Monday, September 2, 2013

Road Trip: New Orleans Day 1

  Date        Stop   Odometer    Location                                      Time

6/22/20130211626Leaving Lake Mineral Wells S.P.6:31 AM
6/22/20131211702Flying J Dallas, TX8:07 AM
6/22/20132211890Express Plus Frierson, LA11:20 AM
6/22/20133212118Mobil Baton Rouge, LA
6/22/20134212179Royal St. Charles Hotel New Orleans, LA4:45 PM

From Sara's travel journal:
Sunday, June 23rd, 2013 8:50pm
Royal St. Charles, New Orleans, Louisiana
On Saturday, we departed the state park in Texas­ very early in the morning. We left our campsite at around 6:30am, with the hope of getting through the Dallas/Fort Worth area before rush hour. It took me about 45 minutes into the trip before I remembered that on a Saturday, you don’t really need to worry about rush hour, but with a nine hour drive ahead of us, the early start was definitely helpful. 
There was still plenty of traffic on I-20 going through the metro area, and it took almost an hour to get past it. We stopped at a Flying J on the eastern side of Dallas to fill the gas tank, grab some breakfast, and find a Texas magnet. We continued on into Louisiana, stopping at a gas station to fill the tank and make some peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch. The drive south through Louisiana was pretty smooth, and we said hello to the Mississippi River as we went through Baton Rouge. We made it into New Orleans at around 4:00pm, and we were both struck by the change in humidity. It is as though there is a line that goes through eastern Texas, and all of the moisture in the air is stuck on one side. My hair certainly demonstrates the difference pretty clearly—it has been fabulously straight for two weeks in dry mountain and desert air, but once we hit Louisiana, it started getting bigger…and bigger…and bigger. 
We checked into our hotel and got parked and settled before we hit the Big Easy for dinner. I must say that it is not at all difficult to get into the New Orleans swing of things when you arrive on a Saturday evening! We went to a highly recommended restaurant called the Acme Oyster House for dinner. There was a pretty long line outside, which we took as confirmation of it's popularity. Fortunately, the line moved pretty fast, especially since we were willing to sit at the bar. We ordered some New Orleans brews, po’ boys, and craw puppies. The po’ boys had fried shrimp and oysters and a Tabasco mayonnaise. They were super scrumptious. Sitting at the bar, we watched so many oysters being shucked and sent out raw to tables that we decided we had to give them a try. I had a single raw oyster topped with some cocktail sauce and lemon juice. Cory was a little braver and got an oyster shooter, which is a raw oyster in vodka with cocktail sauce. I really liked my oyster, and I could see myself eating a while plate of them sometime when I’m on the coast again. Our waitress was great and really nice. When we left, she even gave us a motherly “Have fun, be safe” in goodbye. 
po' boys and craw puppies at ACME Oyster Co. in New Orleans, LA
Delicious po' boys and craw puppies

Oyster shuckers hard at work. We couldn't watch them all evening without giving oysters a try!
Oyster shuckers hard at work. We couldn't watch them all evening without giving oysters a try!
Showing a raw oyster and an oyster shot at ACME Oyster Co. in New Orleans, LA
Cory and I had our first raw oysters. Bottoms up!

One fun thing about New Orleans that certainly contributes to the party atmosphere is that you can consume alcoholic beverages on the streets. This is such a thing that restaurants and bars have the option to take drinks to go. We took a second round of beers from the restaurant in this fashion and set off for Frenchmen Street to take in some live music. No sooner had we stepped outside, when we noticed a commotion about a block away on Bourbon Street. Now, I’m not sure if parades are an every weekend occasion, or if we just had good timing, but there was a gay pride parade just starting through the French Quarter. We watched the parade for awhile before we continued on down to Decatur Street and then east to Frenchmen Street. 
On Frenchmen Street we settled into the Blue Nile, ordered some more local beers, and listened to a blues trio. The bar was pretty divey. The floor was cracked, and there was a leaking pipe in the middle of the room. We saw no fewer than three cockroaches scurrying across the floor. If I wasn’t high up on a bar stool and wearing closed toed shoes, I would’ve been pretty wigged. The trio was composed of a harmonica player, washboard player, and a steel guitar player. I was pretty mesmerized by the washboard player, who was also the lead singer. He had the washboard, a bell, and two different sized soup cans that he used for percussion. It was really fun to watch him play. The bar got more and more crowded as the night went on. The headlining band was supposed to start at 10, but it took them an hour to set-up and they didn’t start playing until after 11. Cory and I stayed for their first song, but we weren’t as into them. They were really loud, and their sound was not as appealing as the blues group. We took our last round of beers to go, and set off for the hotel. We decided to take Bourbon Street going back through the French Quarter because we suspected that it would be quite a spectacle at midnight on a Saturday. Boy, were we right! The streets are closed off to cars, and people were EVERYWHERE. Lights, beads, colors, shouting, drinking…it was totally bananas. This wasn’t even a holiday weekend, so I can't really imagine what that place is like on Mardi Gras. Whoa, buddy. 

Three-piece blues band at the Blue Nile in New Orleans, LA.  Harmonica player, washboard player, guitar player.
Unfortunately, we didn't catch the name of the blues trio at the Blue Nile, but we really enjoyed them.
Frog mascot posed with two beers and Mardi Gras beads strung aroud his neck
Frog was also having a great time in the Big Easy!
A shot of Bourbon Street in New Orleans, LA at night
Bourbon Street after midnight

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