Sunday, December 4, 2011

A mini excursion to The Big Easy


Since Linda is here with me for a long weekend, and she's not a frequent vacationer to the Gulf Coast we decided our first excursion should be to a place everyone has to see at least once... during the day. So we took off to The Big Easy. That's right, New Orleans, which may surprise many of you after reading the personal blog. But with a partner, during the day for walking and shopping, it's a nice place.

So we took off for the land of Jazz and Beignets and no open container laws.

If there's ONE thing I love about New Orleans, it's the culture. More than anything, I can't stand the party and wanton disregard for hygiene after nightfall, but that's not the point of today. We had fun shopping, drinking overly powerful drinks and finding cool art. First stop on the tour was one of the bars that specializes in the New Orleans specific Hand Grenades. I'd be lying if I said that only half of this concoction didn't make me feel it.

From there we found a very cool art gallery. The artist does body painting. They had some prints of his work. Amazing works of art, numbered and hand signed. She found some she liked and I struck a deal with the guy that works there and we picked a couple up to commemorate her first trip to N'awlins with more than a Hand Grenade induced headache.

Look at these. Amazing how well the body becomes a canvas.

We took our new artwork and Hand Grenade through the streets stopping in at shops for Voodoo, handcrafted wooden toys, an actual parchment store and naturally, a shoe store. After a couple of hours of walking around it was time for a real French inspired, tasty treat. So we stopped at Cafe Du Mond for some world famous Beignets and Cafe au Lait.

Much to my chagrin, she was able to successfully negotiate eating these without getting any powdered sugar all over herself or the black shirt she was wearing and I was quickly warned not to do what I was thinking and pretend to sneeze and blow powdered sugar all over her. So I acted my age and left the powder on the plate. Unfortunately, my good behavior resulted in an opportunity for her and I ended up getting my share of powdered sugar blown at me. So, just out of spite, here's Miss Gorgeous in one of her finest pictures. You show that Beignet who's boss, sweetie!

Given our affinity for old movies and especially Casablanca, no trip to New Orleans would be complete without stopping by Rick's (no, we didn't go in though).

As a quick aside, we saw this sign while entering one of the shops. I dismissed it at a failed attempt at being funny, but the more we talked about it, the more we think it was real, not tongue-in-cheek and actually a product of a southern education. What are your thoughts? Can this be true? Is there really a phone made from herniated subcutaneous fat within fibrous connective tissue? Weird.

Finally, we walked through all of the outdoor market, spying little trinkets and touristy treasures as well as smelling a wide variety of southern, Cajun, and Creole cuisines from fried fish to alligator jerky to Cajun pickled eggs. This was the last stop on our self-prescribed route through the city and I'm glad we got the below picture before what was about to happen next.

When we parked the car initially, I was so consumed with getting my bearing and finding my way to the areas we wanted to hit, that I paid very little attention to where we were at the moment. Also, after a long day, setting sun and a Hand Grenade; landmarks are less distinguishable than you anticipated. This means I was a little unsure as to the location of the car. By a little unsure, I mean totally clueless. I could narrow it down to a general direction by virtue of the fact that the opposite way was the Mississippi River.

So we wandered ever closer to the location of the car with lefts, rights, and a double-back, not to mention many stops, spins in a circle and discussions about the path we took, places we stopped and order of events to help us retrace our steps. I will admit that the final call to turn down the appropriate side street and end up in the parking garage with my car was made by.... <sigh>... her. However, I maintain that she was only able to find the final street because of my expert navigation to the vicinity. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Naturally, I was accused of being a man in full for not asking for directions. The truth of the matter is that I didn't even know what we were looking for so my direction asking would have consisted of, "I lost my car. Where is it?" so I'm not sure I was wrong on that one. So we found it... together (right sweetie?) and closed out our day of art, booze, food, architecture and people watching.

I'd say that the first excursion was successful. Maybe not as adventurous as future endeavors, but it was fun and spontaneous and we sure enjoyed ourselves.

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