Trip to New Orleans Louisiana - 2021

Our friends Tom and Norma Jean invited us to goon a trip to New Orleans. Since we're now both fully vaccinated and feeling up for some adventure we gladly agreed. They flew. We had extra time so we drove and took in a side-trip.



We have always loved the trip we took ages ago to East Texas. We had stayed in a cute log cabin, so we decided to break up our trip to New Orleans with another stay in the same cabin.


We got to our hotel in the late afternoon. Tom and Norma Jean had already arrived so we touched base and decided to have a glass of wine (suprise!). The hotel was beautifully designed with two large multi-story atriums for the rooms to open onto. There were tables and chairs for libations after a long journey. That first night the hotel put on a buffet with great food and lots of wine.



Before bed we had to begin touring the town... We wandered up to the Cafe Du Monde which is famous for its history and its Beignets



Naturally we sampled their wares



... A Beignet is merely dough in little squares that they throw into a vat of fat and then drown in powdered sugar. Delicious...



Saturday we got a cab to the Word War II Museum. Fabulous. It took four or five hours to walk through three of the four buildings. They take visitors through all phases of the (American) war from Normandy to the Pacific to China and back to Berlin. The soundtracks were constant bombardment, there was a screen showing action every few yards and explanation in between. The surroundings were realistically crafted depending on the venue - with 30-foot ceilings filled with spotlights pointing every which way. We ended with a delightful Cajun meal of spaghetti with remoulade sauce.



Sunday we decided to explore the French Quarter. We began with a walk up the mighty Mississippi after breakfast in the French Market.



Directly opposite from the river is Jackson Square with St Louis cathedral. It proudly announces that it has been declared a "minor basilica". The church was beautiful and the square in front of it and the shops around it were wonderful.



Further into the French Quarter we looked for Preservation Hall which is famous for its original jazz, Covid has taken its toll and it is closed "until further notice" although I very much doubt that it will be permitted to close permanently..



We walked the length of Bourbon Street. It has definitely been affected for the worse by the lack of visitors - it was quite dingy and the streets and sidewalks have always been very uneven.

You know how good a gardener Diane is! well she decided to try to grow a plant right there - a Face Plant. It immediately flowered in beautiful red and purple. Very quickly we had a nurse and a doctor in attendance - they just happened to be passing. Diane soldiered on with a swollen lip and potentially broken nose.

Just across the street was a tour agent who ran out to help, invited us in to get drinking and washing water, bandages and ointment! Great people in NOLA. Naturally, we booked our next few days with him - a town tour, a swamp tour and a plantation tour. Back home we relaxed with a NOLA pizza.




The next morning (Monday) we had breakfast at Cafe enVie (French for Alive or Living) just down the Decatur in the French Quarter before we went on our town tour. The food was great and we sort of adopted the cafe.



On to the bus tour. The route took us through all the districts of New Orleans including the Garden District......



.... and, of course, included the obligatory 15 minutes wandering around the cemetery


During the tour, the driver had been telling us how wonderful the Blacksmith's Shop was - original hurricanes and all that - none of the powdered flavor stuff. After that we had to get a Hurricane.

We sat next to a young couple and immediately struck up a conversation. We were amazed how friendly the natives (and the tourists) were - we chatted with several each day. The conversation eventually turned to Diane's accident and the girl commented that she had thought that the swelling of the lips was due to collagen injections! Younger minds drift in different directions than older minds.



Of course they took a photo of the four of us before the Hurricanes had laid us on the floor.. We staggered home.



Tuesday - we took a swamp boat tour. As we drove along we marvelled at the ingenuity of the locals. They had apparently put a school bus on stilts so it could wade through the swamps and floods. (OK, it really was a breakdown truck carrying the bus)



The boat was a flat bottomed boat with a huge, noisy propeller behind us. We wore earplugs because of the noise. Luckily the driver stopped the boat to give commentaries so we could de-plug and hear him. The swamp was a mixture of lakes, canals and...



... masses of floating vegetation with potential mud-banks under them. The driver loved to rush at a seemingly impentrable mass of foliage and plow right through it, Some of the foliage contained baby alligators and, of course, he knew where they were and stopped for us to gawk.



Wednesday was the Plantation visit. We had been attracted to Oak Alley out of the potential dozens of possible tours. The drive there was about 40 minutes on the west bank of the Mississippi.



The map led us first to the slave quarters. Here you see three houses that would each hold two familes of 2 - 6 people. There was ranking among the slaves from "house slave" to "field hand" and they got appropriately sized houses.



Another view of the houses. Each of them had displays of different aspects of slave life



This is a wash tub for communal clothes washing.



Toilets were outhouses of course. The women had a quarter moon which is normally associated with an outhouse. The men had a full moon like this one.



Next on the itinerary was the house itself. This is the view from the house along the oak alley to the Mississippi. In the olden days the levee was much lower and you could see the river.



The trees were about 250 years old and had enormously gnarly root systems.



This is the front of the house looking up the oak alley.



Thursday was our last full day in NOLA. We made a decision to go to the sculpture gardens. Just by lucky chance there was a second Cafe du Monde there so we started things off properly with cafe au laits



The first sculpture was most interesting. It was a man with another man sitting on his shoulders and covering his eyes and another man sitting on his shoulders and covering his eyes and another man sitting on his shoulders and covering his eyes..........

Click the picture to see the sculpture

Click the picture to see the sculpture



The piece de Resistance was a statue by Renoir.



We finished the day with a stupendously delightful meal at The Chop House. The tenderest filet and a huge loaded baked potato.



But we still had to get home. After dropping Tom and Norma Jean at the airport we headed toward home. The first stop was at a delightful little old town



Our first real goal was Avery Island the home of Tabasco sauce. We went to see the wonderful park built by Edward Avery McIlhenny in 1895 (his father started the McIlHenny Co to make hot sauce). Avery was a self-taught naturalist and created a park that grew all types of Camelias, Azaleas and Oaks. He originally built it to save various birds from extinction. It has a free self-guided tour that takes anywhere from an hour to all day depending on your interests.



They grow other things also



The trees here are just as moss-laden as those elsewhere in Lousiana



One of the interesting walks was through this arch...



... a temple appears in the distance with a buddha-style figure inside...



...yes, it's a buddha. His hands clasp money. A $1 bill, and strangely a chinese bill and a bill from Nepal! We left them...



... and look at the view that mesmerized him - across a lake on to a little bridge.



Now to the best part - The Bird Sanctuary. Hundreds of egrets and lots of other birds on long tables in the middle of a lake coveres with vegetation.

We came too late to see the camelias and azalias in bloom.



Back on the road we made a pit stop at a gas station by Katy Mall on the way out of Houston. A hundred miles down the road Daine discovers her wedding ring is missing. We feverishly search the car and her purse. No ring. Another hundred miles and two and a half hours later we search the parking lot and THERE IT IS!!!! The trip home now was, thankfully, uneventful.

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