I had been asked by Seven Degrees Communications to be part of their Social Connection Zone at the National Automotive Dealers Association (NADA) for the second year in a row. In this area of the convention’s expo floor, we answered all kinds of questions regarding social media, computers and any other forms of technology – as well as host social media seminars given by Jessica. It was while we were at the convention in New Orleans that a storm front began to move in, and we became stuck in New Orleans.
Initially, we had planned to travel down on Thursday, the 23rd of January, and return Tuesday, the 28th. The conference began Friday the 24th, but we needed to be at the orientation on the 23rd, so we flew in that morning to chilly weather. While the weather was fairly cold and required me to wear my heavy jacket, it was still warmer than New York. As the weekend approached, it slowly grew warmer in New Orleans, until I was leaving my jacket at the hotel Sunday and Monday. As the convention was winding down Monday, reports were coming in of a storm, but we felt it would only interfere with the sightseeing we had planned for our additional day in New Orleans, that was required due to the timing of flights back home.
We cleared out the expo and Jessica, Stacy, and I returned to our hotels to prepare for a night on the town to celebrate the completion of a job well done. Reports started coming in about an ice storm coming in, but we changed and headed out to dinner. As we went to eat, we kept our eyes open at our cellphones for updates. It was as we were finishing dinner at Emeril’s restaurant NOLA that things started looking bleak for our flight. We headed out to Pat O’Brien’s for hurricanes in their piano bar when the hammer came down – our flight for the next evening had been cancelled.
Amidst the dueling pianos and sugary drinks, we began attempting to formulate alternate plans. Reaching out and trying to find alternate plans via phone and internet became the order of business. After much searching, we found our way onto a flight Wednesday morning. Not ideal, but it meant we had an additional 12 hours beyond our initial plans. With a new flight secured, we moved on to Spirits on Bourbon for more piano music and Resurrection cocktails.
Tuesday became very cold, almost too cold to go outside, but we made an attempt to hit a few of the places that were on our to do list for our day of tourism. While many places were closed and the streets were empty, we were able to make it to Cafe du Monde for beignets and a couple other stores before camping out in our hotel lobby to get work done. Of course, our Wednesday morning flight was cancelled, so we changed to a Wednesday evening flight before going out to get dinner. Since most restaurants were closed, we met friends in their hotel for dinner before returning back to our hotel to huddle in for the night. Unfortunately, by the time we got back our Wednesday evening flight was cancelled and we were forced to take Thursday morning flights, where Jessica and I were going to layover in Cleveland and Stacy would layover in Chicago.
Wednesday came and it was just as cold as Tuesday, but there was still no ice. We headed over to Cafe Beignet for more beignets and made a stop to pick up muffulettas at a nearby store before heading to a PJ’s Coffee near our hotel to get more work done. We stayed there until they shut down (but didn’t kick us out because it was in a hotel lobby), and we were hungry for our evening meal. Since we were hungry and it was supremely cold, we went to a local diner called Daisy Duke’s for burgers and po’boys before calling it a night for our early flights.
Thankfully, New Orleans was slowly starting to warm up and we were able to head to the airport to take our respective flights. After 12 hours of flying, driving and laying over (not necessarily in that order), it was good to be home and there was no better feeling than collapsing into my own bed. The saga of being stuck in New Orleans finally completed, there was no place I wanted to be more than the confines of my own home and the comfort of my bed.
For more in the field reporting, check my Twitter and Instagram feeds for the hashtag #StuckInNOLA