My Solo Trip to New Orleans
It’s been over two months and I’m still riding high.
Part of me hears, “Why are you STILL talking about going to New Orleans for Jazz Fest? That was a long time ago - move on - nobody cares.”
And another part of me, a larger part of me, hears, “Drink it up lady. That experience was a peak moment for you - a transitional shift. To some, they might hear you bragging about seeing Aerosmith, and you’re sensitive to that because you don’t want to make others feel less than because they are perceiving you are gloating - but that’s on them. You aren’t gloating - you’re glowing. To some it sounds like just a trip and a long drive and something dumb to do and to you - it started out like that but it became SO much more on that trip. You needed that time and space - alone. You needed it to grow and make this shift.
It is a limiting belief that we need to keep moving and not stop and savor. How cool is it that you experienced this over two months ago, yet you are still in the position of gratitude for that experience? Still vibing high on the experience and not throwing it down to immediately look for the next thing? That is a gift - hold on to it for as long as it feels right to hold on to it and then, lay it down when it’s time for the next shift.”
I’m listening to that larger part of me - the part of me that is in alignment with my true self. I’m in awe of and loving just how much my inner being has grown to love and support me and my calling - to jump up out of her seat and remind me of who she is - who I am - the second doubt or shame starts to creep in and keep me playing small…but this isn’t a post about my inner being’s growth [or is it?]… this is a post about my 3-Day Solo Trip to New Orleans for the sole purpose of seeing Aerosmith at Jazz Fest.
First of all, I’m still completely blown away that this entire experience, from inspired thought to going to Jazz Fest, happened in less than two hours! I outlined how it manifested over in my post about Vision Boards & Manifestation HERE. You can read about it there, but if not, here’s the nutshell version.
I was fully engrossed in the process of shifting my mindset from Lack to Abundance - really going after my WHY and what I wanted instead of going after what I thought would make it happen — there’s a BIG difference — I was getting tired of hearing the story that getting out of debt was hard and took a lot of work and that you had to suck it up. I was getting tired of telling MYSELF that I couldn’t enjoy the life I wanted UNTIL the debt was gone.
I began wondering if it was possible to create my dream life on ANY budget. And by that, I mean being able to travel, attend concerts & unique experiences, blog, coach, write and run our home right now — given our current income and our current debt. [These were the kinds of thoughts that led me to making my Vision Board…]
Not long after having this thought, I saw an ad for Fleetwood Mac. Instead of thinking, “I can’t do that — we don’t have the money,” I clicked on the ad and began to see how much tickets were. They weren’t on sale yet, so I thought about attending no matter what and made a calendar reminder for attending the concert. I thought about how I really wanted to go because Fleetwood Mac was the only band left out of my favorite bands that I hadn’t seen.
I went back to work and then, “Aerosmith. You haven’t seen Aerosmith yet,” popped into my head. Since I now know that something like that is called inspired thought - I acted right away. I thought, “Is Aerosmith even touring anymore?” Googled it and found one slot listed for the entire year. Cinco de Mayo in New Orleans for Jazz Fest.
Again, instead of thinking that I can’t do that or afford it, I thought about my most recent Decluttering Session and decided that my entire trip needed to come in under what I had charged [$340 at the time - a STEAL - I’m revamping and up-leveling this work to include coaching around mindset, money and stewardship. That will be up soon - for now - catch a glimpse HERE.]
I looked up the cost of the ticket — $70! $70 to see AEROSMITH?!? Right then I knew I was making this happen. I estimated that I’d spend $150 - $200 on gas driving from Charlotte, NC roundtrip and knew I needed to stay somewhere for two nights. I started looking up Airbnb’s and found an option for $99/night for a bunk bed in a hostel or $150/ night for a private room.
This was quickly getting out of my set budget for the trip so I thought I’d be able to swing it for sure if I got someone to stay with me. My husband had already declined - he’s not as in to Live Music as I am. I asked a couple of friends, they said no and then I resulted in asking everyone I came into contact with including posting about it on Facebook - obnoxiously.
I expected to get a driving buddy out of it but instead my friend from High School, who used to live there, said she’d ask her Sister-In-Law [A] if I could stay with her, if I was interested, which I was. She asked, it was cool, I accepted and I now had a free place to stay — plus one of A’s friends from Montana [M] was coming for Jazz Fest as well, so it would be the three of us! [End of nutshell, which ended up not being much a nutshell - meh.]
With the free place to stay, I knew I could 100% swing the cost, so I bought my ticket for one day [Saturday] and started planning my trip. I researched how long of a drive it was - 11 hours there and 11 hours back. The trip would take me through Atlanta, Georgia & Montgomery, Alabama, as well as other places - obviously - it is an 11 hour ride after all.
Which reminds me… I set an intention at the beginning of the year to get to Georgia. At the time, I had been to 29 states and somehow missed Georgia. All the other states I haven’t been to are grouped together - but not Georgia. I’ve been to every surrounding state but just missed Georgia every single time. I wanted that to change - especially since both Atlanta & Savannah are only 4 hours away. I didn’t care HOW I got there, but I was going to get to Georgia in 2018. I just think it’s really cool that seeing Steven Tyler on Cinco De Mayo in New Orleans was the thing that brought me to Georgia.
From Charlotte to Atlanta is about 4 hours, from Atlanta to Montgomery is about 2.5 hours and from Montgomery to New Orleans is about 4.5 hours totaling 11 hours in the car. Alone.
Per my usual planning strategy, I googled where I could find the best matcha lattes and vegan food in all three places and I completely and totally scored!
I knew I’d be getting into Atlanta for lunch and found a few options but ultimately went with Dulce Vegan. The GPS took me through Kirkland and I was driving like a snail, taking in all of the beautiful Victorian homes around me. When I got in Dulce, I again asked if everything was Vegan - sometimes I can’t believe my eyes because everything looked so perfectly delicious - I suspected that they had vegan OPTIONS but that I had to specify. Nope. Everything is vegan!
I ordered a breakfast sandwich on a biscuit with tofu “eggs” and meatless sausage and… I can’t remember. Ha. Sometimes when I’m traveling, I forget to make notes of things for posts later. Anyways, judging from their website, it looks like more of a cake bakery than a cafe - but don’t let that fool you! The food was INCREDIBLE and so were the drinks!
Just as I was about to order a matcha latte - I saw ‘Tahini Latte’ on the menu and was intrigued. The woman behind the counter said it basically tasted like a Reese's and I’m all about that so I got it. Move over matcha! If you haven’t had a Tahini Latte, you haven’t lived! All jokes aside, the hype is legit - try it if you ever see it! SO good!
I knew I was coming back to Atlanta on my way back and had found some other places to try out, but after my experience there, I crossed them off the list - because I was absolutely returning!
Ok. Maybe I’m weird but I’ve been wanting to go to Montgomery for a few years now. Zelda Fitzgerald is from there and after watching Z with Christina Ricci and discovering that was her home town - I REALLY wanted to go. I have a thing for the Fitzgerald's. During one of my recreational trip planning sessions [I do that for fun. I zoom around Google Maps, find places, look them up and start planning trips there in my spare time - one of my favorite hobbies! This is why I now want to go to Baku, a place with the most beautiful Zaha, that I had previously never heard of,] I found out that they have a Zelda Fitzgerald Museum there and I’ve been hooked to the idea of going ever since.
Here’s the thing though. On my way, I was too excited to get to New Orleans and then on my way back, I was too exhausted to stop. So I didn’t go to the museum, after all that. I DID however go to Prevail Union - a hip and modern coffee shop downtown. I wanted to try the Lavender Latte [still haven’t done this] but I was so hopped up on caffeine still, [I RARELY drink caffeine except for half a cup of half calf most mornings, so espresso really sends me buzzing] that I opted for a kombucha from a brewery in Birmingham. It was essentially Lavenderade from Lenny Boy.
Ok. So, now gets to the pretty crazy part. For most of the trip down, I was jamming out to Classic Rock, going into my thoughts occasionally, but mostly jamming out and just being SO excited!
As I got closer to New Orleans, I started driving near water and then - the road straight in front of me went up into a large arch and I couldn’t see over the top. This might sound mundane, but, for me it wasn’t.
It freaked me out - not because I’m terribly afraid of driving uphill or that I couldn’t see over the edge - but because I had seen this exact road, this exact place in my dreams before. In fact, it was a pretty reoccurring dream. I would be driving and I would see other cars ahead of me, driving up this arch and falling off the edge, and I could’t stop my car, it just kept getting closer and closer to the edge. It felt like I was driving up 180 degrees and that if I didn’t keep going, my car would fall backwards.
And just as I was about to drive off the edge into the abyss below, I would wake up. I’ve actually had this dream in multiple locations - all of which I saw on my trip. Now, I’m not one who this kind of thing usually happens - there’s really only been three times this has happened to me in my entire life. [And maybe that’s a lot, I have no idea.]
One, I met my friend Jenn in a dream [if you’re reading this - YES - I really did!] in the third grade but we didn’t meet in person until the ninth grade. The second time, I had a dream about my first boyfriend dying and then a friend of mine died. I had the dream again and another friend of mine died all within a week of each other. [I don’t mean to just breeze by these because they’re all extremely FREAKY, but for the sake of the length of this post, because I’ve got quite a bit left, I am.] And now, the third time was this reoccurring dream of driving on a highway in the middle of nowhere and the road just goes UP into an arch and there’s water everywhere, but the arch doesn’t complete itself in the dream and all the cars that drive up it fall off of the edge - including mine, but I wake before it happens.
Just for a minute, imagine having this dream over and over again for MONTHS - maybe even years, I honestly can’t recall how long it’s been showing up - and then, you’re just driving along and you SEE it in front of you. In real life. You’d probably be a little freaked. I know I was!
All I could think was that this must mean something. I don’t know what, but it does. Logically I knew that the road would be there on the other side of the arch, but it didn’t stop me from white knuckling the steering wheel and staring at the white lines on the road to make sure I stayed in my lane.
When I got over the arch, a wave of relief washed over me and I felt the word, “Release” land on me. I felt so much peace in that moment - it was indescribable, and yeah - I cried. I knew I had just experienced something profound, but that I didn’t know what it was, I just felt it and I felt different. I honestly still can’t interpret it for you and I think that’s ok.
Sometimes we try too hard to explain things when really they just exist or occur to BE - no explanations necessary, and for me, that’s what that moment was. It was incredible - I felt like I had conquered…something. Then, just a few moments later - another spot in the road from another dream, only this time I wasn’t freaked. I looked at it and laughed and drove right through it like it was nothing - because it was - nothing.
The sun was setting and the road ahead was flat over the water and it was just SO magical and beautiful.
When I got into New Orleans, riding high, I went straight to Seed, my vegan restaurant of choice. I walked in, was sat at a two-top and could see the two guys two tables away looking at me in my peripheral as I walked by them to the bathroom. When I came back over to my seat to start looking at the menu, one of them spoke to me.
“Hey,” I looked up, “Do you want to join us? We’re kind of trying everything on the menu.”
I was surprised and then said, “Ooook. Why not?”
They pushed two two-tops together and I scooted over to join them. They were in town for a Bachelor party, a common thing for New Orleans, I came to find out, and had ditched the rest of their friends to find a healthy place to eat.
Again, can’t recall exactly what I ate - but everything was SO good! They had ordered everything and as soon as I joined them, they started portioning everything out and putting it on my plate. There was some kind of popper or kung-pow thing, cauliflower bite that was my favorite. I was just living in the moment for a lot of this trip. I barely took any photos, I don’t remember what I ordered - this is not my typical travel post. Or couldn’t you tell?
We got to talking and I learned that one of them owned a surf // smoke shop in California, I told them about my sober year and that I was about five months through. They told me they invited me over because I reminded them of Wonder Woman when I came in. I don’t know if they were drunk or high or hitting on me, but it felt sincere and friendly and hey - I’ll take it!
When the bill came, they covered it even though we said we’d split it three ways and then we said goodbye and that maybe we’d see each other at Jazz Fest. We didn’t. These are not the kinds of encounters you recreate or force. Sometimes it’s just meant to be a meal with strangers.
I came back to my car and was just so amazed by how much awesome stuff had already happened on my trip and I had only just arrived in New Orleans!
I found my way to A’s place and got settled in before we headed out for a night in New Orleans. Again. I couldn’t tell you everywhere we went, we were just following the music - literally. We started on Frenchmen Street [the locals equivalent to Bourbon Street] near Washington Square, making our way South, and went into a bar to grab a couple of drinks for M+A and catch the end of a set. Then we made our way to a swanky little hotel where I could get a Mocktail. The vibe in there was much quieter, everyone sitting around, casually sipping on their drinks and taking in the musicians - honestly this is more my vibe, but I wanted to see more and so did they, so we kept going.
We ran into a band of guys performing on a street corner and it was incredible! Everyone was dancing and laughing in the streets - cops were nearby, directing cars passed the people in the streets - not telling us to get out of the street, but directly cars around US. That was new! We went into a couple more bars, strolled through a couple of art markets and spent the majority of the night in one bar dancing to one of A’s favorite bands.
Then, A took us to Cafe Du Monde so we could experience the famous beignets, even though she assured us they weren’t the best in the city and that she’d take us to Morning Call [both open 24 hours] the next day. We sat there in the thick New Awlins air, doing our best to eat but spraying confectionary sugar everywhere with each laugh. Once we were done, we walked a little ways so that M and the rest of us could lay eyes on the Big Sip, as M lovingly called the Mississippi River.
We ended the night there and made our way home for the night.
The next morning, I made us breakfast with help from M + A and we made our way towards the Jazz Fest grounds. We walked by GORGEOUS home after GORGEOUS home, including one that was a refurbished Fire House - hello visions of recreating Mia Thermopolis’ life. We walked through City Park and I could. not. handle. the. beauty.
The GIANT trees covered in Spanish Moss was breathtaking! A told us that City Park was actually bigger than Central Park and that Morning Call, that cute stand over there, had the best beignets in all of New Orleans. We made plans to make a pitstop there on our walk back.
We kept walking and soon we were on A’s favorite street in all of New Orleans. Her boss and coworkers lived there and were setting up for their huge block party they throw every year.
We stopped for a bit to say hello, check out the bubble machine and were on our way to Jazz Fest. When we got inside we went to the Jazz Tent first, then the Economy Hall Tent, then the Cultural Exchange Pavilion where we stayed to finish out Leyla McCalla’s set. She was marvelous - her voice so beautiful - and she was pregnant, performing in that heat! Needless to say, I was very impressed with her!
We grabbed some food, I had a delicious bowl of Vegan Cajun Food - complete with my bamboo fork - and then made our way over to the Gentilly Stage to catch Better Than Ezra! At some point in High School, around 12-13 years ago, Better Than Ezra came into my radar. I remember thinking I was so cool for knowing who they were, beyond the regular pop who’s it’s on the radio. My favorite song of theirs is Juicy - it’s just so fun!
Before the trip, I wanted to reacquaint myself with their music since it had been a good ten years since I had listened to it regularly, and I was surprised that I remembered so much of it! Standing there, dancing and singing along just felt amazing. There’s just nothing like Live Music my friends!
When it came time for them to sing Juicy, they had a few kids come out from a music program that they created with a school they partner with, and the kids sang the majority of Juicy. At first, I was a little bummed that kids were singing my favorite song that I had looked forward to hearing instead of the actual band, but then I thought about how cool and amazing they must feel to be up there on stage singing with Better Than Ezra at Jazz Fest and I got over it real quick and thoroughly enjoyed their performance!
After Better Than Ezra, the three of us split up and I made my way towards the Congo Stage to catch another High School memory - Juanes. Profe Dolan would play Justo and Juanes for us all the time in Spanish V. I’d seen Justo a couple of times but never Juanes and honestly, I only know La Camisa Negra and I only know about three sentences of the entire song, but I couldn’t pass up a chance to see Juanes! I mean. Come on.
I found a good place next to a group who clearly were big fans! They were laughing and dancing and knew all of the words and I latched on to their enthusiasm while I was there. Juanes put on a good show, but even with five years of Spanish, however many years ago, I didn’t know what was going on - lol. I stayed until he played La Camisa Negra and then made my way to the Acura Stage to grab a spot as close to the stage as I could get without getting squished [that actually happened - a girl was removed by some EMT’s after getting squeezed into the guard rails at the front.]
I was kind of far from the stage itself, but I got about 20-30 feet from the end of the Runway that they added on to the stage. That was good for me. Unfortunately, I was there for around 45 minutes of music that definitely wasn’t my vibe, but it was worth it to get that spot for Aerosmith, who would be coming up afterwards.
Then. The main event. The reason for the trip. Aerosmith. Steven Tyler.
Steven came out in a white vest, leather pants and the most beautiful kimono I’ve ever seen! [Funny side note, when I was relaying this story to my friend Beth, she said that Steven Tyler is my spirit animal and I literally stopped in my place, turned to her and said, “That is HIGH PRAISE!”] Joe Perry came out in a green sequin blazer and the two of them along with the rest of the band [sorry guys, I’m not going to pretend like I know your names] put on one of THE best performances I have ever seen in my entire life!
Love in an Elevator. Cryin'. Livin' On The Edge. Rag Doll. Janie's Got A Gun. I Don't Wanna Miss A Thing. Sweet Emotion. Dude Looks Like A Lady. Dream On. Walk This Way. [Full Setlist]
I have no idea how many people were there, but it felt like Steven was just singing for me. It didn’t matter that the Dad in front of me had his daughter on his shoulders, or that the 5 older guys to my right were trying to box me out, or that the group of young 20 something’s to my left were flailing on me towards the end. I could see Steven. With my own eyes. In front of me. Not just on the screen, but there - in front of me. On stage.
That’s the closest I think I’ve been to a stage before - other than when I won VIP tickets to see Umphrey’s McGee [I’m a really lucky person. Free stuff and awesome parking spots just line up for me. Also, if you feel like this is not the case for you - start speaking it over yourself. I used to say I was unlucky, except when it came to parking - and that was my reality. Now I say I'm lucky, and things just work out for me. Change your words & change your reality.] When Steven came out to do his encore [Dream On + Walk This Way], this time sans vest [the dude’s in shape - 70 years old and still rockin’ it without a shirt!] and a different, yet equally beautiful kimono, sitting at a white piano - it was just amazing.
I had recorded just about every song, until I got to 1% battery. I figured, I should probably not let my phone completely turn into a brick since I was alone in a crowd in a new city and had no other way of figuring out how to get back to A’s house. So, I didn’t capture their encore but Joe Perry & a shirtless Steven Tyler standing on top of a white baby grand piano with smoke blowing all around them is not an image I’ll soon forget. In that moment, I was probably the most naturally high I’ve ever been. I just couldn’t get over the entire thing. I had been standing on my feet in flats, ALL DAY long, and regardless of the pain, I just glided back to the Jazz Tent, where we said we’d meet up, and felt like I was 10 feet off the ground as I sat there waiting for M+A to return.
M+A returned with another friend [A2] and we set off to make our way back to the block party. There were SO many people everywhere - the party included! After kindly declining the crawfish and pig roasting on the spit [can’t remember the name for this…] several times and then finally saying, “I don’t eat animals,” a woman grabbed me a roasted potato and piece of sweet corn on the cob.
That’s another thing. No one was offended when I didn’t want to eat animals. I was still pretty green when it came to talking about that with strangers [still am] and I was grateful that no one pushed me on it. They just said, ok, and moved on - or in this case, brought me a bowl of vegetables just from overhearing me talking with someone else.
After the party, we made our way to Morning Call to partake in these beignets and cafe au lets we’d been hearing so much about. The hype was real. They ARE better than Cafe Du Monde - so if you’re in New Orleans and you want beignets and you don’t care about going to the more famous place, skip the crowds and head to Morning Call in the park - it’s much more beautiful and tastes delicious! [Just found out while writing this, that Morning Call lost the bid to renew their lease and is currently suing City Park over it. Hopefully they win - they've been there for 140 years and were the highest bidder, but missed a mandatory meeting by being 15 minutes late...red tape.]
Once we were again, covered in powdered sugar - this time slightly less, we said goodbye to A2 and made our way back to A’s house passing the fire house, stumbling upon a fight between two men - one of them yelling, “Give me my shirt back, Man” and laughing at the stray cats that were clearly trying to scare the sh*t out of us!
I decided to call it a night, take a slow shower and get in bed, since I had another long drive ahead of me, while M+A got ready for another New Orleans night. I fell asleep rewatching all of my Insta Stories capturing the day’s magic and woke up way too early ready to head to Morning Call for round two.
I ordered two orders to-go, so I could share with Carl when I got home, and one cafe au let for here [to avoid single-use plastics]. The man taking my order was curious to know why I was up at 5am, clearly not STILL up from the night before AND not hungover, so I got to talking with him and shared a bit of my travel stories before taking my last sip and hitting the road back home.
When I came to that bit of the highway that stretched across the open water, it was just as magical - only this time the sun was rising over the water instead of setting. I stopped in the same places along the way, only having to get tacos instead of coffee in Montgomery when Prevail Union was closed for Sunday.
I definitely knew I was in Alabama, when Cucos' menu read, "10% off on Sundays when you show us your church bulletin.” I was both slightly annoyed [because Prevail was closed] and slightly impressed. With the time change working against me, I made my way back to Dulce Vegan with only 12 minutes to spare before closing time.
I ordered a cinnamon roll with a tahini latte for here, but because of the 12 minutes, they gave me all of it To-Go as a major hint hint. I sat down to eat and drink with a big sigh and the barista asked me if I was ok. I told her I was just SO tired - that my weekend had been amazing and that I was close to driving 22 hours within three days and that all I wanted was to make it here for caffeine before they closed and that I was grateful to them for serving me. She thought that was cool and told me to take my time since they still needed to clean up anyway.
[Note: Everyone has an agenda. Every one of us has things we want. I wanted caffeine because I was EXHAUSTED and still had 4+ hours of driving ahead of me and she wanted to close and get everyone out because she was done working. And both are totally ok and valid. When we share our agendas and our stories with one another, it takes away the opportunity to be offended and our, “I can’t believe he or she was acting like that,” mentality. When we shared that moment authentically, both of us took the pressure off of each other and could just be two compassionate humans.]
The next 4.5 hours of driving were slow, but as I was about 45 minutes away from home, sitting in traffic, I got the best news! My best friend had given birth to her new baby boy - which meant heading to Asheville the very next day. I laughed at the timing but was deliriously grateful for this life I get to live.
I got home and pretty much collapsed. I was worn out, down to my last drop of energy and all of it - every second of it was 1000% worth it!
If you haven’t been on a Solo Trip before, I highly recommend it! Taking the time to be alone with yourself and your thoughts, to meet new people, to try new things, to accept the generosity of strangers - it all opens you up to Abundance.
I got to grow in ways I didn’t think possible during this trip - ways I still can’t perfectly articulate to you now, even months later. I got to see the kindness of others and experience the joys of music with thousands of people.
I got to rock out by myself to Steven Tyler and I got to realize that I’m a MUCH bigger fan than I thought I was. I got to make new friends with two incredible people!
I got to experience the magic and abundance that comes with acting on inspired thought, listening to your inner voice and being open to spontaneity.
It was magical. It was breathtaking. It was exhausting. It was liberating. It was exhilarating. It was Abundant.
Take some time to yourself. Plan a trip. Just do it and then share your incredible stories with me! I want to hear all about how your trip unfolded in the most magical of ways!
And for those of you wondering…did I do it within my budget of $340?!? YES! I came in under!
I had to guesstimate some of the cash I spent, but even if I’m a little under in my guesses, I still came in well under my goal at $312.28!
I had initially set an intention of not traveling this year because I didn’t want to spend the money, but that quickly changed once I realized I was operating from a limiting belief that travel had to be expensive.
Once I started saying and believing that traveling doesn’t cost a lot - that’s exactly what I started experiencing! If you want to travel but keep telling yourself you can’t because it’s expensive - check that limiting belief at the door, release the outcome of having to go somewhere in particular - and be open to the new abundant opportunities that will soon make themselves known to you!
Love & Learning,
Lunch at Vegan Bakery in Atlanta = $16.01
Kombucha in Montgomery = $ 6.50
Dinner at Seed — Free + $8 Tip cash
Mocktail — $1 cash
Coke — Free
Beignets & Coffee — Free
TOTAL = $31.51
Breakfast [I brought] — Free
Lunch at the Festival — $8 cash
Potato & Corn at Party — Free
Beignets & Coffee — $15 cash
TOTAL = $23
To-Go Beignets & Coffee — $10 cash
Tacos in Montgomery = $6.21
Lunch at Vegan Bakery in Atlanta = $12.67
TOTAL = $28.88
TICKET = $80.85
GAS = $36.95 + 36.79 + 38.73 + 35.07 = $147.54
ACCOMMODATIONS = Free
FOOD = $83.89
GRAND TOTAL = $312.28 + [$39 tank of gas when I got home]