It was proper going-outdoors weather this weekend and it’s supposed to be 80 tomorrow (80!!!), so I think it’ll be spring for a week or so until summer happens. Right now it’s pouring, which is fine because it makes our yard happy.
So we went to New Orleans for six days, and it was fantastic. I’ve always liked that city a lot, and it’s gotten better every time I’ve been there. This time we rented a really adorable shotgun shack (it wasn’t really a shack at all, since it was featured on a remodeling show a while back) from VRBO, and it had a great little patio with a hot tub that featured prominently in our daily plans. Also, while on previous trips I’d struggled to find any proper vegetarian food, this time there were almost too many excellent options. I had not one but three vegetarian po-boys (my favorite was roasted sweet potato, greens, and black eyed pea/pecan puree) from Killer Po-Boys, which is conveniently located in the back of a bar just off Bourbon Street.
We stayed in Marigny, a few blocks from Bywater, which by some accounts is an iffy neighborhood, though we saw zero evidence to support that even while wandering around late at night. There are fantastic restaurants in the neighborhood, and you can walk just about anywhere. It’s about a mile away from the French Quarter, so we managed to walk 25+ miles while we were there. We also got a 3-day transit pass for $9.00, so we did some trolley and bus-riding to the Garden District as well. (Dear every other city in America: NINE DOLLARS. Lookin’ at you in particular, Chicago.)
Matt and I did the obligatory touristy stuff, such as Lafayette Cemetery #1, the French Market, Bourbon Street, and the World War II Museum, which is only half-done and still really great. (It’s made for people with internet-era attention spans like me. Plus Bally got to go in a tank.)
We also went to a couple of jazz shows, one at Snug Harbor on Frenchmen Street, and on at Vaughan’s on the very far end of Bywater. We probably would’ve attended a third on Friday night, but the largest rainstorm of all time happened while we were walking to dinner, so we ended up ordering in (banh mi, obviously) and watching the Wild game on our phones, since New Orleans hasn’t heard of hockey yet.
Steve, Colleen, and their incredibly cute daughter arrived on Saturday afternoon, and we did some of the more car-accessible spots, like City Park and Lake Pontchartrain. We also somehow managed to eat about a week’s worth of meals in one day, plus all of the NOLA snacks we could find. Thankfully, there was lots of walking too.
(I’ll be travel-journaling more about this trip as usual, and in the meantime, here are my photos.)
In the past week, we went to see Under the Skin (which was trippy and haunting, and I keep hearing snippets of the music every time something strange happens), had birthday brunch with my dad and the rest of the family at Mystic Lake (it’s a tradition now, I think), and Matt and I went to Canterbury for opening weekend and to watch the Preakness Stakes. I only won once all day on my $20-ish total in bets, but I made it count: I took the .50 Pick-3 at Pimlico with the Preakness as the middle race, and won $100.90 on it. That was a pretty solid way to end our visit to the racetrack.
We went to Kris and Orsi’s to around the campfire Saturday night, and Sunday we put the racks on my car and took our kayaks to Lake Phalen north of St Paul, to make sure we remembered how to kayak. (Doing so in Vieques definitely helped.)
Lake Phalen was excellent, too… there’s a whole chain of lakes connected by canals and streams. We saw a ton of turtles sunning themselves on branches in the water, and a giant blue heron. When we got back out into the middle of Lake Phalen, the wind and waves picked up like crazy, so we got some hardcore paddling practice in, too. We’ll definitely be going back there again.
After the lake, we drove our boats directly to Bachmans to get plants for the vegetable garden. I’d been working on getting the yard ready all weekend, and that was the last step. My Canterbury winnings bought everything we needed. This year we have 2 bins of potatoes, 6 tomatoes, 5 peppers, collards, lettuce and spinach, summer squash, carrots, beets, leeks, onions, and cilantro. Between that and the CSA, we’re going to have to work to use all of it, but that’s a pretty good problem to have.
Next weekend is our traditional Memorial Day camping trip, and that’s all I’ve been thinking about lately. We’re going with Wendy and Amelia to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park, which has a couple lakes and a river to kayak, in addition to good hiking trails. I even looked into renting a pontoon boat on Mille Lacs, but apparently only resorts rent them and like to charge resort prices. So I think the obvious solution here is to steal one.
Wendy and I looked at the Yelp reviews for the state park, and one lady was complaining about how there were mosquitoes and daddy long-legs. God, nature is so inconvenient sometimes.