Thursday, April 12, 2018

Hopping Good Time in New Orleans - Part I

Let's turn back the clock to the last week of March. Since we suspect y'all probably don't need to see any more pictures of the French Quarter (or the gazillion vacation photos we took), we're just going to do a quick two-part post on our New Orleans trip. But first, what is a HOP? It's a cruise-style vacation for RVs. Escapees arranges an RV park, a meal and social event each day, as well as all the touristy stuff. 

We rolled into New Orleans on a Sunday afternoon for an Escapees HOP (and an early 21st wedding gift to ourselves).  Despite living in Austin for over 25 years, we'd never been to New Orleans so we were also looking forward to food and fun in the Big Easy and a real vacation - our third vacation in 21 years! We were renovating a house when we got married, so um, we never took a honeymoon either. We're definitely making up for lost time now!
 We stopped at Pet Paradise to drop Crockett off, and then continued down I-10.

Quick digression. Pet Paradise was wonderful! Even though we told them Crockett was a picky eater, they called several times to make sure we were OK with his lack of eating. Crockett clearly had a blast playing with other dogs and we picked up a very tired, but happy puppy at the end of our trip.

 We turned on to France Road and began to wonder what we'd gotten ourselves into! The area wasn't just industrial, it was very rundown, with derelict-looking buildings - and the road wasn't in much better shape.  Finally, we pulled into Pontchartrain Landing.
We'll post a review of Pontchartrain Landing later, but let's just say the park is... interesting. At one time, the owners were clearly trying to create a resort-style RV park, but the clientele has clearly drifted into mostly long-term residents, and the park has become very lax on both landscape and maintenance. It was right on the water though - which meant we got to enjoy some beautiful sunrises!
Another beautiful Louisiana sunrise.
This steamship is the Creole Queen, undergoing repairs - again. We were told the Creole Queen= is notorious for mechanical problems. A few years ago, she even threw a piston. If you buy a ticket for a boat ride, you might want to make sure you are on the Natchez instead!
Monday morning found us on the bus early for a tour of New Orleans.
Our tour guide referred to the Joan of Arc statue as "Joanie on her pony."
We got to see a bit of the Garden district.
If you look closely, you can see a man doing the endless maintenance these houses require.
The super dome was built on an old cemetery. There were so many rumors about ghosts that the Saints finally had a Voodoo priestess cleans the stadium. At least, that's the story our tour guide gave us!
Jazz was born in New Orleans, at the Congo Square. Blacks were allowed to gather at the square on Sundays, because New Orleans was Catholic and everyone had to observe the Sabbath day.
New Orleans has recently taken down its Confederate statues. This is one of the empty pedestals.
We were also taken to St. Louis III, one of the city's many cemeteries.
In New Orleans, mausoleums are re-used, but a family has to wait a year and a day before interring another person in the same spot. This is possible because of New Orleans' hot, wet climate.
If a family needs to inter a second family member before the year and day is up, there are mausoleums that can be rented to hold the body for a few months.
The second day was devoted to a tour of  Oak Alley Plantation.
They have recently recreated some of the old slave quarters and also have a separate, shorter tour about the 220 known slaves that lived on the property.
After the two tours, there was a buffet with Cajun and Creole food. It was very good and we would definitely recommend both the tours and eating at the plantation's restaurant.
Day three was a swamp tour!
The company who runs the tours owns it's own private swamp,
creating a mini-wildlife preserve.
We saw a few turtles sunning themselves,
and quite a few 'gators! We even got to meet Allie, a 1 year old alligator who will be released at 3 years, to ensure the continued health of the 'gator population in this swamp.


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