Do I REALLY love New Orleans or is it just a clever title? Not sure yet, as I've only been here 2 nights and both have been pretty stressful, even for me. First off, I will remind you that we did in fact go skiing in Breckenridge last week, and were pleasantly surprised to not only have a great time but have our marriage still intact after rolling down the mountain time and time again. I foolishly overestimated my own skill at skiing, as well as severely underestimated how difficult it would be to actually try to teach Matt to ski, and so our first day was pretty much a bust. We got up to the mountain around 11, and after about 5 minutes of me showing Matt the "wedge" on completely flat ground, he said he was ready to try. I was impressed by his go get 'em attitude, and I guess that overshadowed my anxiety that he might die or at least be maimed on the mountain. Also, I was unaware that the "easy" slopes are NOT created equal. I didn't even look at the map, but instead pointed us toward the first ski lift we saw and we were off.... Matt, having never ridden a ski lift and me, not thinking it necessary to teach him, promptly fell as soon as the lift came, and had to ride the one behind me. Oops. He made it off the lift fine (no doubt due to the instructions I shouted back to him through the whole ride) and then proceeded to attempt to follow me down the hardest green on the mountain. What followed was a series of falls, one right after the other, or as it could be better termed, one long fall punctuated by tiny standing victories. It was so steep and the snow packed so hard that I really am surprised he made it down at all. I was just about to tell him to take his skis off and walk when suddenly, the clouds parted, the angels sang, and the mountain flattened out just enough for us to make it to the bottom. (He still fell a few more times, but he didn't cuss as much.) Because it took an entire hour to go down one slope, we were both pretty exhausted so we had lunch at the restaurant and only then did it occur to me to look at the map. Well, there are not one, not two, but FOUR easy "beginners" slopes right next to us, equipped with a training lift and everything. Needless to say, we spent the rest of our somewhat short day on those, and Matt picked it up rather nicely. The next two days he improved greatly, and by the end of it, he probably has at least matched if not surpassed my skill... which is mediocre at best. Still, we ended up having a great time and will probably go skiing again... just not in the near future.
On to the next topic: New Orleans. Matt had to fly from Denver to N.O. on Sunday because of the aforementioned last minute planning on UOPs part. I was lucky enough to fly back to Chicago for one night so I could go to storage and put all our ski stuff away. Not entirely necessary, as it turns out Louisiana's having a minor cold spell just now, and I wouldn't have minded wearing those ski pants around town. I flew in on Monday, and in doing so missed the crazy riotous partying outside our hotel after the Super Bowl Sunday night. I did however get to see the line of cars lined up for the Saints' homecoming at the airport Monday, and then we sat in traffic for 2 and a half hours yesterday trying to get back to our hotel before the Saints' homecoming parade yesterday, nicknamed by the local radio station as "Who Datius". Are you kidding me? Not to belittle their accomplishment, but if I have to hear one more person shout "Who Dat!" in the middle of the night, I'm going to scream... which will likely go unnoticed amid the screams of everyone else. After the traffic debacle yesterday, I decided not to venture around the corner to view the parade, but watched parts of it on TV instead. They said on the news that the parade floats couldn't even get down the street because of the crowds. I'm happy for them, but I'm a little baffled by this whole celebration for days thing. I just don't think I care enough about anything to sit for 3 hours in a car near the parade route looking for a place to park. Maybe that's my downfall. And, as if we hadn't had enough celebration, Mardi Gras is in full swing here as well, and there will be parades every day until Fat Tuesday next week. I'll definitely try to go to at least one, but I won't be driving anywhere during that time. And we thought our hotel (right in the heart of the warehouse district, near the French Quarter) was such a great idea at the time - "we can walk everywhere!"
That's pretty much all I've got for now. I'm heading down the the river walk today, while Matt sleeps peacefully in the room... ahh, the joys of night shift. It looks like we'll be here longer than expected, as there are three reactors to load instead of just the one as promised. Oh well. Maybe we'll miss the India start date. Darn. Also, I lost my notes on the number of hours I spent at the airport this past week, but it was around 10, I believe. Had to add an extra hour and a half to the total because the airline lost my bag (along with half the flight's) coming into New Orleans. I got it back the next morning, with all my stuff soaking wet. Thanks, United.