Hailing a ride, hail to the King, and hail State

By TIM BEELAND,

We spent a long four days in New Orleans last week along with the King and Queen of Spain. Actually we were not with the King and Queen, but we did see them — or their entourage anyway — several times.

Wife, Danny, and I were down there for the Mississippi/Louisiana Press Association’s joint summer convention. It’s hot in New Orleans in the summer even though summer had not “officially” arrived when we were there. That happens tomorrow.

This year’s gathering was held at the Marriott Convention Center, which is inconveniently located a bit far from the places we usually frequent in the Big Easy. Most of our favorite restaurants are in the French Quarter, but I suppose that didn’t matter this trip since most of our meals were prearranged convention style.

We did head to the Quarter on Friday night for a group dinner with fellow publishers at Arnauds where we enjoyed a private upstairs dining room with our own balcony overlooking Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street has not changed much since the last time we were down there. Some people had on clothes, some did not.

I really don’t understand wanting to run around naked — or 90 percent naked — in public but whatever blows your skirt I suppose...pun intended. It was hot, so perhaps they were just trying to stay cool, but I do doubt that was the case.

Since we were stationed about a mile-and-a-half from the restaurant, and it was muggy, we opted to pay for a ride. There was no taxi in sight so we decided to try our luck with that Uber thing. Being the old folks in the Press Association, these days, no one in our party had actually used the Uber app to hail a  ride before, but one of my good friends did have it on his phone. Unfortunately he had yet to link it to his credit card so they would not pick us up.

While he was busy trying to get one of the drivers to just stop in the middle of the street I downloaded the Lyft app on my phone and two minutes later we were in an air conditioned ride. Nice!

That’s when we saw the King and Queen the first time. They were in town to honor the city’s tricentennial. Kings and queens apparently carry a lot more clout than country newspaper publishers because just as we were about to make our last turn in the maze of one way streets that make up the French Quarter, blue lights appeared everywhere and street, after street, after street, was blocked as the parade of black SUVs flew through the city. It is interesting to note that they also had their own ambulance following the King and Queen should something unforeseen happen, in a negative kind of way.

After we sat there for a while, our Lyft driver decided to make a u-turn on Decatur Street only to be directed in a different direction by a big, burly member of the New Orleans City Police Department. Once we finally made it back out to Canal Street and headed to our destination from the opposite end of the Quarter, low and behold if the King and Queen and all their friends and that ambulance didn’t block our route again.

I had never seen a king and queen in person before, much less twice in the same day. Probably never will again. The good thing about it was that they blocked everybody so we were not any later for dinner than the rest of our crew. Or should I say krewe?

To top things off, I must add, we did get to watch our Mississippi State Bulldogs edge out the Washington Huskies 1-zip in the hotel bar in the first round of the College World Series. We even had some people from Auburn cheering for us if you can believe that. I suppose it would have been real nice if the King and Queen had joined us too! I guess they were busy.

Anyway, we did get to shout out a big Hail State in New Orleans!