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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.