George McConnel's Po Boy Sandwich Ride

If you've read my somwhat lengthy tale of the Y2K IronButt Ride, you may remember that Rich's original reason for wanting to ride to New Orleans was because he really wanted an authentic Po Boy sandwich. Rich grew up in New Orleans and his parents still live there.

Rich says, "I'm still hungry. Are we ever going to go get those Po Boys?"

As it turned out we never actually rode into New Orleans during that ride. With Mardi Gras being in progress Rich felt like it was a bad time to try to get down town in the Big Easy. So we pretty much just rode past it on the Interstate to get to I-59 for our return ride.

This ride started off as just another "southerly" ride. In fact we originally planned on simply riding down to Montgomery and eating at that "Country Barbeque" place so Rich could finally get the picture of himself sitting in the gigantic rocking chair.

It was Tuesday, June 26, 2000. We met around 7:00 at the Waffle House where Rich could scarf down some waffles before our ride. Rich lives to ride, rides to eat and eats to live. It's a vicious circle. Around 7:30 or so we saddled up.

It was a beautiful day for riding, a little cool for the time of year at first, but it warmed up nicely as we rode.

I suppose we had just gotten south of Birmingham when Rich called over on the CB and said, "You know, about 300 more miles and we could go eat a Po Boy in New Orleans tonight." We joked around about it for awhile, but finally we began seriously making plans to do just that. After all, his parents still lived in New Orleans so we could just bed down at their house and not have to spend any extra money on a hotel room.

So once we got to Montgomery we stopped off for a bite to eat. I had called ahead and arranged for a friend I used to know when I went to college there to meet us at the barbecue place. I hadn't seen her in almost 20 years and we had a blast catching up. Rich finally got his picture (and mine to, for that matter) on the giant red rocking chair.

I called home and work to make sure there was no reason I couldn't make this ride into an "overnighter", and we pulled out of Montgomery around 3:00 in the afternoon. We rode down towards New Orleans, getting there around 10:30 that night. I had never been to New Orleans before, so we rode down to the French Quarter and found a place to park the bikes so we could take a stroll down Burbon Street.

It was certainly an interesting experience. There was a general carnival atmosphere everywhere. Street entertainers abounded. One of the most interesting of these was a young fellow playing drums on a collection of buckets. He was making some incredible music just using these old plastic buckets. Of course there were many entertainment establishments of various types on both sides of the street. Music was everywhere. All types of music.

We walked all the way to the end of the festival, then walked about halfway back, stopping at a little place we had noticed on the way down where you could buy a Po Boy sandwich. It was conveniently located right across the street from a place where some very authentic blues were being played. We took our time eating what was arguably one of the best sandwiches I've ever eaten, listening to the blues emanating from the building across the street.

It was getting about midnight when we finally got out of the downtown area and rode over to Rich's parents' house. We sat up and talked for awhile before going to bed.

The next morning we woke up kind of late and had breakfast at a really unique New Orleans establishment: McDonald's. After Rich said 'bye' to his parents we took a leisurely tour of the city (handy to have a native showing you around). He showed me several of the streets where beautiful houses adorn each side of the road, complete with nice shade trees. We also rode across the large toll bridge just so I could see what that was like. And when we exited New Orleans we rode over the 25 mile "Causeway" bridge. That was a very interesting experience -- mile after mile of bridge.

But all good things have to come to an end, so we hopped on I-59 again and headed back. When we reached Tuscaloosa we stopped and ate at an IHOP before finishing the trip back home. It was a really fun and spontaneous ride.

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