August 5

This is it. At times, I wasn't sure I would ever get here. New Orleans. Just saying the name sends chills all over me. But saying it and getting there are two completely different things. I got on the river early in good spirits. I was happy to be soaking in the sights instead of rain. The closer I got to New Orleans I started seeing huge Wharfs. A Wharf is basically a large dock where ships load and unload. They have warehouses and yards to store the cargo till it can be moved. These building are huge. As I rounded the bend and was passing one that looked like the others unnoticed the garage door was open. I saw a giant cartoon head of Drew Bres looking at me. I thought the sun might have been getting to me untill I saw a dragon staring at me. Then I saw the sign for Mardi Gras. It was the warehouse that stored all the supplies. It sunk in that I was in New Orleans. The rain started to sprinkle but it was a nice relief from the humid sun. As I took some pictures of the ship yard a double decker bus pulled up. It was a hop on hop off tour. They must have thought I was part of the show because they were taking pictures of me. As I got closer I yelled to them "". I hope they heard me and send me some of the pictures because all I have is selfies. When I went under the first bridge I saw a cruise ship. I know I have compared the large ships I have been passing to cruise ships but this was an actual Carnival Cruise ship. I once again was the victim of paparazzi from the balconies. The rain started falling harder but I was only a few miles away and had plenty of time from when I told my ride to meet me. I like to get there first so I can have everything ready to just load up and go. A few more sight seeing boats, a few more pictures as I got closer to The Quarter (that's the French Quarter for those non locals I was told.) The river gods must have known I was getting off the water and wanted to let me they were still in charge. They opened up the sky when I was getting to the point to get a picture of the skyline and didn't let up. I tried to paddle through it as I really had no other option. I realized I needed to let my ride know to bring some towels and trash bags so that I didn't destroy his car but I couldn't get my phone unlocked due to the rain. I pulled under a wharf to text him and see how close I was. I was about a half mile away but the river gods wanted to test me more. They let out the hardest rains I have seen the entire trip, if not in my life and didn't quit. I could see the lightning hitting the water between me and the city. The thunder shook everything around me. It was constant for about an hour. I literally paddled in circles and figure 8's around the post under the wharf hoping it would let up. With about 10 minutes till 4 it calmed down and I made a go for it. The place I found on the map to take out looked like the best spot but would still take some work to get over the levy. I hit the bank and unloaded my bags and what I could carry on my back. I clipped a rope on the front of my boat and made the climb to the top. At 4 on the dot, my ride said he was looking for me and over the hill I came and started pulling. I realized that if I wrapped the rope around my waist and walked down the hill it was easier to get my boat up. When I finally got it to the top I threw my gear in and pushed it down the hill like a sled. In the rain, I quickly introduced myself to my dad’s childhood friend whom I hadn't met before. We loaded my gear up in the SUV and boat on top and headed to his house. The area where he had picked me up was a run down part of town. But I didn't realize exactly where I was. The area was the 9th Ward. The neighborhood that was made known during Katrina for the levys breaking and flooding. The Levy I climbed over was the newly constructed one from what broke and destroyed the 9th Ward. I got a quick tour of the neighborhood. There was a mixture of new houses, rundown houses and simply front steps in empty lots. After getting to see the new houses that Brad Pitt and friends built in the neighborhood, we headed to his house. The last few miles were some of the most intense moments of the trip so far. I was glad to be in a car and safe from the weather. Or was I?  He had said that some of the roads were flooded when he was on his way to get me. As we headed through down town it got more and more interesting. The city was flooded and going crazy. Cars parked on the side of the street with water up to the doors. People wadded through knee high water. Some people were tip toeing around trying to stay dry while others were just trying to get where they were going. I got scared at one point when a group of kids walked by and jokingly said that's what we need, let's get it. At least I hope they were joking. They were referring to the kayak that was strapped to the top of the car. I got a good laugh that everyone was looking at us and thought we were dooms day preppers. I really wanted to stop and take a picture of me paddling though the streets of The Quarter but we were afraid if we stopped we might not get going again. 3 hours later we made it to his house and unloaded my gear. I finally got out of my wet clothes and got a much needed shower. In think my hands are going to be wrinkled for months to come. My new friend and his wife took me out for a real New Orleans dinner. We kept talking about how crazy the flooding was. I asked if they were here during Katrina. They said that they moved there 5 years after working on a movie with Denzel and fell in love with the city. As in "Denzel Washington". I realized he is on a first name basis with basically everyone in Hollywood. They kept asking questions about my trip but I just wanted to talk about movies he has worked on. Normally I don't mind answering all of the questions about my adventure. But besides outdoor activities, movies are one of my favorite things. We had a great meal and I got the sampler platter of local dishes. When I was laying in bed thinking about how eventful my day was, I was more impressed that I remembered it all. That's more than I can say for the last time I was in New Orleans which was a little foggy.