As I learned at the Jean Lafitte NHP, here’s just a little something extra to add on our last full day all together in New Orleans…
After knocking out a full day of studies, we picked Flight up at the airport in the early afternoon and headed back into The French Quarter. Since we enjoyed lunch before coming to collect him, I suggested he grab a quick bite at the airport as we were en route. From the airport we headed straight to the French Quarter. After a quick debrief precipitated by Flight throwing out a few suggestions and my replying “Oh, we did that yesterday…” we parked the car and, not sure of where to start, wandered over to check out the docked Steamboat Natchez, which was about to get underway. For a three-hour tour.
Kidding, it was only two.
And it was the perfect opportunity to relax, see the French Quarter from a distance, learn a bit about the mechanics of a steamboat, get some traditional beans and rice, hear some jazz (the girls couldn’t help but dance), and sort out what we were going to do before we departed for Pensacola, which I hadn’t quite realized (and wouldn’t for about another day) was in less than 40 hours.
I had done some research and learned that NOLA would be celebrating her 300-year anniversary, complete with a floating museum of tall-ships coming into port that evening.
Although it would have been great to get over to see the tall-ships in person, it was enough to see a couple of them at anchor from the steamboat’s shifting vantage point. Observing the city gearing up for celebration, my inner 22-year old wanted to take in NOLA in full party finery, but my mama bear instinct realized that was probably unwise.
We did manage to introduce our kids to the art of eating beignets. I have very distinct memories of several all out powdered sugar fights at Café du Monde that I may or may not have started been drawn into and thought we should go easy on the kids. The carnage wasn’t too bad.
Flight and I ordered together, as we often do, when we enjoyed an early dinner at the New Orleans Creole Cookery (= “city food” with tomatoes).
I stuck with the standard fare and got another sampling dish and Flight ordered oysters, it was the perfect taste of NOLA. As sunset is about the right time for kids to move out of the French Quarter, we repaired to Davista to pack up for relocation to the heart of the Vieux Carré following school in the morning.
As the kids were finishing up school, Flight and I walked about the campsite to check out the gator traps cabins perched above gator lairs.
All I could think imagine was having one of those enormous reptiles waddle up the plank to snack on the nicely contained morsels sleeping within. I’m good with the nice half-mile buffer to the campground, thank you.
We were slow to leave our last location having had plenty of The French Quarter for the last few days, but somehow I didn’t equate time spent at our Bayou Segnette spot as time taken away from our last hurrah in the New Orleans. In retrospect, that should have been obvious, but, much to Flight’s occasional exasperation, I never really have had a solid grasp on the passing of time.
Our new address was smack dab in the middle of the French Quarter, one that was safe enough to walk to and from, in the daylight, anyway, “but you should plan to Uber at night” according to the campground host. parked right next to a cemetery. For those of you who are not familiar, the water table is pretty close to ground level, which means that any serious rain would transform traditional graves into the last scenes of Poltergeist. It was a little eerie to look out our bedroom window and see an expanse of nothing but crypts and mausoleums. I should have taken a picture, but, regretfully, didn’t think to do so.
We finally sauntered into town just shy of 3 pm and zipped right by Bourbon St for obvious reasons. Now that I had backup, I told Flight I wanted to catch the Historical Pharmacy Museum and was able to pop in almost free of children. Almost.
WoodSprite assured me she was just as keen as I to learn about making Absinthe and ghastly versions of rhinoplasty used to restore functional noses to those stricken with advanced syphilis, so she joined me on my pilgrimage to honor ancient medicine.
Fear not, those pictures were in glass cases that required at least a five-foot vantage point, so WoodSprite departed that establishment without those dreamy images to fill her head. Actually, there was quite a bit to this little museum and I would love to go back for a longer visit without the added, “Hey, Momma, how much longer?” interruptions. Next time.
We rejoined Flight and the older two in Jackson Square and we turned towards the French Market in search of trinkets and an early dinner. As Flight mentioned, the market was quite an experience for Keeper, but we departed only with two name bracelets made for the girls and, sadly, sans fedora.
Dinner, however, was surprisingly good. Flight got his boudin fix and the only other open offering was a crèperie, which fed the other four of our herd.
As they were sweeping up around us, we mobilized to show the kids more of the Vieux Carré. After getting shut out at Pat O’Brien’s on our way to the French Market (What do you mean we can’t bring our kids into a bar to get hurricanes?), we thought we’d take in some serious jazz and sauntered over to Preservation Hall only to find those in the 90-minute line straining to hear a preview of their evening’s entertainment.
Flight and I realized that probably wouldn’t do and, unsuccessfully, sought out the next slice of NOLA to share. Flight and I came to the same “What exactly are we trying to accomplish here?” moment simultaneously and steered our gaggle back to Davista, a little baffled at our belated disillusionment.
While the monkeys immersed themselves in digital worlds, Flight and I grabbed some adult beverages and slipped outside to debrief our New Orleans time in the fading sunlight. Due to our inability to communicate and hash out our respective ideal plans prior to executing Operation Big Easy, we came to the conclusion that there were plenty of things outside the French Quarter we would could should have done to truly experience living in the bayou. Recognizing the Woulda Coulda Shoulda Game is never a productive undertaking, our two take aways were this: ultimately we did a reasonable job of exposing the kids to the PG version of our NOLA memory playlist, hopefully piquing curiosity for further exploration much, MUCH later down the road and, as always, solid communication remains paramount in every successful campaign. May we keep every mindful of this debrief and practice our lessons learned.
But first, anyone for a Diesel Fuel at Flounder’s?