Five Days in New Orleans

I decided to make one last big effort to find a decent job. I flew up to New Orleans to attend the Workboat Show and search for work. I picked up my rental car and made my way down the bayou. First stop was at GOL in Raceland.

I was able to talk to the hiring manager there (he was an old friend), but they had no work since most of their boats were still laid up, so I said my goodbyes and continued on down Bayou Lafourche.

I stopped in at every boat company I could find: Alliance, Cheramie, C&G, GIS, L&M Botruc, Odyssea, Jambon, Chouest, Candies, and more. They all told me pretty much the same thing (except for one old boy who still insisted they ‘don’t have facilities for women’). They had so many of their boats stacked up and good people laid off. They had long lists of people they were hoping to get back when things picked up.

I picked up more applications and moved on.

By the time I got back to New Orleans and turned in my car, it was already dark and I was ready to check into my apartment. Yes, I rented an apartment (through hotels.com). It was really nice. It had a separate bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen/living room. It even had a washer/dryer in a closet!

I had a full kitchen with a full sized stove, oven and refrigerator, all the glasses, dishes, etc. Coffee maker and coffee, a blender, spices, etc. All I needed to cook a nice meal. Too bad I couldn’t find a decent grocery near by.

I spent the rest of the evening working on applications, emails and enjoying the view from the rooftop over the skyline. It was cool to watch the fog roll over the lights from the skyscrapers.

In the morning, I headed over to the Convention Center for the Workboat Show. I picked up my badge and a list of the vendors and sorted out my priorities. I tend to concentrate on electronics (DP systems, radios, ECDIS, charts, etc), crewing/employment agencies, and training/education providers.

I always make a point to go by and visit people I know who are there with booths too. This year, a lot of them were missing. The show seemed smaller to me this year. I suppose because of the long lasting downturn in the industry. It’s already been more than 3 years now. 😦

I did get to meet Captain Edgar Hansen from the TV show the Deadliest Catch, and I attended an interesting “Dock Talk” about women in the maritime industry: why aren’t there more women out here, what can we do about it, and why should we? Wish it was better attended, but at least someone is thinking about it.

I met up with an old friend for a couple of hours and we caught up on things as we wandered around the isles. We had a quick lunch at the food court (I do not recommend the BBQ! $3.50 for a bottle of water was a huge rip-off IMHO). I continued on visiting the vendors after my friend had to get on the road and head back home.

During the day, I was invited to a couple of parties. That’s where the best networking goes on. I’m not into partying nearly as much as I used to be, but I still hate to pass one up. I went to the LOC party at the World of Beer. It was pretty nice. Not too crowded. They had drinks and snacks we could order. Their tacos were pretty good. Plenty of beer. 🙂

I ran into a few friends there and met some new ones. It was nice to hear what everyone has been up to. The party ended fairly early, so I wound up going with a friend to the Texas A&M party at the Fulton Alley. That’s a cool place. It’s a bowling alley, with a bar. Drinks, snacks, music, etc.

Funny, but I ran into another old friend. Another captain I used to work with was there with his wife. They were in New Orleans for business and happened to be at the party. They live in the next town from me here in Texas. 🙂

I didn’t stay late, but I did meet a couple of guys who were telling me about a ‘sure thing’ job. I had already applied there, but considering what everyone was telling me; ‘go in person and you’ll get hired’, I started re-thinking my plans for the next couple of days.

Thursday I slept in a little bit later and then had breakfast across the street at the Ruby Slipper. It was really good and I was stuffed by the time I finished. I walked down to the Convention Center and then spent the rest of the day wandering around and talking to all kinds of people there. I ran into some more old friends, met some guys from Oceaneering (where I used to work) who hollered at me about my shirt, spent some time talking to the crew at Oceanwide (where I still work when they have any).

By 1700 my feet were getting sore and I was getting tired. There were more parties to go to, but I really wasn’t feeling up to it. I took a detour through the Riverwalk next door and wound up eating Chinese food from the food court while watching all the traffic on the river pass by.

I walked down the river to the Hilton and then cut across to Harrah’s casino. I figured I’d play a few games of video poker and head home. I didn’t win, but I didn’t lose much and was home by 2200 and to bed not long after.

Friday morning, I picked up another rental car and headed over to Covington to see if they were right about going in person. I was lucky to get to talk to someone in person and we had a nice talk. Of course, they had a lot of their boats tied up too, but they do have at least some work and I’m still hoping they’ll be able to find something for me there.

It was a gorgeous day and I decided to stop for a picnic before heading back over the bridge into New Orleans. I picked up supplies and headed over to Fontainebleau State Park. It was such a nice day, sunny and cool, light breeze. I had the whole place practically to myself. The lake was calm and sparkling in the sun. The beach was inviting, but I wasn’t dressed for playing in the water. 😦

I walked around the pond, looking for alligators (didn’t see any), and then drove over to check out the old sugar mill. Interesting history to read about. It got me interested to visit the nearby town of Mandeville, but it was getting late and I decided that would have to wait for another time.

I made it back to New Orleans in time to meet another friend for dinner. We had a nice time catching up over dinner by the river and then hit the casino for a couple of games. He had to get back home and I was ready to quit, so I headed home for the night.

I wanted to hit the Ruby Slipper again for breakfast Saturday, but the lines were halfway down the block on both sides! Instead, I went for beignets at the Cafe du Monde at the Riverwalk (much closer and much less crowded than the main one at Jackson Square). After my beignets and cafe au lait, I walked over to the Roosevelt Hotel to check out their famous Christmas decorations.

I had thought about having a drink at the bar, but the place was packed so I didn’t stick around. I took a walk over to Bourbon Street since I hadn’t even seen it yet this whole trip.

Glad I hadn’t tried! They’re doing construction all the way down Bourbon Street. The entire street is blocked off and you have to stay on the fenced in sidewalks. I can only imagine how that would be, packed full of rowdy loud drunks with nowhere to puke! Yuk! I’ll skip Bourbon Street til they finish up the construction!

I did finally get to try out my membership in the Bourbon of the Month Club. I sat at the bar at Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House and watched the oyster shuckers at work. I don’t like oysters, but it was pretty entertaining to watch anyway.

 

After I finished my taste, I got to see the fresh shrimp being delivered, straight from the boats to the cooks. Nice, big, fresh shrimp. I really ought to try getting into seafood again. Seeing all that in New Orleans makes me think I’m really missing out.

By now, it was just about time for the Christmas Parade. I always try to see that when I’m in town. The Krewe of Jingle really puts on a great parade. They have some really cute costumes and dance troupes. The marching bands and miscellaneous characters all add up to make a fantastic show.

I always enjoy my time in New Orleans. There’s always something going on that’s fun and interesting. But I always wind up coming home to chill out for a while too. That’s what I’ve been doing since I got home Saturday night. 🙂

 

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WorkBoat Show: Day 2-3

I had hopes of getting a little rest after the first day of the Workboat Show, but that didn’t happen.

I went back to my hotel fairly early Wednesday, but made the mistake of stopping in the lobby and ran into an old friend. I wound up staying there with some new friends from the fishing side of the maritime industry (they don’t usually come to this show- it’s more focused on the oilfield). We hung out til they closed down the bar.

In the morning, I got over to the Workboat Show in time to meet my friend who was there especially to check out the “Military to Maritime” job fair. We had some lunch first and then went to see who showed up at the job fair. They had quite a few booths. A good variety of both inland and offshore boat companies (Kirby, HOS, Chouest, etc) and land based support (Stuart & Stevenson, etc).

I was surprised to see that they weren’t all mobbed all afternoon (but then I left by 1345). With all we hear on the news about the levels of unemployment, I would have thought there would be a much larger crowd. I think they need to advertise the job fair better. It really wasn’t promoted like the Show itself is.

My friend actually got a job while we were there so he had to take off. I stuck around to talk to people and try to figure out how much hiring they were doing and get some specifics. The USCG was giving a talk about how to get started in the maritime industry, (specifically for members of the military), in a room off to the side, so I went in to see what they had to say.

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After the presentation, it was just about time for the WISTA tea. I’ve been to a couple of them before as a guest, but I joined WISTA (Women’s International Shipping & Trading Association) as a member this year. I haven’t really done anything with them yet, but they do have some good programs. I love the tea, it’s such a nice atmosphere.

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After the tea, the Show was pretty much over for the day, so I wandered over to the French Quarter to see what was happening over there (there’s ALWAYS something). 😉

It was really nice. The fog was just coming in and it made everything look so atmospheric. You could barely see the ships on the river, but you could hear them coming.

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Now it was time for the party at the old JAX Brewery (sponsored by some of the companies at the WorkBoat Show). I had missed some good ones the night before, but I was going tonight! I met up with friends from C-Mar and Oceanwide (I worked for both of them in the past).

They had a fabulous (free) buffet and a great band for dancing. They rented out the entire place so we had room to spread out and the balconies if we wanted to smoke. Lots of people were dancing with the band.

We closed that place down and then hit Bourbon Street. We had a great time. I know I actually went home earlier than some others did. I guess I just ‘cain’t hang’ anymore. 😉

I drug myself out of bed again Friday morning and made it over to the Convention Center just in time for the seminar on ‘Training for the Mariner’. There was a panel of speakers representing different training providers and other interested parties (but very obviously NONE representing those MOST affected- the mariners).

I was hoping to hear some regards for the mariners who are the ones being forced into taking all this ‘training’, but nope, that didn’t come up. I was disappointed in the panel, it seems the focus is going to continue to be on more and more ‘training’ (most of which is going to be held on shore, at our expense).

I spent the rest of the day wandering around the show. I hung out with my friends from Oceanwide some more. Saw some other friends from Texas A&M. Stopped by a few more booths to say hi and see what they were doing.

I got to try out all the latest DP systems (that is my main interest now a days since I’m working as a SDPO). I also got to play with a tiny little ROV. That is a lot harder than it looks, but I think it would be a pretty cool deal to work with one of those too.

I was about ready to check out and it was a good thing, since they were taking down the show everywhere around me. 🙂

 

mini ROV by SeaRay

mini ROV by VideoRay

I hope I can go back again next year! There’s always new stuff to see, more interesting people to meet, and old friends to catch up with. 🙂

 

Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime- New Orleans

I love to take pictures at night. They almost never turn out very good but I keep trying. I was glad to see the Weekly Photo Challenge: Nighttime.

Here are a few I took the last time I was in New Orleans. I always try to go to the Workboat Show if I’m home. It’s usually in December. Last year someone forgot to reserve the convention center (duh). So they had the show in October.

It was nice to see New Orleans dressed up for Halloween instead of Christmas. 🙂

Travel Journey of the Week: New Orleans

I was looking around at the list of blog events for the Zero to Hero assignment for Day 22 and I found this one I thought would be interesting. It’s called the Travel Journey of the Week from Melissa at the Liberated Traveler’s blog.

I liked her idea of asking other people contribute by writing a post and linking back to hers. Since she seems to be focusing on FOOD, which of course New Orleans is deservedly famous for, I thought I would add to hers by posting some photos of places to find some great food in New Orleans.

I’ve got everything here from the Cafe DuMond for their famous chicory coffee and beignets to Rouses grocery store for the best muffaletta to the old JAX Brewery. World Famous restaurants Arnauds and the Bourbon House compete with less known but just as good local favorites.

You’ll find everything from classic French to Cajun and Creole. Old style steak houses. Oyster bars. Fresh seafood and local delights like catfish and alligator fixed a dozen different ways.

If you just have to have it, there’s always a slice of pizza to go with your daquiri. Hot dog stands supply snacks you can eat as you wander down Bourbon Street with your Hand Grenades and Hurricanes. It’s hard to miss a good meal in the French Quarter! 🙂

 

Here’s a link to the original post: Travel Journey of the Week: New Orleans at the Liberated Traveler blog.