|the view from our room at the Monteleone|
The first night I planned for us to be in New Orleans where we stayed at the beautiful Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street. It is known for this famous carousel bar:
The seating rotates around the bar offering patrons views of the French Quarter, the opulent hotel lobby, various Frenchy works of art and of course other drunkards. I didn't go for the typical Nawlins drinks, I stuck with my usual "deer and a beer":
|deer and a beer|
We had a great meal at Jacques-imos cafe where I had another glass of Cazadores and pan fried drum which was delicious. It was fun to be with an old friend and his lady, to see how well he turned out and to be with somebody who knew how to show some out-of-towners a good time. After dinner we headed to his side of town, "the bywater" where we went to his office aboard a massive ship anchored in the Mighty Mississip'.
|looking at the city of New Orleans from the ship|
The next day we had breakfast at the famous Cafe du Monde for a sugar rush of beignets and coffee with guess what? Chicory! I snapped some hard working city birds while we packed on the pounds:
Mister B's. I give that dish a solid 10. It's so messy, they tie a bib on you before they bring it out. When we raved the server brought out a cookbook with the recipe. Only 3 sticks of butter for a two person serving! When you finish eating, instead of mints, they bring out pipe cleaners so you can ream out your arteries and heart valves. ;-)
We drove to Baton Rouge. I was entertained by the ever changing sky. The clouds were the kind you only see over flat land with lots of water. It was like the clouds over Okeechobee Florida; high rising cumulus clouds sure to form thunderheads by afternoon. You do not see this in the north georgia mountains. Ever.
We arrived at Uncle Tommy's and took a tour of the massive LSU campus. I spent a lot of time watching him; desperate to see some sort of family resemblance to my mom. Now and then there would be a little expression that would remind me of her. Mostly, they talk alike, both having expansive vocabularies and a unique sense of humor. Tom is funny because in this mega Catholic family, he is the president of the Southeast Louisiana Freethinkers Society, an atheist group. He is a lot of fun and I adore my aunt as well. I saw my favorite cousin and the other ones I haven't seen in decades. I know my Mom was pleased.
Saturday is all about college football. Festivities began promptly at 7:30 a.m. (A.M.!) for a game that was to start at 7 pm. The day was an unhurried journey of drinking and football with a parade of friends and family coming and going. The afternoon was spent preparing lebanese food -kibby and stuffed grapeleaves. We ate then settled in for the big game. The entire living room is set up to watch football on a massive 83" screen with no couches just lots of individual swivel chairs. It was cool but it was all day. When I realized it would be the same on Sunday for the Saints game, I got on the internet and booked a tour of the Atchafalaya Swamp. When I informed V that we were going to the swamp, he smirked and snorted, which means "not interested". I said, "that's cool. You can hang out and watch the Saints game tomorrow, but I must have nature or I will die!" So we went to the swamp. Here's some photos:
The tour was 3 hours of looking for birds and enjoying the landscape. Our guide was a good-looking cajun guy who talked literally all three hours. But I liked him. He found a nest of baby alligators and caught one for us to meet. I felt a little guilty about it. He kept crying out for "mama" with that muffled little sound from down in his throat, but he was returned to the water after a few minutes and he rejoined his family. The cajun loved the swamp and its creatures and had spent his life exploring it. He did a nice job of keeping it fresh and exciting even though I knew he had done this trip a million times.
We saw Ibis, Egrets, Herons and Hawks, but not as many birds as you would see in the spring, many of them have migrated on. We did see plenty of snakes and turtles though.
The best thing about the trip though was seeing my Mom again in the landscape; or remembering her when I would smell green decay in water, highlighted with a hint of sea salt. It was me and her against the world for five years in southern mississippi while she went to grad school and I slogged it out in high school. Now I am back at Chickory on the first round of cold evenings. Last night the low was 37.
I just checked the thermometer, it read 40, so I decided that was cold enough to go out and turn the heat lamp on for the chicks. When I checked on them, I discovered a baby possum in the coop! Guess I know what tomorrow's first chore will be.