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Road Trip: New Orleans – Day One – From the Bird’s Nest

It’s the third straight year the R+L Carriers New Orleans Bowl and the city of New Orleans play host to Louisiana’s Ragin’ Cajuns and their fans.

And, it’s the third straight year we head down to the Crescent City on Wednesday for on location broadcasts at Walk-On’s Bistreaux and Bar on Poydras Street, just a short walk from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

I’m not a fan of being late.  Especially when I have to go out of town for a broadcast.  One never knows when traffic is going to be backed up because of an accident, or, in this case, the Christmas season.  The show was scheduled to start at 3pm, but there had to be a setup of equipment and I wanted to get checked into my hotel before the show.  So at 10:15am, I left Lafayettte to head down I-10 East.

I got to downtown New Orleans about 12:35.  The past two years, I had stayed at the Hyatt near the Superdome.  But I waited too long to book and decided to stay instead at the Le Pavillion Hotel.  It’s just two blocks from Walk-Ons on Poydras (at Baronne) and still within walking distance of the Dome.

The LePavillion has been open since 1907.  It has French decor throughout with a great ambience and very good service.  I had stayed there before but it had been many years.  It took no time at all to get checked in.  The room had everything I needed.  A comfortable bed, a table and chair, a workspace, televison, a huge closet (with his and her terrycloth robes) and even a mini bar (thanks, but I brought my own.)  I unpacked and then headed the two blocks toward Walk-Ons.

I’ve done many broadcasts on location over the years I’ve been doing this.  But one of the things that is always a concern is the people you have to deal with don’t always know you’re coming.  In this case, the agency that handles Walk-Ons is in Baton Rouge, where the restaurant originated.  And, as I approached the restaurant, I was wondering if people would be looking at me like I had grown an extra nose or something.

Dionne and Amber

I walked in the door with the equipment.  I was greeted by Amber who said “Hi…youre right here in this room.”

Amber immediately became my new best friend.

Steve Peloquin, Dan McDonald and Tim Buckley of the Advertiser were already there and it became clear Amber had already been through the drill.  But Steve said he had gone by Tuesday to check the phone line and even then, they knew about it (we weren’t expecting you until Wednesday, but welcome.)

These folks make our job easy.

Unfortunately, our engineer, Matt Gholston, got a late start because of an issue at one of our other radio stations and, as luck would have it, hit Baton Rouge traffic at the wrong time.  By the time 2:30 came, I knew we were in some trouble.  Sure enough, by the time he arrived and started to set things up, we were up against the clock.  And, when things didn’t go smoothly right off the bat, we were late getting on the air.

But we eventually got it done.  And, Heather Norder, our promotions coordinator, arrived as well and set up some signage.  (She’s also brought thousands of “Geaux Cajuns” signs…make sure you drop by and get yours.)

Scott Farmer was my guest and we talked about the bowl process, the bowl week and events coming up prior to and including Saturday.  At four, Scott Prather (who got there around 2:00, joined me for “The Sports Gap.”  And, while Scott did the great S.C.O.T.T. show, I went to the bar and had a beer with Matt.

After Scott’s show, we packed equipment and I walked back to the hotel.  Heather was staying at the Le Pavillion as well with her fiance, Parker.

Now, if you listen to “Bird’s Eye View”, you may have heard me refer to a concoction as a “duck fart.”  I know, great name, huh?  Many of my friends enjoy them and they’re a holiday staple with me.  It’s a combination of Kahlua, Baileys and bourbon (Makers Mark for me) in a shot glass.

Heather was a trooper.  She’s now one of the boys.  She and Parker, went to dinner. I got a text from Scott.  He and Steve were headed to Pat O’Brien’s and asked if I wanted to join them.  But I just hung out and got ready for a Le Pavillion tradtion.

Late night PB&J.

There’s a placard in the lobby explaining the tradition.  A man was in the bar one night and ordered milk.  Pretty unusual.  He was asked why and he said it was a nightly thing that he would enjoy a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and a glass of milk with his daughter before bedtime.  He traveled a lot and when he was on the road he’d have a glass of milk “with her.”  Well, it so happened the general manager heard the story and had a peanut butter and jelly sandwich made for him to go with the milk.  Others saw it and wanted PB&J as well.  So, now, every night since 1988, Le Pavillion has complimentary peanut butter and jelly sandwiches along with cold milk (your choice of whole, skim and 2%) and hot chocolate (whipped cream and marshmallows available)  every night.

I chose grape jelly for mine.  Strawberry and apple were also available.

That was about it for the day.  Big Thursday coming up with another show, plus a special addition of the Mark Hudspeth show Thursday night at 6:30 from Walk-Ons.  Afterward, there’s a big parade from the Marriott on Canal to the French Quarter down Bourbon Street wtih the UL marching band.

If you come by, say hi to Amber and Dionne.

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