What blue sky! We left Monday morning by 9:30 AM and traveled by Interstate (I 10) because we were low on fuel and I can assure you I will not drive the RV into a neighborhood gas station. We always try to hit the Pilots which has more than enough room to move around without getting stuck in a corner.
Our campground is a RV Marine Landing so we are on the water and they have many slips for boats as well as RV’s. Also has a restaurant bar on site, with music most nights. You have to remember we are in New Orleans. Weather is cool and windy but sunny. Decent size sites but we are packed in here with gravel roads and pads.
First evening here we sat around and planned for the week, so much to do and see.
Tuesday morning we headed down to the River front. Had to do pay parking, great system they had (easy but not cheap) and it was close to where we wanted to go. I did forget to mention that the campground had a shuttle system for $12 total for two – roundtrip but you had certain times you had to be there, so we chose to drive. Weather was cold, high 48.
First stop was Jean Lafitte National Historic Park (NHP). Ranger indicated there was a History of Jazz tour starting in a few minutes, 4 blocks away and we took off to catch up. It was free.
The ranger took us to 6 different places and explained the effect of those locations on music in NO. It was informative and she even had a Bluetooth speaker and played the music as it changed thru history.
Then we stopped at the Jazz NHP and listened to someone play Jazz and explain the different sounds and methods of the music. I also got my stamp for visiting.
Lunch was at the Central Grocery Co. We shared a whole Muffuletta (which was invented by this store to provide refrigerator free sandwiches to the sailors). It comprised of different meats, chopped olive salad, cheeses etc. It was good.
Headed back to Jean Lafitte NHP and toured the building. Mr. Lafitte commanded a band of smugglers before the war of New Orleans, when war broke out he joined Andrew Jackson and helped win the war. This park is dedicated to the preservation of the environment and Delta area around NO.
We dropped the other half of our sandwich in the car and walked the French Quarters and Bourbon Street. What a place! You can just imagine the debauchery that takes place at night. It was impressive some of the old buildings that have remained and how people continue to maintain them. Though I did notice that a lot of buildings and infrastructure is deteriorating faster than being restored. I have to admit that their sidewalks and streets were the worst I have ever seen. You always had to watch where you stepped.
You can’t visit NO without having beignets. A stop at the Café Du Monde was made and the beignets were enjoyed.
Finished with the sites along the river, and we did see the Cathedral, French Market, Jackson Square and all the panhandlers and musicians on the sidewalk. I will have to admit the homeless people were out in number.
We then headed to Chalmette Battlefield another NHP and the location that Major General Andrew Jackson defeated the British in 1815. The battlefield showed the wall built by the Americans that provided the reinforcement to hold off the British assault. There was even a National Cemetery within this park that provided burial grounds for the soldiers of this war and the freed slaves. Quite large.
Tried to find the Ninth Ward but were unsuccessful this time.
Had dinner at home and then went over to the Lighthouse Bar within the campground. There were supposed to have music but the player called in and couldn’t make it.
Wednesday was off to the Garden District. No particular place to go but look at the area and see some of the wonderful architecture. We were riding along the riverfront and noticed the NOLA Brewery. Even though it was only 11 AM, why not we are here. Good beer and had to try the Boudin Balls, a local food item. Pork sausage rolled in rice and ground chicken liver and sour crème and probably other ingredients, then the meat ball was deep fried. Oh it was good, especially with a beer.
We walked around the commercial area and stopped at the local cemetery. NO cemeteries are very interesting. Not only the fact that they bury above ground but they also stack the dead due to limited space. So much for the dead, now back home for a nap. Yes, we are in NO and naps are required.
We headed back to the French Quarter for the evening. Dinner at Acme Oyster House, a plate of grilled oysters and couple kinds of soup. Remember it was cold outside and we were going to watch the parade.
Yes, we did see our first Mardi gras parade. It was the Joan of Arc parade. They had told us the parade was small and not the normal NO type parade. It was exciting to watch the characters from Joan of Arc’s life march thru the streets of NO. They had 12 different people depicting Joan in different phases of her life. They had horses and carts and angels and oh it goes on. It was great.
We saw the whole parade on the street and then headed to the Cathedral to watch the blessing of the sword. There was quite a crowd. I even caught my first set of beads. The majority of the tossing was Joan of Arc cards, wheels, swords, candy etc. Not too many beads.
The parade was over and we headed back to the car. We did walk Bourbon Street and I would hate to see it at the peak of Mardi Gras. There were so many bars open with music blasting and people drinking and gathering. Even this night it was a spectacle.
The walk beyond Bourbon Street was scary as it was dark and you didn’t know who you would run in to. We made it to the car and back home.
Thursday is raining.
I went up to the campground hall and watched the movie “Hurricane in the Bayou” An Audubon production to save the wetlands outside of NO. It was a good show and made you feel that maybe the Corp of Engineers made a mistake when they built all of the levees along the Mississippi River. Who’s to judge an engineer?
With the rain we decided to smoke a brisket under the awning. Smoked it for 7 hours and it turned out great along with the collard greens and cheesy grits. Sounds like we are southerners. I don’t know if I ever mentioned but whenever we smoke we always open a growler and enjoy while we smoke.
In between smoking, I did watch “12 Years a Slave” which showed life pretty difficult for the slaves.
Friday was to be the pick day of the week, so we planned on a bike trip
We carried our bikes by car to the Audubon Park on the west side of NO. Audubon Park reminded us of Forest Park in STL. There were lots of people walking, running riding picnicking (Yes even in January in the south). Lots of large oaks decorated the landscape and there was a huge pond within the park. We rode around the park and then connected to levee along the Mississippi River. We rode a total of 12 miles.
You could see the rising level of the Mississippi from all the rain in STL. The area along the levee was also a port area with huge ships traveling on the water.
After all that riding we needed a beer. Headed back to NOLA which was near our riding path. When we arrived there were 100’s of people standing around drinking beer. I guess between the hours of 2 and 3 they give out a free beer to everyone who came in. We got there at 3:05 and missed a free beer. We did buy one and as we stood around we felt like the oldest people in the crowd. Who cares – we can still enjoy life.
One thing we did notice and had a chance to drive through were all the Universities. Tulane, Loyola, Southern New Orleans, Xavier and more.
Saturday morning was a rain morning. But as soon as it stopped, we headed out. We went north across the causeway and visited Northside (cities of Mandeville, Covington and Abita Springs).
To us engineers, the causeway was impressive. It is the world’s longest bridge over a body of water – 24 miles. It crosses Lake Pontchartrain. It was a toll on the way back but we avoided that by going around the lake.
We saw the Dew Drop Jazz Hall which is the oldest unaltered Jazz Hall and it had never been painted. Louis Armstrong and other greats played there.
We stopped at Covington Brew to try a new brewery. It’s always amazing meeting people in casual conversation and the stories they tell and recommendations they give. Had to get a growler filled here as it was only $10. We walked around Covington after lunch but it seemed like everything was closed up for the day.
Heading back home we had to stop at Abita Brewery. This is a huge brewery and a very nice setup for tasting beer. I believe they distribute to all 50 states.
Sunday first order of business was church. We have an app on the phone that tells us the nearest LCMS church. We usually pick the closest and attend. The closest started worship at 10 AM so we chose the next closet which started at 9. Not knowing NO area, we ended up in an all-black church. What a treat and what a worship experience. I will have to admit the music wasn’t Lutheran. Brenda made comment that she had more hugs in the two hour worship period than anywhere else. There was no pause or quiet time during the whole experience. Amen? Amen! We went home refreshed.
Our goal on this trip was to experience the “local culture” and we would agree that our worship Sunday was the best NO experience for being a part of the local culture.
After lunch we left to visit the Whitley plantation. It was an hour drive from our campsite but it was worth it. The Whitley plantation had just recently opened and the emphasis was on the slaves that worked the planation and had the last surviving example of a true French Creole barn. It also had a memorial to all the slaves in Louisiana. They had them listed by name as well as country of origin and year. It was a sugar cane plantation and had about 200 slaves working the fields. Again, an eye opening experience to hear the stories and see the situation the slaves had to go through (especially after watching 12 Years a Slave).
Finished the plantation late afternoon, we stopped at Mr. B Bistro in the French Quarters. We had heard (from Covington brewery) this was the best place for BBQ Shrimp. And oh were they right! BBQ shrimp is not grilled shrimp but large unpeeled shrimp submerged in garlic and peppery butter. Plenty of bread to soak up the juice during and after devouring the shrimp. It was messy and the server even tied on a bib to avoid a ruined shirt. We also tried there Gumbo and we both agreed that out of the 4 bowls we have had over the past week, this was the best.
Did you know that Bourbon Street is still busy even on a Sunday evening without an event?
One last thing I needed before leaving NO – King cake. We walked the streets until we came to Souve Bakery and yes they did sell slices of King Cake. It was cinnamon and cream cheese and oh yes, it was good. Love the foods of New Orleans.
Monday is our trip west to Lafayette, Louisiana.