Ok for all of those people who've pointed out that usually Heather does all the work on this blog, I'll start pulling a little bit of my weight. I hope you enjoy the following entry on our New Orleans trip by me: Cameron, Heather's worse half ;) Let's get started.
So one good thing about crazy flight routes and their accompanying layovers is that we didn't "get stuck in LAX for 3 hours," we "got to have a midnight snack at Carl's Jr. with my Dad and stepmom Maria." So nice of them to pick us up and hang out with us for a little bit.
We saw Dad this last summer, but hadn't seen Maria for almost two years. They did an effective job of pumping us up for our Nawlins trip. They went last year and showed us some of their pics. If you look close enough, Dad is even wearing a hat he got in N.O.
Funny story here. If anyone is ever searching for a McDonald's on the outskirts of the Big Easy, your GPS will not take you to the fast food restaurant, but the Ronald McDonald House. I'm sure everyone knows the difference, but for that one person that might not, this is a charity, not a place to pick up wonderfully delectable McGriddles. Not to worry, we we're able to play the Monopoly pull and peel game and fill our stomaches at the real deal a couple blocks down the road.
Here's Heather standing atop of the levee on the Algiers side of the Msssspp River ( see I can spell Mississippi with no eyes). We took a free ferry across our nation's largest river and spent a few minutes looking at Louis Armstrong statues and random daycares that looked like nomadic hippy dwellings.
I'd recommend watching Disney's Princess and the Frog right before or after visiting New Orleans. It really does do a good job demonstrating the city's landmarks. Here's one of the most famous St. Louis Cathedral. We saw part of a Catholic Mass, before exploring the French Quarter.
Here's the French Market where HeathBabe bought a cute, yet creepy voodoo doll.
The Seattle Seahawks (oddly our "home football team") were in town to take on the Saints. Everyone was wearing a Saint jersey and I mean every one. It's like seeing guys in white dress shirts on Sunday in Provo, it's what they do. We didn't go to the game, but watched the first quarter on the Jumbo Tron at Champions Square just outside the Louisiana Superdome. Of course, it was a very party-like atmosphere.
Here I am outside the Superdome. You may know it as the place that frequently hosts the Super Bowl (yes, the place that Tom Brady and the New England Patriots won their first NFL title) but to thousands of New Orleans residents it was a makeshift refuge from the dregs of Hurricane Katrina.
So I have this crazy goal of going to all 50 of the United States, so we took the long route to dinner and ended up in Mobile, Alabama, at Dick Russell's Famous Bar-B-Q.
Man oh man was it good. For only $14.95 you can get a generous sampling of Dick Russell's original recipes. That includes pork shoulder, baby back ribs, beef, beans, cole slaw, oven fresh biscuits or garlic bread. Of course we also had to have the Cajun-style seafood gumbo served over a piping-hot bed of steaming rice. - See these are the onerous details that you people just don't get from Heather :) Love ya babe.
Welcome to Oak Alley Plantation. Population 300 yards of 300-year-old oak trees and you. There are a lot of plantations to see in N.O., but I'm happy with our selection of this fully restored beauty only 30 yards from the MS River.
This is the opposite view from the balcony. Just beyond the trees is the River.
Then we went on a three-hour tour of areas devastated by Katrina. A three-hour tour! (Ok, I get it, no one gets the obscure Gilligan's Island reference. That's a lame-dad joke anyway, right?) Well, if you look closely, here you will see some orange markings on the blue and white paint on the house below. Rescuers had certain codes with which to mark a house: already searched, no survivors, rescued two people etc.
Most of the houses that weathered the storm had to be completely demolished, some just merely had to be repaired, others -like this one- was abandoned.
This is the Brad Pitt in action. He's working on rebuilding some of the houses in the lower 9th Ward and really these residences look like a combination of a mobile home and a Guggenheim Museum. All are on stilts.
Here's an updated memorial for loved-ones lost.
Here's my lovely bride outside the famous Cafe Du Monde.
This is the place where you get golden delicious beignets (a French powdered-sugary, scone treat).
Here I am trying to blow the powdered sugar off in a cool-like way, but alas the photo of the happy tourists doing this in the city brochure looked much cooler.
HeathBabe and I have been to a lot of cool museums. We lived in DC for a couple of months and the Smithsonian knows what's up, but this National WWII museum was pretty awesome. I learned some new things about the D-Day Invasion and enjoyed the interactive exhibits. I also thought it was cool to be surrounded by American Veterans who frequent this establishment.
So I'm starting to think that Heath and I have a thing for reptiles. We spent part of our honeymoon at Gator World in Orlando and of course had a go on a good ol' gator swamp tour in the bayou. Yee-haw! I'm surprised this gator in the picture didn't rip off my leg.
A turtle (not of the ninja variety) sunbathing in late November.
A gator responding to our tour guide who was throwing marshmallows at him.
The swamp is pretty in its own kind of way.
Heather is pretty in her very-pretty-lady kind of way. Here she is holding a baby gator.
I know I may not be pretty in a blue-steel Derek Zoolander kind of way, but I liked holding the baby gator, too.
I feel like we should of been listening to Credence Clearwater Revival's "Born on the Bayou" or something. It was a great swamp tour. Our guide also fed raw chicken to the gators and showed us a really ugly snapping turtle.
Now to Mardi Gras World. Yes, there is such a place. Here they make 90% of the floats you see on Fat Tuesday and throughout the entire celebration.
I thought it was cool that the place is considered "green" because they recycle their floats and make them into different designs in later years. For example, a soldier from last year will be turned into Abraham Lincoln this year.
Trying to get our money's worth, we took a quick 15-minute tour of the aquarium before it closed. Supposedly it has one of the largest jelly-fish displays in the world.
And it has this big old frog that people can sit on.
The mall is right on the Mississippi River.
So maybe here's proof that we have a thing for alligators. We see them on our vacations and we eat them for dinner. Heather ordered gator with a twice-baked potato and veggies. We think gator tastes like a mix of steak and chicken if you can imagine that.
I ordered the seafood platter. Can anyone say stuffed crab is like Christmas in my mouth?! The crawfish, catfish and shrimp weren't bad either.
I really like this picture. Heath looks like a little girl walking into a caribbean Christmas wonderland. This was a Christmas festival at the center of the city.
On our last day we visited the famous St. Louis Cemetery #1. This is Dave, the groundskeeper. Now, he doesn't get paid to give tours, but he does accept tips. He gave us a 30-minute rundown on the most historical parts of the cemetery.
This is where the Voodoo Queen is buried. She was this lady from the olden days who would cast death spells on people and, sure enough, they would end up dead. People feared her and did not want to cross her. Later they found out that she actually poisoned the people she cursed. People come to her tomb to make wishes, give reverence and practice their voodoo faith. They leave alcohol, chapstick, matches, lipstick really anything in giving tribute to her. To me, it just looks like a bunch of trash, but Dave tells me the bums really enjoy the alcohol people leave. The XXX somehow became her symbol.
How random is this? The pyramid will be Nicholas Cage's and his family's final resting place. He paid several hundreds of thousands of dollars to procure this plot, then built a pyramid on top of it. It's kind of cool, but I think he took this whole National Treasure thing way too far.
Does anyone else think it's weird that we visited a cemetery on our vacation?
So I'm glad that Heather indulged me in taking a small detour through Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge, LA. You see, I also have this thing with campuses. I can add this to my list of other colleges I've seen recently along with Stanford, Duke, UNC, Georgetown, George Washington, Virginia Commonwealth, Gonzaga, Michigan State and Maryland.
Even though I am not a fan of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS) the 2003 and 2007 National Champion called this stadium "home."
Side note: we got a Power Pass and would recommend such a purchase if going to New Orleans. We went to see several attractions which would have cost us each about $175, but instead it only lowered our billfold $80. It's not every day that you can save about $95, well unless you are like Heather and are into crazy coupon-ing. (Can I really make that into a verb?) We also low-balled a bid on Priceline and got a room at the Downtown Sheraton (four-star hotel) for only $60 a night.
P.S. After leaving New Orleans we road tripped to Dallas to spend Thanksgiving at Heather's sophisticated and savvy sister's house. I'm sure Heath has blog plans for that.
Have a marvelous day in the meadows. -Cameron Hugh Salony III