A Week in New Orleans

We joined 5 other couples in New Orleans for a fun-filled week.   Ted and I drove to Los Angeles on February 11, after dropping Abbey off at the Canine Spa and dropping the fiver off for repairs while we were gone.  We had a great weekend with Toby, Elaine, and Ben.  We ate well, played games, and toured around LA.

Ted and I arrived in New Orleans first and went to the Royal House for dinner.  We sat on the balcony (an oh-so-New Orleans experience that had so far eluded us) and Ted had oysters, which made him very happy.  We stopped in to see Lil Red and Big Bad at the BMC, then walked down Frenchmen Street, where we enjoyed the brass band that often plays on the corner of Chartres and Frenchmen, and we caught Dominick Grillo & The Frenchmen St. All Stars at the Spotted Cat.  When we heard Toby and Elaine had arrived and were hungry, we walked back through the French Quarter and met them at the hotel and then went to the Chartres House for dinner and drinks.

The next morning began with beignets at Cafe du Monde with Toby and Elaine, followed by a walk along the river, a street car ride to the Garden District, and lunch at Joey K’s on Magazine Street.

As the others began to arrive, we started convening at the Bombay Club (the Bar at our hotel, the Prince Conti).  Then Larry and Mary arrived at their suite and summoned us all to “the boardroom” — a bizarre feature to their suite, which quickly became the convening place.  Lots of seating, a library, a kitchen, and a tiny courtyard.  We all got on the street car to go to Chickie Wah Wah to see Jon Cleary, but alas he canceled due to back problems.  We licked our wounds over southern comfort food at Mandina’s on Canal Street.  The travel-weary headed back to the hotel and a few of us continued on to the Maple Leaf bar to see the Rebirth Brass Band.

On day 3, Elaine, Larry, and I made a huge grocery (aka beverage) run, returning on a bicycle taxi.  Gary and Steph arrived and a group of us went on a walking tour of the French Quarter.

That night we went to dinner at Brennan’s, complete with bananas foster flambe.  We walked through the Quarter to Frenchmen St. and saw Another Day in Paradise play at Cafe Negril, then saw Mem Shannon Trio at Bamboula’s, and a band we don’t know the name of at BMC.

The next afternoon we rode along the Mississippi and through the wetlands to get to Laura, a Creole Plantation.  Stories of the families that occupied the house paled alongside the stories of the slave families that worked on the plantation.

From there we went to Alley Oak Plantation, a much grander home with a similar back story.  It was fascinating to learn about Creole history and how they got and lost the plantations.

That night dinner was at Bayona, chef Susan Spicer’s restaurant.  We pretty much had the upstairs to ourselves.  We walked through the quarter, past poets for hire, up and down Frenchmen St., and to see Claude Bryant All Stars, a funky reggae band, at BMC.

Our final excursion was a swamp tour at the Honey Island Swamp by the Pearl River near the Mississippi state border.  Because of the cool rainy day, we didn’t see gators and saw very few birds (blue heron, red-shouldered hawk, osprey, egret).  But we saw a number of boars and a racoon.  We got to hear about the people who live off hunting and fishing in the swamp and a lot about the vegetation and ecology of the bayou.  That evening we had dinner at Herbsaint, chef Daniel Link’s restaurant, and then went to the Blue Nile to see that same band we don’t know the name of and Kermit Ruffins.

On Saturday, we wandered around Jackson Square and the St. Louis Cathedral, taking in some street bands (one of them featured the trombone player from the band that we don’t know the name of!).  Then we headed to Canal Street for the Choctaw parade.  We collected our beads and felt complete.

Returning to the boardroom, Mike and Gary serenaded us in preparation for our last supper at Tableau, where we were also serenaded by Jay-Ray & Gee, an a cappella doo-wop group.  Another fabulous meal!  Then we were off to the Rockin’ Bowl to see Tab Benoit.

On our last day, a few of us had enough time to wander around a bit, soak in some street scenes, see a zydeco band on Bourbon Street, and have our last po-boy.

And then we all went our various ways.  Ted and I are now back in Palm Springs, but we’ve moved to Palm Springs Oasis RV Resort.  We’re here for another two weeks and there’s still a lot to do!

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