The Big Easy, La Nouvelle-Orléans, aka. New Orelans

Laissez les bon temps rouler! (“Lay-say le bon tom roo-lay”)

“Let the good times roll!”

LouisianaDay 11

Miles Driven: 544

Packed and ready to go by 9:30, we took off from San Antonio and started the long drive to New Orleans! The time between San Antonio and Houston was passed with episodes from a great podcast: Stuff You Missed in History Class. I have been trying to find episodes related to our destinations, so in anticipation of our future stop in Alabama, we learned about Rosa Parks and the Freedom Riders. Lunch stop at Cracker Barrel.

Houston, TX looked a lot like Los Angeles, but once through, the scenery changed dramatically. We were closer to the water now. As we neared the Mississippi River, bayou and swamps began to settle along the I-10. On this drive, we saw beautiful birds, an armadillo, and even a small alligator along the side of the road, lurking in the water’s edge.

We drove through a strong thunder storm and discovered a small leak into the car causing a puddle of water to form at the passenger’s feet, so now, I ride with a plastic container at my feet, just in case. 🙂

Day 12

Miles Driven: 117

_MG_1134New Orleans and Louisiana were established as a French Colony and named for King Louis XIV. The United States bought the territory in 1802 through the Louisiana Purchase. Now, many different people live in New Orleans including the ancestrally French Creole, English, and slaves brought from Senegal, Africa. This morning, we drove about 45 minutes photo 1to Laura: A Creole Plantation. This plantation was restored just after Hurricane Katrina hit and was a fantastic tour. We learned about the French General who received a land grant from Thomas Jefferson after the Revolution. The plantations along the Mississippi River grow sugar cane because of the moist sandy earth. The plantation did very well, even through the civil war and was run by generations of female presidents (plantation owners).

The plantation homes are usually lifted above the earth to avoid flood damage. Brick below and local cedar construction above because cedar is bug resistant. The Creole, French speaking, homes are painted in bright colors, yellow walls with green trim, while the English speaking homes are painted white.

On the way back to New Orleans, we walked around the outside of the beautiful Oak Alley Plantation. This elegant plantation is framed by rows of Live Oak trees that are covered with dripping Spanish Moss.

_MG_1149Once in the city, we took the St. Charles Street Car into the French Quarter and made our way to Cafe du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait. They were covered in powdered sugar. Yum!

photo 2photo 3

We walked and walked through the photo 4French Quarter, dined at The Gumbo Shop and enjoyed jambalaya. Our final stop of the day was at a jazz club recommend to us by the podcast Stuff You Missed in History Class. The Spotted Cat hosted people of all ages and always had a local band playing. It was very fun!

Day 13

Miles Driven: 99

After breakfast, we headed to the Garden District and enjoyed driving past some of the beautiful, gigantic homes in that area. Finally we stopped at Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 to explore the interesting above ground tombs. These tombs are a tradition brought over from France but are also ideal to prevent the cemetery from sinking deeper into the soft soil and for keeping families together. Very creepy and very cool.

_MG_1154_MG_1160_MG_1183Our excursion for this morning was a trip with Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tour. This tour was excellent. Our group was small, the guide knowledgeable, and the weather perfect for active alligators and wild pigs. We saw so many animals in a very interesting landscape.

_MG_1175_MG_1185photo 5On the drive back to New Orleans we stopped at a recommended local seafood joint, Peck’s, and enjoyed boiled cajun crawfish and shrimp and sweet tea. Yum!

As we pulled into our hotel, I noticed a stream of liquid coming out of the engine. Not good when on a road trip. Off we went to find a mechanic only to discover a puncture in one of the radiator hoses. Luckily it was an easy fix.

We took a little tour through some of the neighborhoods in New Orleans that had been most affected by the levee breech during Hurricane Katrina. In some areas, so much work has been done to restore the damages, while other neighborhoods are left abandoned.

Day 14

We packed the car and hurried into the French Quarter for a final few sights. We visited the Louisiana State Museum where they had and excellent exhibit on the Hurricane and it’s after effects. Final jambalaya lunch at The Gumbo Shop and grabbed some pecan pralines for the road.

Next stop, Alabama!

Total Miles: 3,413