St Patrick’s Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is one of those can’t/must miss experiences.  Crowds aren’t my thing, but I’d watch from a balcony if Steve weren’t horrified at the very idea.  So I knew the New Orleans St. Patrick’s Day parade we saw with friends last year was the closest I’d ever get to doing Mardi Gras, and I was charged.  The parade was rated ‘family friendly’ so who would have thought I’d end up trading kisses for flowers?  I expected to see paraders tossing cabbages. I’d even brought a grocery bag to haul the veggies home.  Instead, I filled the bag with beads and watched revelers squirt drinks […]

House Haunter on the Loose

The Avenue Plaza Resort in New Orleans offers a pool, rooftop sundeck, fitness center…and a haunted house? Yes, a Civil War era house occupies the resort’s back corner, and on certain evenings, hotel employees offer free tours. Our guide was new and had only heard rumors of ghostly goings-on.  She’d been told that twelve ghosts inhabit the house which was used as a hospital (amputation factory) during the war.  One of the ghosts objected to visitors playing her piano.  Another sometimes rearranged the toys on one of the beds. If our hosts were in, they apparently were not feeling it.  Vigilant as we […]

Celebrity Sauce

The Avery Island, Louisiana Tabasco Factory tour is about what you’d expect and not at all.  Inside, the factory is the typical sterile, automated, conveyor belt, assembly line.  Not the sort of thing you usually find in the midst of a jungle island.  The McIlhenny family has taken pains to preserve the beauty and habitat for generations.  Back in 1895, before ecology was even a thing, “Mr. Ned” founded Bird City, a refuge to foster a colony of the then endangered snowy egrets. Having spent my life in a prairie, I treasure trees, and massive oaks draped in Spanish moss are especially enchanting.  It was good that I was more than happy just hanging […]

Losing Faith 2

Our GPS leads us out of the darkness so unfailingly that when our friend Pat suggested the name Faith, we embraced it. Since then Steve began calling on Faith’s ways of finding reasonable rooms for the night whenever we grow weary. Our March road trip to New Orleans tested Faith on several evenings when pickings were slim, but between our Faith and Pat’s Siri, we found comfortable vacancies.  One evening Siri’s Trip Advisor ratings insisted on an inn a good way off our beaten path.  Without Faith the complicated cross-town zigzags would have been overwhelming, we didn’t despair. Over a late supper, we plotted our final leg, […]

Iberia Mystery Master

The name ‘Iberia’ came up a number of times in the planning of our New Orleans road trip and always made me wonder if it was the New Iberia I’ve come to know and love through the writings of James Lee Burke.  Sure enough, when we walked into the small town visitor’s center, there was a poster inviting aspiring novelists to a workshop. New Iberia, it seems, is a mystery lovers’ mecca.  That’s how good Burke is.  If you love books with such a strong sense of place that you feel you’ve lived there, give Burke’s Dave Robicheaux series a try.  The Neon Rain kicks it […]