I spent my week in Orange Beach reading, writing, relaxing, and cooking! (Conor and I may have made crepes two mornings in a row…) At the end of the week, we were very unmotivated to make the drive back to Oklahoma, and even less motivated to fit the drive into one day. Despite the loooong day of driving, it was one of the best road trip food days I have EVER had.
When planning our route home, we decided to make New Orleans one of our road trip stops. Though we easily could have made it a weekend destination, we knew we had to get back to Oklahoma in time for a family celebration. So, we decided to cap our stop at three hours.
I, as I usually do, wanted to make a game plan of how to spend our three hours. I made a list of the places I thought we should hit up: The French Quarter, the Garden District, The National World War II Museum, and the Audubon Nature Institute for their zoo and aquarium…I clearly did not have a handle on the meaning of “three hours”…Conor’s idea, on the other hand, was much more realistic: “Let’s just park in the French Quarter and walk around. We’ll see what we have time for once we are exploring.”
Deciding that Conor was probably right (just this once), I agreed to park on Bourbon Street and let the city carry us through its most historic neighborhood.
Café Du Monde was, naturally, the very first place we went in New Orleans.
Now, I know I’ve talked about my love for beignets…well, I finally got the opportunity to visit their famed home. Sitting in Café Du Mondé, eating beignets, and drinking café au lait was a dream come true. Though the atmosphere wasn’t quite what I imagined (it was super busy with quick turnover, the coffee was served in styrofoam to-go cups, and the birds were picking up every sweet morsel that was dropped on the floor), the deliciously, golden-fried french doughnuts and slightly sweetened coffee with milk were everything I had hoped they would be. All three of us were happy to be there, enjoying the warm weather that was inviting us to stay outside.
When we had licked the powdered sugar off of our overflowing plate, we purchased a few boxes of mix (I showed great restraint and didn’t buy 12…), and set out to see more of the French Quarter.
Walking through the French Quarter really was like strolling through a European city. As we made our way around Jackson Square, we passed street performers and artists; live music was the soundtrack of our walk; and the entire neighborhood was centered around the Catholic church.
I hadn’t quite finished my coffee, and I wasn’t about to toss what was left, so we stood outside of the Cathedral-Basilica while I finished. We were as thoroughly entertained by the passersby as we were by a jazzy street band.
When I had polished off the last drop of my café au lait, we walked into the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis, King of France. Once we had made our way through the heavy wooden doors, and onto the black and white marble, it was easy to forget the cacophony right outside. The silence was overwhelming as we made our way to the front, stopping to admire the stained glass on either side. Catalina, of course, took that moment to tell us that she was hungry and tired…the silence was broken. I took the opportunity to feed her in the peacefulness of the church, while Conor and I prayed. When we were ready to face the crowds again, we walked back into the sunlight bathing the square. We decided to continue weaving up and down the streets of the French Quarter.
What a feast for the senses!
Dilapidated doors, impeccably kept flower beds, bright colored awnings, and iron balconies everywhere. We were in another world.
Catalina, Conor, and I wanted to inspect every bit of it.
Walking outdoors, eating among the birds, taking in the bright colors, and seeing picturesque side streets at every corner…it was easy to believe we had been transported to another country. But, we had pretty consistent reminders that we were in New Orleans, Louisiana.
Our three hours disappeared quickly…once again, proving Conor was right and that I have NO concept of time. We said a quick goodbye to New Orleans, filled up the gas tank, and hit the road. We were ready to drive all the way…to Baton Rouge…where we stopped for Po’ Boys!
Catalina somewhat successfully ate her first banana (eek! she is getting so old!), while I scarfed my shrimp po’ boy and Conor ate mozzarella sticks (please, judge him). My football nerd self had a bit of a fit when we passed by Tiger Stadium. I silently vowed that I would be back when it was filled on game day. But, we kept on driving…for hours.
Right when we made the decision to drive on through to Oklahoma City I started to get sleepy and hungry. Yes, road trips are all about the food. So, we stopped in Dallas for In-N-Out Burger, officially making it one of the BEST road trip food days I have ever experienced. We ended up rolling in around 2:30 am. Though we were tired, we were smiling. It had been a great week and a very good day. By the next day, we were ready for more celebrations with family.
As always, even though it was a great trip, it was good to be home.