Posts Tagged ‘new orleans’

Happy Mother’s Day

Sunday, May 12th, 2013

Dear Mom,

You are my best friend, my travel buddy, my partner in crime, and the light of my life. I love you in more ways than words can express. I am sorry I can’t be there in person to tell you everything I have to say, but I can start here; Happy Mother’s Day.

We have traveled the country together, long hours in the car that never got boring or tiresome because we always had something to talk about and even if we didn’t we both enjoyed the silence and the company of one another other. We have wandered down creek beds, climbed trees, fixed flat tires, run across so many different surfaces that I cannot even begin to think of all their names. And oh the places we have gone, the places you have showed me, enjoyed with me and the memories that I have of you, with you, that I will remember and cherish for the rest of my life.

Like the hellish hikes that we simultaneously horribly regret, yet remember with heart filling laughs even though it was horrible at the time. The adventures that failed, but led us to all new places and things.

I love the times when we can be silly, climbing trees, hijacking tractors in the deepest part of the Bryce Canyon, and shamelessly chasing down every roadside attraction we can find.
Oh the places we have been. How many backdrops have we seen that belong in fairytales? How many times have we watched sunsets in places that are straight out of story books? How many times have I wished to always be back in the places we have been, while always looking forward to our next adventures?

Caught between the wonderful life you have given me, lived in with me, and the story books found in photography shops or souvenir stores, you have always been there for me. The every faithful travel buddy, the worried mother, the excited best friend, you are everything that I love in life.

Jumping over rattlesnakes and standing waist deep in the Zion Narrows, you and I have been through everything, and I wouldn’t change anything about it.
You have been there for me in the hardest moments, followed me down the most treacherous paths, squeezed yourself down corridors that seemed impassible just to show me it could be done.  You are incredible, you are super woman, you are my mother.
I could never wish for anything more than the life you have given me, the oppurtunities I have been blessed to have with you. The coffee and beignets in New Orleans, the trolley car rides, the rivers we have stood at, the canyons we have overlooked, the wildlife we have gaped at, and the world you have shown me. There are too many memories for me to describe, too many things for me to talk about and how much I appreciate every single second of the time we have spent together.
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I love our family, I love the loving home you and Dad have given me, the loving upbringing and the support you have given me my entire life; even when I didn’t realize you were my biggest supporter and friend.
You make me laugh like no one else I know. How many different ways can I say that I love you? I hope you know that without me ever having to say it. Even when I am away for months at a time, I hope the wind will carry my words to you and carry my love to you so that you always know you are cherished and appreciated.
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I wonder where we will go next, I wonder what is in store for us in the future.
There are so many wonderful times in the past, but I know you and I have even more memories to be made in the future. Even if it isn’t on the road or out in the back country or by a river bed, we will always have the bond that is unbreakable, the bond between a mother and her daughter.
The bond between best friends who know exactly how to make you smile and dance even in the most difficult moments.
The bond between you and I will last the rest of our lives, as will the memories we have and the ones we have yet to make.

You are my inspiration, my hope, my love, my light. I love you mom more than words can say. I wish I could hug you and tell you in person, and I miss you all the time. You are such a wonderful mother and I hope you know that I thank God every day for giving me you.

Happy Mother’s Day Mom, I love you, I love you, I love you.

Your Eternally grateful and loving Daughter,




Day Seven: Nashville

Monday, June 25th, 2012

I today was the day we hit “the wall” for road trippers: the point of no more. Today marks the point where we are tired and sight seeing weary. No this does not mean we are done it just means that today was a day off from sightseeing. We didn’t really do anything today and abandoned the initial plan for the day for a shortened and less packed with things to do. In other words, today was a breather day and hopefully tomorrow will be the always necessary bounce back day in the road trip.

Also today marks a different sort of landmark. Today, day seven marks the longest time I have ever been on the road. Six days was my previous record and now we are on day seven, soon to be eight that will keep going up as we continue. So, this is a long trip.

It was hard leaving New Orleans, just as it was hard to leave New Mexico and San Antonio before that. We have had some great stops and I am looking forward to more, but I seriously enjoyed New Orleans. We started our morning with Cafe Du Monde again since it is open 24 hours we went pretty early and got to see the sunrise from our hotel room in the morning.

After leaving our trial of powder sugar behind us and watching everyone else who left Cafe Du Monde brush the remnants of their beignet from their clothing somewhat unsuccessfully, we headed out for a day of driving. We went across three states, Mississippi, Alabama, and Tennessee.

We only had two stops along our way to Nashville. The first was lunch at the original Whistle Stop Cafe or the Irondale Cafe where the book by Fannie Flag, Fried Green Tomatoes, was based out of. I love that book and the movie and knew once I was in the area that we had to stop for some fried green tomatoes. So we went on the outskirts of Birmingham, Alabama and found the little trainside cafe with red checkered tableclothes and movie posters all over the walls with a cafeteria style food line up of good old southern soul food. I learned a little something about southern food today called the meat and three; this is a way of describing the amount of food you get (gigantic amounts) being one meat entree along with three sides of choice from a long selection of food options.  So I got their famous fried chicken, the fried green tomatoes of course and mashed potatoes.. and it came with a bun, and sweet tea. It was so much food it seemed really ridiculous, but what was more is that anyone can order as many as they want and it really piles up quickly. The fried chicken was very good, moist, and crispy. The bun and sweet tea were also phenomenal, both where unbelievably good and I wish I could have had more if I wasn’t already so stuffed from the other plates. However, I was pretty disappointed by the fried green tomatatoes. They were greasy, cold, and too acidic even for green tomatoes. It was saddening but for me definitly an atmosphere thing and being able to say I had been to the Whistle Stop Cafe. I definitly don’t regret going because everything else was very good and if not for fear of becoming obese in a matter of days would surely go back for more.

The second stop we made was to the Ave Maria Grotto which is a benedictine monks old pass time making minatures of major monuments world wide. This odd stop in Cullman, Alabama was a large garden where the hills where covered in this sculptures.

Little Jerusalem including Bethlehem

Hanging gardens of Babylon

Even the Campanile.

It was all very interesting but by the time we reached Nashville neither of us really wanted to do anything and just did a brief tour of the city known for its music.

Uneventful day but it is getting us there slowly. Tomorrow is another sort of off day, we are taking another family day and meeting some of my lovely relatives from North Carolina in Gatlinberg for a day. More than halfway there.


Day Six: New Orleans

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

We stayed the night in New Orleans and spent the entire day walking all over New Orleans to take in the sights of this complex city. There are really so many facets and corners to this city, I don’t feel anyone could ever fully explore. Because of this we decided to take a little tour of the city to help us gather some semblance of what we were doing. But we first decided to go to the famous and wonderful Cafe Du Monde.

Ask anyone who knows me, they will tell you I do not like coffee, I don’t drink it but I heard two things about Cafe Du Monde; they have amazing Beignets and great cafe au lait. So naturally I had to get both, liking coffee or not, I knew I should try it so I got the frozen cafe au lait and on a hot day made twice as hot by the sticky humid air, it was like heaven. I can’t even explain how great it was, all I can say is I am going back tomorrow and if I ever come back again this will be my first stop. This was also my first ever Beignet and it was awesome. This little french pillow of dough, deep fried and coated in a sea of powder sugar, was delicatable. This french doughnut was definitly a good choice, but also a messy one. It was impossible to eat them without leaving a  trail of powder sugar in your wake.

After that we went on the city and cemetery tour of New Orleans which drove us around talking about the things outside. I am not going to lie, I didn’t really like the tour or our guide but it did give a nice break from driving around, desperately trying to find our way and figure out what to do. So in some ways it was good and we got to see a lot of the city by bus but otherwise, I was not a fan. The guide didn’t really seem to know a lot of anything and kept repeating himself in a bothersome manner. We went to the Garden District and looked at all the old mansions and houses and then went through the french quarter. The only thing we did that we otherwise probably wouldn’t have gotten to do was the St. Louis Cemetery.

We learned all sorts of interesting facts about the burial process in New Orleans for this cemetery which includes the body being exhumed after a year and a day and the bones being crushed and then put in a bag to be placed back in the tomb so it take up less space. Also one tomb can hold up to 150 bodies… or I guess baggies but that doesn’t sound right at all to put it that way.

After that stop we made a depressing stop at the sight of one of the most damaged areas by Katrina. The water here reached up to 25 high at one point and took out almost every single house in the area, only three brick founded buildings remained, all the others floated away or were destroyed. Pictured below is the wall for the levy that overflowed leading to this catastrophe. We also learned that Brad Pitt, ever the hero that he is, decided that someone needed to help, so he did. He is building 150 houses for those who lost there homes here and making them large enough to very comfortably house the displaced families and also powered by solar power to help pay for electric bills.

However, the most depressing part about this stop was not Katrina itself but the fact that this tour group took us here to gawk at the despair of the people who lived and lost their lives here. It felt disgusting to be there in a huge air conditioned bus sight seeing where so man people lost so much, even their lives. It was hard for me to stomach that, the only thing that made it bearable was that thanks to the Brad Pitt Foundation homes many of them seemed to be doing much better. But even then I only saw a glimpse from a tour bus, so what could I possibly know.

On a happier note in this neighborhood is a man who apparently makes the best pralines in New Orleans and he came on our bus from his home and sold us some. It was my first praline and it was very good and had quite the sugar kick to it.

After the tour we returned to the French Quarter and decided to tour the city on our own. We walked all over the place visiting many of the places we had glimpsed in a drive by moment on the tour.

The first stop was to the French Market, this market which is part flea market and part food market was really fun and expansive. Spanning several blocks we wound up and down the isles looking at all that was to offer.

We even found a stand that sold all things alligator including alligator jerky, gator on a stick, and fresh grilled gator.

We looked through all the jewelry, hats, bags, and most important antiques.

Around the corner from the french market we went and shopped for blocks in antique and recycled things stores that were just too much fun. We found all sorts of odd things in this quirky little stores.

The furniture had to have been my favorites, they had tons of old antique furniture that I would have bought in a heart beat if I didn’t have to lug it around the country with me. It was really funny weaving in and out of these shops for what seemed like hours.

Next food stop: muffalata and more pralines- also known as the best pralines. First time eating muffalata which is a meat sandwhich with an olive tapenade like spread which was awesome. Even though I was still full I ate the whole thing. New Orleans is about food after all isn’t it? Oh and personally I liked these pralines better…

We wandered around the back streets of the city going into cool shops and looking at intriguing building and architecture.

One of the types of shops I forced my mom to stop at where Voodoo shops. I have always found voodoo intriguing and have always wanted to learn more about it. Having done a bit of research I had heard the place to go was Reverend Zombies House of Voodoo. This crowded and stuff filled little house was full of little heads, voodoo dolls and all sorts of creepy things. It was very fun to explore in and after some prompting from my mom I decided to have my palms read and future told to me by an odd little woman. It was a strange experience but I think a good one to have. Still nothing out of this world though 🙂

We also stumbled upon the Faulkner house, where William Faulkner lived and wrote several of his books. This cute little place is now a book store and was fun to poke around in for a short minute.


Oh, and we met this guy, and yes that is a washboard he has on and is playing. We found him in the street, no literally, in the street in front of traffic, playing his washboard.

Our last real stop of the day besides dinner was Preservation Hall. I was really surprised about this because I had imagined it very differently. I didn’t imagine this beat up washed out place that didn’t really even have a noticable sign that was right across from the voodoo shop. I don’t know what I was expecting but this sue wasn’t it. And it was closed to boot.

We had dinner at Mother’s Restraunt a local famous place that we heard a lot of hype about, especially for their Po’ boys. Po’ boys are sandwhiches that got their name because originally they were the poor man’s sandwich and cooks would hand out this sandwichs to the poor boys. I got a fried shrimp po’ boy and my mom got some nice gumbo. The food was good but I don’t think it stood up to the hype at all. Good but not anyhting to really rave about in the end. It was still nice to end the day and our time in New Orleans with a New Orleans’ classic like the Po’ boy .

I really enjoyed my time here in New Orleans and hope to be able to come back because I think there is so much left to do here. It also seems as if we are bing chased out of New Orleans by a possible hurricane, so maybe it is time to head out of town.  I am sad to go but the trip must go on, tomorrow we are going to Nashville. This is the big change in the trip, no longer are we going eastward, we are in the final leg heading north now. Half way done.


New Orleans Balconies

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

Here is a small assortment of the glorious balconies in New Orleans we saw. Some looked like jungles, some were sophisticated with furniture and ceiling fans, and others where filled with flowers and a random collection of items backed by the colorful walls of the homes. Southern homes in New Orleans are very impressive indeed.


Day Five: New Orleans

Sunday, June 24th, 2012

I can’t believe I am writing this from New Orleans. Ever since about third grade, when I started reading Anne Rice, I have wanted to come here and go to the french quarter. I have always wanted to be here but could never think of a reason to be here, and now, I am here.

This morning we started our day doing the Riverwalk in the morning in San Antonio before anyone else in the city was awake. It was a nice reprieve from the chaos of mid afternoon tourism when the crowds are in full affect. I have defintiely begun to appreciate early morning wake ups to avoid the crowds and actually enjoy what I am there to see.

After the Riverwalk we headed down to San Antonio Missions National Historical Park, which is a system of four extremely old missions, most being moved to their present day location in 1731. So yes, they are very old. They were pretty fantastic, old crumbling adobe and high reaching bell towers was better than any cup of coffee in the morning.


The oldest and most amazing mission in this system of missions is Mission San Jose, also known as the Queen. It was massive and spectacular, overall quite a wonder to see especially because it is over 200yrs old.

Its system of archways and brick lines doors where amazing as well a being accompanied by extremely ornate decorations on windows and doors.

Covered in centuries old frescos these crumbling facades where incredible to experience in person.

After we left San Antonio we started heading east again towards Louisiana for our next night. However, finding ourselves starving in the middle of nowhere we tried to find a place to eat and discovered a little family owned Cajun cooking restaurant called Vautrots. This little place was excellent! It was a first for me in many ways; it was my first taste of creole Cajun food, I got the E’touffee which is a dish somewhat similar to gumbo. It was also my very first time eating crawfish which was excellent. It made me even more excite for when I actually get to New Orleans and I can eat Cajun food in Louisiana.

And of course we had to make some extra stops like at the world’s largest fire hydrant right outside of the Texas fire museum.


Before we even crossed over into Louisiana we entered into bayou country. This was kind of an amazing switch in environment, we went from dry  shrubland to swampy marshlands. We saw all sorts of odd things including wild flamingos and spent a majority of our driving time looking for gators as we drove by the lakes, rivers, and bayous.

There was one scenic stretch of highway nearing Baton Rouge which I must say was probably the coolest stretch of highway I have ever been on in my life. The highway was divided onto separate sides of a river and suspended like a dock or bridge over the water and swamps. It was amazing and it was a bit hard to concentrate on driving when you just want to stare at the amazingly new scenery all around you. This swamp area was the most intriguing, with odd like trees and jagged stumps sticking from the huge bayou it looked a bit like an alien planet.

After the swamps came the city. New Orleans, finally here. We got in pretty late so we decided to do what anyone does at night in New Orleans, go to Bourbon street.

The streets where loud, bustling, and dirty but had the charm of a tourist spot. But not always, I must say I saw my full share of things I definitely would have gone with out. Especially being boob flashed right in the face by some random older woman. Also the woman dancing in front of a brothel door with basically no clothes on… yeah could have done without it but it is definelty part of the experience. You don’t go down Bourbon if you can’t stomache the smell of smoke, the profanity, the drunken people, the smell of vomit, and the faint smell of urine everywhere you go. But it does have its charm as well. The glowing street signs casting the street in bright colors add a mystique to the street that is the haunt of New Orleans. We even found our way to the Musical Legends Park and got to listen to some great music, blues, rock, and cajun alike.

I got tossed a few beads and even got to dance with an alligator. A pretty successful night but tomorrow we get to venture New Orleans in the daylight glow. We are staying a full day here just to explore.