|Bourbon Street at Night; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008|
Once I researched a few of the Manatees and finished my project in Crane Creek – "The World of Manatees; Protection of Impact on Marine Life and Wildlife," it was time to depart to the Gulf of Mexico (GOM) for a project for the earlier part of the year. Before I could work in the GOM I had to first complete training that was essential to have prior to my project – this training was located in Lafayette, Louisiana. After I departed for Lafayette, Louisiana I was scheduled to grab a taxi to the hotel nearby the facility. The flight was really laid back, as were the flight attendants. The girl, Lisa, next to me started talking about her recent visit with her fiancé to the Colorado Rockies. It really is funny how and where you meet people – I have 2 really good friends that I have met on an airplane. When I was talking to my new friend she discussed her business meeting that she was traveling to Lafayette for.
We quickly arrived in Lafayette and I was looking around for a taxi to catch to the hotel. Lisa and her business partners asked me if I needed a ride – they had a complementary mode of transportation. I glanced at the non-existent taxis in the airport parking lot and agreed to ride with them to my hotel. I normally do not take rides with people that I have not met before, but Lisa was a really sweet girl and we talked for hours on end during the plane ride. I arrived safely at my hotel and thanked Lisa and her friends for a few minutes, then Lisa gave me her business card and told me to facebook her! You have to love facebook – this is a great way to keep in touch with those “random” acquaintances that you meet along the way. I met with the other two girls who were attending HUET training the following day – the girls’ names were Caroline and Jill. Both girls were best friends from high school and were really nice.
|Called Conti; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008|
The 1 day course of HUET training was quite interesting! The definition given by Wikipedia is that the training involves sinking in a pool while rotating the training module upside down and focuses students on bracing for impact, identifying primary and secondary exit points, avoiding, surfacing for air, and. The conventional simulators simulate an immersed cabin rotating around single axis, usually lengthwise. Most trainees find that the repetition of predictable submerging and controlled rotation does not offer any additional improvement to their survival skills. While the traditional simulators can only be turned left or right in the horizontal plane, the new generation simulators can turn 360º in both the horizontal and vertical planes and can increase post-accident underwater survival by up to 250%. My personal definition of HUET is that it was a training that taught me how to fend off sharks with my jeans if needed, cleverly create attention to the passing airplanes above our group, work well with others in stressed conditions, and most importantly, strategically swim out of a “crashed” helicopter.
|Home of the Famous Alligator Bites; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008|
I had brought my swim suit top and board shorts; I was unaware that I would have to get in the pool fully dressed and practice these exercises. Needless to say, I received my certificate and was soaking wet! I left my clothes back at the hotel, so I had to stay wet for most of the day until we arrived at the hotel. I quickly hopped out of the car, got dressed, grabbed my bags, and then we were en route to New Orleans. There was a huge Louisiana State University or LSU football game that weekend and the roads were packed bumper to bumper! We still made good time, but traffic was a bit overwhelming. I finally was dropped off at my hotel and as soon as I went inside I was instantly called by my name by one of the onshore coordinators. I checked in with the hotel clerk and discovered that we would be there for 2-3 days longer than scheduled. The onshore coordinator asked to weigh my bags – what did he mean, “Weigh my bags?” What is the purpose of this? Immediately it hit me, so this is what Mary Jo or MJ must have briefed me about – we were restricted on the amount of weight that we could carry onboard with us. Regardless, I weighed my bags, showed my work certifications (including my new HUET certificate), and even weighed myself. The onshore coordinator was really nice because he introduced me to the other girl’s that were working on the project.
|Tropical Isle Pub with Green Grenades; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008|
That night I stayed in and recapped the entire day – talk about exhausting! The next day at breakfast I met the girl’s that I briefly ran into last night. After hearing about their stories on Bourbon Street last night Mardi Gras’s events, I was invited to come out with them and the guys that were working on the project that night. I never have been to New Orleans, let alone the infamous Bourbon Street! I was pumped for this experience! A group of 7 of us headed down to Bourbon Street on the very last day of Mardi-Gras; the streets were still jammed packed full! We went to a restaurant that served alligator – I tried a few alligator bites, which in all honesty, tasted like chicken! I ordered another local dish non-alligator and it was excellent!
We decided to journey to a few pubs down the street. As we walked further down the beaded streets, more people started flooding the streets drinks in hand. We finally stopped in the pub Tropical Isle whose specialty were “Hand Grenades” – a mixture of gin, grain alcohol, melon liqueur, rum, and vodka (recipe listed below). Tropical Isle was the happening spot – people were everywhere at night, no closing hours, party never ended, and you can walk down the streets with Hand Grenades (one in each hand if you would like!)! The Hand Grenade is New Orleans’s most powerful and popular drink; the bartenders were telling us that people fly all over the world to enjoy this powerful concoction. The rapper Ludacris mentions drinking Hand Grenades in his album Red Light District in the song, “Pimpin’ All Over the World.” The secret recipe was invented by French Quarter nightclub owners Pam Fortner and Earl Bernhardt in 1984 – this great tasting melon flavored drink is so important that it has a federally Registered Trademark. There is a rule that no GRENADE™ may be sold in the U.S., the Bahamas or Mexico, other than Tropical Isle® or its licensees. Believe me, it definitely is an awesome and tasteful drink, especially frozen!
|Green Grenade; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008|
1 1/2 oz Gin
1 1/2 oz Grain alcohol
1 1/2 oz Melon liqueur
1 1/2 oz Rum
1 1/2 oz Vodka
|Bourbon Street with Sign; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008|
What is Mardi Gras you may ask? Mardi Gras means “Fat Tuesday,” which is the last day for Catholics to indulge – and often overindulge – before the sober weeks of fasting approaches. In the United States, the infamous event that has made its way to Bourbon Street attracts over millions of individuals each year! Festive parades with millions of colorful beaded necklaces tossed in the crowds make their way through this party-loving city. Other cities famous for Mardi Gras celebrations include Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, Sydney in Australia, Port of Spain in Trinidad and Tobago, Quebec City, Quebec in Canada; Mazatlán, Sinaloa in Mexico; and New Orleans, Louisiana in the United States.
|Bourbon Street at Day; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008|
|Tropical Isle Sign; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008|
After a few days of partaking in some good ole New Orleans traditions, it was time to get to work! The night before I went to sleep I dreamt about the beads that were stuck in the storm drains, Green Grenades, and the helicopter that I was about to venture on the following morning.
|Derek and I; New Orleans, Louisiana 01.2008|