Monday, March 3, 2014

One Day in New Orleans

 We stayed in a BnB on Magazine street, which turned out to be a nice place to stay. It was a home built shortly after the civil war.  The original home on the property had been owned by someone who left for the war and never came back. There was a good neighborhood cafe just a few blocks up the street.  The food was so good the first night, we ate there again the second night.  DER had fried green tomatoes the first night and I had red beans and rice.  The second time I had a shrimp remolaude salad and DER had gumbo.  It was clearly a neighborhood gathering place with the advantage of being next door to a gelato place.  The first night we enjoyed a "marching club" coming by.  The were the 2.2 marching club and had a brass band.  The went 2.2 miles with several stops along the way at various pubs.  Many were wearing tutus.  They were just out having fun.

The streetcars were easy to ride.  For a $3 day pass you have unlimited rides.  We walked a few blocks to the street car through the Garden District.  New Orleans has a diversity of architectural styles but the classic old neighborhoods have some restrictions on what they can do to their homes.  The goal is to keep it historically consistent.  The hostess at the BnB said that you can't take out trees without permission from the city and that you must select from an palette of colors approved by the historical commission.
They were nice colors.  The tree roots tend to look like this after a while.

Below are some of the architectural features of the area. 

 This is iron "lace" to the right.
 This elaborate iron fence illustrates cornstalks with morning glory growing up them.                                  

 The Lafayette Cemetery with its above ground crypts was between our bed and the street car stops.        One crypt was that of the "consort" of  "so and so"  I guess it was fairly common for the French men to have a family in France and a family in New Orleans.                                

Many homes have windows that go to ground level with shutters.  The shutters often have these shutter holders.  These are working shutters - not just for decoration.

 These smaller houses  above are not typical of the neighborhood.
 The pink one sort of reflects what a shotgun house is like only the shotgun would have gone further back on the lot in a long narrow pattern.  The story is you could open both doors and shoot through the house.  There was no hall, just a series of attached halls.

 We ventured three blocks down Bourbon Street to find this cafe and have the classic New Orleans treat - a Beignet drenched in powdered sugar.  We went there because of the live music at the cafe.  The beignets are not anything like the Apple beignets at our local Dutch Bakery.  They are really square donuts without a hole.  Bourbon street is "seedy"

 We did enjoy some of the street musicians.  This little skeleton was performing "House of the Rising Sun" and was quite entertaining.  There was a nice clarinetist playing jazz over by the French Market - an outdoor market.                                                  

 Pedicabs were on all the narrow little streets in the French Quarter except maybe this one below.

 Where we found a guy working on rivets for these beautiful copper lanterns.  I guess the founder of the company had noticed that the lanterns were breaking at their soldered points so he started making this with rivets.  He had worked on the D-day landing boats which were made in NOLA and knew that rivets held up.  It was fun to watch him work.  He was the most interesting thing in the French Quarter.  I guess we aren't so much into overpriced jewelry or antiques.   Well, I love antiques but really what can you take home on a plane.

There was a Mississippi River front park which we enjoyed walking along.  The boats were surrounded in mist on the river.  It was an overcast day and the fog over the river did not burn off. 

 This church is the center of the French Quarter.  It is lovely looking out on it's park like public square.                                           

 Pecan Pralines are a classic street treat.  Ours was a little grainy and I don't know if they are supposed to be that way.                      

  We were hoping to find some jazz.  We did - in the National Preservation Jazz Park.  Who knew?  This is the Navy "Full Stream" Jazz Band.  They gave a 45 minute performance at a small hall near the French Market.  We felt lucky to have found them.  We were satisfied and later glad to find that we didn't have to stay out late (lots of drunks of the streets later in the day) to get our jazz fix.  They will be playing in parades during Mardi Gras.

 This ceramic panel reflects the history of the French Market - the oldest outdoor market in USA.  Today it is full of food vendors.  (Crab cakes, Gator burgers, Muffaletta.....) and vendors of odds and ends.  Think everything from sheets to belts to sunglasses - and lots of Mardi Gras beads.

We were there the week before Mardi Gras and enjoyed seeing the preparations.  The hostess at the BnB rode in a parade the day we arrived.  She had some fun stories to tell.   The float she was on had a portapottie on the float and it had a flat tire.  The parade planners have a plan for a flat tire.  No one gets off the float and a swarm of guys comes to fix it and the float is on it's way.  The common phrase for people watching the floats is "Mister, throw me some beads"  The beads find their way into many things, there is art work done with beads and the place we stayed had a well draped fence.  Many of the beads get recycled.  I was kind of glad to hear that.  There are a lot of beads.

On the way back to Lafayette we stopped at a plantation for a tour.  This is Houmas House.  We enjoyed the tour and would check out other plantations in the future.  There is a nearby one that focuses their tour on the life of slaves and is said to be the Senegalese source for the stories that became the Br'er Rabbit Stories.

 We learned that the great alleys of Live Oaks had a role to play.  They were a way of channeling the cool air up from the river to the house.  Before the Levees were built along the river it was common for their to be 30-40 Oaks.  Again our hostess shared with us that a neighbor had heating bills of $300 more per month when a large tree was taken out near his property.
These trees are loveable without that benefit.  They are covered in resurrection fern and their longer limbs arch down to the ground.
This particular plantation house is still lived in and has some modern features as well.  The owner or the gardener seems to have a fondness for frogs.  There were small frogs in several places.

So, would I go again.  I'd find out more about good music venues before I went and I'd take another plantation tour (though I will admit that they are not kid friendly).  I might ride a steamboat on the Mississippi River and I would check out the fairly new are apparently impressive World War II Museum and maybe the Aquarium of the Americas.  It would be easy to find good food and the people are friendly.  One local stopped as he drove by us walking and wanted to make sure we felt comfortable walking around his neighborhood.  The first night we chatted with a lady whose father had worked on the Everett Herald.  I guess we should try again on our next trip to see those cute kids that live not too far away.

The cutest people in our world live way too far away.

Yes, they are the cutest people in our world.  They are busy and delightful and keep their parents on their toes.  Not sure I want to live in Louisiana, but I'd sure like to live closer to those sweet people.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Artesian Spring Water

For years we have occasionally passed near to an artesian spring that is set up for people to get spring water.  I don't know the rate of flow but it is probably about a gallon a minute from each of two pipes.  People line up and bring many large containers to fill.  The parking area is most often full and holds about ten cars.  A few weeks ago we stood on the rocks in the line.  As we approached the pipe we saw the people rinsed out their blue water cooler style bottles with the spring water before refillng them.  So we did the same with our red and white Coleman jug, the one that was a wedding gift - thirty-five years ago.  We'll go again to the low place between two long steep hills with it's fountain.  That water was good.  Another item for the retroactive bucket list.  Maybe someday I'll add a picture.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Retroactive Bucket List

I have a retroactive bucket list.  When I have an experience that I never imagined or thought I would have, it goes on the bucket list.

Recent additions to the bucket list include

Seeing the Great Circle Mount in Ohio - one of those creations of an ancient people that is not understood.
I expected it to be about the size of a baseball field.  It was much more impressive.  DER estimates that it was 1/4 mile or so across.

Seeing and hearing a mole fight back when captured by a cat.  The mole got away.  The cat didn't seem to know what to do with something that was fighting back.  I never thought I would hear a mole and actually never really imagined that those residents of underground tunnels would make sounds.  Clearly a lack of imagination on my part.

So the trend of my list is things that surpassed my limited imagination.  Maybe they will teach me to imagine more.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

A Few Firsts

So Somehow or another the latter part of this year has been kind of a whirlwind.  In September I got to experience a few "Firsts"  -  The alligator, not quite in the wild, but in a natural habitat on the U of L campus.  The cicadas had recently come out of their exoskeletons so I got to see one still in the "husk" - it had apparently no strength to come forth.  I got to see the resurrection ferns come to life after a rain storm on the live oaks.   I went there to spend some time with this little family walking under the live oaks just after they welcomed a little baby into the world.

I got to make cookies with the oldest two grandchildren for the first time.  We made that perfect cookie for preschoolers.  The peanut butter cookie.  Sal was in charge of the smish, smash smoosh.  The recipe was Katie's and it was a good one even after all that smishing and smashing and smooshing.

TW was more into the rolling than the smish, smash smoosh.  He rolled and dipped them in sugar for a nice crunchy top of the cookie

 Grandma's job was to measure out the size of the dough balls to be rolled and to keep the smishing and the smashing from going to far.
 Sal and TW played with boxes and balls a lot.  My role was to throw the balls into the box.
 Daddy played too.  I wasn't the only one welcoming a new baby.  TW loves with up close enthusiasm and Sal with gentle motherliness.
 And this is what the little guy looks like after his first bath and all smooshed up as only a baby can smoosh
This is my first meeting with the little guy.  He is a sweet natured baby named Charles.  He was expected to be a girl.  Ultrasounds are not always right.and this little family got a surprise package.  They were prepared for this surprise though - they had a boys name picked out and not a girls name.  Somehow, they must have known who he would be.

Thursday, October 25, 2012




 About a year ago I noticed some women using the stairs instead of the escalator or elevator on my Temple Tuesday.  I wondered if I could make it to the top in my "not so great" physical condition.  My assignments there take me up and down several times of day and so I started taking the stairs.  The ceilings are high so by the end of a day I usually have done about fifteen flights of stairs.  I can do it top to bottom  now without feeling excessively out of breath.

that detour enabled this detour. 

Labor Day we decided to take the hike in spite of traffic on the mountain passes and the probability of crowded roads.  We went to Lake Dorothy on the edge of the Alpine Wilderness - one of the few hikes in that area that does not require permits.  Our guide book said "in a little over one mile after leaving the highway take forest road...."  As we left the highway we saw one of those orange signs - "DETOUR - one mile".  We kept going knowing that we might be disappointed by a closed road and an inaccessible trail.
We found the turn off just before the roadblock and drove up to the trail head to find the parking area almost empty!  Some forest service workers were cleaning up and mentioned that this trail head is normally full every weekend.

Off we started

Enjoying the plant life on the way up.  This is Canadian Dogwood - a personal favorite.

Half way up we say this lovely spot. The water is beautifully clear. Some other hikers there mentioned that they have been at this pool and seen it crowded with kids.  They also said the lake was usually crowded too.  We speculated that the trail was empty because of the warm dry weather and maybe people were hiking at higher elevations not normally open this time of year.  Then we realized the value of that detour sign.  I wonder how many people turned back because they didn't have the same information we had or because they made a false assumption.  The crowd had been deterred by the detour sign.


The second half of the trail is where my temple stair climbs paid off.  Most of the trail looked like this.  Nicely constructed stairs.

 A few fun fungi on the way to the top delighted us.


The lovely large lake at the top of the climb didn't get very much of our attention, but we ate our lunch here.

 We needed to head back.  We did stop to play in the streams heading into that lovely pool half way down though.

 We cooled our feet off nicely.

I used DER's hiking poles and will probably never hike without them ever again.  With the poles I don't have to worry about balance and since my eyesight often causes me to misjudge distance, those poles made me feel like I didn't have to pick my way through the rocky areas of the trail and made the little stream crossings so easy.  Going down hill, we adjusted them to be taller and I felt steadied.

The traffic was slow once we got on the highway.  Fundraising groups were chasing the slow down with water bottles for sale on the side of the road.  We stopped at a roadside place that advertised fresh fruit milkshakes.  I ordered blackberry, DER ordered blueberry.  The blue was better than the black.

I finally made it into the Alpine Lakes area!  Check one off the bucket list.