February 6th

        Slept late today. Taco Bell for brunch before catching the bus at 1PM for the trip to Lafayette Square for our first parade experience. We were led to a set of bleachers across from the parade review stand. The view was great as bands and floats paraded by. People riding the floats threw beads and other items to the crowds. The bleachers had lots of opening in them and any bead that was not caught quickly snaked it's way out of reach below the bleachers. During the parade breaks we saw a guy with a coat hanger contraption trying to hook the beads that had fallen through. Even with all the hands in the air about half of the beads and other 'throws' managed to slip by and fall through the cracks. After a few hours of catching and missing beads we took a break and walked over to Mother's for lunch. Mother's had become one of our favorite stop during our earlier visits and it lived up to our expectations once again. After a delicious sandwich we worked our way back to the parade route. The bead throwing and merriment continued for several more hours. The lady sitting next to me was using a hook on a string to retrieve beads that she shared with us. We had all the beads we could carry by the time the parades ended just after 11PM. We were still so wound up from the parade when we got home that we sat up watching Carnivale until about 1AM. When we did turn in we were dead tired.
 

February 7th

        Another 8AM day! We were on the bus early for a trip to the New Orleans School of Cooking. The guy that gave the cooking class was very entertaining and ended up serving us the food he had prepared during his presentation. We were given some excellent Red Beans and Rice along with corn bread and some pralines for desert. The remainder of the day was open for shopping or wandering so we headed out for a walk. Even though we did some shopping first, our steps eventually led us to Bourbon Street. We spent some time at the Funky Pirate before wandering on down to Fat Tuesday's. The streets were busy with partiers even though it was only the middle of afternoon. After a few beers we walked on back to meet the bus. We had to cross a train track to get to the bus and as luck would have it, there was a train within site of the crossing. I walked across easily but Rita refused to cross until the train went by. I went on down to the bus to ask them to wait for us. They seemed to understand so I walked back to wait for Rita. Eventually she walked safely across and we loaded onto the bus. Back at the campground, the cats seemed happy to see us and we spent the remainder of the evening at the camper.
 

February 8th

        It is finally Mardi Gras!! We caught the bus at 8AM for a trip to the Hotel Intercontinental downtown. There we enjoyed a breakfast buffet before going out to watch a parade put on by the Krewe of Zulu. We were guided to a reserved viewing stand with a good view of the parade. I do mean stand. No chairs. The stand was crowed when we arrived and we ended up in the top row somewhat covered by the branches of a nearby tree. As the parade continued we discovered that it was a rare float rider that could hurl beads far enough back to get to us. If any one did they got caught in the tree anyway. After several frustrating hours we managed to get ourselves to better spots about the time the parade was ending. The next parade was slow starting up and we were getting a bit bored with parades anyway. We went back inside for a quick brunch buffet. We were setting at a large table by ourselves when out of the blue a lady sat down across from us. She was determined to chat and ended up telling us all kinds of things about life in New Orleans. She recommended a couple of restaurants that we promised to try. We excused our selves and headed back outside. We had about 3 hours to fill before the bus was scheduled to pick us up. We could either stand and watch the Rex parade or we could walk down to Bourbon Street. The thought of being on Bourbon Street on Mardi Gras was too much of an attraction for us to resist so we took off.  The people were everywhere and were in all forms of dress and un-dress. We made our way down Royal where the crowd was lighter before cutting back to Bourbon. A bar called Fat Tuesday's was our destination. Being at Fat Tuesday's on Fat Tuesday seemed like the thing to do. We had several large beers while watching the partiers stumble by. Even the occasional rain shower did not dampen their spirits. As our departure time grew near, we filled our glasses one last time before going out on the street to fight our way back to the bus. The crowd managed to separate us several times before we found our way back together and to end of Bourbon. From there we worked our way through the parade crowd and back to the bus with 10 minutes to spare. Many of the Trackers told us they had gone down on Bourbon too. I don't think any of them had the good time we did. We only had 13 cans of beer at the camper but that was enough to put a nice finish on Mardi Gras.
 

February 9th

        Last day of the Tracks tour. Rita stayed in but I got up early and headed over to the 'goodbye' gathering for the Tracks group. Most of the Trackers were headed out that day but a few, like us, were staying a couple extra days. Rita and I deliberated on a lunch location and eventually settled on a place that had been recommended by the lady who sat with us yesterday. After getting a location from the mapping program we headed out. The address for Casa Garcia was 8814 and we were in the 2200 block with the numbers going up. Then all of a sudden we were in the 8900 block with the numbers going down must have been a town change or something. Anyway, we managed to drive right by the place. The turn around was a bit of a challenge but we eventually got back to the restaurant. The parking lot was packed but there was almost no one in the place. The food was excellent and very reasonable. The Super Wal-Mart on Esplanade was our next stop. We picked up some groceries and supplies before heading back to the campground. We spent what little was left of the afternoon working on projects around the camper. The cats seem to be liking us being around the camper more. We had been gone almost all day everyday during the Tracks tour so being around the camper was a definite change for us too. More TV and cat time after a healthy salad supper capped off with our last brownie from home.
 

February 10th

        Another day for sleeping late. Spent the morning surfing and goofing off before getting ready to go to lunch. We headed back to Casa Garcia for one more excellent meal. From there it was the normal Wal-Mart across the street and then a craft store. Rita was looking for one of those magnifiers that you hang around your neck for doing needle work. We found one with a light and were on our way again. Back at the campground I checked on the bus schedule for tomorrow's travels. We plan on spending most of the day downtown and the trip starts with a bus ride. Next on the list for today was picking our next campground. We picked Houston Leisure RV Resort and made reservations for a 2 week stay. Looks like it will be a nice place but time will tell. Rita continued to do laundry through out the day. The little machine in the camper doesn't do much at a time but it is conveniently close by. The evening was spent catching up on our taped shows and watching a couple new ones. Not every day can be exciting but at least I am not shoveling snow in Wisconsin!
 

February 11th

        Big day planned today. We left the camper around 11:45AM to catch the city bus that passes by the campground. We paid our $1.10 each and boarded. This bus will take us to the trolley in about an hour. At the end of the route we disembarked and crossed the street to board the trolley. The fare is $1.25 but that's OK. The trolley runs through the Garden District of New Orleans and eventually ends at Canal St one block from the start of Bourbon St. Well before that, we pull the cord and get off on Jackson Ave. A quick 5 block walk brings us to our lunch location Juan's Flying Burrito. I had found a site on the internet that said they had good Mexican food and they were right. We left completely satisfied and began our walk back to the trolley. A short ride later we were on Canal St. headed for the French Quarter. We did our final shopping while walking to the far side of the Quarter and back. It was getting close to 5PM so we walked over to the free ferry at the end of Canal. After a pleasant ride across the Mississippi we were in Algiers. The Dry Dock Cafe and Bar is just a short walk from the ferry landing. We try to visit the Dry Dock at least once during each visit to New Orleans. It is small place that is frequented by the locals but we like it. They generally put out snacks around 5:30PM and today was no different. We already had supper plans so we had to pass.  After a couple of cold beers we say goodbye and took the ferry back to New Orleans. We walked down to Margaritaville and had our supper. By this time it was getting close to 9PM time to be at the Funky Pirate. We arrived just a few minutes before Big Al took the stage. Big Al is a 495lb blues singer that performs nightly at the Funky Pirate. Seeing Al perform is another of the things we try to repeat on each visit. After several songs and a couple of beers we leave Big Al and head down to Fat Tuesday's for our final beers on Bourbon. As it neared midnight we drank up and walked down Bourbon is search of a cab for the ride home. The ride back was short due to the lead-footed nature of our driver. The cats were as happy to see us we were to be home alive.
 

February 12th

        Our last day in New Orleans. We slept late and got up planning to spend the day around the camper. After watching a couple hours of taped shows we showered and started the day. I dumped the holding tank, took down outside window coverings and put away the ladder and lawn chairs in preparation for our move. Rita did dishes, cat boxes and picked up in general in the camper. By mid afternoon we were ready for a little Taco Bell to-go. After a quick snack we settled in a little more TV. Having had a busy day yesterday it felt good to just sit around and it was a good chance for us to catch up on our taped shows. Tomorrow we finish packing and start the drive to Texas. We had a great time in New Orleans and I am sure we will be back again. We learned a lot about the history of Mardi Gras this visit and our next visit will include lots of parade watching. Rita is already taking about coming back for the next Mardi Gras.

Pictures