It started out simple enough…
I was in Houston for Christmas and Merelyn had a couple of days off for New Years. We hadn’t really made plans for anything so we decided to head to Galveston for some quick beach time and then head home for a quiet New Year’s Eve together. Then, about a half an hour into our drive, Merelyn said, “You know…we could just drive to New Orleans for New Year’s.”
Now, she’s mentioned driving to New Orleans before. It’s only about 6 hours away and neither of us have been there. It could be fun, but every time we’ve looked into it we’ve decided not to go. I knew it was something she wanted to do before leaving Houston. So when she threw the suggestion out there (half joking I’m sure), I took the bait.
“Is there any reason why we couldn’t go right now?”
We went through the list: No clothes, no toothbrush, the cats didn’t have enough food, etc. None of those reasons, I argued, would be a problem in the next 24 to 36 hours. We could drive to New Orleans, be there in time for dinner and hang out for New Year’s, maybe spend the night then drive home. No problem. Merelyn seemed a little surprised and scared that I was actually accepting her challenge but I thought it would be FUN!
As quick as that, we changed our plans from a few hours in Galveston to an overnight trip to New Orleans. We made a quick stop at the Johnson Space Center then headed East.
We were both so excited to be on this spontaneous adventure that the drive was easy. Merelyn was excited to be exploring and I was excited to get out of Texas and see some of Louisiana. We usually have a good time on road trips, laughing and talking and exploring the sights. This was no different and the added excitement of just going, without a plan, made it all that much better.
About an hour outside of New Orleans we started looking for a hotel (we found none for a reasonable price) and a bank so we could grab some cash. We found a bank next to a grocery store, so we grabbed some cash and did a quick run for some essentials (toothbrushes and beer). Then we were off to explore the French Quarter!
We parked in the sketchiest of sketchy parking garages where they were packing cars in like it was a contest. I was convinced they were going to keep piling cars in until the rickety, rust-bucket structure collapsed. We paid our $20 and high-tailed it to Bourbon Street, right in the heart of the French Quarter, where the action was just picking up steam.
Even through the thick, drunken crowds of Bourbon Street, New Orleans’ historic French Quarter is charming. We grabbed a beer and walked up and down the streets and alleyways checking out the architecture and looking through the windows of the shops and galleries. We got away from the crowds a little bit and took our time sight-seeing. We walked down to the waterfront and walked along the river for a while. Then ventured back into the rabble and checked out a few bars and pubs, had a couple more drinks and a snack.
Closer to midnight we headed back down to the riverfront park and waited for the big fireworks show. It was cold and I had offered up my jacket to keep my wife from getting chilled. We hung out on a grassy rise, looking out over the Mississippi, holding each other close to stay warm. It’s been difficult these past couple years spending so much time apart. So when midnight came, there was a sweet and simple triumph in getting to kiss my wife at the ringing in of the New Year while fireworks painted the night sky…in New Orleans.
Spur of the moment adventures can be full of magic and excitement. There’s nothing better than ending your day in a totally unexpected and amazing way. That morning, we had a modest plan and no expectations and we ended our night with a magical moment in a new city. I can only hope that throughout our marriage we make time for many more spontaneous adventures together.
I loved our New Orleans adventure, does anyone else have any awesome, unexpected, spontaneous adventures they can share?