa Take me hooooommmmmeeee Country Roooooaaaaadddd

I wasn't as popular on this engagement, but the only ones listening to the band were those peoples' friends, so I couldn't expect them to be too high on my addition.

I vaguely recollect shots of Jameson's before we left. That was probably a bad idea.

We got to our hotel around 2:00 (I would guess), and had a handful of hours to sleep before the wake up call roused us for our early flight to Denver. We dragged ourselves out of bed, wet the cotton mouths, and headed to the airport.

The flight to Denver was 2 1/2 hours, and I was able to get fitful, sweat-soaked, middle-seat sleep all the way there. By the time we landed, picked up luggage, and got the rental car, I was feeling close to normal.

Like most travelers on a budget, we had this shitty little American car, built too low to the ground without any buffer to the road noise. Our destination was Boulder, and we took the toll road away from the airport and toward Boulder. By this time, we were very thirsty and half-starved. Also, Mrs. theskinnyonbenny's glasses were broken, so they didn't sit on her head quite right.

The 40-minute drive to Boulder turned out to be through a bunch of hilly farmland. We bypassed one Wendy's, thinking that like Louisiana, every exit would have a McDonald's. But Ronald hasn't made the inroads in rural Colorado that he has in the rural Southeast. We arrived in Boulder still hungry, still thirsty, out of breath from the altitude, and in Mrs. theskinnyonbenny's case, carsick.

I looked for a guy to repair the glasses, but no place was open on a Saturday in downtown Boulder. By the time I got back to the room, we had to leave the hotel to make our 1:00 appointment.

That appointment kept us until around 5:00 that evening. There were some snacks layed out in the conference room we were in, and I'm sure all of the other people in that room remember us as "That couple who drank all of the diet cokes and ate enough potato chips for ten people." There was a little reception at that point. We stayed as short a time as politeness would allow, and made our way out.

On the way back to the hotel, there was a brew-pub whose menu included deep dish pizza and chicken wings, so we took our fill of beer, wings, and pizza, and went back to the hotel. The hotel had a happening bar, and Mrs. theskinnyonbenny was keen to get down there and socialize, but I hit the bed and was asleep in minutes. It might not have even been 8:00 yet.


I woke up bright-eyed and bushy tailed, only to find that downtown Boulder also lacks a place to get coffee and a newspaper at 4:30 AM.

The next afternoon, we drove back out to the Beaver Creek resort where we had gone for our anniversary last fall. On Sunday night, we went to the bar to watch the Saints/Cowboys game. I never knew how popular a destination Colorado was for Texans, but the place was crawling with them. Even through the Saints fans were severely outnumbered, what could have been the best Saints offensive game in the history of their franchise kept the Cowboys fans mostly quiet.

Indulge if you will another quick tangent: I read today that Stats, Inc. tracks incomplete passes in more detail. They talley drops by the receiver vs. thrown away on purpose vs. plain old bad passes by the quarterback. It will surprise no one who knows Devry Henderson as "cement hands" to know that Drew Brees has the lowest number of plain old bad passes in the league. The article where I saw this was before Sunday's debacle against the Redskins, but I think the stat would hold up over the season.

Getting back to Colorado, I learned something interesting in that particular bar: The good guys come from the southeast. There was a small fraction of the people there that I liked, and it turned out that they tended to have connections to the SEC. We met a nice couple who had an Ole Miss - Mississippi State intermarriage, and a Texan couple who were Alabama graduates, and they were all super-friendly.

The rest of my trip doesn't make for a very interesting tale. I spent a day at the spa, but didn't get the super-naked mud wrap like I described last year. Rocky Mountain oysters had been removed from the menu, although I did see a guy shucking oysters of the more traditional type. We saw an honest-to-goodness wild porcupine, albeit one that had been tamed with restaurant scraps, and we took a ride up the mountain in an open-air sled, going back down the mountain riding shotgun in a heavy snow-grooming type of tractor. That part was kind of cool.

Just as it did on our previous trip, we got a moderate snowstorm as it was time to drive back to Denver. Driving up and down the mountains on slick interstate made me tense, undoing the nice relaxed neck that had carried over from my spa day.

Once we got back to New Orleans, the fog was so thick that you couldn't see the terminal building from the plane. More neck tension. Am I the only one who has ever driven through a snowstorm and a dense Louisiana fog in a four-hour span?

As soon as we were too far from Baton Rouge to turn back, I realized that I had left my good camera at home, so I didn't take too many photos. But they're posted in their own small collection now.