February 15th, 2011
03:41 PM ET

Letters to the President: #757 'Back from being away'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: President Obama asked for advice from the public a long time ago. I keep giving it, and not just on special days.

Dear Mr. President,

Well, if I wait any longer to send today’s letter it will be tomorrow!

I saw you handing out the Medals of Freedom earlier and you looked pretty happy about it; a good bit happier than you seem to be talking about your budget, but then money talk tends to get people tense, so no surprise there.

I’ve had a little trouble getting everything back on track since I took a couple of days off. Not sure I told you what we were up to, but this seems as good a time as any, and I suspect you could need a little diversion. (Btw, I notice you and your staff making reference to you reading ten letters a day from the public. So who are the other nine? Ha!)

We made a nice family memory this past weekend - flying everyone down to New Orleans for a Valentine’s Day/Mardi Gras celebration. It was lovely. My wife, younger daughter, and I jetted down from DC and met our elder daughter at the airport on Friday evening. She flew in from Georgia Tech right after her classes were done for the day. By 8:30 we were all gathered around the counter at Camellia Grill (just two blocks from our old apartment) enjoying omelets, gumbo, grilled cheese, and chocolate freezes, among other things. It was, as always, delicious.

Saturday we had a late breakfast at the Ruby Slipper (you’ll notice how all my visits to NOLA are described in terms of meals, but hey, as an old ad used to say down there, “others may only eat to live; in New Orleans we live to eat!”) And again, the meal was so fabulous it made me want to weep.

We spent much of the afternoon roaming the French Quarter, checking out art galleries, walking by the river, shopping for clothes. My favorite moment (that did not involve eating) was when I looked into a cramped, little vintage clothing shop and saw my younger daughter step our from behind a curtain modeling a dress covered with monster faces, and my wife was standing there watching her while inexplicably holding a Pomeranian. It was great!

The whole reason we made the trip was actually for the elder girl and I to run the Mardi Gras Half Marathon on Sunday morning, and it was a blast. We warmed up with a three mile trot through the Quarter at dawn, and then joined the thousands of other folks at the starting line. Frank Shorter was there to send us off, so as my daughter and I ran past we yelled up to him, “Bless us Saint Frank, for we are runners.” He laughed and waved.

They had bands every couple of miles playing music, plenty of cold drinks and lots of fan support. Funny signs everywhere. And the route was spectacular. Uptown, along Tchoupitoulas, through the Garden District; down Magazine and Prytania Streets, and then back along St. Charles Avenue; past Jackson Square, then up Esplanade to City Park. Seriously, it was beautiful. If you ever decide to take up running, this is the race for you. My daughter and I said around mile 12 that we really regretted not signing up for the full marathon because we hated to see it all end.

Anyway, afterward we scarfed down some fine shrimp Po-Boys, picked up a stack of excellent King Cakes, and headed to the airport for tearful goodbyes. All in all a massively great way to celebrate Valentine’s Day and get a little taste of Mardi Gras, too. You should have been there.

Call if you can. I saved a piece of King Cake for you, but if I don’t hear from you by early evening, I can assure you it will be gone.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (2 Responses)
  1. Jennifer

    You make me want to weep – with pride for our great city! Your entry reads like a love letter to New Orleans. Thank you! Come back soon. The Crescent City Classic is a fun race.

    February 16, 2011 at 9:15 am |
  2. Jennifer

    Hi Tom,

    Greetings from the Ruby Slipper in New Orleans. I'm so thrilled to hear that your meal was good enough to make you weep! Did you visit our Downtown or Mid-City location? Both had wonderful specials this weekend!

    February 15, 2011 at 5:07 pm |