The Grand Story Of My Trip To New Orleans For The Final Four (tm)

Rolled out of town at 11am Friday. 6.5 hrs to Memphis. On the way to Memphis, recalled that Matt "Spaz" Voldeng lives there. Arrived, found Kurt (brother) in phone book, found Matt working at Walmart pharmacy via Kurt. Went out to dinner with Matt, stayed overnight at his house. We had a nice little visit. He is getting married May 15 to Katie, an interior decorator.

Saturday: Left 7am. 6.5 more hrs to NO. Found Superdome. Found KU hotel, where pep rally is, and where I would meet others. Walked around a bit and found several people selling tickets for $100 to $150 each. Bought a single for $100. Other known peoples turn up around 2:30, including Mark Golladay and girlfriend Jan, Phil Duran and girlfriend Susan, and Paul McAllister and fiancee Katie (another Katie). We all hung out, watched KU bus leave hotel, etc., then headed toward Superdome.

I slowly learned that I was mistaken in buying my upper-level ticket for $100. Mark found two middle-level tickets for $85 each. The other folks found two upper-level pairs for $55/ticket; then turned around and sold them for (I think) $90/ticket, and instead of going to the game they took their profit and watched the game at the nearby Holiday Inn.

Later Mark said the guy he had been sitting beside at the game told him he paid $1000 for his tickets. YOW. Then again, maybe Mark just made up that story because he knew I felt bad for paying $100.

On the way to the Superdome I passed a guy doing the shell game thing -- 3 cards, two aces of spades and one queen of hearts, shuffle them around, you bet where the queen is. I saw a guy win a couple times from him. Then the third time, I was watching very carefully, and when the guy picked his card I knew he had picked wrong; sure enough, it was an ace. Then the dealer said who knows where it really is, and a lady pitched in $100 and chose the card I had my eye on, and sure enough, it was an ace as well. I was mystified. Needless to say, I did not partake of the game except as a spectator.

Getting into the Superdome was a little annoying. There are not enough doors for the number of people it holds. I don't recommend it as a place to be (needing to get out of) in a catastrophe.

The basketball game was depressing. To make matters worse, I was surrounded by North Carolina fans; at least the general area I was in was more or less nonpartisan. After game 1 was over I moved down to empty seats in the middle level for the second game. Not feeling the same hatred for Kentucky that some KU fans harbour, and having a moderate dislike for Chris Webber, I was disappointed in that outcome as well. Oh well. At least the championship turned out OK.

After the game I sold my Monday ticket for $25. I forgot to rip out the stub from Friday's game before I sold it. *Sigh*.

By coincidence, I met Mark and Jan coming out of the Superdome. After selling our tickets, we headed (by crowd momentum) through this mall next to the Superdome. After pausing briefly to eye a "CBS sports" banner, we gave up and headed on down the road, and made the walk (still more or less by crowd momentum) to the KU hotel. There we met up with PMac and Katie, who said Phil and Susan were at Pat O'Briens down on the French Quarter. Headed there, along with the 60,000 other people.

French Quarter/Bourbon Street is quite a spectacle. For those of you who haven't: it's worth seeing. bars, lots of music clubs, strip joints, cajun food, and (at this time) bajillions of people. I understand the bajillions of people is not necessarily normal, although that certainly makes it more of a spectacle.

Didn't have to wait long in line for Pat O'Briens. Got in, found Phil and Susan, hung out. Had a hurricane, which is a big red tasty drink whose flavor belies its alcohol content. I felt a little woozy for a while.

PMac and Katie and I decided it was time to go back to the Superdome Motor Inn. Two little stories will give the general impression of the Superdome Motor Inn. 1. When Mark et al checked in Saturday afternoon (before they found me), the guy in the room next door said "Oh, I see your room has a door now". I guess the day before it hadn't. 2. This story follows from my and PMac and Katie's deciding it was time to go there. We got the sole room key from Mark. As we left Pat O'Briens for the crowd-gauntlet down Bourbon St., we decided we should get beignets (sp?), these pastry-things that are a Thing One Is Supposed To Do in NO, so we went (walked) to this little cafe where one gets them (many blocks in the opposite direction from where we needed to end up, naturally). We had them (YUM), then it started to rain heavily (as opposed to the sprinkles we'd had all night), so we caught a taxi to my car (by KU hotel), then it took a while for the attendants to get my car (parking garage), then we finally got to the Superdome Motor Inn. We expected to find Mark, Jan, Phil, Katie lying in the hallway unable to get in, but the hallway was empty. As PMac inserted the key in the door, we were surprised when Mark opened it from the inside. Turns out they had got home, knocked on the door to no avail, and then leaned on the door, and it opened. What a place.

However, sleep is sleep no matter how one slices it.

Next morning Mark and Jan left early because Jan had to catch a morning flight from I think Mobile, AL back to KC. PMac and Katie and I went out to breakfast (much later) with a friend of Katie's from NO. We went to this pancake place called, um, I forget, but I get the impression it's fairly well known. We left Phil and Susan still more or less unconscious at the Superdome Motor Inn. Phil and Susan would meet up with PMac and Katie later at the airport.

After breakfast I began the long but uneventful trip back. It rained some of the way, about the middle third. Memphis's being in that third, and its being 6:30ish in the evening, and its being a Sunday, and my desiring to get home, all conspired to make me drop the idea of stopping at Graceland. I forgot to count from the beginning of the trip, but for the last 10 hours I averaged 61 mph, including all stops. Mind you, two of those were about 15 or 20 minute meal stops.

And there you have it.

Tom Magliery