Friday, June 20, 2014

N’ awlins.

Posted by Scot

It only took about 3 and a half hours to drive from Pensacola, Florida to New Orleans, Louisiana.  In that time, before coming in to Louisiana, we crossed through Alabama and Mississippi.  As we crossed into Alabama, we played “Sweet Home Alabama” until we all got sick of it.  We didn’t have any really good music for when we crossed into Mississippi.

On the road to Sweet Home Alabama.
We spent three days checking out the Big Easy.  For the most part, it was pretty much what we expected.  I guess that is the thing about going to fairly well known big cities.  We have seen so much of them on mass media, in movies and TV shows, that there aren’t really many surprises left.  We did have the unexpected experience of staying in a hotel that was hosting a huge international Jehovah's Witness convention and a "Wild Pigs" Harley Davidson motorbike gang at the same time.

The carriages in New Orleans are all drawn by mules instead of horses.  Apparently this is because a mule won't work itself to death in the heat, while a horse will.
It was fun to walk through the French Quarter, and see all the old European architecture.  Just as we had hoped, there was jazz pretty much everywhere, especially on the weekend.  I loved thinking about the kids taking band at school here, the same as I did growing up.  For them, though, band class would have just been an entry point into performing on the streets with their friends on the weekends.  It would be awesome to grow up in such a musical culture.  There was live music in pretty much every cafe and restaurant, as well as on most of the street corners.

Taking a break in the French Quarter.

These kids are putting their band education to good use.
Louis Armstrong statue in Algiers, across the Mississippi from the French Quarter.

The Big Muddy.  The Ole' Miss.  The Old Man.
One of the famous New Orleans museums, with all the fascinating mausoleums.
We also took the opportunity to ride the street cars on St. Charles avenue and see all the mansions in the Garden District.  There were some pretty impressive houses.  We also went right by Tulane and Loyola universities.  There are beautiful parts to the city, for sure.  It reminded us a bit of Shaughnessy in Vancouver.

Checking out the city from a street car.
It's not just tourists on the street cars.  Lots of the locals seem to use them to commute.
The street car went along the Mardi Gras parade route.  Lots of beads were still in all the trees.
The biggest surprise for us was the WWII museum, just a couple of blocks from our hotel.  We hadn’t even heard of this before we arrived.  After hearing rave reviews from other tourists and some friends, we made sure we visited.  We thought we would only spend a couple of hours, but we spent most of the day checking out the interactive exhibits.  We also paid the extra dough and went to the Tom Hanks interactive movie about the war.  It was about an hour long, and was totally worth it.  The kids got a full day of history lessons without even realizing it.  Of course, it had a pretty American slant, but we did make sure we spent a fair bit of time at the D-day exhibits, which talked about Canada’s role at Juno beach.

Some of the incredible exhibits in the Boeing exhibit.
Learning and having fun!  Who would have guessed?
Some of the interactive exhibits were awesome.  This train was one of the first things you see when you enter the museum.

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