Happy and still sober in our finery at the Orpheuscapade Monday evening.
It's been an eventful couple of weeks since my last post, both on the painting front and on the Carnival front, so please bear with me as I try to catch up. Mixed in are the inevitable projects, including keeping the RV in live-aboard condition.
Shortly after my last post, we went to Enterprise rental, courtesy of their free pickup, and picked up our pickup. Or something like that. I was a little disturbed to find that the pickup truck they had available lacked a bedliner, the first time I've ever encountered this at Enterprise. I made them note it on the contract since I was sure we'd scratch up the bed some.
The yard loaded our anchor and chain into the truck with a forklift, and we made the three hour drive out to Jennings. The folks at the galvanizing plant were friendly and helpful, removing our pallet with a forklift and filing our job under my name. No other paperwork was required.
I'm sorry I did not get any photographs while we were there. I was a little nervous that we had a little flake rust on the chain, as well as the remains of our every-50-feet painted chain marks, and we had been advised by others that everything needed to be rust- and paint-free. Ha. Waiting in line at the plant were truckloads of catwalks and staircases from offshore oil rigs, more or less completely covered in rust. When I mentioned the paint to the guy unloading us, he just laughed and said the paint would be no match for the temperature in the galvanizing kettle.
They told us it would be ready in a week, Mardi Gras notwithstanding, and I had another truck booked for Wednesday. But when I called Wednesday morning they said, no, it would be Friday, and so we waved off the rental truck and rebooked for this coming Tuesday. Picking up Friday afternoon was not an option because there'd be no one at the yard to unload it so that we could return the truck Saturday.
White primer is on!
In the meantime, the yard finished prep, sanding, and masking on most of the hull, and last Friday they shot the primer coat. Because of our light finish, the primer itself is white, and seeing Vector in fresh white paint for the first time was something of a milestone.
This water bottle left by one of the crew got primered as well. Yellow hue is from the fiberglass "windows" of the shed.
The weekend brought with it the height of Carnival season, with a more or less unending stream of parades the entire weekend and right up to mid-day on Mardi Gras. It's easy to go over the top here, and I know some folks try to make every parade, or even one a day. That's a lot of standing for us, and we decided to pick and choose. Last weekend we chose to do one major parade, the Krewe of Endymion, which is not only one of the largest parades of the season, but also had a route that came much closer to us than many other parades.
Dancers at Krewe of Endymion.
We opted to take in an hour or so of the parade and then have dinner, and I made reservations at upscale Vessel NOLA just two blocks from the parade route. We made our way into the thick of things on the scooters, parking just a block from the restaurant, and then found our way to the parade route just as the first float was approaching.
KC and the Sunshine Band, slated to perform later at the Endymion Ball at the Superdome. KISS was also performing and had a float in the parade.
We found a spot in an intersection between two strips of neutral ground. The neutral ground itself gets divvied up and staked out hours before the parades start, and locals who've been laying claim to a particular patch of neutral ground for decades can be mighty territorial about it; in theory, they are not supposed to cordon off any part of the street or sidewalk, but they do. So we were close enough to see most of it, and well-positioned to snag a few throws, but it was rather tight.
The king of Endymion 51. Written LI in many places, just like the Superbowl.
By the time we walked to dinner, we were adorned with quite a few beads and even some of those chemical glow strip necklaces. We were a bit surprised to find the restaurant pleasantly uncrowded, and were seated immediately even though we were a bit early, on account of desperately needing a restroom after a beer on the parade route. The parade was still in full swing.
Maids of Endymion. Like the king, and the headliners, some of the very few riders permitted to be maskless on a float.
After dinner we walked to a different spot on the route, a bit closer to the start. We were surprised to find that we were only just past mid-parade or so in the float lineup. Sure, Endymion is a big parade, but it seemed like we should be further along. Only later, when we got home and checked back in online, did we learn that a pickup truck with an extremely drunk driver had careened into the parade route just two blocks away, sending over two dozen people to the hospital. Our second near-miss of our New Orleans visit.
One of the numerous marching bands at Krewe of Endymion. These guys were good.
The reason did not become clear to us until the parade came through, but, for openers, the tables are set on the bare concrete floor of the halls, without carpet. Also, contrary to what one might expect of a formal ball, neither food nor drink is provided. And so entering the convention center one is struck by the oddity of revelers dressed in black tie, yet pulling wheeled coolers as if they are going to an NFL tailgate. We brought two bottles of wine, one red, and one white.
With the doors opening at 7pm and the parade not expected to arrive until well past 8pm, we reckoned that we could do better than tin-foil chafing-dish food that was available on pre-order from the convention center caterer. So instead we made dinner reservations at trendy Cochon in the Warehouse District, just two blocks from the convention center. We figured we had plenty of time to arrive by scooter before the parade made traffic untenable.
Thus the evening started with us dancing around one another in the tiny coach getting into our formalwear. Donning black tie is one of the very few occasions when I lament the passing of an era when a gentleman had a gentleman's gentleman to help him dress. Somehow we got the gowns zipped, the cuffs linked, the plackets studded, and the bows tied, and boy am I glad that I still fit into the same tuxedo I wore to our wedding some decade and a half ago. Sadly, my patent shoes are showing their age, but they served the purpose.
And then we put our motorcycle helmets on and rode to dinner through the French Quarter and the Warehouse District. We got more than a few looks en route, and the couple seated next to us at dinner inquired about our dress. They turned out to be from Sacramento, and were staying on the Celebrity cruise ship in port (which is adjacent to the convention center). The ship was docked for three nights on a special Mardi Gras cruise.
We walked to the convention center, picked up our will-call tickets, and found our way to our table, where we were seated with a family from Canada, a woman from Oregon, and two women I never managed to catch up with. After a short walk around the floor we ended up near the stage, dancing to the tight cover band that played all the way until parade time.
Dancing to the cover band, complete with impressive light show.
The parade route is fenced off and makes a big loop around the convention center; our table was right next to the route and so we had front-row seats. The parade was headed by the New Orleans Police motor unit, lights flashing and sirens blaring. The sight of this inside the convention center is poorly captured in words, so instead I have a short video.
NOPD Motor Unit leading the Krew of Orpheus parade into Morial Convention Center
The remainder of the parade was an absolute cacophony, with several marching bands, a number of dance troupes, and every float with music either live or recorded. The parade, at this point, has been under way for something more than four hours, and you can see how tired the participants are as they make their way around the final few hundred feet of route. The drummers, in particular, seemed well past done.
The view from our table as we awaited the parade. A long way from the stage, but we could see the band action on the jumbo screens. LA State Police are stationed at the fence, which was closed just before the parade arrived.
We had not really given it much thought ahead of time, but one consequence of being at the very end of a Carnival parade route is that the throws come fast and furious -- the Krewes are trying to get everything off the floats before they get off themselves. We were pelted with quite a number of entire unopened bags of Mardi Gras beads. One of the throws knocked our wine bottles over, causing me to cork them forthwith, but a later throw took the red bottle off the table entirely and smashed it on the floor, no doubt why there are no carpets deployed for this event.
A float approaches. Watch out for flying beads.
We came away with quite the array of loot, from giant beads to blinky whistles and headbands. Louise snagged a colorful stuffed centipede. As is true all over the city, about half what was thrown landed directly on the floor. New Orleans is the only place I've ever been where "Mardi Gras Beads" have their own bin at the recycling center. (Undamaged strings in good condition can be donated to a local charity, who cleans them up and sells them to next year's Krewes.)
One of the many excellent marching bands from all over the country. They looked tired.
After the parade was over, with many of the floats parked around the edges of the hall, the riders took their seats at the tables to continue the party. We stayed until a half past midnight, by which time I was encountering women in ball gowns in the men's room (the line for the women's extended well into the hall), again reminiscent of the aforementioned NFL games. The headline entertainment was just starting, but we were past done, and we made our way back out to the street.
One of the spectacular floats "parked" near our table. The Krewe is already off and at their tables.
If we were a sight in formalwear and helmets on our way into town, we were more of a sight in formalwear, helmets, beads, and blinky lights on our way back out. By this time the party in the quarter was in full swing, and we passed quite the cadre of scantily clad revelers as we rode down Canal Street. Many were already staggering.
The aftermath... throws all over the floor. It looks just like this outdoors along parade routes, too.
That was really as much drunken mayhem as we needed to see in the quarter, and so we opted not to go back on Mardi Gras itself. Unlike the parades and even the balls, which are attended predominantly by locals, the quarter is wall-to-wall tourists, sprinkled with the types who would prey upon them. I'll make my requisite pilgrimage to Bourbon Street a bit later on, when the mayhem has died down to a dull roar.
The yard was off both Monday and Tuesday. Mardi Gras is actually a legal holiday in Louisiana, and many businesses are closed. Traffic is miserable for anyone else; we stayed home the whole day. Wednesday morning the crew came back to work, and things returned to normal throughout most of the city.
Moondust on the hull. The picture does not do it justice, but we think it looks awesome.
Despite it being a short week, the crew quickly finished prep of the primer coat, and Thursday they sprayed color on the hull. It looks great, and we think we made the right choice by going with the Moondust. Friday morning they taped and in the afternoon they shot the boot stripe. This week they will finish the prep above decks and start spraying the Insignia White topsides and maybe they will even get to the decks, which we are having done in Tuff Coat elastomer in a color to match the hull.
Black bootstripe is on.
Friday I came down with a cold and decided to go to bed early. On my way to bed I stepped in a wet spot on the floor, and my first thought was that the cat had peed on our friend's carpet. Fortunately, it smelled like nothing other than fresh water, and it seemed like there was too much of it to be cat pee.
This spot is right next to the shower, and opening the access panel below the shower floor revealed a small puddle. The drains seemed fine, so we opened the access panel behind the shower valves to find a drip at one of the fittings. The RV industry had just moved away from failure-prone polybutyrate piping (amid numerous lawsuits) when this rig was built, but apparently not all the fittings had been updated, because these look like polybutyrate to me. I turned the water off to the entire rig (there are no individual shutoff valves) and went to bed.
Broken fitting. If you click to enlarge you can see a piece of the butyrene is actually missing.
All fixed. The push-on fittings are larger, but still easily fit behind the access panel.
Elsewhere on the project front we determined that the "horned" hawse pipes would not work and ordered the more plebeian replacements, I received the backup AIS which turns out to be inoperative (I bought it as parts), and we negotiated with a welder to rebuild part of the anchor roller.
I expect we will be in the RV another two weeks. This Tuesday we'll make the trek out to Jennings and back to get the ground tackle from the galvanizer, and Thursday I have another car booked so I can take Louise to the airport at oh-dark-early on Friday for her trip to Abbottsford, BC for our nephew's wedding. I'll be here to ride herd on the painters until she returns on Tuesday.