Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Day 7: Not Much NOLA


Miles traveled: 373                                                                                   Total miles: 1394


Money is a funny thing.  Saving money, spending money…there are definitely some irrational decisions made in both directions.  When we started this trip I knew need two hotel rooms.  The first one I needed was for Carlsbad, NM, and the options were not pretty.  I looked like we had two choices—“seedy” motels in the $70 range, and “nice” ones in the $150 range.  I didn’t want either one of those and was thrilled when I eventually found a decent hotel for $100. 

Then I went to find a hotel for our night in New Orleans.  At first I could only find 2.5 star hotels for $100 or 1 star hotels for $50.  Again, neither option was what I wanted.  A few days later I was really happy to find a 2 star hotel for $60.  It ended up being a really interesting experience.  It was definitely an old hotel.  Old as in almost creepy and in a very run down area, not old as in charming.  It was very clean though, and the pool was nice and the kids had a great time.  I was pretty ok with it until the sink made a funny noise and splashed out black water.  Then I was just grossed out and we were careful not to drink the water.

I’ve gone back and forth about it.  Was it silly to try to save that $40?  I tell myself it wasn’t, since I’ve spent it several times over on this trip in different ways.  But I don’t know…and I don’t even what I’d do if I was doing it again. 

Anyway, back to our time in New Orleans.  Saturday morning my plan was to drive into the city and explore for a little while before starting our (long) drive to my brother Jeremy’s in Houston, Tx.

We found a place to park and then started walking along the Mississippi River.  The kids were less than enthused.

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And they stayed less enthused as we left the river and headed downtown.  I decided that they were not my preferred old-city-travelling-companions.  (That would be my awesome sweetheart Russ.)  I still managed to enjoy looking around.  I’m not sure what this building was but it must have been notable, I saw it on a Christmas ornament later.


The kids were fascinated by the long lines of donkey drawn carriages waiting for riders, and were very annoyed that I wouldn’t spring for a ride.  Especially since Russ & I apparently ride in horse drawn carriages “all the time.” 


Finally we got to our destination.  In the reading I’d done, an “off the beaten tourist track” café was mentioned with yummy beignets.  I should have been suspicious about just how far off the beaten track this café was when it appeared on the printed map I picked up at the hotel.  I had promised the cranky kids visions of yummy beignets and then we arrived and it was a tourist hades.  Seriously.  The line of people waiting to be seated in the crammed-full café had to have been half of a block long.  I couldn’t even think of doing that to me or the kids and so we just kept on walking.  As we passed the exit of the café I noticed a man sitting on a chair wearing a hat advertising the café, and holding a handful of money.  I assumed that he worked there and I thought I would get a suggestion of a less crowded place to get our beignets.  I quickly explained that I was accompanied by 3 footsore and cranky 11 year olds and said that I didn’t think the line was a good idea for us and did he have any suggestions.  Instead of suggesting another place to buy my beignets, he said that he would bring some right out to us to go—and in about 3 minutes he was back with a paper bag filled with beignets and powdered sugar and a bottle of cold water and we were on our way, somewhat more cheerfully than before.  We sat and ate on a shady bench, sprinkles of powdered sugar on the ground around it suggesting that we were not the first beignet eaters to take refuge there that day.  (When I said the bag was filled with powdered sugar I was NOT exaggerating.)


When we were done eating we took the streetcar back to the parking lot where our car was parked.  Total cost for our little NOLA outing: $9 parking, $10 for beignets, water, and tip to the helpful guy, and $5 for the streetcar.  Those were expensive beignets!


Because I still felt like I hadn’t experienced New Orleans at all I told the kids that instead of driving straight out of the city I was going to drive down a couple of streets in the french quarter on our way out.  I was a lot happier after I did that.

I loved the balconies that were on so many of the houses in the french quarter.  Especially the ones that were decorated with plants—they just made my heart happy.  One was almost enclosed by flowering vines and I imagined that it must be a glorious refuge in the middle of the city. 

NOLA collage

I also loved all of the great trim on the houses—each house had different details.  I was really glad that there was almost no traffic so that I could drive slowly and take pictures.

french quarter

Now to get to our hotel in New Orleans we had driven on a very long bridge over Lake Pontchartrain—some 23 miles.  I figured we were done with driving over water.  But no, when we left New Orleans we drove on another edge of Lake Pontchartrain, and then for miles we drove over a swamp.  It was really interesting, because it seemed that for miles the interstate sat directly over a river (parallel and on top of, not perpendicular to.)  I finally decided it was interesting enough to take a picture and then (of course) we hit solid ground. 

The other interesting thing was driving over the bridge at Lake Charles—it truly was the steepest thing I’ve ever seen.  My brother Jeremy & his wife Maria had just made the drive from New Orleans to Houston the month before, so it was fun to talk about the trip with them—Jeremy and I had noticed a lot of the same things.

lake charles

This was the first exit sign we saw in Texas.  All I could think was –goodness, Texas is HUGE!

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As a comparison, North Carolina (which seems like a pretty wide state to me) is just over 400 miles wide.  More on the size of Texas later…

We arrived at Jeremy & Maria’s in time to eat dinner and play a fun new game called Resistance.  Later while they were putting their kids to bed I took mine over to the pool where they swam and worked out a little excess energy.  Then we all went to sleep, very tired.


  1. Especially since Russ & I apparently ride in horse drawn carriages “all the time.”

    I love it!!!! When we lived in Seattle I used to sometimes take the boys to visit Eric at his office...he kept a few matchbox cars there for them to play with when we came. One day I asked them what they thought Daddy did all day and they said, "He plays with cars"- which made sense, since that's what they saw him do whenever they were there! It's funny the things they think about what it's like to be a grownup....

  2. So fun! I would totally explore old cities with you. In fact, I am keeping a mental list in my head of the houses around here that I HAVE to show you next week! ;)

  3. Cindy Lynn said she is going to Sea World with you. I just wanted to say that I loved it, much better than Disneyland. Have fun.

  4. That is a freaky, weird, way too tall bridge. I don't actually think I could make myself drive on it!!