Not all of my adventures involve my kids. Oliver and I have been to New Orleans Jazz Fest a number of times throughout the past twentyish years but during the years of having babies, we didn’t make it down there as often. In 2009, our youngest was less than a year old and we had no intention of going until I saw that Pete Seeger was playing. Pete Seeger was approaching 90 and didn’t play very often any more. He was also on my “need to see live before he dies list.”
Oliver agreed to stay home with the kids so I could go. I was able to get a buddy pass from my sister-in-law to fly down there cheap, and I shared a hotel room with some friends who were also going. The total trip would last three days, and in the end I would spend more time traveling than in NOLA, but I would have a no-kids vacation, eat and drink all my favorite NOLA things, and see Pete Seeger.
The thing about buddy passes is that there is no guarantee of there being a free seat on the plane. I left on Friday morning and had no problem getting down there. I had a fabulous time. I was supposed to leave early Sunday morning, but the flight ended up being full. The biggest problem was that my bag, including my breast pump, had already left for Boston via the original flight. I spent the day hanging out at the airport and ended up on an evening flight to Boston via JFK, but when I got to New York at 11pm, there were about ten other people hoping to get on the flight to Boston, many with higher priority passes or bigger sob stories than me. There was no way I was getting on, and the next flight, the following morning, was also full.
I have friends and a sister in NY, but it was late, and I needed to get home so Oliver could go to work in the morning. I would just have to rent a car and drive to NH. I announced my plan to the hopeful flyers to see if anyone wanted to come with me. One person agreed. Carmen lived in Lawrence, MA, and had just been in the Dominican Republic visiting family. She also had a buddy pass, from her brother who worked for Jet Blue.
We rented the cheapest car we could find, and headed out of the city at midnight. Carmen paid for half the rental and was good company keeping me awake for the long drive. After dropping her off in Lawrence, I pulled into my driveway at 5am and slept for a few hours before Oliver left for work. Unfortunately, I still had to drag three kids to Logan to retrieve my stuff.
Seeing Pete Seeger perform, with his banjo, plaid Grandpa shirt, and aging voice, was totally worth it. The story of my vaguely failed use of Jet Blue buddy passes, my breast pump going to Boston without me (which isn’t even the strangest thing my breast pump had done in an airport), and my middle of the night trip home from NYC with a stranger are a bonus.