Saturday, November 20, 2010

Lovin’ Louisiana

Ellie 003How in the world do I characterize this visit?  My friends ask me how New Orleans is now, “after Katrina”?  We’re tourists here, yet we’re not.  Every place we visit is actually our home, if only for a few days, or a few weeks.  We like to experience a place with that in mind.  Yes, of course, many times we do the “touristy” things, but more often we’re visiting someone who lives there, and we end up doing things with the people who do live there. 

In this case, it’s a little mixed up for me.  Rosalie is originally from New Orleans.  I first met her when we both worked for a school district in Colorado Springs around 1988.  Since then, she’s lived in Michigan, Colorado Springs and Alameda California.  Now she’s returned to her roots, where her family still lives.

We’ve only visited New Orleans once before – when Jim attended a conference in 1995.  We spent a few days here, and we were totally tourists then.  We “did” the French Quarter, sampled traditional foods and so forth.

But, this visit is entirely something else.  I guess you could say it’s a little of everything!  We’re staying outside the city, so we get to experience “The North Shore”, which has become the place for the “nouveau riche” to settle.  We’re in a state park, so we have a bit of the “camping out” feeling to our stay.  We’ve traveled to the city and experienced some of the same things that a tourist might.  But we’ve also just done things that a native might, like going to dinner at a friend’s house or taking a walk in a park.

As to “how is New Orleans doing now, after Katrina” – that is also a question with many answers.  We see few signs of distress, but haven’t been to areas that were very hard-hit.  Some of the houses in Rosalie’s neighborhood flooded, but her house did not.  The city is busy, lots of traffic, and perhaps the mood is a little subdued, but still fun and vibrant.

So, just what have we been doing?  A quick summary – on Tuesday, we arrived and got settled in to our new place. 

Wednesday morning, I walked down to the shore of Lake Pontchartrain with the dogs.  A little later, we took the car down to the shore and looked around and took some pictures.  The picture at the opening of this entry was taken at the shore, and Jim caught this one of a flock of White Ibis flying over:

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Rosalie came to visit us on Wednesday afternoon, and we grilled chicken here and talked for hours, getting caught up on the years we’ve missed in each other’s lives. 

Thursday was our day to visit the city.  We started  by driving across Lake Pontchartrain – if you know Jim, you know he’s not real fond of bridges and tunnels.  And, the “bridge” (really, it’s just a Causeway), that crosses the lake is just 24 miles! Well, Jim handled it just fine!

Near the end:

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We could see the New Orleans skyline:

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We arrived safely at Rosalie’s recently purchased home, where Jim helped diagnose a small wiring issue with a lighting fixture before we jumped in her car for the ride over to The Camellia Grill, where we dined on – hamburgers! 

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Yes, in New Orleans!  We really went there for dessert,  which is the most awesome chocolate pecan pie you can imagine, heated on the grill, no less!  Rosalie shared with me that The Camellia Grill was the local place for high-school dates. Lunch was followed by a ride on the streetcar:

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down St. Charles Ave. to Audubon Park, where we walked “the loop”, admiring the palatial homes along the way:

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and checking out the bird population on “Bird Island”:

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And admired the park’s natural beauty":

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With a little rest break too:

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We then got back on a streetcar and rode down to the Business District, with Rosalie pointing out places that had meaning in her history – the church where she was married, the building in which she attended school, etc. 

We arrived at the World War II Museum:

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just in time to purchase tickets for the last showing of the day for the movie, “Beyond All Boundaries” which was a summarization of World War II, complete with a variety of special effects.   After the movie, we enjoyed a cocktail in the lounge, then grabbed a taxi back to Rosalie’s car.  She got us back to her house, where we picked up our car and made the journey back across the Causeway to our home base at Fontainebleau State Park.

When we arrived home, guess who stopped over to visit – Rollie and Gina!

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Rollie called us Wed. night and said there was a good possibility they would come and stay a night at Fontainebleau State Park before going home on Friday, and sure enough, they were parked a couple of rows over from us!  Rollie came to the door just as we were about ready to walk over to their place.  Gina was talking to their daughter, but came over after she got off the computer.  What a wonderful visit!  We got to see them again Friday morning as they completed their homeward journey.

Yesterday (Friday?), we hung around home most of the day until time to return to New Orleans for dinner at Rosalie’s house.

The one outing we made was over to a local eatery we first heard about when we checked in to the park -  Louis and the Redhead Lady, a seafood restaurant not far from the park.  Wow, it was excellent!  Word has it that Guy Fieri  of “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” on The Food Network visited here and will feature this place on his show. Jim had a sampler plate, while I had a crab cake and shrimp & artichoke soup.  That was one of the best meals we’ve had in a restaurant for a long time!  We highly recommend that place if you’re in the area.

We weren’t due at Rosalie’s until around 6:00 p.m.  Well, talk about getting out of our routine – we’re usually well settled into our little Castle by that time!  Instead, we once again navigated our way across the 24-mile bridge that Jim loves (not!) and stopped at a Whole Foods Store to do a little browsing and purchase the dessert we were to bring.

We were still early to Rosalie’s for dinner, but no problem, we just got a little longer happy hour!  She’d invited another friend of hers, Ava, whom I met several years ago. It was a fun evening with really, truly, delicious traditional New Orleans food – Jambalaya - prepared by one of the best cooks I’ve ever known.  Rosalie can out cook most of those famous TV chefs any day!

We got back to the park around 10:30 and found it full!  Lots of weekenders here with kids, bikes, dogs, firewood, music, and all that goes along with families on a camping trip. There’s also at least one Boy Scout Troop, so the place is full!

This morning we braved the “Saturday before Thanksgiving” crowd at Wal-mart and did our grocery shopping.  Whew, got through that one with a minimum of aggravation!

Back home this afternoon, Sandy and I went out for some Geocaching at the park –we found 4 of 4.  We had fun and got a little bit of exercise at the same time.  While we were gone, I think John finished his chores and I know Jim got in some college football watching.

Scenery along the way while we searched for the caches:




Sandy found this little moss covered cache which completed our day:


Tomorrow we’re hosting a picnic.  We are expecting Sandy and John, Rosalie and her sister & brother in law, and hopefully, Gina and Rollie will be able to make the 65 mile drive back over as well. 

What a week it’s been!  Monday is travel day to Texas, more Justravelin adventures on the way.


Sue and Doug said...

thanks for the great tour!!..looks like everyone is having a grand time!!!

Erin said...

now you've done it ... pecan pie warmed up on the grill ... my husband won't want to go through NOLA without a stop at the Camellia Grill!

JB said...

Looks like you are enjoying yourself and seeing the sights the tourists miss.

Phyllis said...

I do not like that bridge either. Little better now that it is a dual span. We head to Louisiana in three weeks. Sure you will be out of the state by then.

We will be staying at another state park - Sam Houston Jones over hear Lake Charles.

Gotta love Jambalya. Can you believe it but a few years ago we went to Ireland and our first meal at a Pub Leonard ordered Jambalya! What a Cajun!

KarenInTheWoods said...

That bridge looks kinda interesting and love your foggy photo of the skyline.

Karen and Steve
(Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

Tumbleweed Dee said...

Thanks for taking us on your journey. Great pictures of places in New Orleans, we're anxious to get there again.

Unknown said...

Ellie and Jim,

It was some fabulous to be with you these several days in the NOLA area! What a fabulous story you tell about it all !! More to come from me! With love~~your pal, Rosalie

Barb said...

Busy week! And FUN! I love anything with artichokes, but have never had artichoke soup. Sounds wonderful. :)

Happy Thanksgiving from me and Katie!

LakeConroePenny,TX said...

It was before Katrina that I was last in N.O. Glad that it is coming back.
I was so pleased to see the streetcars are running again. We stayed at the KOA, and those lovely old streetcars were our transportation.

Great pictures, Ellie.

Hugs to the doggies.

Happy Trails, Penny, TX