Reader Contribution: My First Trip to NOLA

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Published: November 28, 2013
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((On this holiday, enjoy this fun read from Nate about a trip and a win that were very similar. Also, Darius Miller may play on the upcoming road trip . . . he scrimmaged today. – 42))

Let me start this by saying I was born and raised in Louisiana, Natchitoches Parish specifically.
I grew up in the middle of the woods where there is STILL no cell phone signal or high-speed internet access (unless you have a giant satellite dish, then you’ll enjoy 512 kb service).

My wife and I first moved to the OKC area back in 2007 and attended a Thunder game during their inaugural season. Being a New Orleans sports fan Pelicans/Saints (WHO DAT?!!) in OKC has always been a bit difficult. I have to order the Sunday Ticket to see Saints games and the League Pass to see Pelicans games. (God willing, they’ll be really good this year and get more nationally broadcast games) Anyway, back to the topic at hand.

We received free tickets from our electric company to the Thunder game and sat at the VERY TOP of the Ford Center (now Chesapeake Arena). The Thunder lost to the Pacers, but overall we had a good time and my wife (not a sports fan) enjoyed it. So back in August I searched for tickets and decided that we would be in the New Orleans Arena during a home game in the inaugural Pelicans season. My wife booked the hotel for the weekend that we THOUGHT was Thanksgiving weekend.

………..about that.

In 2013 there are FIVE (count ‘em), 5 weekends during the month of November. This is great for my direct deposit (bi-weekly) but not when glancing at a calendar and scheduling ticket purchases to coincide with a Thanksgiving trip to your parents’ house in Louisiana. This is especially bone-headed when you’ve already requested vacation days for Thanksgiving.

Calls were made, vacation request were changed, employees were threatened with termination (just kidding Donny, thanks again for signing off on my mistakes) and we eventually made the trip to Louisiana last Thursday, first stopping off in Natchitoches parish.

We got into my parents’ house Thursday evening a few hours before the Saints game, anxious to whoop ‘dem dirty birds. I still recall my Dad’s fleur de lis sweater with the words “I Believe” printed across the front. The game was amazing although a bit too close for my liking. (Note to self: check on which cardiologists are covered by my HMO.)

Friday morning we got a semi-early start leaving at around 8:30 in the morning. We decided to skip lunch in favor of having an early dinner once we got to NOLA. Around 7 hours later we were driving across what appeared to be THE OCEAN????? HOLY CRAP! If this bridge gives way, we are DEAD!

After the insanity of what seemed like driving over an endless bridge to China we just wanted to throw our bags into the hotel and go grab something to eat. The hotel/motel was in Westwego and Siri is a bitch because instead of making the necessary u-turn she led me straight through the projects. When we got there the hotel seemed nice, being renovated with very stylish decor.

Before the game we were going to find a place to eat to get some authentic NOLA cuisine. We checked a few online reviews and drove around town for a bit. We didn’t want McDonald’s or Subway, just some down home authentic New Orleans food……..

Nothing was open.

At least, nothing was open that was not McDonald’s, Burger King, etc. I guess every restaurant we drove by was a “dinner only” establishment. After driving around for a bit we decided it would be best to get to The Arena in advance in case there were any issues with traffic, parking or zombie invasion. (well maybe not zombie invasion) I had heard about the renovations being done to the arena and thought we may be able to score some food there before the game.

Upon approaching our destination I witnessed what I could only imagine to be an epiphany sent straight from the heavens, The Superdome and The Arena side by side along the interstate. My dream of being there was nearly at hand. Parking was not nearly as difficult as I imagined it would be. We parked in Girod st. garage (or Champions garage) and walked over to The Arena.

While walking up, my wife pointed out the gift shop. She asked if we should go in and look before the game, as the place would most likely be crowded afterward. We went inside and it was glorious. All of the Pelicans jerseys, basketballs and t-shirts were displayed neatly. The employees were very helpful. We questioned one gentleman as to what we should order upon dining in their facility. He said this is good and that is good. One of the ladies there handed us a program from the previous home game against the Jazz that had food stands and menus on it. The nice gentleman then stated, “But they don’t start letting people in until 6.”

……………….

At this point, I fell to my knees and screamed to the sky. I AM FAT AND I NEED FOOD!!!
He told us of a restaurant just on the other side of Champions Square. I believe he called it

“Subway”.

(face palm)

By this time we both would’ve eaten an old rusty pontoon, so we walked the (7 miles? It felt like it.) across Champions square towards the Subway. We were cursing about what a marvelous idea it was to skip lunch in favor of a giant meal of the greatest seafood the world has ever known. I could hear my belly growling and I believe that passers-by could also, as they looked at me disturbingly and walked around us as though we were the spiked end of a drawing compass.

The end was nearly in sight as we approached the Subway………only to find out it was closed. The coffee shop down the street from it was also closed. (albeit with lights on inside, cruel temptress)
The only thing that could be done was to walk back to The Arena and wait for the doors to open. It was 5:30. We were in a place that was unfamiliar. We were hungry. I was second guessing this trip. (Please let them win tonight. Please?)

We walked back to the arena and the only place that was open; the gift shop. After further inspecting the merchandise, I had decided that I was going to do something to make this trip better…..BUY MY HAPPINESS!

I bought a grey hat with the “NO” logo in gold. Best $22 I had spent on this whole trip. The dark cloud hanging over me dissipated slightly where I could see a bit of light shining through. We started taking pictures in front of the Superdome and Arena, joking and laughing. A line started to form outside of the gates and they were about to start letting people in.

After being molested by a security guard and getting our tickets scanned, we walked in and made our way to club 114, row 20. The usher glanced at our tickets and said, “You have access to the club.” Club? What club is this? I could only imagine a sandwich with bacon and toothpicks. Yum……..toooooooothpicks. We found our seats and realized that these were much better seats than we enjoyed at our previous endeavor, watching the thunder through the rain clouds at the top of the then Ford Center.

We found the club and felt like VIPs. It was very nice with the darkened, bar-like atmosphere. There were sections that felt like little rooms to themselves with flat screen tvs on the walls showing sportscenter (they would later be tuned to the game going on inside). We ordered a prime rib sandwich with kettle chips, which turned out to be more like a roast beef sandwich. It was good, not $40 good but I was in no position to complain. My belly thanked me and upon buying my wife a drink at the bar, we walked back into our section to our seats.

This drink was good. I forgot what the bartender called it, but it had four cherries in it. FOUR CHERRIES! My wife loves them. I could see that she was smiling and I knew that everything was starting to turn in the right direction. The game was about to start.

Let me start off my game review by saying that I love the introduction video. It got me pumped up and ready to start spanking the Cavaliers like LeBron did in the summer of 2010. I knew I would be surrounded by like-minded Pelicans fans that would be as ecstatic as I was.

The first guy to sit next to me was wearing a Cavs jersey…specifically Kyrie Irving. (any other Cavs jersey would have been better served as kindling) Then the family that sat to our right had signs made for the Cavs. What’s going on here??? Am I in the wrong section? ARE there sections? This is New Orleans, right?

The game started off unlike the other games I have watched this year. We fell behind early. Cavs guy next to me has the most annoying habit of clapping every time the Cavs score. NOT REGULAR CLAPPING. Clapping that continues long after most people stop clapping. Purposely irritating Pelicans fan clapping. I looked at my wife as if to say, “We have bail money, right?” To counter such behavior, one has to do one’s diligence. Andrew Bynum went to the FT line.

“Welcome to Good Burger, home of the Good Burger! Can I take your order?!” I yelled as loud as I could. Some people smirked. Some looked at me as though I was not of this planet. Either way, I was going to let these maroon wearing, Lebron hating, Anthony Bennett is a good idea thinking people know exactly whose house they were in!

The 1st half was sloppy. Someone must have greased the ball because it kept getting batted around. I decided to be nice to the Cavs fan. “Why are they starting Deledoledoledoleodova (spelling? It’s like spelling banana) over Dion Waiters?” He replied that Waiters was in Mike Brown’s dog house. I responded, “Next to Bennett?” His face drooped in a fashion similar to that of a 2013 Atlanta Falcons fan.

The 2nd half was more together. The people who held the tickets to the left of me had arrived. They were Pelicans fans and they pushed Cavs guy down to where he ended up sitting on my left kidney. I was enjoying the perimeter defense that had been so lacking in other games. Kyrie Irving eats babies and we don’t want him eating ours. I think he snacked on a few orphans in the 2nd half. Will someone think of the children?!! After the wife text the number on the scoreboard and we dodged an attempted Ponzi scheme, (If you’ve been to the arena, you’ll know. I assume those people are there every game) I got back to my seat just in time for the comeback. No one sat down for the last 3 minutes of the game and in the end we triumphed. I also bought a sweet multi-colored beanie.

High fives flew. Cavs guy went home in shame.

This trip turned out better than I imagined.

4 comments
jayanderson21
jayanderson21

Glad you had a good time.  As a hungry person myself, I normally scope out a few restaurants in advance via Yelp.  You could always try Walk-Ons if you're in the mood for a bar-type atmosphere and a Cajun flair on burgers, etc.  Not very far from the Area/Dome.  Hope you enjoy your next trip!

Caffeinedisaster
Caffeinedisaster

Thanks to Calmes for publishing and for offering a hand when he found out I was making the trip.

I try to have fun with everything whether it be good or bad.

Everything ended up very well and we may be planning a trip for the spring.

Thanks guys!

RafaBrazil
RafaBrazil

Great story! Soon I'll be going to NOLA too, first trip to USA. Hope I have a good time like you did (except for the hunger part). Loved the way you pointed out things with so much fun! I'll send my story when I get back to Brazil, be it published or not!


GO PELICANS!