New Orleans- Gulf Coast Trip- March 10-16, 2012
March 11- Atlanta to New Orleans
After driving from around 8-4 yesterday, we found a motel in Atlanta not too far from the center of town. This morning we drove to the Olympic Park and were there around 8. We spent an hour walking around the park, seeing the fountains and statues. The Aquarium and World of Coca Cola weren’t scheduled to open until 10 and we weren’t too interested in seeing them, so we set the GPS and headed for the Super 8 motel we had booked for our three days in New Orleans.
We traveled through Alabama and Mississippi on our way to Louisiana, stopping at each Welcome Center to get maps and tourist information. The Mississippi Center was particularly nice with displays showing birds, rocks, fossils and art from the state. The wood carvings of a local artist were very nice- trees with animals carved into them. The center was well decorated for Easter as well with human sized bunnies on display.
We arrived in New Orleans just before 4 and checked into the motel- which was very nice but not as close to the center of the city as we had thought. After a bit of a rest, we headed for the French Quarter and parked along Rampart Street. We walked down to Bourbon Street where all the action was.
People strolled along, drinks in hand, wearing multiple strands of colorful beads. The establishments offered lots of kinds of drinks and jazz poured out onto the street from many restaurants and bars. We had dinner at the Pier 424 Restaurant. Dick had a New Orleans sampler with Ettoufee, Red Beans and Rice, Gumbo and Jambalaya with sausage that was out of his diet. I had a salad with spicy roasted chicken. We walked along Bourbon Street for a while after, seeing X rated establishments, and street performers dressed as devils, skeletons and statues and musicians playing plastic pail drums and other instruments. People threw beaded necklaces from balconies to the waiting arms of tourists below. It lived up to all our expectations for New Orleans!
Monday, March 12, 2012- New Orleans
We got up and had waffles for breakfast at the hotel breakfast room. After nine we left for the French Quarter again. We bought tickets for the lunch cruise on the paddlewheel steamer Natchez, then walked through the French Market on the waterfront. The cruise featured an ongoing description of the sights we saw as we went up the Mississippi River, with music by a jazz band as we cruised back to the dock. Lunch was fried chicken, red beans and rice, and jambalaya with bread pudding for dessert. The day was cloudy and threatened rain on and off, but never got too rainy until we were walking back to the car at the end of the afternoon.
When we docked, we headed across the French Quarter to the Louis Armstrong Park which had statues of many jazz greats from New Orleans. Then we went to New Orleans Cemetery Number One. Several Ghost Tours were there and we wandered among the above-ground tombs-some old with crumbling bricks covered with stucco and others in lovely white marble. Many of the larger tombs had multiple emtombments. It was a very interesting place and certainly was in keeping with the zombie/voodoo feelings the city engenders in places.
We walked back down Bourbon Street and stopped in the Beignet Café and had three powdered sugar beignets made for us. I talked Dick into having a local beer and I got a strawberry dacquiri. We sat in the courtyard for a little while but left before the assembling band began playing. I bought some masks and beads at a tourist store. We saw a washtub band setting up and stopped to listen to them. Bob Thomson called to say Happy Birthday and we talked as the rain began to get harder.
To the tune of thunder booms, we made our way back to the car and drove back to the motel. After spending ten or so minutes in the exercise room we came back to our room to plan tomorrow’s travels and catch up on email and news. Christy skyped and Liam sang Happy Birthday and Gracie demonstrated her walking prowess.
March 13, 2012- New Orleans to Biloxi
We left around 8:30 AM after I had had a very bad night with acid reflux/food poisoning. The drive was very foggy at times, but Dick found places to pull off and shoot photos of birds. In the bayou areas the mosquitos were vicious, but along the coast it was fine. We stopped at a Super 8 on the coast in Biloxi around 12:30. I went to bed and Dick walked the beach. There were large numbers of birds in big clusters on the beaches. I got up and we both walked the beach in the fog for a half hour or so. Then Dick went to the SubWay next door and got me some milk to go with the vanilla yogurt we got earlier at Walmart. I checked the internet and played a couple of words with Rob on Words With Friends. We tried to watch a little TV to see the election results for Mississippi and Alabams, but otherwise the TV channels were out of synch with both the directory by the TV and the channel names on the top of each screen. My major goal was to stay up until nine and it was tough work. But I was doing better and hoped tomorrow would find me back to normal.
March 14, 2012- Biloxi to Destin, Florida
After a lesiurely morning waiting for the fog to burn off, we started down along the coast, stopping at beaches and various bird spotting areas. In Alabama we took a half hour ferry ride where the road stopped than continued on the next barrier island. We had intended to stop for the night in Alabama, but all the beach towns there were crowded with high rise hotels and it wasn’t the kind of environment we wanted, so we kept moving on past Pensacola and on down the coast, hugging the coastline.
When we got to Destin, we’d had enough driving for the day and liked the looks of the beaches heading into the town. We stopped at a Motel 6, unpacked the car and went back to a lovely uncrowded beach before the town. And still feeling minor repercussions of possible food poisoning, we just made cheese sandwiches and finished up the food in the cooler. Then we time shared between Idol and Survivor and hit the sack! Tomorrow we start the serious drive toward home.
March 15, 2012- Destin, Florida to Kingsland, Georgia
We got up and off by 8:15 and drove a good part of the day even eating lunch as we drove, having decided to go to the Jacksonville Zoo, . Heather called to say Happy Birthday which was very nice, although the phone connection left a lot to be desired.
We got to the Jacksonville Zoo around 2:45 with a little over two hours to ‘do the zoo’ before closing. Dick headed for the aviaries, which I also visited along with lots of animal displays, the carousel, Butterfly House, penguins, various monkeys, giraffes being fed by children, lots of snakes and toads, and a lovely setting with gardens on a river. We easily found plenty to do for the time we were there and left as the zoo closed for the evening.
We headed north and had dinner at a Cracker Barrel restaurant. I was ready to eat real food again and left very full. We drove into Georgia and stopped at the third exit to spend the night at the Days Inn. We downloaded the days photos and watched the Idol results show, and got ready for an early morning tomorrow, with a visit to Huntington Beach State Park to try to get some better shelling. The Gulf Beaches were gorgeous and the sand pure white and fine crystalled, but lacked interesting shells. Tomorrow’s beach will be rougher in many ways, but on good days sends great things in on the waves!
March 16, 2012- Kingsland, Georgia to Ash, North Carolina
We got up at 6:30. Dick had cereal and I got a couple of muffins in the lobby and we left around 7. We drove for several hours and I took over a couple of times to let Dick rest. Lunch was eaten in the car from our trip food. We arrived at Huntington Beach State Park around 12:15 and headed to the beach. Dick waded right in to get some bird photos and I walked down the beach. The shells weren’t spectacular but they do have more pen shells than I’ve seen anywhere else.
However, they did have a large area of strange beach creatures- blobs and sponges, sea stars and urchins that were mostly still alive, many colored algae and seaweeds, dead crabs and one huge lobster claw. It’s always a very interesting beach! We walked down to the breakwater, each at our individual pace. I took a lot of photos of beach oddities as well as doing a pretty good job of filling my ‘shell’ bag.
We left around three and drove to the Golden Corral in North Myrtle Beach. After enjoying the large variety there, we headed home, arriving while there were still a couple of hours of daylight. Unpacking the car and sorting dirty clothes came next, then a trip out to the veggie garden to find everything in good shape there. I was surprised to find that bulbs my niece Celeste gave me for Christmas had produced lovely red and yellow tulips. All’s well here and we had a lovely break with lots of nice memories as souvenirs.