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Of Bayous and Bull Riding (Part 2)

The rest of the weekend/week beginning in New Orleans went awesome.

Here’s a quick summary:

  1. The Garden District via the distinctive green St. Charles cable car line with Carrie Reynolds aka The Insurance Goddess from Ohio and Julie Bryndal, my Indiana friend, from the morning’s paddle boarding.
  1. Meeting new and reuniting with old friends at the Elevate19 opening reception Sunday night.
  1. Being honored to attend an invite only, very delicious and swanky dinner hosted by Agency Performance Partners at The Bourbon House. With a table full of friends to keep me company: Trustpoint Insurance ladies from Kansas, Michael Franke from Texas, and Carrie Reynolds.
  1. A solid day of conference awesomeness and then the special treat of a block party on Chartres Street by Elevate19.

Afterwards we (the caravan had too many to name everyone) went in search of Karaoke on Bourbon. We were headed for The Cat’s Meow and decided to duck into the Bourbon Cowboy to take advantage of a empty balcony where we could watch the street. I had never been on a balcony on Bourbon street and quickly realized it was the best people watching ever.

I kind of knew how eclectic the crowd was but when you are IN it you can’t quite appreciate. It’s like a fantastic chaotic parade. We threw some beads and just had fun.

Then a crazy opportunity presented itself. I found out that downstairs in the Bourbon Cowboy was another of my #50for50 items. A mechanical bull.

I rushed down to give it a look. I wanted to make sure it looked safe and find out how much it cost to ride.

$5 to ride + ample padding around said mechanical bull = me in line without another thought. At least I was wearing blue jeans instead of the skirts I had worn most of the weekend.

When I got to the operator for my turn I slid him an extra $5 and said, be easy on an old lady. He didn’t smile or say anything but just gave me a subtle nod and slid the “sign my life away” waiver over for me to complete.

The crowd was cheering. In part because no less than 20 of my good friends were there to witness the event. The rest of the cheers I’m sure were fueled by alcohol but bolstered me nonetheless.

I immediately doubted my decision to ride however as I couldn’t even mount the damn thing on my own. I tried twice but the curse of my short legs and inexperience in mounting techniques meant the operator had to come over and give me a leg up.

Heart pounding, I wrapped the rope around my left hand as I’d seen the other riders before me do, and dug my bare feet into the side of the bull.

Then the bull began to move.

I vaguely registered that they had picked a slow, sensuous country song and the movements of the bull were more rhythmic than bucking.

It seemed like all I had to do is just rock with the bull like I was dancing to the song.

Did I mention I’m not really a skilled dancer?

I held on for what seemed like forever but I think was about 40 seconds and one somewhat sudden move of the bull and I tilted off.

I was allowed one more try and was determined I’d give it another go. Sweat pouring down my neck, and thighs were tired already but this time I finally mounted the thing on my own volition. It wasn’t pretty but everyone regaled me with encouraging shouts.

The second song was also a hip grinder and I tried to just follow the bull’s lead. Moving with the music I admit I felt a lot sexier than I looked in reviewing the videos my friends Carrie and Julie took.


That night’s experience with the bull was in marked contrast with the stand up paddling just the day before. Instead of planning far in advance, the bull riding had been a spontaneous decision. There was no guide to instruct me in best practices, I just had to go with what I had seen others do and try my best. It wasn’t peaceful or uplifting like the paddling but in its own way the bull ride had been exhilarating.

Like most of the other experiences thus far, the ride felt triumphant afterwards. Learning to push past fear even when you know you are going to get thrown on your back. Then getting back up and doing it again.

The bayou and the bull were certainly highlights of the weekend, however I think the best part was experiencing both with some of the people I enjoy so much. What unexpected blessings of this journey.

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