Wow, I finally made it to New Orleans! Chris visited several years ago to celebrate the birthday of his brother while I stayed cozy in our New Hampshire home with two young babes. He came home bursting with stories of the beauty, culture, and delicious food and vibe of the area. Then came Hurricane Katrina. Chris was heartsick that he would never be able to share the experience of New Orleans with us after the horrible devastation the area and people had incurred. Five years later, the French Quarter is back. While there are signs of rebuilding continuing around New Orleans, the downtown is just as Chris remembered it and I imagined it – alive with music, smiles, beauty, art, food, and a plethora of things to see and do.
We pulled in to Pontchartrain Landing RV Resort which is about five miles from the French Quarter. I highly recommend this place – they allow supervised children in the hot tub, have a fenced, grassy dog run area, and keep a clean, quiet, lovely park with a great location! And they’re half price Sunday-Thursday for Passport America members! As we’re meeting an RV park reservation in Florida, we had only two full days to take in the city. Here’s what we did:
Having purchased the Association of Children’s Museums membership while in Texas, we were pleased to find that the Louisiana Children’s Museum was on our list of reciprocal museums and were able to attend this fantastic museum FREE (our membership paid for itself in the 3 visits we made to the Austin Children’s Museum… 🙂 Wow- this is a great museum and really worth the visit. Most of the exhibits were unlike ones we had seen before and we were all really engaged.
From the museum, we walked (parking near the museum was only $6 for the day!) over to the Riverwalk and had a quick lunch in their food court in order to (barely and breathlessly) make the 1 o’clock showing of Hurricane on the Bayou at the IMAX theatre. Chris and I remembered in the first few minutes that we had seen this on TV a few years ago. It was well worth it to see it again on the IMAX screen. The flights over the bayou were breathtaking and I was shaken to tears by the hurricane footage. The kids were interested in information about Katrina, remembering all that we had researched about Ike when we were in Galveston Island, TX during the summer so this movie was just the thing.
From the theatre, we walked down part of Bourbon Street and then over to Jackson Square where we lounged on the grass before locating Cafe Du Monde around the corner and taking in their world reknowned cafe au lait and bignettes. They lived up to their fame!
We came home utterly exhausted and already planning what we’d like to see/do on Day 2…
We spent the morning troubleshooting some veg. system issues. It’s always something but usually nothing… big. Chris and I have become quite the mechanical team for this house on wheels. Tomorrow will tell us whether we’ve remedied the issue or need to play in the veg. some more.
We arrived downtown a little after noon and hopped aboard the historic St. Charles streetcar ($1.25 per person each way) to tour the garden district. The ride was much longer than I’d imagined and the children were utterly bored. Chris and I agreed that although the scenery and homes were beautiful, listening to the cell phone calls and social conversations of the locals in their own dialect was much more interesting and enriching. We did have some fun with the camera as the streetcars are very cool looking- inside and out and enhanced our natural photogeneity :). Are you a Facebook friend? Most of my photos are there!
The kids were happy when we pulled back up to our stop and exited the streetcar. And I was even happier hearing loud, melodic horns and drums booming from the corner of Bourbon Street. There, swaying and bobbing on the corner were 6 or 7 young men playing trumpets, trombones, tuba, and two varieties of drums. The music could be heard for blocks and I felt full of what I had come here for – jubilant, passionate music! Having appreciated that for a few minutes, we decided to walk to the beat to the French Quarter for another menu item for which the city is known – the po’ boy. We tried to hit up Johnny’s but apparently the fact that they’re a ‘lunch counter’ really means they only do lunch. We arrived to padlocked doors and groaning children. The meter was running on the car so we walked back in that direction open to whatever interesting restaurant struck our fancy- Hard Rock Cafe and The House of Blues were not what we were looking for… The French Quarter Pizzeria and Bar looked inviting. Wow. Their mild wings knocked our socks off and the po’ boys were out of this world. I told the story of the origin of the po’ boy which everyone found interesting (check it out!) and the kids got to make their own pizzas! Chris and I also indulged in our only alcoholic beverage during the New Orleans visit- a Nawtea (apparently known for its medicinal qualities). It was a little fruity and a lot relaxing.
With the check went the sultry evening and in came the torrential rain. We had 12 minutes to get back to our car meter and had never been in wind and rain like this. We squealed and ran and yelled about how amazing it was as the wind whipped and the raindrops pierced. It was an exhilerating end to another full day. We compared the mph speed of the wild wind we experienced (Elijah almost blew away waiting at a crosswalk) to the speeds that Katrina brought which really put it in perspective. When we got home, wet clothes were peeled off and jammies were put in the dryer to warm chilled kiddos. It feels good to be cozied up again.