Spring Road Trips : N'Awlins, Y'All

My three sons at Court of Two Sisters : Note to self, all-you-can-eat jazz buffet a really good idea with hungry kids

Call me crazy, but I took my three teens ( 2 I gave birth to, one just lives at my house all the time) to New Orleans for spring break this year. Travelling with teenagers brings its own special joys and difficulties . They are an odd mixture of "I hate you ! I hate this! Aw, mom, do we HAVE to ?" and yet loving every minute of whatever you are making them do......on this particular trip, I got to experience the kids : a) checking out , and getting checked out by other teens ( girls, natch) every where they went , b) eating pretty much everything that wasn't nailed down, c)watching them smile surreptitiously when they thought I wasn't looking, d) the sight of them taking the hotel bedspreads, tying them on like Superman capes, tying toilet paper around their heads and poking out eye holes like Zorro, and jumping up and down on the hotel beds.
New Orleans at spring break is full of people from all over the world. The weather is perfect, with warm spring breezes, soft balmy sunshine, and cool evenings. In the Garden District all the parks are blooming and full of beautiful flowers. We saw families with kids of all ages revelling in the lovely spring weather, groups of drunken frat boys, bridesmaid parties and weddings every where we went, school groups from all over America, participants in several different conventions ( a teachers convention, a medical convention) tourists from France, Germany, Japan, and Russia. It was a hootenanny.
GFT loves New Orleans; like Tennessee Williams, I consider it my adopted ancestral home. I have been numerous times, and taken pretty much every man that has been a significant part of my life. (Or at least tried to; humorous anecdote from days long past about drunkenly trying to hide in airplane restroom, on flight from Kansas City to Houston, continuing to New Orleans, with one of said boyfriends......). It is a city I never grow tired of. I love sharing it with family and friends, revisiting old fave hang-outs, as well as discovering fun new things to do.

Tomster enjoying cafe au lait and beignets at Cafe du Monde late one night

New Orleans, like Paris, is a movable feast. I'm sure it's possible to get a bad meal here, but so far I have been lucky and avoided this fate. There are literally 1000's of wonderful restaurants to chose from...I always say, a trip to New Orleans is essentially a hop from one great meal to the next, with a few little sight-seeing events scattered in-between. Just enough to walk off the last meal, and get hungry again for the next. Cajun food, soul food, seafood, BBQ, Po-Boys, fine Creole cuisine, incredible desserts, fried chicken, gumbo, catfish, red beans and rice. You name it, it's here. Mostly I stick to places I've eaten before, or recommendations from friends. I have a few old haunts I always pay homage to, such as Johnny's PoBoys, Arnaud's, Galatoires, Antoines, Brennans, Acme Oyster House, Camilla Grill, or Cafe du Monde, but was introduced to several new ( to me) different great spots when I joined my college alumni group at a bowl game there a few years back.

There is always the obligatory stroll down Bourbon Street. I was surprised to see entire families taking in this Disney-like version of American sin and pulchritude - ma, pa, granny and grandpa too, jr and the tots - all walking in stately fashion down the middle of the street, babies in strollers, as drunken revellers carried on all around them. Not to mention the strip joint barkers, prostitutes, cross-dressers, drunken frat boys and /or sailors, people tossing mardi gras beads off the balconies at college girls with their shirts held open to encourage them, con artists, street musicians, pick-pockets, cops on horses, tour guides, you name it, they are all there. I try to pay my respects to the swinging legs, a Bourbon Street icon that has been a part of the scene as long as I can remember. This year, I couldn't find them, but maybe I didn't look hard enough.

DK and Stallion watch Jackson Square roll by on the riverboat cruise

There are many other fun cultural and educational things to do in NOLA beside just eating or hitting the bars and getting drunk on Bourbon street. New Orleans has so many different faces, with enough variety to please anyone. (One of these days, my mom and I are going to go and just visit plantation homes up and down the Mississippi River outside of town. I have been to some of them, but not all, and I think that would be a fun trip all on its own. Most years, I pay homage to Oak Alley at a minimum, just to commune with the trees.) This trip I concentrated on family and kid friendly places. An afternoon spent on a steamboat , travelling the mighty Mississippi was a grand adventure for all of us.

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