Sunday, March 30, 2008

Spring Break in New Orleans with Rene, Mar. 11-15, 2008

crepes for breakfast at Petunia's our last morning for this visit. YUM!
Rene at the Presbytere Mardi Gra museum
Jackson Square in bloom
with Oscar, a jewelery artisan at the French Market, recommended by my colleague and NOLA expert, Star
beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde - a tradition
Here I am with Bayona chef/owner Susan Spicer, whom we've been following for 20 years. Rene not only treated us to the best of dinners, but also bought me her new (first) cookbook for my birthday, and she graciously signed it the next morning.
An early birthday celebration of my birthday at Bayona

Best quarter I ever spent! I'd seen a little boy on this jiggle machine, and couldn't resist!
Audubon Zoo - Hello, Mr. Toucan. The day was perfect for visiting the zoo, and mid-week, it wasn't too crowded. They're recovered nicely.
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Scottie & Louie at the entrance to Longue Vue House and Gardens. It's the gorgeous 1920's home of the heiress to the Sears fortune and her wealthy planter husband. The house wasn't seriously damaged by Katrina, though some gardens were. Unfortunately, several weeks without electricity and air conditioning did cause moisture damage that they're still dealing with.
mid-afternoon oysters at Cooter Brown's at Riverbend
Scottie & Rene on the St. Charles street car going to Riverbend.
Rene's father, Robert Dupuy, was a pilot in the Army from 1939 throughout the war. He was still in service, stationed at Tucson, when Rene was born in 1956. The museum exhibits were engrossing, and the oral history videos were especially revealing.
Scottie at the World War II Museum sitting in front of one of the famous Higgins boats made in NOLA during WWII for troop landings - including Normandy.
Dauphine Street
Rene's birthday March 11th at a fine French bistro, Luke, by chef John Besh
At our door on the Dauphine Orleans Patio courtyard, right next to our long-time favorite restaurant, Bayona


Not having been to New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina, we decided to go down for a few days over Denison's spring break. Happily, Rene decided to join us. The weather and food were just gorgeous - with azaleas and red bud in bloom, sunny skies and temps in the 70's. The French Quarter and Garden District look much the same as when we were there last in January, 2002. The St. Charles street car is now open again all the way to Riverbend. The food and friendliness are as fine as ever. Nevertheless, you don't have to look far to see evidence of the devastation, such as a half-empty Jax Brewery building along the river near the bottom of Jackson Square and boarded up businesses on the edge of the Quarter and downtown.

We loved it, as always, and will go again when we can, despite the growing frustration with flying on U.S. carriers. We flew Northwest this time, and the trip to Louisiana was ok. Our return, however, was another in a long string of airline disasters.

We'd chosen to return Saturday, hoping to avoid crowds and delays. No such luck. We got to Memphis for our connection to Columbus without incident and even shared a fine early supper BBQ meal at Interstate BBQ in the new terminal. Arriving at the gate for our Columbus flight was another story. After several posted delays, as we suspected, NW canceled the flight. The first tale they told was "weather in Charlotte, where the flight was coming from." That, of course, would've meant NW didn't have to put us up overnight or provide food. Having just talked with Kay in Charlotte, I suspected the weather excuse wasn't true. Sure enough, after much toing and froing, NW did put us up in the airport Holiday Inn in Memphis. Quite a comedown from the Dauphine Orleans, but much better than sleeping on the floor in the airport!

Since they couldn't get us home in time Sunday, we knew we'd miss the ballet we had tickets for in Columbus (postponed from the previous weekend because of the 2 foot snowstorm)! The good news is, upon landing at Columbus Sunday afternoon, we drove to the box office and were able to trade the tickets for the 5:30 pm performance of "Aladdin." We were sooooo glad we made the extra effort to see this new ballet, because it was spectacular, and mercifully short (given our level of fatigue). Lots of beautiful little kids in the audience and on stage, and impressive performances and music by all concerned.

We'll keep traveling as long as we can, because it brings us such joy, but we're well aware that the days are numbered.........stocking the pond with vivid memories seems our best strategy for now.

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