Sunday, February 17, 2013

New Orleans: Heading Home

We stayed at an airport hotel so we could catch our early flight back to Arizona.

No longer held captive by cribs, Ada beds down for the night in her own queen.

Waiting for the plane early Saturday morning. Jeffrey and I were tired and chasing Ada around the airport wasn't high on our list of fun things to do. Like the seasoned traveler she is, she was ready to wait for the plane with a little Sesame Street.

New Orleans: New Orleans Museum of Art at City Park

Our last day in New Orleans was another sunny one. Terry took us down to NOMA at City Park so I could look at paintings. The museum has an outdoor sculpture garden so we could enjoy the sun and so that Ada could run around a bit.

If you don't think a 1.5 year old can enjoy an art museum, you're doing it wrong... sort of.

Walking on the paths.

First sculpture.

Recreating it.
Sort of.


She didn't like us recreating this one.

This sculpture gave Ada pause. That kid loves drums.

Getting bored.

After lunch at the NOMA cafe (she didn't like the pickled onions) we drove over to another section of City Park to let her enjoy Storyland. Storyland has been around for so long, even Terry remembers playing there as a kid.

Shortly after this, Ada was losing steam rather quickly, so we got her back into the car for a little nap on the way back to Chalmette.

New Orleans: Garden District Tour

Thursday the sun came out and Terry signed us up for a Garden District tour. Something I very much wanted to do since we started planning the trip. Ada, the most amazing toddler in the history of travel, actually sat in her stroller for two hours without making a big deal out of how bored she was. Ada is a champion kid!

The first stop on the tour was the cemetery. These are pretty amazing and basically pizza ovens for bodies. The heat of Louisiana summers basically cremates the remains and then you can stack some more family members in there. Some of these have been going since the 1800s and are still being used today. The wall vault versions are apparently where the saying, "Wouldn't touch it with a ten foot pole" comes from as a 10 foot pole is used to shove the remains out of the way.
What should feel macabre and eery since it is a bunch of houses for dead people, really feels solemn and filled with memories of those that were loved. Since many of the mausoleums are still in use, families are still decorating the properties, including a little Mardi Gras flair on some of them.

Tour group. I knew my dad would get around to asking "How many people on the tour?" This many.

An example of Swiss Chalet style. It is owned, and sometimes lived in, by Sandra Bullock.

I liked this staircase up to a cottage style home.

Fancy stop sign for Mardi Gras.

These are actor John Goodman's dogs. They were impeccably groomed. Good on you, John Goodman. Mr. Goodman makes this district his primary residence and is, according to the tour guide, seen around a lot.

Lots of greenery.

The oaks have been here for a long time. You have to be very careful on the sidewalks. One lady in our group was slightly annoyed that the city allows this. I was slightly annoyed with this lady.

A rose garter fence. Many of the homes here are or have been owned by famous people. This one was owned by author Anne Rice. It is believed that the "skull fence" is what attracted her.

Ada, hanging in there.

A beautiful house in the district that happens to be owned and lived in by Archie Manning, father of Peyton and Eli. Apparently they let Kevin Costner borrow their pool while filming JFK. The tour seemed to focus on architecture and famous people.

One of the things I really noticed and liked about New Orleans homes and buildings was the abundance of detail work and the attention to plants. One of the things that I don't understand where I've lived in Arizona is how people never put out planters. I'm ready for it to warm up a bit so I, too, can put out ferns and geraniums! Not much I can do about adding decorative moldings...

Geraniums on a garden table.

Finials on fences ensconced in jasmine.

Sago Palm

Beautiful glass window treatments.

Corn Stalk style cast iron fence.

Rosettes in the Greek key molding.

Detail of the "skull fence." Here you can see that it really isn't a skull, but rather a flower on top of a stem with two leaves bending down.

Even the oaks decorate with little ferns.

Carport detail. Everything gets a flourish.

Again, those orange planters. There is greenery being thrown about everywhere here. I loved it.
Afterward, we rewarded Ada (it was all about me, really) with a trip to Cafe du Monde for beignets and cafe au laits.

New Orleans: Fat Tuesday Parades

On Tuesday we headed down for the main event in the French Quarter. The parade day in uptown is made up of four different parades and we made it through three of them: Zulu, Rex, and one truck parade from the Krewe of the Elks. It's a long day of parades. I didn't snap any shots of the truck parade. I was just too tired.

Jeffrey's extended family still resides in Chalmette and they are friends with a group from the Swiss Confectionery on Saint Charles Avenue. The frontage of the shop and the delivery area are only steps from the parade route. The bakery has been there since 1921. Since then, this group has learned how to do the parade right! One of the greatest parts of being included with them, besides them being incredibly kind and fun and having incredibly kind and fun friends, was they had three empty ladder boxes this year for us to view the parade from. Ladder boxes are genius. We are going to have to get one setup for the Prescott parades!

There couldn't have been a better Mardi Gras experience and I can't believe we got to do this! I really want to extend my heartfelt thank you to Terry, Aunt Melanie, Uncle Russell, cousin Russ, cousin Lindsey, and Lori from the bakery who will never see this. You made our Mardi Gras!

View from inside the bakery delivery area looking out to the parade route. The bearded youth there is Jeffrey's cousin, Russ, the green shirted man next to him is uncle Russell, and the guy leaning on the barricade is really nice, though not named Russell. Rising up above the Russells is the three ladder boxes with the family names on them.

The trees gather a lot of beads from Mardi Gras, which started in January this year.

The beginning of the day's festivities started with the mayor arriving on horseback.

The beginning of the Krewe of Zulu parade.

The Zulu costumes are pretty amazing. The paraders where black face and ornate garb. They also throw prized objects to parade goers. Handpainted coconuts are the top tier item to receive during the Zulu parade. We got one! We were told not to put it in our checked luggage. We ended up shipping our Mardi Gras loot back UPS.

Ada enjoying the parade from her box seat. (That's cousin Lindsey back there on the other ladder). Ada hadn't slept well the night before, so she wasn't super smiley during the parade. The fact that she stayed awake the whole six hours of parading is a testament to how much she enjoyed it.

The Queen Zulu.

She had a sign just in case I missed that she was the queen.

Ada and I enjoyed her leopards. ROAR!

Fleur di Lis clacker!
Ada with her Zulu parasol. I caught it for her -- guy threw it like a spear after making lots of hand gestures that I'd better catch it or someone might die. Everyone was highly impressed by my ability to catch stuff from a ladder.

Jacoby Jones. No really. Jacoby Jones. That's Ed Reed back there with a jersey that says REED.

This is the back of Warren Sapp's head. He never turned for me to get a shot of his face.

Sometimes the floats would get backed up and the marching bands would have to hang out and wait in front of us. They'd all get out of their lines and wander around until the whistle would blow. Then they'd all scramble back to position.

One of the things that helped Ada through the day was Dum Dum lollipops.

Jeffrey's Aunt Melanie: Nicest person in the world, right here.

Shot of the fervor on the far side of the street.
After the Krewes of Zulu parade was the the Krewes of Rex parade. They threw a lot of beads, stuffed animals, and even some doubloons (which I also caught from atop a ladder. I'm telling you! I'm great at catching improbably small or weirdly shaped items while on a ladder!)

The Rex floats were more fanciful in design.

I found their masks more disturbing than the black face of the Zulu.

Huge cow float.

Kow Krewe (not really their name.)

Hockey jersey band of men of a certain age.


This was the ladder family across the way. I enjoyed watching them, particularly the little girl. She was yelling and waving and having the best time. Sometimes I could see her mouth the words, "THROW ME SOMETHIN' MISTER!!!!"

One of the bands that got paused in front of us was a Scottish heritage group. The bakery group ran them out a few trays of jello shots, which they accepted gladly. (Bakery friends also tried to give the Marine Corp Marching Band some, but it was declined.)
Final phone grab for those that have scrolled this far down. This is Ada and Jeffrey in their pre-parade finery, right before we left for the longest day of parading ever.