husband and I got back late Friday from our 6-day escape to New Orleans for Mardi Gras. We really had a great time and it was a much needed break from all the difficult child-ness that goes on around here every day. We really couldn't afford this trip, but I was at my breaking point, so we'll have some debt for a bit. My mental health is worth it, I suppose. I have to say I've never experienced such a complete spectacle like MG before. Sure, there've been bits and pieces of similar things, like the Vegas strip, or New Year's Eve, or 4th of July, Christmas and Halloween. But MG is like ALL of those things rolled into one crazy circus event that goes on for days. The food was great, the people were very friendly, the sights and sounds a constant source of wonderment. I had people warn me that it was dirty and smelly and... so what? I hardly noticed with everything else going on around us! The city did a fantastic job of cleaning up each night -- huge crews were brought in around midnight to sweep, pick up, and power wash so that by the next day you'd hardly know that there was a huge party there the day before. We did not rent a car -- took a cab from the airport, and we weren't too sure how close the driver would be able to get us to our hotel since it was on a parade route that was in progress when we arrived. Traffic into the city was a mess, but our driver maneuvered his way through the French Quarter (giving us a wonderful tour in and of itself) and actually got us within one block of our hotel! After that we just walked everywhere we needed to go most days. We did take a street car over to Tulane U. so husband could show me the campus where he went to school his freshman year (and subsequently flunked out of -- I mean, who sends a 17yo boy away to college for the first time in a town like NOLA where the drinking age was 17 at the time, and the same year the Superbowl is in town, and on a campus that backs up to the Sugar Bowl stadium?!) husband got really carried away with the whole bead thing at parades. He was picking up broken strings off the ground and trying to "fix" them. He got mad at me for taking pictures instead of trying to catch beads. We collected so many the first night we had to go back to our room to drop them off before heading back out again -- to get MORE. I tried suggesting he just keep the "special" ones that had unique designs or medallions on them, but that was not an option for him. Since we'd packed very light and only brought two small carry-on bags and a backpack, there wasn't room for his "treasure." So he decided to ship our laundry home in a cardboard box (lighter than the beads and cheaper than checking a bag) and put all the beads in a suitcase and another bag we picked up. I think we probably had close to 40 pounds of beads! He's telling me about all his plans for the beads -- won't they look nice hanging from all our lamps?! Uh, okay, maybe for a couple days but... And I can give them to my friends at work! And if easy child's soccer team ever has their party, we can hand some out to all the kids! And... Oh my gosh he was like a little kid! He spent Friday night "organizing" them all, and Saturday he had easy child help him hang them out on our bare fruit trees in the back yard (to possibly scare the birds away when the fruit comes) and hanging them in one of our bare liquid amber trees in the front yard (because it's so PRETTY!). Maybe I'll just leave it up out front until Easter... He did not obsess about "bowling" while we were there, though he was very drawn to certain sections on Bourbon Street (ahem). He got testy a few times, but I chalk that up to his back and feet hurting from all the walking (he was amazed I wasn't in pain every day like he was, but then I'm in a little better shape than he is), the somewhat less than adequate sleep he got (didn't bring his CPAP machine and we both suffered because of that), and the sensory overload that he was constantly under. All-in-all, we got along really well and enjoyed eachother's company. I would love to go back again some day (and not necessarily for Mardi Gras, though that was a lot of fun). There's so much history to explore and so much I did not have a chance to see!