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 the pockets of rural throughout the south. In our little town, nestled between the Piedmont and Sandhills regions of North Carolina, you can draw a circle half an hour out from any big city and drive out into nothing but kudzu and cicadas. This path is in a meadow about ten minutes from our house. Our adventurous son and I were taking photos with a variety of digital and film cameras, ranging from our Nikon and Canon DSLRs to my old Seagull medium format, and his little Rollei 35.
During a trip to Sarasota in March, we spent a relaxing afternoon in an “urban, tropical oasis” at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. When possible, we try to avoid paying for things to do because there are so many free adventures to be had outdoors and in the wild. But we were in Sarasota for the wedding of a family friend, which meant my mom was with us … which meant we paid for the botanical gardens. But it was beautiful, and worth it. They’ve got an exhibit going now that ties in Gauguin and the exotic Tahitian landscape and botanicals that influenced much of his work. I bought seeds for pickling cucumbers and sage to start in my garden this spring to remind us of the adventure.
We spent the last couple of days in Sarasota FL for a friend’s wedding, and while I don’t feel the need to move to the Sunshine State, we did have a great time. We flew in Thursday night, spent Friday at Siesta Key (and froze off our bippies swimming in the Gulf of Mexico). Saturday morning we checked out the John and Mabel Ringling Museum of Art grounds (the museum is pricey; outside is FREE), and the wedding Saturday night was at the Mote Marine Laboratory & Aquarium — a great locale for a couple who hold the aquarium in their hearts. And on Sunday, we spent a leisurely afternoon at the Marie Selby Botanical Gardens. Since it wasn’t my wedding I’m not going to post many photos … but I will post a couple of my favorite images from the aquarium. My husband always makes me laugh, because I react at will while he keeps a straight face. Boys.
The North Carolina mountains are dotted with stunning vistas and beautiful little hamlets. Our trip to Asheville last summer to see the Chihuly exhibit at the Biltmore Estate was just part one of the weekend; the second part was meeting family and friends to celebrate a big birthday. We met in Mars Hill, nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, and fell in love with it.