One of my favorite adventures during our week in New Orleans was a day trip to Avery Island, the century-and-a-half home of Tabasco. Our fascination with its tasty history stems from a story we heard 17 years ago on NPR, and it’s been on our mental bucket list ever since. I mean, hot weather isn’t the only thing we southerners have a penchant for. The two-hour drive was enjoyable, and took us through several bayous and beautiful southern Louisiana landscape. We even stopped in Houma to check out the giant shrimping boots. Hello, Forrest Gump, right? Admission was only $5 per person, but we bumped it up to the $12 fee so we could also drive through the Jungle Gardens (totally worth it — we saw several alligators, and even came up on one eating a huge fish).
We finally made our way to New Orleans, and had a great time. I read that there were something like 72 neighborhoods in NOLA, and each has its own personality. No truer description has been written of places we’ve traveled. I encourage you to go beyond the French Quarter … it was so not our favorite part of the city. We ate all the requisite foods, like beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde, muffuletta, catfish, jambalaya, Creole, gumbo, and pralines. My favorite city adventures were at NOMA, where we saw a beautiful traveling exhibit from Timothy Duffy and the Music Maker Relief Foundation, along with pieces from its permanent collection like el Greco, Warhol, Picasso, and Pollock. Louis Armstrong Park was lovely, though our favorite park was Audobon Park. The St. Charles trolley was relaxing, and afforded a great amount of people-watching time. My heart goes out to the residents of our most recent adventuring as they brace for flooding and a potential forthcoming hurricane. We’re in North Carolina, and are no stranger to hurricanes and tropical storms.
For the last few years, we’ve gone to NYC to watch fireworks on the East River from our favorite perch next to the United Nations. This year, however, we switched it up and traveled southwest, to New Orleans and a different river, the Mississippi … thus kicking off our new tradition of picking a different city every year from which to watch the fireworks. Our son captured this beautiful shot of fireworks on the Mississippi.
Check out his work … he’s for hire. 😉
I love beach (or lake) communities where so many people get around by boat. Marco Island is the largest of Florida’s Ten Thousand Islands, and is surrounded by estuaries and mangrove islets along the intracoastal waterway, and the Gulf of Mexico. We spent one lazy morning tooling around on a little pontoon boat we rented, and couldn’t have been happier. We never ran across any manatee, but we saw plenty of dolphins enjoying the boat wakes.
One of my favorite afternoons while in Florida the last few days was ambling through Collier-Seminole State Park. It “lies partly within the great mangrove swamp of southern Florida, one of the largest mangrove swamps in the world.” I followed the directions online to call and ask what trails may be fully or partially closed, and I’m glad I did. Their Wilderness Trail, which is usually about 6.5-miles, was reduced to just around two. So rather than planning a whole half-day adventure, we left early for lunch and adventured beforehand.
It’s always fun to tag along on business trips with my husband, particularly when it’s in exotic locations because he’s kicking ass on his team. In the past, I’ve traveled with him to Grand Cayman and Barbados for such occasions. This year, the reward trip was to … Florida. I know, I know. It’s far less exotic, but I assure you it was no less restful. We’re not resort travelers, so the pomp and circumstance of ‘resort living’ is lost on us, but we enjoyed our time in the small southwestern Gulf community of Marco Island. I came home with no less than a dozen conch shells.