United States of America · 5 Days · 17 Moments · April 2017

Rob & Cassie's voyage in United States of ...

1 May 2017

All four nights in New Orleans, we had amazing dinners. We ate at Deanie's, GW Fins, Dickie Brennan's Steakhouse, and Doris Metropolitan. Along the way, we found memorable lunches too. Huck Finn's Cafe during a thunderstorm was especially fun today, as we were winding down on our last day. Overall, we found people to be incredibly friendly and helpful. Enjoyed jazz musicians in a club at our hotel, where a server named Alexis took great care of us. First thing this morning we had beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde. We liked the beignets there more than the ones at Cafe Beignet.

30 April 2017

Saturday we slept in, then wandered around a bit. We found an information center and signed up for a city tour. Had time for po' boys before hopping on a bus and touring a cemetery--people were buried in crypts above ground, and whole families were buried together. Also on the tour: the Garden District--including St James Avenue--Frenchman Street, and a vodka distillery. Fun afternoon!
After Oak Alley, we went to a swamp, where we boarded an airboat, put on ear protection--thanks to the very loud motor--and we were off, through the canals of the bayou, looking for alligators and other dangerous creatures. We heard stories of cotton mouth snakes hanging from trees along with the Spanish moss. We saw turtles on the banks, and we ended up seeing a lot of alligators. There were three on a log, one of which was just a baby. Then, on the way back, we stopped, and our driver got out some turkey necks. He pointed out an alligator--"That's Claudia. Too bad Goliath isn't around." Well, Claudia came right up beside the boat. Our guide attached the turkey pieces to a makeshift hook, which was connected to a pole. He held it out over the water and Claudia rose up and took the turkey off the hook. This was repeated a few times, and Claudia lunged higher and higher out of the water. This was a wild alligator! Incredible.
After we toured the Laura Plantation, we went to the Oak Alley Plantation. Had lunch at their restaurant--crawfish etouffee--then went on a tour of Oak Alley. Before the main house was built, it is thought that another house existed there. Twenty-eight oak trees had been planted. The reason behind the number remains a mystery. They are planted in two rows, perfectly framing the house. Oak Alley was much fancier than Laura. The matriarch of the house died in one of the bedrooms, the lavender room, at age 93. The room was left intact, complete with her lipstick on her vanity. The oak trees here were 300 years old and just magnificent.
Friday, April 28: Laura's 35th birthday. Rose early, had a quick coffee, and hopped on a bus--Tours by Isabelle--our driver's name was Katha, Kat for short. She was in her 60s, and spoke about history,nonstop, complete with dates, without notes. She once worked for a tv show as a booking agent, so she'd met all the local jazz musicians. First on our tour: the Laura Plantation. Laura was the granddaughter of the couple who established the plantation. The grandparents were unkind and ruthless people, as was their daughter, Elisabeth. Laura was the first family member who questioned the ethics of slavery. As a child, she'd asked a slave about a mark on his forehead. Turned out Laura's grandmother had branded him three times, as punishment for trying to escape. The third time, she branded her initials on his forehead. This story had a huge impact on Laura, and she was always a kind benefactor of the slaves she inherited. Laura lived to 102.

29 April 2017

Thunderstorm and sights from our last two days in Nola.
Exploring Armstrong Park and surrounding area.
Thursday, April 27th, we slept in and had no idea what the day had in store for us. Had beignets and coffee at Cafe Beignet, where a band played live music at 9 AM! Cafe Beignet is in a little alcove off Bourbon Street, adorned with statues of famous local musicians. After breakfast, we walked to the river. The Mississippi River! Saw steamboats, one of which played music calliope-style. We noticed some floatplanes flying overhead, so Rob did some quick research, and booked a flight for the afternoon. So off we went to The Crazy Lobster for lunch. Sat outside on the banks of the Mississippi and enjoyed local fare. I had Creole Shrimp, which was delicious. We checked into the floatplane tour company, and at 2 PM we climbed onto the plane and took off. The pilot was being instructed by an older pilot the entire time. We flew over the river and the swampland, saw a couple of alligators sunning themselves.

28 April 2017

Laura's birthday dinner.
Airboat bayou tour.
Tours of the Laura and Oak Alley Plantation.
Picked up Laura and Tony bright and early on Wednesday, April 26th, and drove to SeaTac. Traffic was...amazingly light! Breakfast and mimosas at the airport. Our flight was a bit delayed, but not bad. First impressions: from the plane, we could see how lush and green the area is. And, there were fresh flowers in the rest rooms at the airport! The trip went smoothly, and our driver was waiting for us. On the half hour drive to the hotel, we saw some fairly impoverished neighborhoods, but also some gorgeous, charming old homes. The hotel, the Royal Sonesta, is old, and filled with crystal chandeliers and fountains. Our room's balcony is actually a wrap around that we share with other rooms. We looked down onto Bourbon Street, and watched the crowds milling by. Incredible people watching!

27 April 2017

Floatplane tour.
First full day in New Orleans, wandering through the French Quarter and on the banks of the Mississippi.

26 April 2017

Bourbon Street from our hotel balcony.
First dinner, at Deanie's: Tony's crawfish.
Bourbon Street and the extended, shared balcony at our hotel.