New Orleans

Picture of thoth_1 Arriving in New Orleans we took a slightly circuitous route in an effort to avoid all the various parade routes criss-crossing the city and its suburbs. In the end we failed, primarily because the parade route of Thoth completely surrounded our hotel. The police advised us to park on the sidewalk and just wait for the parade to end. While we did that, Melanie went to try and catch beads from the last few floats which provided a good opportunity for David to take some picture we wouldn't otherwise have. As a result we have the end of Thoth pretty well documented. In this picture, notice the hooks behind the float members. Those are all the GOOD beads. The average everyday beads came from boxes by their feet.
Picture of thoth_2 The theme for Thoth this year (trying saying that aloud) was legends of romance. We're not sure what the first picture is supposed to represent, and we're not really sure about this one either. Our best guess is that given the involvement of Hades (the skulls), and Hermes (the winged sandals) it involved Orpheus and Eurydice.
Picture of thoth_3 We do know for sure that this float represented Romeo and Juliet. Notice in this case that the hooks are almost completely empty. This seems to be about standard. Each float has a little bit of a different journey and a different bead density. This was near the end of the 3-hour parade route so floats with a lot of beads became suddenly exceedingly generous, whereas others were pretty minimal. Each Krewe has a special medallion bead as well. Thoth is the Egyptian god of knowledge and their medallion was a representation of Thoth who has the head of a jackal.
Picture of thoth_4 We mention this because Melanie caught one strand of beads from her back-of-the-line position and it happened to be a medallion. This float represents the Lady of the Lake from Arthurian legend. The nudity associated with Mardi Gras is sort of a myth. It exists and it is rampant but it is really associated with the French Quarter during Mardi Gras. The parades themselves do not enter the French Quarter (too narrow) and a more family atmosphere prevails. This is the only nudity we have amongst our pictures if you count it.
Picture of new_orleans We stayed at the Hilton Riverwalk and when we finally reached it we found ourselves on the 26th floor. Many of the Krewes for the day's parades were also staying in the hotel and it was rather chaotic to say the least. We had a nice view of New Orleans out our window though. The French Quarter would be just off to the right of this picture. On the left side is a small four-story red building with an awning. That is the Ambassador Hotel which we mention because we watched both the Orpheus and Bacchus parades directly across the street from it. More on that later.
Picture of fais_do_do The Bacchus parade started at 6:00 PM. We arrived at St. Charles street at about 6:30 to find an elaborate set of constructions of scaffolding, plywood, duct tape, ladders, and whatever else people could use to rope off territory. It was stunning. People had clearly been there all day, setting up netting and blankets even to catch extra stuff. We fled back to Tchoutopoulas St. and our aforementioned location. The Ambassador Hotel was serving food and drinks out front so we sat on the curb and had a few adult beverages while we waited. The parade itself arrived sometime after 9:00 and lasted until midnight. You might say we were a bit early. We caught so much stuff that we returned to the hotel in the middle to empty out the backpack we had brought to fill. On the very last float we caught a purple drawstring bag with Mardi Gras masks painted on it which turned out to be great for storing loot. We also collected seven Bacchus medallions, though none of the ones with glowing green eyes that actually spoke 'Hail Bacchus'. We have no pictures of Bacchus and their 'Denizens of the Deep' theme. Most of them were very impressive but after seeing manta rays, sharks, killer whales, jellyfish, eels, the Kraken, and crocodiles, we have to question the inclusion of the float titled 'Schools of Mahi Mahi'. This picture is of a fais-do-do on Bourbon Street the next day. A fais-do-do is a sort of impromptu parade with a band and they happen all year long in New Orleans.
Picture of bourbon_street Bourbon Street is crowded all year round, though primarily late at night. This is an average scene on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras at 2 o'clock in the afternoon. We can't even describe how crowded it was at 2 o'clock in the morning, and that's only partially because we can't really remember. We don't include the 'World Famous Love Acts' sign in our no-nudity claim from earlier. It's important to note also that nothing relating to Mardi Gras really happens here. All of this and the antics that are generally linked to Mardi Gras are fairly restricted to the French Quarter and are completely whimsical and unplanned. If you wander around long enough you'll see everything. If you stay out of the French Quarter completely, you probably won't be subject to anything you might consider objectionable. If you don't believe there's anything you would consider objectionable, then you probably haven't wandered around the French Quarter long enough.

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