OK, another Sunday night and another forecast of snow. This is getting tiresome.
However, my class and I have something to look forward to — we are heading to New Orleans in a few days. This will be my fourth trip to the Gulf since Hurricane Katrina and while there are always surprises, I’ve become accustomed to getting ready for the trip. Here are some of my tips for anyone heading down for Spring Break:
1) New Orleans is on a different clock, particularly for those of us coming from New England. Drivers and service workers go at a pace that is not necessarily measured by a timepiece. Be patient. The more impatient and frustratrated you become, the slower they get. Be willing to recognize a driver letting you into traffic is compensation for hesitance at a traffic light. If a waitress is slow, accept that the fact that she has called you “baby” or “shug” is worth the extra time you have spent waiting for your food.
2) The wonderfully warm weather comes with some drawbacks. Be prepared for more sun, more humidity, and more encounters with life of the creapy, crawly kind. Take sunscreen and a hat to protect you from more direct sunlight. Spring and flowers and pollen come much earlier in New Orleans. Coupled with the humidity and resulting mold, you have a vertiable stew of allergens. Put yourself on your favorite over-the-counter drug a week ahead of time and stay on it for the duration of the trip. Also, don’t be grossed out by cockroaches the size of small mammals. Don’t stand on fire ant mounds and never walk in places where you can’t see your feet. We will likely spend most of our time in the city, but keep these things in mind nevertheless.
3) Be sure to bring what you need for the trip. Although there are more places to shop than there were two years ago, don’t annoy your group by having to shop for items you should have brought on the trip. A good pillow is a godsend on a 30 hour van trip. You’ll need proper bedding for nights that can get chilly. A jacket for walking around on evenings when the tempertaures can drop into the fifties. I’ve found that layers are a good way to deal with both cool nights and mornings, as well as hot, humid days.
4) Necessities to bring: clothing to provide comfort from the 50s into the 80s; proper bedding (I like polar fleece bags and blankets, along with a light-weight pillow); towels and clothes; toiletries; all necessary prescription and non-prescription medications; proper footwear, both to protect your feet during the day and provide walking comfort during the evenings; and reading material, music, cell phones, and cameras/video equipment to both fill quiet periods and help capture the experience during the not-so-quiet periods.
5) And bring an open mind and a good helping of flexibility. This is going to be a learning experience like no other, and the more you are open to the experience, the more you will enjoy and absorb it.