October 16, 2002
Hello N.O.

We weren't planning on staying over in New Orleans, but after making great time to Dallas, we had more confidence in our ability to drive long distances. Instead of stopping in Shreveport or Lafayette, we decided to make a hotel reservation and drive straight to the Crescent City.

Our first requirement for a hotel was that it offer high-speed internet access; we knew that Texas would be the only state on our itinerary where Starbucks offered T-Mobile Hotspots, and being without access in NM was irritating. (It's amazing how used to looking stuff up on the web we are.) Anyway, our second criteria was a reasonable price (this is a long trip, and we're on a budget), and our third was proximity to the French Quarter. The Radisson New Orleans met all our requirements, so here we are! We've even made arrangements to stay for an extra night so we'll have a full day to explore the city. (I've been here a couple times before, but Al's never been, and I want to show him some of the things that made an impression on me as well as explore new places with him.) We're making good time, and we'll still be in the Lakeland/Orlando area by Saturday evening (leaving us two and a half days to hang out there), so we can afford the extra day here.

Having decided that we'd stay an extra night, we gave ourselves permission to stay in, watch the West Wing and Law & Order, and order room service (which was delicious). I can't wait to eat Fried Oyster Po' Boys (thanks to Terence and Kathleen for buying them for us off the registry!) and bread pudding at the Acme Oyster House tomorrow, walk it all off, and then have a beignet at the Cafe Du Monde. Or the reverse... doesn't matter, as long as I get to try one of everything! Since we also happened to stop at the Russell Stover Factory Outlet Store somewhere in Texas today, I'm starting to worry that I won't be able to fit into my pants by the end of the trip. Oh well, I can always return to Smart Ones and low-fat cooking when I get back to California. ;)

Photos from Day 9

Posted by Lori at 08:43 PM | Permalink
October 17, 2002
Oysters and Beignets

This morning Al and I went out to explore the French Quarter a bit. First stop: Cafe Du Monde for beignets. I've been to the Cafe twice as part of two separate scavenger hunts, but I've never sat down to eat before. It was really pleasant sitting in the open-air cafe, taking photos and waiting for our order to arrive. It's difficult to describe how truly amazing the weather is here right now, with temperatures in the 70s, very low humidity, and a nice breeze. It would be de riguer for Northern California, but for here it's extremely unusual.

After we'd licked the powdered sugar off our fingers, we walked past Jackson Square to Bourbon Street. I showed Al the sign for Gumbo Heads, which always makes me laugh. I bought a cap there, and then we dodged the hucksters trying to get us to come into their bars for 3-for-1 drinks and headed for the Acme Oyster House.

The wait outside was very short because we opted for two stools at the bar (something I wouldn't do again because my thigh bones are rather long´┐Żnot good for stools´┐Żand my knees still sore from the fall on the ice the day before the wedding). I tried to keep my knees from brushing the ceramic tiles facing the bar and ordered a fried oyster po' boy and a root beer. Al got a half-dozen raw oysters, a red beans and rice platter with sausage, and a root beer.

I was struck by how muddy the oysters were; I'm not a raw oyster eater anyway, but after watching them being shucked before me, I'm not likely to become one in the future. Al said they were good, though, so he was happy. The meal was delicious, and we enjoyed talking with the oyster shuckers while they worked. I'm so glad I got my po' boy, and that I got to share Acme with Al.

After Acme we poked around a bit more and then came back to the hotel room for a little rest. We'll go out again in a couple hours, I'm sure. Mostly we're trying to enjoy the places we visit *and* get some sleep and quiet time. We need it after all the craziness that preceeded the wedding.

Photos from Day 10

Posted by Lori at 02:56 PM | Permalink
October 18, 2002
Leaving New Orleans

We're about to say goodbye to high-speed access again for a day or two at least. Al is down getting some chicory coffee and postcards in the lobby, and I'm packing up.

Al *loved* New Orleans; after three trips here, I can say that this one was definitely the most comfortable weatherwise, and the food in New Orleans really is extraordinary. I don't get into the Mardi Gras, 3-for-1 drinks, show us your tits atmosphere, though, so I'd prefer to come again when it's quiet, eat a couple good meals, and be gone. That's basically what we've done on this trip; coming mid-week definitely helped us bypass the street party scene.

Al pointed out that though this was the best eating he's done the whole trip, we didn't once have a fancy meal. In fact, we only had one eating experience that you could call a meal at all—late lunch at the Acme Oyster House. Our other culinary adventures involved random bowls of ettouffe, room service, beignets, and take-out bread pudding. All of it was great, but we've left room for improvement: another meal at Acme; fried oysters and shrimp ettouffe at K-Paul's; savory, filo-wrapped boursin cheese appetizers at Nola's, and more. We'll be back.

Posted by Lori at 08:02 AM | Permalink