Archive for the ‘Travel’ Category

09-12-2016 Journal – The Big Easy Finale!   Leave a comment

This will be the last of the New Orleans postings.  It’s been a lot of fun reviewing the pictures and writing about all of our little adventures.  As you can tell I really love the place and plan on returning as often as possible in the future. Todays post will be nothing more than a few random pictures of the French Quarter that I failed to use this week. You must remember that between my better-half and I we took more than a thousand photographs in our six day visit.

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A balcony used by the bead throwers.

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Artists displaying their wares in Jackson Square.

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Everyone needs a little Voodoo in their life.

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St. Mark’s Cathedral

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How about a little truth in advertising.

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And some Day of the Dead skeletons.

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And finally a stop at Café Du Monde for cafe’ au lait and beignets. Absolutely delicious!

So ends my reminiscences of a truly wonderful vacation.  I should mention that on my last night in the Quarter I made my way to a local tattoo parlor and purchased one as a memento of our trip.  I was going to post a picture of it but my better-half thought that might be a little to much information. Just let it be said that I brought some permanent New Orleans voodoo home with me.

I hope any of you who would love to visit there get the opportunity to do so.

YOU WON’T REGRET IT

 

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09-10-2016 Journal – The Big Easy-6!   Leave a comment

Our vacation began to wind down a little as we entered our fourth day in NO. We decided to spend the final day and a half just roaming around the French Quarter and shopping, people watching, drinking, and eating.  It was a dirty job but someone had to do it.

My first suggestion to my better-half was a required visit to a NO must-see, Pat O’Brien’s Bar.  During my first visit to NO many many years ago I was taken first to Bourbon Street and then directly to Pat O’Brien’s Bar.  I loved the place so much I couldn’t wait to introduce it to my better-half.

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It’s a nondescript hole-in-the-wall or so you think at first glance. You walk through the entry way into a dark tunnel with a barroom on either side.  That leads directly into the terrace filled with tropical plants and tables for patrons.

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Directly in the middle is a fountain that is somewhat famous.  During the day it doesn’t look like much but at night it’s on fire.

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It was difficult trying to capture the rising flames in a photo. This was my best attempt.

We took a seat in the bar and ordered dinner. Since O’Brien’s is the actual home of the famous Hurricane cocktail we ordered two. They were huge as was expected and strong enough to give you a glow after drinking only one.

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My entrée was something I’d been waiting for for years.  This is something the locals call “crawfish etouffee” and believe me it was the best I’ve ever had.  It was hot and spicy and effing delicious.

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It was a fun night spent people watching and just enjoying the atmosphere of the French Quarter.  Vibrant, crowded, and as much fun as any person could handle.  We retired to our hotel and the secluded pool to cool down a little before bed.  Another terrific day in the Big Easy.

WE’RE REALLY GONNA MISS THIS PLACE.

09-08-2016 Journal – The Big Easy-5   Leave a comment

Our fourth day in NO took us to one of the most interesting places I’ve ever been.  I’ve always been a big fan of graveyards but this one was the ultimate. It’s called St. Louis #1, the oldest cemetery in the city. Some residents have been there since the late 1700’s.  The temperature was 95 degrees but once we got inside the cemetery it rose to just over 100 degrees.

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Since all bodies are buried above ground in NO the cemetery is just concrete walkways and white tombs.  The heat actually accelerates the decomposition which is important I suppose.  The cemetery isn’t open to the public any longer but I’m sure the Catholic Church is getting their taste from all of the tour groups visiting every day.

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To add to the solemnness of the visit we happened upon what has become a common occurrence these days. A Hollywood celebrity showing up to spend 60,000 dollars to build an eight foot tall white pyramid right in the middle of all this history. Who else would it be but that way-out-there celebrity . .  Nicolas Cage.  Only one word comes to mind and that is A-Hole.

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I think I lost five pounds of water weight in the hour and a half we spent roaming around the place. Our tour guide was an encyclopedia of history of New Orleans and the people resting in that cemetery.  It was a highlight of our trip.

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The vacation continues with Pat O’Brien’s Bar scheduled for dinner and drinks tonight. We both need a dip in the hotel pool and a few cold ones to rehydrate before visiting there.  I’ll cover O’Brien’s in the next post.

MAN WAS IT EVER HOT

09-06-2016 Journal – The Big Easy-4   Leave a comment

Our third day in NO was a special day for me because for most of my life I’ve wanted to ride an airboat through these Louisiana swamps.  We boarded a bus in the French Quarter which took us across the Mississippi River southeast into the bayous. Our destination was a bayou named Barataria where the pirate John Lafitte and his men helped Stonewall Jackson defeat the British at the battle of New Orleans.  A beautiful place filled with as much history as you could ever want.

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These boats are just as fast as you can imagine. It’s like flying on water.

We left the dock and proceeded into the bayou and the beauty of the place was breathtaking.  I could have spent an entire week just riding around taking pictures. The guide took us to a rather cool cemetery where the brother of Jean Lafitte is buried. As you can see all bodies are buried above ground here in Louisiana.

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This is the ultimate spooky graveyard.

I was especially interested in getting some wildlife pictures and I no sooner had that thought and BAM . . . we found a few gators.  They were almost as curious about us as we were about them. This guy came to visit after we pulled ashore to get a better look at him.

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Doesn’t he have the cutest smile?

We played around with them for a few minutes then it was back into some isolated logging channels where we ran into a couple of turtles sunning themselves on a log.

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I hated for this day to come to an end but I was able to take some truly wonderful photos.  This last photo is the one that will remind me of this trip for as long as I live.

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WHAT MORE CAN I SAY?

 

 

09-04-2016 Journal – Big Easy-3!   Leave a comment

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Day two began with a walk through the French Quarter to the Toulouse Docks where the steamboat Natchez was moored.  My better-half has always wanted to ride the Mississippi River in an old steamship and we made that happen. We signed up for a three hour river cruise (hopefully better than Gilligan’s) that would take up south on the river through the busy port of NO. It was a brunch cruise and we had a great meal sitting on the main deck with a fantastic view of NO and the river.. It had been fully restored and was just like you would expect it to be minus the gambling tables and card cheats.

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One of the m0ost interesting sights was the massive amount of damage caused by Katrina.  There were huge section of docks and buildings that had been totally destroyed in the storm and had yet to be repaired or replaced.

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On the upper deck we checked out the gift shop and of course the bar. Their specialty drink was the Jazz Punch which was delicious and wickedly alcoholic. I wanted to have a second one but wasn’t sure I could off the boat without injury.  The views were incredible.

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We made a U-turn an hour later and proceeded back north to NO which was a sight to behold from the middle of the river.

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Another great day of relaxation to help us prepare for day three of the vacation.  Day three was on the top of my wish list and it meant an airboat and trip into the bayou’s.

HOPING FOR LOTS OF GREAT PHOTO’S

 

09-02-2016 Journal – Big Easy-2!   Leave a comment

The first day in NO was coming to an end and we decided to just hit the streets and roam around to get a better feel for things.  It was just getting dark and we were both starving. That airline food really is a joke.  We stumbled on a place on the north end of the French Quarter called Coops.  It’s one of those places with a questionable first impression and it was filled with mostly local residents some of which were way out there.  Of course we immediately went in to sample some good old Cajun food and we weren’t sorry.

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My rule #1 for eating in NO. Go local!

I ordered my usual ice cold Chardonnay while my better-half discovered a new love. She ordered a Big Easy IPA that’s brewed locally.  She fell in love with the brew which meant I would have a few more of them on my credit card in the coming days. . . AND I DID!  She ordered some sort of shrimp dish while I stepped outside the box once again. I dined on rabbit and alligator sausage jambalaya.  I hate to say this about the rabbit but if cooked properly it tastes just like chicken. No eye rolling please. We were finally cooled down by the air conditioning and decided to continue our walking tour.  Temps were still in the low nineties at dusk.

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We stopped at a number of small shops when we saw something interesting and to use their air conditioning. I’d already sweat through my clothes and would do so many more times during our stay.

NO is known as an artist colony and one of the reasons I love this place so much. We saw murals and sculptures just about everywhere we went. Here are two samples from our first night.

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We spent a lot of time looking at art work displayed in galleries and also on the street in Jackson Square.  Some of it was really good, some just OK, and others that were unbelievably bad.  To each their own I guess.  We continued our walk into Jackson Square where the line of horse drawn carriages were waiting for customers.

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We were at the end of a very long day and headed back to our hotel for the night.  That little pool in the courtyard I posted about earlier was the best thing that happened to us the entire day. Off with the clothes, into the swim suits, and into all of that lovely cool water.  We chatted with some new friends from Germany at the pool, finished our drinks and went off to bed. Our room felt like a refrigerator and thank god for that.

MORE TO COME

08-31-2016 Journal – The Big Easy!   Leave a comment

Well, my better-half and I arrived home last night after spending 6 glorious days in the party capitol of the USA . . . New Orleans.  If I disregard our god awful experiences with Jet Blue then we had a great time.  It’s been a number of years since I visited NOLA but I was thrilled to see that it was the same old exciting place that I remembered.  The evidence of Katrina’s visit eleven years ago has been all but erased.

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I grabbed this shot from their website because mine was blurry as hell.

I booked our hotel in an off-the-beaten-path location located in the old creole section of NO on Burgundy Street, 2 blocks north of Bourbon Street. The St. Pierre hotel was once the NO Jazz Museum but has since been converted into an hotel.

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It consists of a group of 150 year old creole homes joined together with small intimate courtyards and swimming pools hidden from street view.  If you ever visit there you need to know this is not the Hilton or Weston style of hotel.  This is an old building with 150 years of character and an 1850’s atmosphere.  We loved going native for a few days and would do it again in a heartbeat.

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This pool was 30 feet from our room. This is the view looking down from the balcony.

The weather was typical NO. It was 90 plus degrees all week with never less than 80% humidity. It was feel-like temperature of over 100 degrees.  Even though the heat was brutal that pool made it bearable. We visited it twice a day to cool off and have a drink and meet people from all over the world who were also staying there. Just fabulous.

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Another view of the courtyard from our balcony.

This posting is just the start of our trip. I’ll probably continue posting on our other activities for the next week or so. There was a lot to see and maybe I can give you a little taste of how it felt to be there.

IT WAS AN INCREDIBLE WEEK BUT WE’RE GLAD TO BE HOME.

08-08-2016 Journal – August in Maine!   Leave a comment

I have to say that the last week of weather has been as good as it can get for Maine in August.  Temperatures during the day have been in the mid-80’s and dropping into the mid-50’s at night. Just perfect.  Since it’s been so nice we decided to take our visitors for a day trip to Portland.  A hot and sunny Sunday in August means lots of tourist and thousands of people to watch.  Finding parking is usually a problem but we got lucky, parked the car, and headed down Commercial Street into the Old Port.

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Commercial Street runs right along the length of the harbor and always has some nice shots available of the boats.

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The ladies were in and out of a dozen shops and buying, buying, and buying. I spent most of that time people watching and taking a few pictures for future use.

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We returned home tired and hungry and began the preparation of our dinner. Shish-kabobs, salads, pies, cakes, and a growler full of Goat Island Light beer. Since it was my birthday my better-half bought me the only beer I like. and it was wonderful.  After dinner we made our way to the beach located in Scarborough, Maine. A cool breeze was blowing and the water was perfect for wading and relaxing.

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The clouds just kept getting darker and darker but it never rained.

It didn’t take long to tire us all out and we returned home to relax for the rest of the night.  Another great day and an even better birthday.

 

 

 

07-17-2016 Journal – Beach Day!   Leave a comment

My better-half was able to sneak away from work a little early yesterday making it possible for us to make our first visit this summer to Old Orchard Beach, Maine, the ultimate tourist trap.  The weather was sweltering at our house but when we arrived at OOB there was a beautiful ocean breeze that was grand. The beach looked beautiful and it was loaded with visiting tourists.

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The only place to stay cool for a few hours.

I love just walking around and people watching when I stumbled on this young lady wearing the required bikini I always look for. It was too bad she decided to stay buried in the sand.

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What’s a trip to the beach without our mandatory visit to the Surf 6 bar. It’s located directly adjacent to the beach just a hop, skip, and jump from the water. I should also mention the excellent mojitos and margaritas that are available.  As always laced with some excellent Patron tequila. OLE!

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We took a nice walk along the beach just as the sun was setting. The cool water felt damn good our poor overheated and sweaty feet.  It was heaven.

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All in all it was a lot of fun and we are planning more of these outings over the next month. The food was delicious, the water was cool, the drinks were icy cold, and the people watching was the best.

SUMMER WILL CONTINUE

 

 

 

 

 

 

07-07-2016 Journal – Spoiled Rotten!   Leave a comment

I think I may be getting a little bit spoiled but trust me . . . I won’t tell that to anyone but you. I never thought I’d live to see the day when I’d be considered spoiled but I have and it arrived yesterday.

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My better-half is on vacation this week and we’ve been going and doing anything we want and enjoying it immensely.  Yesterday was an almost perfect day. It was in the low eighties, sunny, and not a cloud in the sky. We decided to take a short day trip into New Hampshire to shop for antiques and to just relax and roam around for a few hours. Sounds pretty good right? Then why was I complaining almost the entire time? Why, because I’m spoiled.

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After getting home last night I sat on the deck and tried to figure out what my problem might be.  I spent a great deal of time whining and complaining about New Hampshire and those endlessly boring forests, lakes,  and those beautiful White Mountains. I complained about having to drive twenty miles along dozens of lakes and streams and be forced to see all of this damn beautiful scenery.  I also moaned and groaned after traveling through the countryside for an hour about that one car that was tailgating me or the one truck that was in front of me going only twenty miles an hour. Truthfully they were the only other cars on the road at that time. I was also upset that I had to drive by all of those cool little campgrounds and small beaches where I was forced once again to ogle a few well tanned and bikini clad lovelies enjoying their day. Am I going insane of just horribly spoiled?

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As we drove home back into Maine I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I could stop bitching about New Hampshire and return to my normal everyday bitching about Maine. More damn forests, more lakes, more good weather, and more of those damn beautiful vistas. Why me? What did I do in a previous life that I deserved all of these wonderful things.

I don’t know for sure but I’m working on it.