back in the u ss a

While I was trudging along the streets of Kilkenny in search of the no-longer-existent county jail, with the wind howling and pushing me along, I couldn’t help but think, yes, in a few days we’ll be back in the States, down in the keys, and the winter in the sunny south that I’d been long anticipating could begin. It was a good thought. Winter in Ireland isn’t cold, but it’s no day at the beach.

Beach was the only thing on my agenda for our three days in the keys. That and laundry. With the latter out of the way, I made good on the beach thought. Nights were chilly, getting down in the 40s, but daytime temps were OK. On Sunday, February 12, which is apparently the New Year if you’re following Celtic tradition that features Brigid in there somewhere (I’ve got some studying up to do), I headed down to the beach in Marathon to at least stick my toes in the water. I’d been forewarned that the water was freezing, but my toes said it was warm. Time to give my bathing suit a workout. It was perfect. So, if indeed this is New Year’s Day, then I am now an official member of the Polar Bear Club, with cred.

The beach in Marathon

If we were going to get to New Orleans in time for Mardi Gras, we had to get a move on. Monday was pack the car day and head north through Florida – with an 11-hour drive to Tallahassee to look forward to. It was a long day, made a lot better with music to listen to in the CD player. One of the things we missed in Ireland was all our CDs, which didn’t make the cut. So it was good to dig into the music again. Our mantra today was THIS IS IT! courtesy of Van in Belfast.

We arrived in Tallahassee just in time for midnight, and Max, Bridget’s friend from Ithaca, was waiting for us. Thanks, Max, for putting us up for two nights. As usual, I was way behind in my blog, so I put the focus on catching up there. And getting an oil change for Dexy, who was thirsty. Happy Valentine’s Day!

Wednesday we were ready to roll. Leaving Florida and on through the southern tips of Alabama and Mississippi and onto Louisiana. We gained an hour in there, with the change to Central Time, and that put us in New Orleans late afternoon. Actually, not New Orleans proper, but Chalmette, eight miles east of NOLA, and our home for two weeks. First item on the agenda: Unload the car. Second item: Head downtown and check out Bourbon Street. That’s what we’re here for, right? It’s Mardi Gras and Bourbon Street is the place to be.

I expected it to be more crammed full of people than it was, but as I was reminded, the party is just getting started. Give it a few days and this town is going to be wall-to-wall people. In a town that never sleeps.

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