Nowhere Like Nawlins

I have to admit that a part of me was dreading the visit to New Orleans because I know firsthand how miserably hot and humid it is this time of year. Then Tropical Storm Lee came into the picture and we weren’t sure if we’d be able to go. Ends up Lee moved on and left behind absolutely gorgeous weather in the bayou. There was no humidity, plentiful sunshine, breezes and high 70’s.It was glorious and perfect.

Our friends Malcolm and Gina were gracious enough to invite us to stay in the downstairs apartment in their home. So we canceled the hotel reservations and headed for Esplanade Drive. They live in such a great area and their home is decorated with special artwork. beads, trinkets and special mementos with a true New Orleans feel. It gave us a great dose of quality time with Gina, Sadie and Mac (we left Malcolm working out of town in San Antonio).

Our first night we headed out to a local restaurant by the lake to meet old friends. Griffin and Beck had their first experience with soft shell crab. We dined by the lake and appreciated being in a special city.

I went to college a few hours from New Orleans so I was blessed to experience the culture, food and spirit city many times. Scott and I returned several years after we began to date to meet friends at the Jazz and Heritage Festival. It was a new experience for both of us to have the kids with us and do more of a true “tourist” visit.

We spent the next day in the French Quarter. We had such a great time. The kids loved it. We ate traditional Cajun lunch followed by beignets at Cafe Du Monde. The musicians serenaded us on many street corners. Some playing solo-others in organized bands.

We went to the Presbytere Museum to view exhibits on Katrina and Mardi Gras. The Katrina exhibit was moving. The spirit and resilience of New Orleans is like no other place/people I know. Their experience through Katrina really embodied the Desmond Tutu quote that we love “Even at the end of our very worst day it’s in our DNA to take care of our brothers and sisters.” Their stories were inspiring,…..the struggles HUGE. It was a celebration to visit six years after Katrina and see the city in such great shape. It had the same vivid colors and vibrant energy that it did on our previous visit nine years ago. The Mardi Gras exhibit was fun and a nice contrast.

We bought a painting from an artist in Jackson Square. We have named her “Green Angel.” Once we return home come check her out. The artist, Renee Perez, was full of joy and truly honored by our purchase. She is lively and will help us keep our trip visually alive.

Malcolm and Gina live near City Park. We embraced the beautiful weather by spending some time in the park. There are the most incredible large wind chimes hanging in one of the old, beautiful trees. The sound was so beautiful and mesmerizing that I made a recording of them on my phone. I look forward to the peaceful, auditory escape they will bring my way once home. The boys had fun playing football and we all gave thanks for the day and its blessings.

On Thursday, I was lucky to spend a “girls’ day” with Gina. She took me on a tour of New Orleans consignment shops and we ate a scrumptious lunch at Cowbell. It was great to have hours of “girl talk” and bargain hunting. Scott and the boys rode a streetcar, bought collectible pins at Hard Rock New Orleans and tooled around the city. They ate at Stein Market and Deli, voted best deli in New Orleans three years running and they loved their sandwiches.

That night was the opening New Orleans Saints NFL game and the entire city seemd electrified and ready to cheer their team to victory! We gathered in Old Metarie with special friends from college. The time together was a treasure. It’s amazing to hug old friends and realize you’ve been a part of each others’ lives for decades. It is also great for old friends to get a chance to know your children. Griffin and Beck were a hit when they walked in the door carrying a king cake (thanks, Gina) and ready to “tune into” football. Although the Saints lost, the evening was an ABSOLUTE winner with all of us.

The next day we packed up and headed to Perdido Key, Florida. Both Griffin and Beck made comments about wishing they could stay in the bayou longer. When we asked them why they loved New Orleans they said, “We like everything. We guess it’s just the overall vibe.” Well said!