Visit New Orleans

Years ago, we made a bucket list of places we wanted to visit. Near the top was New Orleans. This is a place that seems otherworldly to me. How many books, movies, TV shows have revealed the beauty (and strangeness) of this place? From the Rescuers, to Interview with a Vampire, to NCIS, to Mark Twain this landscape and the beauty of this city has captured my imagination.

After years of talking about it, we met my parents, my sister, and her husband for four days of food, exploration, and fun. The city and the landscape didn’t disappoint. Spending time with just the six of us was a delight in its self. Because of distance, and four grandkids, we rarely spend time just us. What a gift to be able to meet for a few days and share a once in a lifetime experience.

AJ’s only job was to find us the best food in the city, as a chef, he was uniquely suited to the task. He and the famous food did not disappoint. We tried everything crawfish, étouffée, gumbo, alligator, jambalaya, pralines, beignets, muffulettas and more. We ate in a beautiful courtyard, in the outdoor market atmosphere of Cafe Du Monde, and on the street corner near the cemetery. We loved the beignets and tried them everywhere we went. I’m sure my mom is still trying to get the powdered sugar out of her black pants after we marked her first experience at Cafe Du Monde by blowing the billowy piles of sugar at her.

For months before the trip, we consulted trip guides and people to identify the must-do events in the city. We decided on just a few…

A sunset dinner cruise complete with a Dixie Land band. We paddled up the Mississippi on a cool night, with the bass and the horns playing behind us. The ancient river and the music cast a spell and transported us out of our ordinary lives. It was a perfect start to our trip.

We toured the World War II museum. We took three hours out of our trip to quickly explore this amazing museum. We only scratched the surface of the place. This immersive experience needed days not hours, but we were all glad we took the time to see it. We were awed by the Tom Hanks produced “4-D” movie, which depicted our involvement in the Great War.

We took a bus tour of the city, including the Garden District, affects of Katrina, architectural information, and a stop at the famous St. Louis cemetery. Our bus driver was quite the character, with a classic cajun drawl, an adorable chuckle, and a laminate for every occasion. He passed back dozens of newspaper articles, architectural drawings, and maps for us to learn more about his beloved city.

One highlight of the trip was the Haunted Walking tour. The city’s rich (and long) history leaves lots of opportunity for intrigue and mystery. Our tour guide walked us through the city, pointing out places where paranormal activity had been reported, and shared the details of disasters, tragedies, and mishaps that left their mark.

The highlight of the entire trip (for me) was the Airboat tour. We gathered at a little cabin in a residential neighborhood and scrambled inside a 6 passenger airboat for the ride of a lifetime. On a perfectly clear day, we roared through the swamps, bayous, and cypress groves and explored the unique landscape of Louisiana. Our guide toyed with alligators (using marshmallows as bait) luring them toward our boat. They were everywhere and otherworldly. The unfamiliar landscape captured our attention and left me breathless.

We left NOLA exhausted but fulfilled. We shared this experience with some of our favorite people, strengthening bonds and storing memories. We had experienced the tastes, the feel, the sounds, and the landscape of this special place. I don’t know if we will return, but I do know that I brought a bit of this city back home with me.

This is part of my 50 before I’m 50 challenge. I hope you follow along and join in the fun!

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