Judith Zander Historical Marker.
© Copyright 1998 by Judith Zander

I wrote "Hot! Hot! Hot! In The Big Easy" after a delightful trip with some very good and longtime friends to the hottest place on earth. Even the devil would think it was hot in New Orleans in August.

New Orleans, sure I‘d like to go; lets get a group together; the more the merrier. This conversation is taking place between two old friends, that have traveled together many times. We decide on the Canadian Civic holiday weekend. It isn’t an American holiday weekend, therefore hotels and flights should not be booked up. A group of nine people is gathered together, four couples and one single guy. The four couples have traveled together many times, the single guy was a fluke. He heard we were going and always wanted to visit New Orleans, so we said, "why not, the more the merrier".

The woman who instigated the trip was born in Louisiana and had been living in London, Ontario for twenty years. We all had heard many stories about the Big Easy but none of us Canuks had ever been there.

We began to check out the price of flights. Southwest Airlines was having a two for one sale and we jumped right on it. Now if you have never heard of Southwest, I must tell you that their motto is "Our Fares are Peanuts and so are our Meals." We booked our round trip flights from Detroit to New Orleans for a total cost of $525 CDN, for two, pretty cheap flights, in my opinion. Then our southern belle managed to get four condos right in the heart of the French Quarter at $200 for four nights, that’s $50 a night!! Everyone is thrilled with our success so far. Now all we have to do is wait for departure day to arrive.

Finally July 29 arrives, we pile into two mini vans and head for Detroit City Airport, one and a half hours away. We arrive in record time, everyone has carry on luggage so we don’t have to check our bags. The ladies at security are chuckling as we go through. One says "sure are a lot of pregnant men here today" and she was right, the old beer bellies were with us, five men, five bellies.

The plane leaves right on time, we didn’t know it but we where on the milk run, five landings and five takeoffs, before landing in Houston. We had a one hour wait for our flight to New Orleans which turned out to be a blessing. One of our the girls was air sick. Every time the plane landed or took off she barfed. I told her "we can’t take you anywhere, your always bagged". At least with an hour lay over in Houston her Gravol* had time to work. The flight from Houston to New Orleans was uneventful. SWA’s motto was true, we had more peanuts than we new what to do with. Thank God we all brought a lunch, for the six hour flight.

When we landed in New Orleans our twin, gray, Lincoln Town Cars were waiting for us, one for the men and one for the women. We were spending the first night in Lafayette or as it is known as "Acadiana". Our plans were to tour this historic area of Louisiana, visit an old plantation and then drive into New Orleans and drop off the cars. It was pouring rain in Lafayette but we were undaunted. We had dinner in PreJean’s Restaurant but lost the men in the torrential rain. They ended up in Denny’s having breakfast because that’s all they were serving at 11pm. The men had tried to find the restaurant we were going to but couldn’t, perhaps because they had the wrong name.

The next day was beautiful and we set out once again on our adventure. We spent the morning at Vermilion Ville, a cajun, creole, heritage park. Even in the humidity, it was very interesting to all.

 We started on the drive along highway #90 to New Iberia where we had lunch at Live Oak Gardens. Here we toured the beautiful, 19th century plantation home and gardens. The giant live oak trees, draped with Spanish moss was an unbelievable sight. In my minds eye, I could see ladies and gentlemen dancing a cotillion in an era long gone, but well known, in this part of the continent. We continued on #90 which brought us along the Gulf of Mexico and soon we were in New Orleans. All our plans for the day were fulfilled.

We arrived at our condos in the French Quarter, Chateau Orleans, 240 Rue Burgundy, at five o’clock, the appointed time. We waited with bated breath, wondering what they would be like. They where beautiful, all four side by side around the pool. It was party time. It took all of five minutes and we all there in the pool, with refreshments in hand. It had been warm in Lafayette but it was HOT!!! in New Orleans, 104° in the shade. Our southern belle had told us it would be hot and humid, "just a little hotter than southern Ontario in August." We had no idea it would be this HOT!!. Well night will be coming soon and it will cool off a bit, WRONG!!

Oh well, down to Bourbon Street for some night life and there is lots of that. What a great place, all kinds of people, all partying together. The party police stop our men and tell them that if they don’t get partying they’re under arrest They didn’t have to tell our women. We had New Orleans famous ‘Hurricanes’ at Pat O’Briens. We were partyin’! Dinner was late again but at least we were all together tonight. There is a myriad of restaurants in the St. Peter’s Street - Jackson’s Brewery area.  We had difficult time deciding which one to offer the pleasure of our company too. We were standing right in front of the door of Mr. B’s Bistro when someone made an executive decision. The food was unbelievable and we ate until we were stuffed. The blare of the dance clubs, Dixieland jazz and the plastic honky-tonks had us dancing our way along Bourbon Street, which becomes a pedestrian mall in the evening.

As always morning comes far to soon but we were here to see the place, so off to the famous Café Du Mondé for a Beignets and Café au Lait, Deeelicious!!

 As we walk along the boardwalk by the Mississippi River, we notice it is becoming hotter and hotter. It has become so hot that when you touch someone on the arm and then remove your hand, water drips from the arm and the hand at the same time, making a puddle of sweat on the sidewalk. Now I would say that is HOT!! Wouldn’t you?

Even the Devil would be HOT in New Orleans in August.

A reservation has been made for the nine of us at the "Cookin’ Cajun Cooking School" on Riverwalk. Lunch is going to be interesting today. We are seated at a round table right at the front of the room. Large jugs of beer and wine are placed at our table. The lesson begins and we realize this is going to be really good. We are served Gumbo, Jambalya, Shrimp Creole, Pralines and Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce. Also on the table are bottles and jars of different sauces. You can make your food as HOT as you want. I guess this is so the inside of your body can be as HOT as the outside of your body!

We returned from the French Market in the early afternoon. I was staying in the condo, to hell with the pool, it was 90°, like bath. The Blue Jays were playing the Tigers, it was on the T.V. and I was watching it. After awhile I realized that the same noise had been going on for quite while, a low rumbling noise, like something was running. Then the phone was ringing, my husband wanting some J.D. delivered to the pool, "okay I’ll bring it". Then the phone rings again. It’s the front desk, asking silly questions, that made no sense to me, at the time. I get the J.D. and head out the door. There are young people in the hall crying and the door to the room beside us is open. As I pass by I look in, Police are in there, more young people are crying inside the room. When I get to the pool I tell the others, now we are all curious. Our southern belle goes to the front desk and asks "what’s going on". She returns and tells us there has been an accident but not to worry. The heat and my curiosity get the better of me. I go back to our condo just in time to see a body bag being wheeled down the hall. It turns out that a Doctor’s wife had arrived here from Florida for the weekend. She OD'ed in the Jacuzzi. That was the running noise that I heard, for so long.

In evening we go out to Bourbon Street once again, just in time to see two young women surrounded by Policemen. They were wearing only a pack of smokes and a smile. I bet the party police weren’t telling them to "get partyin.'

The next morning we are walking along Bourbon Street and it smelled like a bar room that has been closed up for a couple of days, stale beer and cigarettes. The local prisoners are sweeping the street and putting all the beer cups and butts from the night before into garbage bags and loading them into the back of a truck. This is our last day here so lets make the most of it. It’s decided that a Lil’ Cajun Swamp tour will be done today, at least there will be a breeze from the moving of the boat. Today it is 110° with 100 % humidity. Nice! Ayeee!! Lil' Cajun is the name of our covered boat. We tour the swamp for two hours. Our tour guide gives us a pretty good tour. We feed the alligators marshmallows and they follow the boat for awhile. The water is muddy brown. The scenery is definitely a swamp. The breeze from the motion of the boat doesn’t help at all. Those of us with naturally curly hair now have afros and the others hair is hanging limp, straight as a poker. Our tour guide has a surprise for us. In a large barrel on the boat, he keeps a 6 year old alligator named Suzie. He takes the poor thing out and passes her around for us to hold. Not my idea of fun.

As our long weekend wore on the heat was beginning to get to us. We didn’t let it spoil our fun. We saw everything there was to see, not a stone was left unturned. We had our muffuletta’s for lunch at Napoleon House Bar and Café where they are gigantic and oh, so good. When we returned from this days adventure the only place to go was to the air conditioning. Thank God for AIR CONDITIONING!

Our farewell dinner is at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen and it’s fabulous. No partying tonight, tomorrow we have our six hour milk run to contend with.

Arriving back at the condos our single guy decides that he is going to do his laundry, so that when he arrives back home, he‘ll be ready for work. As we are floating around the pool we notice that there are soap suds coming out of a drain pipe right where the laundry facilities are. Charlie has used the whole box of soap. As we watch, the bubbles keep getting bigger and bigger, until they are so high we can’t see over them. We laugh and laugh, now bubbles are floating right across the pool. A perfect end to an incredible trip.

New Orleans is a beautiful city even in the dreadful heat. You can bet your bottom dollar that I’m never going there again in August. Never, Never, Never!!!

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