2/12/2017 - A long but relatively easy drive down I-95 delivered us to the parking lot of the Legends Golf Resort near Myrtle Beach in South Carolina where we stabled Rocinante II for the next five days. Like Don Quixote, I am awkward, past my prime, and again engaged in a task far beyond my capacities, but we are stopping here to seek a few full meals and all the compliments of Bill and Rosalie's noble home. Soon we have transferred appropriate outfits from the RV and adjourned to a sumptuous table where we overlook their establishment's lengthy board of fare.
2/16/2017 - A few short hours after we have begun to smell like spoiled fish, we make our exit from the Legends and set off across South Carolina through Columbia to Greenville. Again we transfer some of our cutest little outfits into Rodger and Margie's house where we have hopes of adorning their lives through the weekend.
2/20/2017 - We depart South Carolina on I-85 West to drive through Atlanta and on to the KOA in Ozark, AL. There we spend a fretful evening discovering that we are about to arrive in Pensacola about a week before my nephew's retirement ceremony. Quickly responding to our planning error, we spend a second night in Ozark to reschedule our week in New Orleans for the week leading up to the ceremony and arrange for dinner in Pensacola and a stopover evening with Bobby and Jennifer.
2/22/2017 - After a rainy morning we depart Ozark and head south on AL 231 through Troy and Dotham to Panama City in the heart of the Redneck Riviera. There we turn west on Route 98 to inch our way through indistinguishable beach communities to arrive at our hosts' apartment in Pensacola. We are then driven back across Pensacola Bay to Peg Leg Pete's where we had hoped to consume oysters until confronted by a massive influx of Mardi Gras attendees filling all of the tables and bar stools. Returning across the bay we made a dinner stop for a perfect paella at the best little 'Oar House' in Pensacola.
2/23/2017 - After recovering our strength over breakfast at Chez Lilley we made our way back onto I-10 West to Mobile and then on to Grand Bay, AL where we shifted to Route 90 West to traverse the southern shore of Mississippi through Pascagoula and Gautier to a great overnight stop at the Davis Bayou in the Gulf Islands National Seashore.
2/24/2017 - Next morning we continued on through Biloxi, Gulfport, and Bay St. Louis to rejoin I-10 West near the John Stennis Space Center. There we curved south to cross the mouth of Lake Pontchartrain and drive through Metairie to the KOA West New Orleans just off the Jefferson Parkway (LA 90) on the northern bend of the Mississippi River and its fascinating Mississippi River Trail.
Tennesee Williams famously said: "America only has three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is just Cleveland." The city is famous for its gamblers, prostitutes, exhibitionists, anti-Christs, alcoholics, sodomites, drug addicts, fetishists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs, and lesbians, all of whom are only too well protected by graft.
The city of New Orleans occupys a point at the head of the Mississippi River delta at the Gulf of Mexico. The boundaries are formed by the Mississippi River and Jefferson parish to the west and Lake Ponchartrain to the north. Lake Pontchartrain is connected by the Rigolets channel to Lake Borgne on the east (and thence to the gulf), and the southern boundary of New Orleans is made up of St. Bernard parish and, again, the Mississippi River. The city is divided by the Mississippi, with the principal settlement on the east bank. The west bank, known as Algiers, has grown rapidly. It is connected to eastern New Orleans by the Greater New Orleans Bridge.
The early city was located on the east bank along a sharp bend in the Mississippi, from which the nickname “Crescent City” is derived. The modern metropolis has spread far beyond this original location. Because its saucer-shaped terrain lies as low as 5 to 10 feet below sea level and has an average rainfall of 57 inches, a levee, or embankment system and proper drainage have always been of prime importance.
2/25/2017 - Our shuttle craft departs for the French Quarter at 9:00 AM and delivers us to the Old US Mint at 400 Esplanade Street where we are warned to separate our wallets from our credit cards and to avoid scams. Built in 1835, the Old U.S. Mint is the only building in America to have served both as a United States and a Confederate Mint. In 1861, Louisiana seceded from the Union. State authorities seized the property and transferred it to the Confederate Army. For a short time, it was used to mint Confederate currency and to house Confederate troops. This ended when New Orleans was occupied by Federal forces.
The Vieux Carré, or French Quarter, is bedazzling. Its Creole architecture, creating the atmosphere of a foreign city, combines native architectural ingenuity with adaptations of French colonial traditions of eastern Canada and West Indian Spanish colonial styles. Typical are one-story cottages opening directly on the sidewalks, with high-pitched roofs and windows reaching to the ground. Another style is the L-shaped two-story dwelling with a side entrance to an inner patio. Also built to the sidewalk, it has a roof that extends out over balconies on both the street and patio sides. Iron grillwork, designs for which were created locally and executed to a high perfection by slave craftsmen, decorates these balconies and also supports there rooves. Such houses are built side by side with no openings between them, but the patios offer space for trees, flowers, and fountains and ensure privacy for the occupants.
Vieux Carré has been so suffused with literary associations that you can practically hear the echoes of clattering typewriters. When the quarter was hovering just on the genteel side of being a slum — its heyday, actually, in terms of number of writers per square foot — Tennessee Williams, who spent his early childhood in Mississippi before moving to St. Louis and eventually New Orleans, said that it was one of the “the last frontiers of Bohemia.”
Walking west from the Esplanade we arrive at the French Market to be instantly entranced by its many offerings. We wait in an endless line for one of the Cafe du Mondes famous beignets only to be turned away at the end of the line by the impossibility of being served within our remaining time in New Orleans.
We next sought a little breathing space in Jackson Square facing the Cabildo and the Presbytère (former governmental centers but now part of the Louisiana State Museum) and St. Louis Cathedral. All date from colonial times, but considerable stylistic changes have been made on these buildings since they were erected. A young man sees us billing and cooing on a park bench and offers to capture our romantic image with Linda's cell phone but we are overly fearful of a money making scam and decline his kind offer.
It is now late enough in the morning and we followed our hunger pangs into Stanleys at the northeast corner of Jackson Square where Chef Scott Boswell, prepares a new dimension to all day dining in New Orleans. At Stanley, Chef Boswell serves classic New Orleans comfort food with a unique twist; food that he not only loves to cook, but loves to enjoy himself. After ordering our Bloody Marys, Linda selected a Breaux Bridge Benedict for her brunch and I chose a large gumbo with shrimp, oysters, chicken, and andouille sausage. In a word often chosen by our friends from Texas, it was fabulous.
From Stanleys we meandered slowly across town on Royal and Bourbon Streets to arrive at the Canal Street location of the Krewe of Iris parade. Founded in 1917, the Krewe of Iris is the oldest and the largest of all female Carnival Krewes in New Orleans. Named for the Goddess of the Rainbow, Messenger to the Gods, it maintainsa global membership of 900 active riders.
Parading through the streets of New Orleans since 1959, the Krewe of Iris includes 1500 members participating in a Carnival celebration featuring bands and entertainment from across the United States, 12-tandem floats, and 37 floats. Noted for its unique throws, including hand decorated sunglasses and king cake babies, the Krewe throws a diversity of beads, cups, doubloons, and Iris-themed items.
After the parade we slowly traversed our way back across the French Quarter to the French Market where we listened to music before returning to the Esplanade at 5:45 PM where we caught our shuttle to return to the KOA.
2/26/2017 - In the morning light I took a walk along the Mississippi Trail on the top of the levee. With feet still tired from walking the French Quarter on the previous day, we decided to skip the morning shuttle. While Linda did domestic chores I seized a moment to wander the campground with Max and then climbed up the bank ot the levee to catch a glimpse of the mighty Mississippi River passing through River Ridge on its slow trip to the delta.The land that is now River Ridge was developed by French colonists and their descendants in the late 18th and early 19th centuries for large sugar plantations that lined the river in traditional French long-lot fashion. The plantations had relatively narrow waterfronts, in order to provide water access, and extended deeply back from the river. The crude river levee at the Sauve Providence plantation failed under pressure of high water on the Mississippi. The massive flood inundated much of the land to the east, including parts of New Orleans.
For our evening's entertainment we opted for a taxi ride to the nearby suburb of Metairie on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Word of mouth indicated an exceptional dining experience at the Acme Oyster House and our strength was much in need of restoration. I feel like I am being a little tiring in my discussion of eating events but the charbroiled oysters and etouffee were extraordinarily mentionable At the conclusion of our dinner we joinedthousands of other people on Veterans Memorial Boulevard for the parade of the Corps de Napoleon.
The Corps de Napoleon's primary mission is to honor New Orleans'French heritage, as well as the French culture and heritage of surrounding parishes, setting it apart from other Mardi Gras krewes, which traditionally focus on Greek or Roman mythology. Instead, the Corps de Napoleon honor's France's greatest hero.It is an army of bead, cup and doubloon-throwing revelers organized as Napoleon organized his armies. The tradition of bead throwing starts withtheir original colors. The color of the beads was determined by the king of the first daytime Carnival in 1872. He wanted the colors to be royal colors – purple for justice, gold for power and green for faith. The idea was to toss the color to the person who exhibited the color’s meaning.
The parade is led by the Captains and Officers on a float that looks like a painting by David, which shows Napoleon crossing the Alps during the Italian campaign. The Emperor Napoleon and Empress Josephine are also depicted by the royal monarchs as they reign over the parade, Coronation Celebration, and After-Parade festivities. The Emperor's float features the "Arc de Triomphe" in Paris and is pulled by a team of four white horses
2/27/2017 - Now it is Lundi Gras and we take the late shuttle to Esplanade Street to watch the famous Krewe of Orpheus strutting their stuff in the early evening. On board one of the Orpheus floats are a couple of my 'Y' spinning class members and I am hoping to get a glimpse of them so that I can implore a special throw of treasure. We vary our course across theFrench Quarter to Canal Street and hope for the best.
Our first stroll down Bourbon Street immediately brings us into sensory overload. On the right, a strip club. On the left, a T-shirt shop. Up ahead, a bar... flanked by a strip club and a T-shirt shop.
Add thousands of tourists who can't seem to turn down three-for-onedrinks, bad cover bands, or avoid the occasional bout of projectilevomit, and you've got a typical day on the French Quarter's most famous stretch of pavement. We are enticed by many opportunities to purchase items of truly lasting value and I seek in vain for the perfect memorial t-shirt. Linda also notes many adorable outfits but feels that there would be few if any opportunities to wear them once we return to Easton.
We pass a dangerous looking serpent in front of the cathedral and note that their are many people finding their own way of enjoying the Lundi Gras. There seem to be many opportunities for saving souls weakened by intoxication or advanced debauchery.
Lundi Gras is a relatively recently popularized name for a series of Shrove Monday events taking place during the New Orleans Mardi Gras. It includes the tradition of Rex, king of the New Orleans carnival, arriving by boat.
Founded in 1993, the Krewe of Orpheus takes its name from the musically-inclined son of Zeus and Calliope. Founding members included Harry Connick, both the junior and senior. The krewe established themselves as a superkrewe with their first parade in 1994, which rolled with 700 riders. They were the first super Krewe to allow both male and female riders.
The Krewe’s throws include a number of popular items including emblem beads, stuffed animals, signature beads, light-up Orpheus medallion beads, cups, three different types of doubloons, and 4-foot-long stuffed dragons. They have a number of notable floats including the Dolly Trolley, the horse-drawn bus that was used in the opening of Hello Dolly with Barbra Streisand, the Smoking Mary which is a six unit float that looks like a steam locomotive, a Trojan horse and the Orpheus Leviathan Float, which is a three unit, 139-foot float, and the first carnival float to use extensive fiber optic lighting. Somewhere up on the Smokey Mary are my friends from Easton but I cannot distinguish them.
As the parade continues our feet are no longer capable of carrying us well so we first climb into a pedi-cab and then immediately jump back out to hail a cab to return us to the KOA.
2/28/2017 - Lundi Gras will be a tough act to follow but on Fat Tuesday Linda sends me off alone for one more look at the streets of New Orleans and to watch the parade of the Zulu Krewe. I walk the full length of Bourbon Street keeping abreast of any new developments since the previous day. I pass an enterprising young woman who is doing a brisk business in applying glitterati to modestly cover the nipples of a long line of customers. At one time my walk is interrupted by a group of men in similar outfits that I can only assume represented the interests of Irish immigrants.
The earliest signs of the Krewe of Zulu organization came from the fact that the majority of these men belonged to a Benevolent Aid Society. Benevolent Societies were the first forms of insurance in the Black community where, for a small amount of dues, members received financial help when sick or financial aid when burying deceased members.While the "Group" marched in Mardi Gras as early as 1901, their first appearance as Zulus came in 1909. 1915 heralded the first use of floats, constructed on a spring wagon, using dry good boxes. The float was decorated with palmetto leaves and moss and carried four Dukes along with the King. That humble beginning gave rise to the lavish floats I see in the Zulu parade today.Zulu's 2017 Mardi Gras theme is "Stop the Violence"
I stayed for the dramatic passage of the famous "Baby Dolls" who are a group of African-American men and women who dress up on Mardi Gras day in short satin skirts with bloomers and garters.It all started in New Orleans' red-light district, which itself was divided along racial lines. The Storyville area, where the sex industry was legal, was for white customers; black customers had to go a few blocks away where prostitution was illegal, but allowed.
Between these two red-light districts, there was a kind of rivalry. One year the women in the black district heard that their counterparts in Storyville were going to dress up for Mardi Gras; they decided they needed to come up with some good costumes to compete. And they said, 'Let's just be baby dolls because that's what the men call us. They call us baby dolls, and let's be red hot.
After the parade I wander my way slowly to Frenchmen Street, a colorful two-block strip in a neighborhood called 'The Marigny'. Many New Orleanians told me that Frenchmen is what Bourbon Street used to be. It's hard to picture it, but what is now home to venues blaring several really bad versions of "Don't Stop Believin' " at the same time up and down the street was once the birthplace of jazz.
I wandered into The Spotted Cat where on maybe a 6-foot-by-6-foot stage, Dominic Grillo and the Frenchmen Street All-Stars treated a polite crowd to some absolutely amazing jazz. There was no cover, and it almost seemed criminal not to have to pay for this kind of musicianship.
Quite simply, Frenchmen is where the best music happens in NewOrleans -- it's where world-famous musicians might even show up on stage just because they feel like playing. And it's quirky. Just because it isn't Bourbon Street doesn't mean that Frenchmen doesn't have its weirdos. Only these weirdos hang out here because they think there are too many weirdos over there. In general, though, there's a warm, comforting sense of community on Frenchmen Street, and people I met often used the word "neighbors" to describe each other. They believe in their little village and wouldn't want it any other way.
As I wandered Frenchmen Street I came upon a woman who apparently had difficulty in selecting a top for the day and had chosen bandaids for the festive occasion. I considered myself to be honored next by the wise counsel of a Donald Trump impersonator. His words indicated that we would soon be draining the great swamps of left -over liberalism in Washington, that America would soon be great again and pursuing its god-given goals.
On Frenchmen Street one cannot fail to notice an element of female pulchritude even as it goes largely unnoticed by males who are more attracted to one another. There is an almost a commanding disinterest among this population in their Biblical directive to bear fruit. It appears that incubation has now lost its importance as a prime directive.
Wandering down Frenchmen Street, I notice the New Orleans architecture that makes the city stand apart from other American metropolitan areas. Frenchmen Street is home to many Creole cottages—a New Orleans design stemming back to the period between 1790-1850. Creole cottages are single-story, set at ground level, have a steeply-pitched roof, symmetrical four-opening façade, and are set close to the front property line. The cottages are usually made of stucco or wood.
An important thing to remember when it comes to celebrating Mardi Gras is that flashing for beads isn’t considered a tradition by the locals, so, obviously, you don’t have to feel pressured to do it. One way of maintaining decency while not being a party pooper is to purchase a T-Shirt which presents the appearance of bare breasts while modestly covering the substance.
Vowing to return to New Orleans at sometime in the future for a more complete review of its charms, I return to the Esplanade to await my shuttle to the KOA.
3/1/2017 - We really had to get out of this place of gamblers, prostitutes, exhibitionists, anti-Christs, alcoholics, sodomites, drug rleaaddicts, fetishists, onanists, pornographers, frauds, jades, litterbugs, and lesbians; or we really might loose our sense of moral direction. We were not to check into our Pensacola Bease house until 5:00 PM so we took our time driving east on I-10 toward Pensacola. We were then the first of my family to arrive so we stopped at the realtor and picked up the keys so that we could greet the others as they arrived from Williamsport, Harrisburg, Washington and other points north.
Our beach house is very fine now that it has a warm dog to greet the guests upon their arrival. As the patriarchs of the family we are assigned the master bedroom with its huge bathroom and other creature comforts demanded by the bourgeoisie. After a few rounds of adult beverages, we take early to our bed for recovery from the ordeals of travel.
3/2/2017 - The day of Bobby's retirement ceremony has finally arrived and we drive to the US Naval Air Museum where events will later unfold. While the clock ticks, I wander about the museum taking pictures to mark the occasion..
3/3/2017 - Now that we have taken care of our serious work we get down to playing with a passion. Brother John adds to his collection ofsunrise pictures. Pensacola Beach is located on a barrier called Santa Rosa Island south of Pensacola and Gulf Breeze connected via bridges spanning to the Fairpoint Peninsula. Pensacola Beach is home to several "novelty houses", including the house "Dome of a Home", built in 2002 using a monolithic dome in the form of a large concrete dome, designed to structurally withstand hurricane-force winds at 133 m/s and storm surge.
We also took a ride toward the west end of the island to look at the Gulf Island National Seashore and to see the UFO House. These small, fiberglass houses were made by a Finnish company called Oy Polykem ab in the early '70s. It was called the "Futuro II" and had a single bedroom, bathroom, U-shaped kitchen area, separate dining area, a curved 23-ft. couch and a central fireplace that doubled as a grill. They were made in sections that could be delivered by truck and assembled on-site, or, for the really wealthy, they could be completely assembled at the factory and flown in by helicopter. They had four metal pads at the end of V-shaped legs that were meant to be bolted to concrete footings, and all utilities ran through a column, called a "utility pod," immediately below the house.
John, Brent and I make a thorough exploration of the Gulf Island National Seashore and I try in vain to capture their magical qualities in a rectangular collection of pixels..