Meanwhile, a plot was thickening outside the terminal. Detroit advertising executive Michael Martinet had been planning his second honeymoon in New Orleans, and was to meet his wife at the airport. However, animal rights activists had chosen this moment to kidnap his lovely wife Mildred in retaliation for Martinet's ad campaign promoting baby seal clubbing vacation packages. Martinet loudly railed at the gods for upsetting his vacation plans, yelled at the gate agents, called his wife a Marmoset, and finally decided not to go on without her. So Karen and Chad got the nod, at the last minute, and were on the flight! They had been booked into first class, so the ride down was a relaxing one. They didn't get seated together, but Karen enjoyed flirting with her seatmate, and Chad got a bit of sleep, missing a view of the comet.
Upon arrival in New Orleans, Chad confirmed a room at the Monteleone, and they picked up a rental car. Taking the scenic route to the quarter, they went down St. Charles, and stopped at Schenk's Florist, famous for their Easter display. Though it was late, two dozen cute little bunnies hopped around from the bunny barn to the bunny chapel. Karen tried not to make over them too much, because she had already develped a reputation for cuteness from her bunny collection, but they were only one amoung several couples gathered to look at the bunnies.
Heading back towards the quarter, Karen and Chad went by Canal and took the last ferry to the westbank, just to get out on the river and take a look at the city. The free ferry is no longer free, but at $1 for both ways, it's still a great deal. They checked in at the hotel around midnight, and walked down Bourbon (which was just as crowded as usual) a little way, then down St. Peter, through Jackson Square to the Cafe du Monde for caffe au lait and beignets. The service was fast, the beignets were hot, and after warming up nicely, they went out and walked by the river, cuddled a little bit on the benches, and headed back to the hotel by way of Royal Street, window shopping along the way.
The next morning, after a breakfast of eggs with crab cakes and crawfish, followed by strawberries and whipped cream, they headed back down Royal to look at a couple of shops while they were open! At least one gallery beckoned, and a quaint little shop relieved them of some money before Chad remembered that they were within a block of a candy shop that a friend of his from school had opened, so they walked on by. It was quite a happy coincidence, because Dana and Dr. Tompkins, who Chad had worked for at Tulane, were there helping their son Peter with his candy shop. They talked, got caught up on old times, Peter got to show off his award-winning pralines, and everyone had a marvelous time. Then they made it to the toy store and got Karen the bunny rabbit tea set she had her heart set on. She also got a nice little drawing from a street artist on Jackson Square. Nowhere tempted as much as the little dress shop in the hotel, though, so after they checked out, Chad got his lady a lovely little dress. She changed into it, and was the envy of all as they headed down to the Gulf Coast. The couple arrived in Gulfport at ConClave around 5:00, just in time for the presentation of The Return of the Boobyprize, an epic radio play that Chad had been looking forward to for years. They had arrived too late for him to claim his part (Lt.Cdr. Montgomery Ward Scotch) but enjoyed it thoroughly nonetheless. After the show, they sat around and talked for a little while, then went out to dinner with Harrison from the old SOB^2 crowd and his lady Julie. They ended up at a place called O'Charley's, where the food was good even if the service wasn't, and had a great time talking. A young man who worked at a mall tobbaconist's followed them back to the con, and they enjoyed the dance for the rest of the evening.
The next morning, up at the crack of 9:00 to go to brunch, our heroes made it to their appointed rendezvous at Commander's Palace in the Garden District. The food and the service lived up to their usual legendary proportions, and every song that one could have asked for, the jazz band played. Afterwards, needing to stretch their legs and help digest all the wonderful food, Chad and Karen walked through the Garden District, looking at the lovely architecture and ironwork. They stopped in at a shop with the most ecclectic layout one could imagine, back across from Commander's, gave away their baloons to a four-year old who was thrilled and amazed, and took off for the airport.
Unfortunately, there was no chance of getting out of New Orleans that day. One flight had been cancelled, and everything else was overloaded. Trying to get back to the Northwest layover hotel was a bit of a nightmare too, because the shuttle bus never made it. Finally, after an hour and a half, losing patience and taking a taxi to the hotel, they took a nap, and Chad went out for a swim, got Karen up and dragged her to Jaeger's for some down-home seafood. Jaeger's on the lakefront had turned into quite a hot-spot, and everyone was out for the evening because of the Irish- Italian parade. Two bands were playing, the place was insane, with about three hundred people crowded in, but there wasn't much wait for food... and the crawfish and gumbo were as good as ever. They amazed the waitress by eating a whole skillet of gumbo (about five bowls) and a pound of crawfish, then took a walk by the lake, caught a taxi back to the hotel, and caught the first flight back to Detroit the next morning.