Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The Midnight Gala & New Orleans: A recap

I'm finally home, unpacked and settled after my trip to New Orleans. If I had to summarize the whole thing in one word, that word would be "Incredible." However, since that would make this a very short blog post, I'm going to expand on that. 

My travel day started at 2 am, when not one, but two different alarms went off, informing me that my fitful dozing time was over. I wasn't even close to a deep sleep, but I was making an attempt to "rest my eyes."  As for why the two alarms? There was no way in hell I was going risk oversleeping and missing my flight. I got to the airport without any trouble, though figuring out roundabouts at 3 am is not something I recommend without a whole lot more sleep/caffeine than I had, had at the time. Thank heavens there wasn't any other traffic around for me to contend with. 

noooooooooooo! No Double double for me.

You know you're at the airport too early in the damned morning when not even the Tim Hortons is open yet. I stared longingly at the still- barred kiosk, my hopes of coffee and maybe a bear claw floating away like the pre-dawn mist drifting around outside. Planes can fly in mist. You know what they can't fly in? Fog. And that's exactly what was surrounding my next destination, Seattle. Yay for being stuck on a Bombadier prop plane for an extra forty minutes waiting for clearance to take off. If you've never been on one, be glad. These puppies are not built for comfort. two narrow seats on either side of a very narrow (even for coach) aisle. 

Once we did get to Seattle, things got better. I played nice with Immigration, dropped off my luggage again, and headed back in for another round of TSA security. I am still convinced that no one should be required to submit to taking off their shoes, being scanned and groped before being allowed so much as a coffee...but I digress. by 6 pm local time, I'm in New Orleans and ready to melt since it's now nearly 100 degrees. Holy hell's furnace, batman. But hey, I'm in New Orleans! This is a city that has been on my list of places I wanted to experience for many years, and I was HERE!

Let the fun begin.

The Bourbon Orleans hotel is a delight. From the delicate scent of flowers perfuming the lobby to the elegant rooms and amazing staff, I loved staying there. (Also, the fried catfish etouffee with grits is delicious. Seriously yum.)  Laurie Roma and Kali Argent had arrived the night before, and I met up with them as soon as I had found my room (on the most haunted floor of one of the most haunted hotels in the city...yay!)  Hugs and hellos were exchanged and then we were off for dinner at Pere Antoine's. It was my introduction to the food on offer in this amazing city, and I was hooked from the start. 

The next few days flew boy in a blur of laughter, friendship, amazing food, a few shennanigans, and a whole lot of fun. The Gala itself didn't start until Friday, but we had plans to make, swag bags to pack, and in between all that, we went roaming around the French Quarter. (and tried to avoid getting sunburned or dehydrated.)

The Meet and Greet was held in the hotel bar, and we kicked it off with a toast and a round of something called a "Midas cup" That would be a BIG gold bottle full of champagne cocktail goodness. Yum!  The Gala was off and running. Later on we met up again and headed out for a vampire walking tour of the city. It was fascinating, fun, and despite the dangerous combination of cocktails and uneven sidewalks, everyone made it back to the hotel in one piece. Our guide, Natalie, was a gifted storyteller, and I loved every moment of the tour. 
Lacey Thorn on a shopping spree

The next day was the signing, a chance to listen to a brilliant seminar on copyright law by two of our guests who work in intellectual property law, and then..the ball!  In between the signing and the ball, Lacey Thorn and I slipped out to do a little walking around and shopping. It was the first time we've met in person, and Lacey is a lovely, huggable ball of energy with a southern twang so contagious that had developed a drawl by the time the gala was over. 

The Masquerade Ball was unforgettable. The costumes. The food. The people. The hours flew by as we danced, laughed and caroused. Hotel guests drifted by the ballroom doors, the music and masks drawing all sorts of attention (and a few gate crashers.)  I had so much fun, and judging by the smiles and laughter, I wasn't alone. 

We had so much fun, we're going to do it all again next year, in Las Vegas!  I can't wait, and even though I just got back from New Orleans, I'm already yearning for next year's bash. It's going to be incredible and I hope to see you there! 

After the gala, some of us headed out onto Bourbon Street. We were simply too hyped to go to bed yet. It's a strange, alcohol-fueled wonderland of weirdness out there, especially at 2 am on a Saturday night. I cannot imagine what it's like during Mardi Gras! 

 Over the next few days I explored the city and said goodbye to my friends and fellow authors as they all headed home. The last 48 hours I was on my own, and I enjoyed every second of it. I made friends with my hotel room neighbours, wandered the streets, met up with the locals, and sampled all the food and beverages I could get my hands on, including something called a "Ressurection." All I can tell you is that it was delicious, very alcoholic, blue, and came in a wicked cup that is now claiming a place of honor in my office. 

Yes, that's coke in the glass because I drank all the blue booze!

My last day in NOLA was spent enjoying my favourite foods, saying goodbye to some of the locals I'd met, and gathering hugs from my favourites. I got to grab a quick drink with some fellow Canadians from Edmonton, and then I was off to the airport. 

It was the trip of a lifetime, and I have no doubt that next October will be another incredible adventure. Midnight Gala 2016, I'm already counting down the days. 

If you want to see more pics from my trip, you can check out my photo album on Facebook. To learn more about the Midnight Gala and check out the photos of this amazing event, head over to the