New Orleans! Where do I begin?
We arrived in New Orleans on Wednesday, January 11 after quite an eventful trip. After we got set-up, we decided to drive through the French Quarter to check out the lay-of-the-land, so to speak. Our new resort provides a shuttle service but it is $25 round-trip and would lock us in to staying in the French Quarter for the day. We hoped to pay less than this and have a bit more freedom.
This next part is going to sound negative. Please keep reading.
It was around 4:00 when we got to the French Quarter. Traffic was getting pretty bad. There were a lot of pedestrians, bicyclists, delivery trucks and buses on the narrow, one-way streets. It didn’t take us long to realize that we were in a place like we had never been before. We spotted a couple of the places we wanted to visit before deciding to drive over to the famous Bourbon Street. We had no idea what we were getting into. I will say this: It’s not a place for kids. Barry got onto another street as quickly as possible while I talked with the girls about how God values women and does not intend for them to be exploited.
When we got home, we were all kind of overwhelmed. It probably wasn’t a good idea to drive into such a busy place at a busy time after the drive we had experienced earlier in the day. As we headed back to the RV park I thought, “I just want to leave.” I opened my computer and searched, ‘family friendly activities in New Orleans.’ I am so glad I found the blog http://nycitymama.com/2010/07/exploring-family-friendly-side-of-new-orleans-la/. The writer gave me a whole new perspective and I was ready to give New Orleans another chance.
Deciding against the shuttle service, we headed back to the French Quarter where we found parking outside the Old U.S. Mint. We paid via our cell-phone which made it very convenient. We walked through the very intriguing French Market Place to the visitor center of the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park. This park has more than one location within the city so we got the necessary information and a Jr. Ranger booklet for Eva. Eva and Barry enjoyed an interactive musical computer game at the visitor center before we headed back to the Old U. S. Mint which houses another location of the National Park.
On the way back, we once again walked through the French Market Place. Another camper told us to make sure we check this place out. Everything from alligator heads to New Orleans Saint’s jerseys were sold there. We saw fruit and other food we had never seen before. There was also a great jazz band playing. The thing I think we will always remember about the French Market Place is purses: lots and lots of purses. If you are ever in New Orleans and you need a purse, you can choose from thousands of them!
At the National Park we had the pleasure of meeting Ranger Reginald Kelley. Not only did he teach us a lot about this great park and jazz, but he also answered our questions about life in New Orleans and Louisiana, surviving Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath, the flooding and storms they often experience, the levee system, living so close to and even below sea level and where to find the best food! He also marked our map with a lot of family friendly places to visit. That one conversation completely changed our perspective of New Orleans and made us eager to explore. Thank you so much for your time, kindness and for starting us out on the right foot in our adventure!
The restaurant that Reginald suggested we try for lunch didn’t open until 4. We were too hungry to wait. We decided to try Riverfront Restaurant on Decatur Street. It was delicious! The best part for us was that the chef/manager was completely knowledgeable about cooking for people with gluten intolerances/Celiac Disease. It was so fun for Eva to experience that wonderful New Orleans food along with the rest of us. Between the five of us, we ordered a good variety of New Orleans most famous dishes. Everything was amazing! The manager and waitress were very friendly and helpful—thank you! The atmosphere was great. I will blog more about this restaurant on our gluten-free section this weekend.
By the time we were done eating, it was time to start walking back to hear a jazz concert by some of the National Park Rangers. We’re glad we had time to walk through Jackson Square, a park that is in front of St. Louis Cathedral. Both the square and the church were beautiful. We also stopped in a few of the many, many shops that are in the French Quarter.
The 3rd floor of the Old U.S. Mint was the venue for the concert. Something that is really unique about New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park is that most of the rangers are musicians. Not only did we hear great music but we got a fun and interesting history lesson on the different types of music that had its beginnings in New Orleans. The instrumentals and vocals were amazing as they played the blues, New Orleans jazz, Gospel, a New Orleans’ funeral dirge. The ranger who played the harmonica and piano entertained us with his stories, knowledge and jokes. We could have listened to him sing all day. The amazing guitar playing ranger taught the audience a lot about the history of the different types of New Orleans music. We were especially taken with the rich, soulful voice of the young ranger who played the drums. It was a wonderful concert. If you get to New Orleans, make sure you take time to visit at New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park.
The sun was just starting its descent as we left the park and headed for the Algiers Island Ferry which crosses the Mississippi River. It’s not a very long ride but it was fun watching the large barges on the river. On our return trip we saw one of the most beautiful sunsets that we’ve seen on our trip. The colors and lights over the French Quarter were breathtaking. We snapped a lot of pictures!
We still had some school to finish and Barry had a lot of work to do so we headed home and called it a night. Our attitudes were completely different about the city so we went to bed early to get back to wonderful New Orleans as soon as we could the next day!