January 17, 2019

The trip to New Orleans began with a birthday celebration. “Wolfie”, Molly’s son, just turned 13 years of age. “Vagabond” is the name of the Anacortes restaurant where we gathered, Molly’s treat. Frank and Zack, two of Wolfie’s friends, joined us. Sherry told me quietly that I should feel honored because Molly considered her son’s birthday a “family” event and she had included me. I was honored, I am honored. Anything to do with Sherry and her family is special. I feel so lucky at my age to be enjoying any of it and I know it and am filled with gratitude for it.

I’d not heard of the Vagabond Restaurant but it’s apparently popular among the kids and locals, funky Interior but good-tasting food although with little regard for health. Molly and I splurged with the day’s special, a baked macaroni and cheese dish with chicken which was delicious. Sherry chose fried chicken tenders and fries. Wolfie opted for the classic hamburger and fries. The other two boys had fried chicken and waffles. The birthday “cake” was individually-served Brownies (baked in little pyrex cups) topped with ice cream.  Not out of virtue but because we were too full, Sherry and I skipped the dessert.

From Vagabond to the Airporter bus, in keeping with the nomadic theme, was easy enough, Molly having piled all our luggage in her car before hand. At 7:15 PM Sherry and I were aboard, on our way to SeaTac and an overnight stay at Coast Gateway Hotel. We had decided to get to Seattle the night before our morning flight due to possible slowdowns. The viaduct in Seattle is being dismantled and the new tunnel is not yet open. Then, too, the federal government shutdown might effect the time it took to get through airport security. As it turned out, neither was a problem. The stay at the hotel was pleasant enough, giving Sherry and I a chance to get our bearings after the rush of preparation for the trip. The room was small but clean with two queen-size beds. We would stay there again.

Sherry also reminded me that she and Karl, had stayed at that same hotel on occasion as they made their way to New Orleans  (Karl, Sherry’s husband of 39 years, had died suddenly almost 3 years ago now). I acknowledge that I’m doubly honored on this trip. First to be included in family events and secondly to be accompanying Sherry to New Orleans, Karl’s favorite destination by far. Because of their many trips to New Orleans, usually twice a year, they accumulated many air miles on American Airlines. Consequently, Sherry was able to apply part of them to our trip which meant, among other things, that we flew first-class which is not my normal experience. It did not take me long however to adjust to the luxury of comfortable seats and attentive service. We also were able to check our bags through without additional cost. How nice it was not to be rolling my luggage around, to have my arms free. I promised myself that from now on I’m checking my bags through, no matter the cost. It’s worth it to me. I have no compunction about traveling first-class either except there are some cases where the cost is simply too outrageously high to consider.

I’m now with Sherry in our historic hotel, Le Richelieu, on Chartres Street in the French Quarter, and will begin my first walk-through, stopping first for coffee and a French pastry, after our morning toilette. Sherry is showering now as I type away in my bed, one of two queen-sized ones, in what is a spacious room for Sherry’s three-week stay. Among other things, it features the old high ceilings and even a pair of French doors opening onto Chartres Street below. The exterior wall is brick, painted white, which adds to the charm. Sherry’s noted that our room is much larger than the rooms she’s occupied on previous stays and seems to have been upgraded with recent paint and new carpet.

I feel good that Sherry’s going to have this space to come back to after an arduous day of teaching at the KIPP school (Knowledge is Power Program), an all-black school for underserved kids. This is Sherry’s fourth year of teaching in this program. —–Okay. Now it’s my turn to shower.