Thursday, August 18, 2022

New Orleans Tortugal Cruiser Reunion

This photo has the largest number of participants in any photo taken. Ellen (Cordelia) took it at the welcome breakfast at Vintage in the Garden District on Friday. We never did get a total group photo.

The first (and hopefully not the last!) Tortugeezers Reunion was brilliantly hosted by Roy and Dale in New Orleans from August 4 - 9th.  Ten cruiser couples and Roy & Dale's son & partner, John Robert & Laura came for the festivities. The cruiser couples were: Roy & Dale from Wahoo, Marsha & Rick from She Wolf, Jerry & Debarah from Czech & Mate, Ellen & her sister Barbara formerly of Patience, Renate & Jim from Emerald Seas, Peter & Laurie from Dora, Ellen & Dave from Cordelia, Rosie & Don from Chickcharne (honorary Tortugeezers), Jens & Dani from Arwen and ourselves, formerly of Scott Free. 

Dani, Scott, John Robert & Dale, Peter, Laurie, Roy, Jerry, Debarah, Dave and Jens at dinner on Thursday night.

Scott and I flew in early on Thursday and were at Sammye and Grouper's by 11 AM in the Marigny district. We had a nice visit with them and then at their suggestion walked down for lunch at their "local", Nonno's. They had told us the names of the staff so we were welcomed in! We had most of the first floor: the living room/dining room, bedroom & bath, and shared the kitchen with our hosts. That afternoon Sammye arranged for a pedicure for me at a friend's salon and it was great. Grouper drove me over and back. They are so nice! After a much needed nap, Roy & Dale, John Robert, Jens & Dani, Jerry & Debarah, Dave & Ellen, and Peter & Laurie all came over and met us there. We walked into the French Quarter to have dinner. We picked a happening place where the music was hot and the food was delicious. We were all able to sit together, although conversation was occasionally challenging. 

Here's a group of us on the walking tour of the Garden District. I was happy to have an umbrella to shelter from the heat.. 

Scott and I were up much too early as we normally wake around 6:00 and it was an hour earlier here. So we walked down to the Ruby Slipper Cafe nearby. Terrific breakfast and huge, we had the leftovers the next day! It's in an old bank office. We hung around until meeting everyone at 10 AM at Vintage for coffee and beignets. Rosie & Don and Jerry & Debarah were across the street so we shared the first of many Uber 6 passenger vans. It was fun seeing everyone and a lively spot. 

Coffee and Beignets at Vintage in the Garden District: Heather, Ellen, Barbara, Laurie, Renate and Marsha.

Afterwards Dale gave us a tour of the Garden District. It was like herding cats for sure, but we generally stayed together and loved the beautiful homes and gardens. When the heat started to get to us, we adjourned for drinks at Tracy's before a short walk down the side street for PoBoys at Parasol's. Then we all headed back to our respective lodgings to rest up and prepare for the welcome dinner at Roy & Dale's home. Sammye and Grouper are good friends of Roy & Dale and invited for dinner so they drove us over. 

This wide angle gives you the best look at their living room. That's Dave playing in the background after dinner. Lots more photos follow the text!

It was a celebration for sure! Their home is so lovely and the dinner was amazing: Roy & Dale's Seafood Gumbo, potato salad and bread. Tables were set inside and outside on the balcony.  After dinner Dave and John Robert entertained us with a medley of Dave's own songs and other favorites. 

The final room at the Van Gogh exhibit where a montage of his paintings lit up the walls and moved & changed around us. 

The next day we were on our own. Rosie & Don and Jerry & Debarah were staying across the street from us so they joined us. We got tickets to the Van Gogh Immersive Experience and we all enjoyed it. We joined Dave & Ellen at Landry's Seafood Restaurant in the main square up on the second floor for lunch. We had just been caught in a downpour, but everyone managed with umbrellas and running.

Scott, Ellen and Dave listen to the presentation (unfortunately, the presenter is in front of Dave).

Dave suggested the Backstreet Cultural Museum in the nearby Treme neighborhood afterwards so we walked over. This was a fun and very informative tiny museum. It chronicles the story of the black culture in New Orleans as told by the people who lived it. Three young locals talked of the history and their own part in. Their personal stories made it so much for accessible. And the "Indian suits" were gorgeous!

The foursome pose in front of the Louis Armstrong statue

Meanwhile Renate & Jim and Jens & Dani went to the Aquarium and the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture. They walked all around the French Quarter until it was time to rest up and prepare for the next meal.  The rest of our group pursued various museums or just walked around. Then everyone rested up before our next group activity.

The view, in one direction, from the Hot Tin Bar

The evening began at the Hot Tin Bar on the top of the Ponchartrain Hotel for the incredible New Orleans views.  We all gathered out on the large balcony to exchange stories of our day and enjoy a drink. Then it was on to Galatoire's. There had been some concern over the dress code as Jens hadn't got that message and was wearing shorts, but the maitre d' put our minds at rest. We were escorted right through the crowded main restaurant and then through back passageways to an elevator. This took us up to our private penthouse dining room, with our own staff. It was a lovely paneled dining room and had a big balcony overlooking Bourbon St. What a spot! And for a change it was quiet, allowing easy conversation. 

The view from our private dining room at Galatoire's.

No one was in a rush to eat as all the drinks were included ($150 each for the evening), we had so much to talk about, and the view over Bourbon St was such fun. The dinner was great and it was a long lovely meal. Our menu:

As you can see, we ate well. And having personalized menus was very special!

The next day most of us suffered from hangovers! We even stayed in bed late (by our standards, close to 8 AM). Today we were all attending the Satchmo Summerfest. Rosie & Don, Jerry & Debarah and ourselves waked over around 11 AM. There were two major stages in front of and behind the Jazz Museum. Vendors were scattered around with food and souvenirs. It was hot! We were able to stand in the back of the first tent and watch the The Secret Six, a Dixieland band that was the first act. Several small parades of Social Club members came dancing into the festival, livening things up. 

One of the Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs that came in dancing.

Next we headed out back and found a place to sit near the second stage with a group of friends. Unfortunately it was a wall in the sun and after a while we couldn't handle it. Happily, John Robert had brought two folding chairs for myself and Ellen. Since we hadn't seen Ellen yet, we hung on to both and managed to find a spot in the shade at the back of the stage. Later we managed to move under the tent and stayed there for the rest of the concert. We felt bad but we never saw Ellen! We heard two groups perform there, both excellent, John Boutte and the Lawrence Cotton Legendary Experience. Our food court choices were good as well, but with the heat, we didn't eat much. 

The G.E. Stage with the Secret Six Jazz Band was the first act and not as crowded as it became later. 

We walked back to our temporary home and found Sammye, Dale & Roy, Marsha & Rick and Ellen & Barbara in our patio cooling down and resting. We visited for a while and then Scott took a good nap, but after a few minutes, I couldn't resist more time with friends, so rejoined them. Soon more people arrived and everyone finally checked in. Around 6 PM some of us decided to go out for dinner. Sammye suggested Sukho Thai, a nearby Thai restaurant they loved. Great suggestion - the food was very good and we had a nice quiet table to ourselves. 

Some of the group gathered in Sammye & Grouper's patio where Scott and I stayed. You can see Rosie's back, Ellen, Laurie, Heather, Dave, Scott, Renate, Debarah and Dani. More cruisers were behind the photographer in another table area. The patio was mostly covered and really an outdoor living room, even with a big screen tv on the wall!

The next morning almost everyone took off for home (Renate & Jim stayed with Roy & Dale one more night). Scott and I had a nice flight back, leaving at 11:30 AM so an easy relaxing morning. Don came over to say good-bye the next morning. Rosie wasn't feeling well so didn't come. It turned out to be COVID 19 and she tested positive on Tuesday. I started symptoms Tuesday night and tested positive Thursday morning. Scott had two more days before his positive test on Saturday. We were the only three to get the virus - happily. And we all got the paxlovid treatment and had relatively mild cases (so far).  It was a WONDERFUL time! Thank you Roy & Dale for the terrific planning and work that went into it. (photos above and below are from ourselves, Renate & Jim, Ellen (Cordelia), Jens & Dani.).
The band at Thursday night's restaurant on 
Bourbon St. 

A view down Bourbon Street Thursday

Welcome sign at Vintage Friday morning!

A busty Heather walks around the Garden
District with Dani.

Heather, Renate and Rosie pose at Dale & Roy's

Ellen, Sammye, Dale, Ellen & Barbara

John Robert accompanies Dave for an after dinner
concert at Roy and Dale's

Roy offers another of his excellent Martinis!

And he has a couple of taker here - Dave & Jens

Marsha and Rick cozy up on the balcony. You
can see the beautiful seafood gumbo in front of them.

Heather poses in Van Gogh's painting of his room
at Arles.

Jerry, Scott and Dave outside the 
Backstreet Museum. Dave & Jerry had 
different directions in mind for the trip.
Dave was right (Jerry's phone had the old

Photos, Social Club "suits" and memorabilia
at Backstreet Museum

One of our 3 presenters.

Jim hams it up at his Mardi Gras Museum on

Ellen, Renate and Dani look lovely at the Hot
Tin Bar

Peter and Laurie in front of the view

Laura, Scott and John Robert laugh it up

And so do Roy, Ellen and Barbara

Jerry & Debarah cuddle up

Heather on her own for a change.

Laurie, Peter, RiDale, Roy, Ellen (Patience) and Ellen (Cordelia) at one table

Rick, Marsha, Dave, Laura, John Robert, Debarah, Jerry, Jens and Dani at a second

Rosie, Renate, Jim, Don, Heather (and Scott taking the picture)

Rosie & Don pose on Sunday.

Roy & Dale strike a loving pose outside
the concert tent at the Satchmo Summerfest

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