Feb/March 2015

Our first trip to the South of the USA.
We spent some time in New Orleans, before heading North West for a couple of hours drive, where we stayed in Abbeville (just South of Lafayette) Louisiana

Whilst in NOLA we met up with our chums, and fellow Rubies John & Laurie Bylok. Great to see them again, and great of them to trek all the way down from Toronto, we first met on the European river cruise, which seems so-o-o-o-o long ago now.

French Quarter

There is so much of this lovely architecture, it's impossible to know when you have enough pics, but...
There always seems to be horse drawn tour going on

The French Market, a mix of stalls and places to scoff. We stopped here for a muffeletta that's a quarter loaf filled with meats, cheese and pickles. Served warm, don't think we are too bothered about having another one.

Folks playing on the street:
here a duo
This group called St Tinder - most groups seem to have a dog. We heard it might be associated with the fact that it's harder to get arrested if you have a dog (or dawg as they are called in these parts), because the police have to send for another unit to take care of the canine
Another motley crew Yes Ma'am

One of the people I really wanted to see. I didn't know if she was still playing or not, but here is the one and only Doreen Ketchens
Doreen in full flow
Me and the clarinet Queen
And for those who haven't heard her, try this link to YouTube (Should open in a new tab or window depending on your browser preference)

The weather was very variable, one morning it was like this. Optimistically waiting at Jackson Square, who'd take a horse drawn tour on a morning like this?

We stayed at Royal St in the Fauberg Marigny district. We were about three or four blocks from Frenchmans
This is where we stayed we had the left hand first floor half of the balcony
Across the street view from the balcony OK, we've all seen better views
Just a couple of blocks away great mural
There were loads of cafes and bars around. The bar at the end of the street was called Mimi's, I rather went off the place after being refused entry because I didn't have any ID, wtf? I'd been in there earlier, no ID required then. Of all the places in NO, nowhere else did I get asked. Interestingly I asked one of the boys running the place where we stayed 'Do we need to carry passports or anything round here?' 'oh no' he replied, maybe it's me........

And finally, for Marigny, I noticed these wifi servers interesting eh?

Frenchman Street
This is THE street. In the space of a few blocks, there are about 10 music venues. Most of them have two or three turns a night
Bamboula's, not a very good pic, but this guy played Blues after an hour or so, it was all a bit samey
Didn't get their name but these guys playing at Negrils were pretty good Bass player,
I think my favourite venus was dba. It was a large space, two bars, with a great range of beers they also served Famous Grouse, what more could a boy want?
And easily my favourite band Tuba Skinny
They are just as good live as on CD same performance
And for those who haven't heard Tuba Skinny, try this recorded at the Spotted Cat (Should open in a new tab or window depending on your browser preference)
Threesome who go by the name Luke Winslow King
I loved this sign at the Spotted Cat
Washboard Chaz was a familiar on the circuit, but I wasn't too keen

There are a number of Cemeteries in and around NOLA
These things work like a slow cooker, behind the marble facade, there are bricks sealing the vault. When a bod gets put in, they seal it up, put the facade back, and leave it for a minimum of one year and a day before the space can be used again. When it is required to be used again, they sweep up whatever is left, place it in a bag, and put it at the bottom of the space before the next waiting bod takes the top spot.
Here John, Laurie, Sue and guide at Lafayette cemetery
At the Number1 St Louis cemetery Laurie & Sue
There is a custom whereby if you leave an offering to the spirits, your request may be granted.
After leaving the offering folks mark the vault in question with X's like this
Interestingly, this tomb is in a bit of a state, but folks think it must contain someone significant in the voodoo biz.

This is our tour guide. He was a strange combination, not sure if he cultivated the tramp-chic look, but his clothes wouldn't have been accepted if he wanted to give them to a thrift shop. How come someone so totally unkempt, had traces of nail varnish still visible on his hands? Having said that he was pretty knowledgable about most stuff. He is standing in front of a society tomb this for one of the old fire departments. If you couldn't afford your own tomb, and this applied to all but the wealthiest, you could still spend the afterlife here if you were a member of a society who operated a sort of co-operative for the dead. Here is another society example

All sorts of odd items adorn the tombs here shoes don't ask me

Over the Mississippi to Algiers
From the end of Canal Street, you can catch a ferry South across the river to Algiers point. It looks pretty similar to the other side. A bit blowy on the crossing but at least dry!
Nice buildings
There are still a number of paddleboats on the Mississippi, although these days they seem to be purely used as tourist magnets, here is the Creole Queen
Looking back across the mighty Mississippi

Garden District
The Garden District is the upmarket part of town. You can reach it on the St Charles St streetcar, which also takes you to City Park.
The streets are just full of grand houses, not all of them can be seen from the road of course, but here are some that can be:
Nice windows
John Goodman's house
In addition to the amazing residences, this part of town also contains the University, and there are some pretty nifty buildings there as well. This is part of Loyola

City Park
This holds the Museum, Sculpture Park, and Horticultural Gardens, although these were much smaller than I'd expected. We went there a couple of times, here Sue checks her camera

Sculpture Park is well worth a visit, I'd go just to see this amazing piece
To give you an idea of the scale of the piece here is Sue & sculpture
Wot no willie?
Maybe that's why they are not looking
This is the view of the bum
The sculpture in question Karma

Not too much in the way of pics at the Horticultural Gardens, but here is Mrs H

And finally, a failure. I had promised Mary that I would go to Basin Street and have a whisky there to toast her, George and her boat. Would you believe it? There are no bars left on Basin Street, it's just been demolished and is souless. However I don't want her thinking we didn't go, here is the sign

We stayed in Abbeville
Here is the place we stayed the Bayou Rose
It's here
Sue looking chilly
Here is Sue walking to the river at the bottom of the garden
Also in the garden some ol' fool

On the way back from one trip we stopped at Vermillion Village. This was a sort of replica Creole village. With our usual immaculate timing, we got there just as it was closing. This was about the last number played by the Cajun band loads of folks were up dancing
Here somewhere in the village Sue looking smug having just escaped from a potentially lengthy one sided conversation with one of the locals dressed in Creole costume, with a whole wealth of anecdotes and stories to share with visitors. If only we had the time to hear them!
We nearly brought a house once which had a double one of these in the grounds, but three? Them ol' creoles must have been right cosy
Sue rather liked this water tower

Palmetto Island State Park
Pretty quiet when we were there, its a nice mix of wild with the odd road or path running through it. Here G on a walkway and same place it's Sue
Sue again
There are a few lakes in the park. This looked pretty and innocuous
But Sue wants to investigate.....
And guess what? maybe 40 yards away
But we didn't see anything lurking in this so we will call it Lake Placid
Maybe keeping an eye out for dangerous critturs

Lake Martin Bayou/Swamp
Only about half an hour or so from where we were staying. Interesting, we took one of the boat tours.
Sue before the tour and again it's turning into a photoshoot
G before the tour
So now we all know, swamp is Creole for flooded forest and bayou is Creole for slow moving water. It was very tranquil, and a completely new environment. Even out here on the bayou Spanish Moss is abundant
Another bit of bayou
Whereas, this is swamp
Even though it was early in the year, the alligators were in evidence they didn't move too much
And here is another or maybe it's the same one, they all look abit alike after a while.
Near the end of our tour, what a bonus it's a Bald Eagle although it is a shame we didn't see it in the air

And here is an example of a customised swamp version of a hog look at the stand yep, its a 'gator

So ya, the doc told me to get more exercise and spend more time outside, so I thought I'd take up fishin'
Incidentally, I was most disappointed not to get any Champagne on the tour, turns out it's just the man's name.

Jefferson Island
This is not actually an Island. It is a raised area created by being atop a salt mountain. The pile was originally bought and developed by an actor in the 1870's. The actor in question was named Joseph Jefferson, and he made a fortune by touring and playing Rip Van Winkel. In fact the gardens are now known by that name. Here is Jefferson House, wouldn't it just make a wonderful cricket pavilion?
Here in front of the pavilion it's Sue

An amazing thing happened here. The grounds surrounding the house were above salt mines. An oil drilling outfit miscalculated one day, and their drilling rig penetrated the roof of the salt mine. What happened then was that the water drained into the mine, and created an enormous lake here, known as Lake Peigneur. The owner of Jefferson House had built another residence in the grounds, he was gettin on in years and probably wanted to live in somewhere smaller. Unfortunately, his new house got swamped by the disaster and all that remains to be seen off his place is the chimney sticking out of the lake. More details of the disaster on YouTube for anyone who wants to continue the history lesson

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