New Orleans, last day

We’re now heading north on I-55, just north of Jackson, MS. I’m hoping to connect up at a wireless hotspot somewhere along the way this evening. Today went well. We ended up only working on the one house all week, with the goal of getting all the walls up and mudded. And we did well. A couple of us cleaned and straightened out the garage today. Then we took the back door off because when it was installed, they put it in crooked. So we messed around with that, putting in shims, and getting the door straight. It’s now very level and works well. Ron Coenen finished up the sheet rock in the master bathroom. Greg Schad helped him. Rick Steeber and Janice Loehlein finshed up the mudding. I was a bit disappointed that the owner didn’t stop back again before we left. We would like to have said good bye to her and wish her well. We left at 11:30. Mark and Karen (the couple from Lincoln, Nebraska) will finish up any last minute stuff.

We had pizza at Rocket’s house across the street last night. That was nice. Deacon Mike had bought a Packers shirt and a cheesehead to give to Rocket as a gesture to show our appreciation for his kindness and hospitality. What a guy, we all signed his cheesehead. He also wanted to give us a gift, so he got a canvas brief case and put an umbrella in it. He had Mike put all 39 of our names in a hat and he drew one…drum roll please…”Scott Crevier.”  Very cool. I got the brief case and umbrella along with a pen and portable fan. He also gave away a bag with a bunch of Mardi Gras stuff in it, and that went to Rick Crabb.

I mentioned in a brief post last night that we were able to get photos of Paul Albers’ new grandson, Ethan. Paul and I and a couple others left Rocket’s house and went over to a café with wireless access, and everything worked out great. I must say that that was a great experience. People have been giving me a hard time all week for having all kinds of technology and gadgets with me, which is all fine. It’s all in good fun. But it was nice to actually use all this stuff for something as personal as allowing Paul to see his grandson. He wiped a tear from his eye and I just thought it doesn’t get any better than this. That was so cool.

When we were done working today, we went to the Cathedral of St. Louis in Jackson Square, the heart of the French Quarter. They have a nice little gift shop there, and Greg Schad had been here last year and saw a cross necklace that he really wanted. He regretted that he didn’t buy it, so he wanted to be sure to get it this time. Actually, a few of us went down there this morning at 6:45 but they weren’t open yet, so it was good to see them open this afternoon. I had also been eyeing up some cross necklaces lately, so I got one for myself. While I was paying, the clerk gave me a neat crucifix as a token of appreciation for helping the people of New Orleans. Then the other clerk also gave me a pendant that reads “St. Louis King of France, Pray For Us.” They were both so appreciative of us being there. Then, as if that weren’t enough, the second clerk went in the back and got out some pieces of slate from the original Cathedral roof to share them with the other people in my group. They are original pieces from the roof that came off during the hurricane. Very cool. My heart was so warmed by that gesture. These people in New Orleans are something else. I heard that a few others in our group also had the same experience at that gift shop this week.

I should also mention that the Cathedral itself is just beautiful. When we got there early this morning, there was a guy just opening the place and getting ready for 7:30 Mass. I was standing in the back of the church, looking forward toward the altar, when I heard him flipping switches on. He must have flipped 2 dozen switches. With each click, the sanctuary filled with light. What a sight! I don’t know when I’ll be back in town, but if I ever am, I will make it a point to attend Mass there.

Since we had dinner at Rocket’s last night, and Catholic Charities also brought us dinner, we had the left over dinner for lunch today: baked chicken breasts and rice. It was very good. I don’t know what kind of spices were in it, but it was indeed a great lunch, just what we needed before hitting the road.

The various cars in our group are leaving town at various times depending on their schedule today. We left the school at 1:30pm. That should get us home by about 9:00 or 10:00 tomorrow morning, depending on what stops we make along the way. I mentioned in last night’s post how I felt about leaving early today. I have to say today that I now have mixed feelings. I’ve been able to touch base with Tricia, and it looks like I’m going to get home barely in time to see two of my daughters in their dance competition Saturday at Oshkosh North High School. So, overall, I’d prefer to have worked the whole day, but it will indeed be good to get home early and see Tricia and the girls again.