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Day 2

Location: New Orleans, LA

Miles driven: 102


Woke up around 6:30AM, got a quick stretch in, and shortly thereafter hit the road for New Orleans.  It was a fairly short drive, but there was the occasional downpour of rain and a little traffic closer to the city, but nothing too bad.  Once I pulled into the French Quarter, the sun was coming out and the streets were drying.

Around 10AM, I found a public parking lot and stepped out to explore.  I found New Orleans to be surprisingly easy to get around, at least here in the French Quarter.  There wasn’t much traffic, everything of note was in walking-distance, and there was a hint of excitement in the air amongst all the tourists walking about….people going in and out of little boutiques, voodoo shops, and southern eateries.  I was expecting to see lingering after-effects of Katrina, but either I’m not observant enough or there aren’t any signs of that in this frequently-visited area of the city (outside of some funky smells along Bourbon St.).  Everything was neat and clean that I could see.

I had a hotel reservation for the evening, but couldn’t check in until 4pm, so I figured I had time to wander around until that time.  Managed to do a lot of walking, and take in the sights and sounds.  One of the first places I came across was Jackson Square in front of the famous St. Louis Cathedral.  I had heard about the statue of Andrew Jackson, but it was still pretty impressive seeing it up close.

Andrew Jackson statue in Jackson Square

Andrew Jackson statue and St. Louis Cathedral

I zig-zagged through the different streets and eventually came across a seafood place.  People had been telling me to try the crawfish in New Orleans so I ordered that within a minute of sitting down.  Only problem, I didn’t even know what crawfish looked like.  I’ve had the big shrimp before in Taiwan where you have peel every bit (while the shrimp’s eyes are there looking at you), but never tried crawfish.  For $10 I got a basket of the little guys…there were so many of them.

Crawfish

Tasty crawfish

They were a messy challenge, but I managed to eat some of the crawfish from that big bowl.  Managed also to squirt some crawfish juice in my eye, and needless to say, that was not very pleasant.  Eventually I was working harder for the food than I cared to, so I gave up, paid and bill, and later grabbed a slice of pizza from a nearby place.

Shortly after cleaning  myself up from crawfish-eating, I stumbled across a jazz/blues band, with dancers in tow, on Royal St.  Very entertaining…both the music and the dancing.  Here’s some video:

By the way – does anyone know what that type of dance is called?

I enjoyed staying there listening to the music, but eventually rain came and the band packed up.  The rain soon turned into a downpour and I bided my time under awnings as I made my way back towards my car.  It would soon be time to check into the hotel.

Took the car to the Prince Conti Hotel (booked it 2am the same day), and found myself in an old-fashioned, but very nice hotel.  I’m not planning on staying in many hotels for this trip, but I figured I have a lot of people I can crash with along the East Coast, so I’ll be saving some money in this first stretch of the trip.  Plus, the hotel was only $60 plus tax.

Got to relax for a long while…took a nap, did a workout, and then around 10pm I headed out to see the New Orleans nightlife.  I told myself I’d stop in the first jazz club I come across playing live music.  I found one within a few minutes of walking, just a block away.  It was an amazing band – one guitarist/singer, one keyboardist, one drummer, and three brass.  There was dancing, too.  Soon enough I got involved dancing with some foreigners – three girls from Australia and one from New Zealand.  Spent a good time chatting and learned they were on a roadtrip of their own, taking two months, I think, to work their way in a van from the West to East coast, with the final destination being New York City.  I was amazed at the number of National Parks they had visited.  Sally, the Kiwi, knew more about some parks out west than many Americans.  She mentioned wanting to go to Crater Lake (my favorite park), but in April the roads were closed because of snow.  However, she spoke very highly of the Utah parks (oftentimes overshadowed by the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, and Yosemite), and I was able to get a couple of recommendations for hikes and things to check out.  Sally also said she had hiked the Angels Landing Trail at Zion National Park, which I had done in 2005, and we shared stories from that and other hikes we’ve done/parks we’ve visited.

The fun night ended and here we are on Day 3 of the trip.  I just ordered some beignets which is a type of French donut.  Pretty tasty, and very filling.  At the beignet shop I could only order a set of three, so I’ll be looking for some hotel staff to help me out with the other two.

Beignet

Soon, I’ll check out of the hotel and work my way east towards Florida.  It’s a warm day, and it looks like I might get some clear skies, and hopefully I’ll be able to take out the camera tonight and get some star shots.

New Orleans is an amazing city.  Glad I came this way.

joe

  1. June 1, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    Looks awesome man, I’ll have to consider stopping in NO on the way back east. I’m definitely gonna call you before I hit the Utah parks too to get some advice on hikes and things to check out.

    • June 2, 2010 at 4:01 am

      Definitely recommend a stop in NO…at the least spend an evening out listening to some live music.

  2. melissa
    June 1, 2010 at 12:20 pm

    The pictures and video look great! I like the dancing and music. What came to my mind is the “Jitterbug” Here’s a clip from I Love Lucy (fastfoward to 2:30mins) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX5a7nFhfVs&feature=related

    Question, what is “kiwi”?

    • June 2, 2010 at 4:05 am

      Oh good find. How did you know about this specific clip from “Lucy”? Or did you google jitterbug?

      Also, the term ‘Kiwi’ is informal slang for a New Zealander.

  3. The Mommie
    June 1, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    Eating seafood can be a lot of work but as Mr. Food would say: OH, SO GOOD!

    Some of the dancing reminded me of the Charleston but Melissa’s Jitterbug response is right on.

    The brightness and details of your pics are wonderful. I feel like I am there.

    Love you much

    • June 2, 2010 at 4:05 am

      Glad you are enjoying it, Mom

  4. Norman
    June 1, 2010 at 9:24 pm

    Joe, keep up the good work. This was an awesome post!

    • June 2, 2010 at 4:00 am

      thanks buddy. glad you enjoy.

  5. Ian
    June 1, 2010 at 9:55 pm

    How’s the Trail Mix? :3

    • June 2, 2010 at 4:06 am

      Haha so far so good – I’ve been able to pace myself so far, despite how tasty it is. Still got three good size bags of trail mix going.

  6. Christelle
    June 1, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    ohhhhhhh Joe, I can already tell u r going to be killin me softly with all the food pix. I want to come with you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • June 2, 2010 at 4:07 am

      Christelle, you can come along if you promise to share your famous recipe for fried plantains.

  7. June 1, 2010 at 11:11 pm

    I think they call that dance the Jamiroquai…like from the Virtual Insanity video — whatever it’s called, I love it — also, I wish I had that woman’s butt-independence…

    Looks like you’re having a blast!

    • June 2, 2010 at 4:06 am

      Hahhaa great term – “butt-independence”.

  8. Nick
    June 1, 2010 at 11:51 pm

    Those crawfish are looking at you too. Maybe begging you to eat them instead of throwing them away.

    • June 2, 2010 at 4:00 am

      hahah I didn’t want to waste them! I should have gave them to the family at the table next to me.

  9. Melissa
    June 2, 2010 at 2:13 pm

    I really enjoyed reading about your trip to New Orleans and listening to the music. I was there on my honeymoon 9 years ago and had a fantastic time.
    By the way, that was “pre-Katrina” and Bourbon St. had a funky smell even back then!! Safe travels!!
    P.S. I found your page via Brendan, my friend on Facebook.

    • June 3, 2010 at 1:56 am

      Thanks Melissa. New Orleans was a great choice for a honeymoon destination. I envy you that you were able to spend more time in that great city than I did.

  10. bea
    June 2, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    tst tst, wasting good good. i thought you had been trained well in eating any kinda seafood and chicken feet and beef stomach and rocky mountain clams from all the weddings you had attended in Taiwan. Anyway, sounds like NO is lots of fun. Will put it down on my to-go list too.

  11. June 3, 2010 at 2:00 am

    I was trained well on that (especially by Shifu), but I had no idea I would be getting that much crawfish. That was enough for 4 people.

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