Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Sisters weekend in NOLA

My amazing, world traveling sister made some plans for a trip to New Orleans the beginning of January and I was lucky enough to get to go along for a weekend!  Brad wasn't working, so he was gracious enough to stay home with Paxton while I went to enjoy the Big Easy.

We stayed at the Lion's Inn which was on a cute road close to Frenchman Street. The inn itself was cute, had a nice courtyard with a hot tub and pool and pretty greenery.  To get to our room you had to go out the main door, go outside across the porch, through another door, up an incredibly steep flight of stairs and then down the hall.  Our room also had a flight of stairs which were blocked off, but led down to the lobby where we started from.  This stair way would have made a lot more sense for getting up to our room, so I'm not sure what the deal was about that.  Trumping the annoying access to our room was the toilet.  It just flat out did not work.  And I'm 99% sure the toilet was broken before we checked in and they knew about the problem, didn't care, and let us pay to stay in that room anyway.  It was tremendously annoying and quite a bit of a worry.  It never did quite overflow, but it was disgusting, flushing extremely slowly, and never flushing fully.  There was no hot water when I tried to take a shower in the morning. Also, the noise.  Since the room was right over the lobby/main area of the house you could hear EVERYTHING.  All the conversations, the dog barking, the people down for breakfast... it was loud.  The closet was a total mess, haphazardly filled with crap and a crumpled up pair of pants just lay there right on top of the crap and I found myself itching to pick them up and hang them.  It would have been easy to make the closet better for guests... picking up your dirty laundry being one of them.  Those negative things aside, the breakfast was fine, the bed was comfortable, the room was large, the street parking was easy, and I thought the owner was very nice and his nephew there helping out was so awesome.  He even gave us a ride into the Quarter when we couldn't get a cab.  Overall I think we agreed that the inn was a bit disappointing, overall ok, but next time we'll pay a little more to stay closer to the Quarter.

That being said, here we are drinking champagne in our room, having a total ball getting ready for our night out!

We had a terrific dinner at a wine bar in the Quarter.  More bubbly, an eclectic cheese plate, and I had the most yummy crab cakes.  After dinner we went off to a fantastic, intimate concert at the House of Blues to see Concrete Blonde.  Then it was off to Bourbon Street, popping in and out of places because we liked the band or the song we heard, swaying to the music and belting out the lyrics.  We finished off the night on Frenchman Street dancing wildly ball room style with kind, fun loving strangers while a big jazz band blared out songs that made me feel like I was transported back to the roaring 20s.  I think it goes to show the complete awesomeness of the evening that we were simply having way too much fun to bother taking pictures at all.

Since we got in very late from our night out we had a slow morning nursing hangovers and getting ready for our next adventure out to Houma for a swamp tour.  The drive out there was 90 minutes each way, through depraved small towns and dilapidated trailer parks.  It was a shocking view of America and one that wasn't easy for me to see without letting the depressed area make me feel depressed too.  Of course there was the occasional gigantic plantation house looming in all it's glory out from under live oaks dripping with moss and looking stately in their Southern beauty. There were huge expanses of twisted, gray trees consumed by gray moss that looked so disturbingly like massive dead forests,  (But, our tour guide later explained that no, the moss does in fact not kill the trees.  So, maybe these gray, dead forests were just dead looking because of the winter.)

We were faithfully following our GPS and when my sister goes, "We're here!" I was still flying down the road with a huge field on one side and pretty much nothing on the other.  I was like "WHAT?! What do you mean? There is nothing here!" But, we did in fact pass this little building ... that looked abandoned to me.  I mean check out that sign.  If it wasn't for the cars out front I would have never, ever guessed it was a working establishment.  But, we turned around, got out and were convinced we were at the wrong place.  We were there for a swamp tour... and this place as it turned out was a restaurant.
We kindly asked the waitress for some help and she's all like "yup! You ladies go on around back!" Oh my god.  I though we were going to get murdered.  We go around back, find an old man standing in an even older boat and he exclaims "ya'll aint gonna see no gators."  Well, what the eff, guy?  We seriously drove out here 90 minutes to see gators on this so called swamp tour.  As it turns out (and why didn't I think of this!?) gators hibernate or whatever when it's cold.  And it was cold.  Cold, cold, January cold.  So, of course we are the only two crazies ready to go freeze on the water to look at moss and not see any gators.
So, off we go on a 2 hour private tour.  Thank all that is good in the heavens that our tour guide guy was a kind, grandfatherly type that did not give off the psycho killer vibe at all.  He told us stories of his mama and his entire family from the beginning of time that all live there.  He pointed out his house, his brothers house next door, his cousins house etc. and told us about his sons wedding that was just the night before.  He pointed to every single bird, knew their names, pointed out to the different trees, knew their names too, and loved pointing out the lovely red holly berries that were the only shock of color in an otherwise grey and brown swamp world.  He was wonderful for taking us out at all.  He was cold too, and I'm sure he felt slightly awkward at the notion of taking us clueless Yankees out for 2 hours.

The swamp tour was not as advertised. Thanks Lonley Planet.  But it was nice to get to see this area of the country that I otherwise never would have seen.  And after our boat ride we were starving and it just so happened that that crappy looking restaurant had a super great rating on Yelp and served up some awesome food!

When we got back to New Orleans we got ready for another night out, except this one would be much more mellow thanks to too much fun the night before.  Our first stop was at Cafe Du Monde for caffeine and fried beignets in all their sugar coated glory.

We went on a ghost tour with the world worst drugged out tour guide. We had Pimms Cups at the Napoleon House, went for a stroll down Bourbon, and once again ended up at Frenchman Street before calling it an "early" night at around 12:30.  We had brunch reservations the next morning and we both wanted to be able to enjoy the food!

The next day we had Jazz brunch reservations at Antoine's which is famous for creating Oysters Rockefeller and has a very long interesting history.  Our brunch was concluded with a tour of the huge restaurant from our sweet waiter and a Will Ferrell sighting.

It was such a great weekend and I always love traveling with my sister so much! Thanks for letting me tag along on your trip, Mary!  You can go check out her exciting adventures and travels at http://sakartvelogirl.blogspot.com/.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Just your typical Saturday morning

It was warm, but very gray and foggy when we left our house on Saturday morning.  When we got down to the beach it was gorgeous! We did a nice and easy 3 mile run on a path along the beach.  I didn't even bring my sunglasses because I was sure I wouldn't need them, but the sun was out and it actually felt hot! After our run we all had some fun in the sun and sand.

Our little Florida baby loves the beach!!

While Paxton was busy playing in the sand I got to work on my yoga inversions!  I've become obsessed with learning how to do head and handstands.  Forearm stand coming soon I hope!

Brad got in on the fun!

And then with the iphone timer we had a good laugh taking these!!

Friday, January 2, 2015

Happy New Year!

This was my big outing on New Years Eve - a morning at the stable riding this big guy is my idea of a perfect way to celebrate!!

In the afternoon we headed out back to make a bonfire and s'mores!

When Paxton woke up from his nap he joined us outside.  Basically a year and a half year old running around between the freezing cold pool and the scorching fire was not exactly my idea of a relaxing time. While we all weren't out there long it was fun having a little bit of a special evening with my guys.

New Years Day we have the tradition of going running!  I got some new running shoes and kicked off the New Year in exactly the right way.  4 miles, 8 minute average pace and the last mile at 7.25!  I think I'm in the best shape of my life.  Can't wait to see where this year will take me on my health and fitness journey.

And that afternoon we had the best time with Pax at the park!  He discovered that he loves slides and it was the cutest thing ever!!

We had such a great start to our 2015.  Can it really be 2015?! I hope it's a good one!