“I’m on my way to New Orleans this mornin’, leaving out of Nashville, Tennessee, they’re always having a good time down on the bayou, Lord…” – Allman Brothers
Miles Traveled: 94.7 miles
OK so technically we left out of Biloxi, not Nashville. Nashville comes later. But great song nonetheless.
I’ve never had room service before. This is a once in a life time (hoping that’s just an expression) road trip, so gosh darn it we are getting room service for breakfast. French toast, eggs cooked to order, grits (god bless the South). Delicious. If I’m being honest, room service breakfast was really a safety measure for when we went swimming at the pool later. It’s not because it was delicious, made to perfection, and brought directly to our room with a smile. We needed to be more buoyant – so there you have it folks – room service = water safety and drowning prevention. My parents always said honesty was the best policy.
We relaxed at the pool for a few hours after dropping $12 on some Panama Jack sunscreen (forgot ours in the car). Dropping the brand name makes me feel like I am somehow justifying the 200% upcharge for 50 SPF sun protection. Great pool and I worked a little on my flip flop tan. Perfect morning. Once we checked out of the HRH&C we ventured out looking for a postcard for my trip project. We finally found some and when we saw the Biloxi postcards of the Katrina beach trees we immediate remembered we forgot a major item on the to-do list.
See Alice is a big fan of the NY Times best selling author, Karen White. And she’s got me hooked on her books as well. Most of Karen White’s novels are set in the South Carolina Lowcountry and the Southeastern United States. Great reads with great stories. What I enjoy most about the books is that the author is so accurate with the history and stories of the locations she writes about.
One of her books is called The Beach Trees and is set in both New Orleans and Biloxi post Hurricane Katrina (fitting for this post, I know!). Aside from being a really fantastic read, it also mentions the beach trees that can be found along Beach Ave (Hwy 90 West) which were hand carved from the dead trees into amazing animals and birds reaching for the sky. So we were on the hunt for the beach trees before heading to Louisiana. It’s amazing what the artist sculpted out of the dead trees and they really are a wonderful symbol of hope for the Biloxi community.
As we drove West on 90, which is along the beautiful gulf coast, white-sand beaches (yes, the ones that make me look amazingly tan), there was just vacant lot after vacant lot. I have to assume these are lots that were destroyed during Katrina and never rebuilt. Now, many of them are for sale. Just driveways leading to empty, overgrown lots in some of the most beautiful real estate you can imagine. As a Hugo survivor, I remember similar scenes in the Charleston area. Hard to believe it has been nearly 10 years since Katrina, but Biloxi seems to be thriving and will continue to rebuild.
As we headed towards New Orleans, LA we drove through nature’s free carwash, a brief rainstorm which hopefully washed away some of the salt grime from the last few days on the Gulf. We drove past Slidell (home of Textron Systems Marine and Land Systems…a business line of my former employer – which has a wonderful HR team that I hope to catch up with this weekend) and across Lake Pontchartrain – which is a beast of a lake if you’ve never seen it. It is massive. Takes an eternity to cross on i-10. But. BUT. What is does mean is that you are just a couple of miles from the enchanting city of New Orleans. This is my second visit to this great city this year – I was here for my birthday weekend in January as an extension of a work trip (see – there are some high points to Corporate America). It’s such a great city – and home of one of the best burgers in the US. We’ll get to that carb and meat fest in just a moment. We checked into our hotel for the weekend – The French Market Inn – a traditional 1800s property, complete with a charming courtyard and pool. First time staying here and it’s a hidden gem of a hotel. Great find…it’s no Best Western, but I suppose it is sufficient.
We went out to wander around the city, conveniently in the direction of Port of Call – home of the delicious Goombay Punch and best burger you will ever consume. It is not a trip to New Orleans for us if we don’t kick it off with a POC burger n’ punch. It ranks right up there with antiquing. Do yourself a favor and order the cheeseburger. It comes with a melt-in-your-mouth baked potato with optional toppings. Remember to request the chives & bacon (it’s free – huge score – and worth every calorie) for your potato….which I will remind you is the side item. Simple menu. Side item perfection. Lots of Carbs. Helpful for your pool-time buoyancy. And it will make you stop part way through your walk back to pull your pants/shorts up so your newly expanded waistline can provide the level of service that a belt normally would. I like to call this “Defying Gravity”.
We hung out in the square and listened to a street musician while dozens of others had their palms read. Not sure what I think of the palm and tarot card readers, but hey – to each their own. Listened to some jazz, and made our stop at Café Du Monde for a night cap of beignets and café au lait, while Alice got some sage advice from the law. That Alice…always causing trouble.
Well….off for a swim in the salt water pool in our courtyard and then retiring for the day to rest up for a fun day in nola tomorrow. Folks, we are here all weekend…
Until next time….