"Sam & Mira" ride on a Mardi Gras float with Bubbie, in Mobile
We met a very sweet couple, newly married on Saturday, staying at Bernie/Fly Inn. They certainly seemed like an odd pair: she was very large, with a very pretty face and a sparkling personality. Her husband seems like a hick from a small town in the Ozarks, but is, in fact, very knowledgeable about and appreciative of antiques and beautifully carved furniture. They are on their way to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and I absolutely cringed. They described their cabin in the woods and I told them they will have a great time no matter where they go • just be prepared for the crass commercialism of that town.
We went to visit the Mobile Carnival Museum in downtown Mobile.
It is so interesting. The fact that Mobile started the whole Mardi Gras tradition came as a big surprise to me when our bed-and-breakfast host told us about it. New Orleans is thought to be the originator of the Fat Tuesday parties and parades, but they just have a louder chamber of commerce! The costumes from many of the past kings and queens of Mardi Gras are on display. They are utterly amazing. I have included photos of just a few of them. Each one represents important things in the life of the person chosen as king or queen. They are hand-sewn and weigh anywhere from 75 to 100 lbs. each. The trains on the robes have ball bearings or special plastic sheets underneath the widest end so that the wearer can move gracefully and, in my opinion, not be pulled over backwards by the weight of the things. The gowns worn by the queens are often made by important designers.
"Sam" is King of the Mardi Gras
For example, the popular bridal-designer-to-the-stars, Vera Wang, made the gown for the queen a couple of years ago. That set her back a pretty penny, I’ll bet (or probably her father!).
"Mira" is Queen of the Mardi Gras
We took off for New Orleans on I-10, a smooth ride amidst the insanely-fast southern drivers. Even the school busses break the speed limit by at least 10 mph. They bear down on a slower driver and stay there trying to intimidate one into moving to a different lane. Well • okay: if you are in the fast lane, breaking the limit by only 10 mph, you would be wise to move to the right lane. If you are already in the right lane, why can’t the bozo move into the open left lane? It is meant for passing.
But, noooo! They want to force the other guy to bow to their superior manliness! Grrrr!
Regal crown and scepter for Mardi Gras king
Naturally we stopped at the Mississippi Welcome Center for a photo with my grandkids. Jag went inside and said it is the best information center of all those we have visited so far on this trip. We planned to have lunch at the Louisiana Welcome Center, but it was closed for rebuilding. Jag slept past it anyway and I did not have the heart to awaken him for that, or for our crossing of a long causeway leading into New Orleans. This was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. A new and much higher causeway is now being built.
We arrived in the Big Easy to find the heat unbearable.
Instead of dropping our bags in our room and getting out to explore, we are cowering in here to avoid fainting in this almost-visible air. Our bed and breakfast, Creole Garden, is cute on the outside. Unfortunately the room has some big problems. The drawers in the bureau are stuck fast - they simply cannot be opened. Humidity has probably caused the wood to expand. The bathroom doors (they are double doors) have to be pulled shut using the curtains. There is no handle to grab. I was looking for a reasonably priced place. I guess you get what you pay for. Jag is mad as can be and again vowed to never stay at another bed and breakfast inn. I have to try to change his mind, but I am not going to bother now.
"Sam & Mira" at the Mississippi Welcome Center
We do not have any more reserved for the rest of this trip.
Interior courtyard at Creole Gardens B&B in New Orleans
The passenger-side window on our minivan has decided to get stuck. What a time to have a window open! Rain is expected tomorrow. In addition, it would appear the Miami Chrysler dealer who worked on our car did not fix the leaking air conditioning hose properly. We had to make an appointment with the nearest Chrysler dealer. This is a great start to our visit to New Orleans. I, for one, am not in a hurry to return, if only because of the weather. That is not fair, I know, but that car has me frustrated. I should have expected something would happen. The vehicle has over 107,000 miles on it and it is only 6 years old.
Well • that is the way it goes. Just accept what happens as part of the learning experience of travel and enjoy all of it. (Jag just got the Chrysler's window to close! Yay! He put tape over the control switches so that we cannot open the window until we return to Concord. That's fine with me.)
Meet Bella, a resident's bull dog at our bed-and-breakfast
One of the reasons I chose Creole Gardens as our home in New Orleans is their very liberal policy regarding dogs. They welcome them with open arms. I was looking forward to an opportunity for playtime with a pooch. Here comes Bella, a 14-months-old English bull dog who is utterly adorable. She is charming and very well-behaved. She doesn't mind visiting everyone's room and, because of her sweet nature and cute face, nobody turns her down. She is the tallest English bull dog I have ever seen, so she doesn't waddle the way most of them do.
We went out for dinner about 6:30 pm.
The setting sun dropped the temperatures about 15 degrees and the humidity by quite a lot. We did not drip with sweat after a short walk. We went down St. Charles Street, looking at menus from a few promising-looking places. We reached Houston's and decided that was the one for us. And was it ever. Jag ordered ahi tuna and it was prepared perfectly. I had a Thai chicken salad that was equally wonderful. Since they have a restaurant in San Francisco, we will be sure to visit when we get home. Our waitress was a lovely young woman and her service was impeccable and friendly. The dessert for us was the David Hansen Trio, playing latin jazz - especially the beautiful music of Antonio Carlos (Tom) Jobim. They really made our dinner at Houston's very pleasureable. We are going to look for the group's DVDs so that we can bring home some of New Orleans.
Banana tree in interior courtyard at Creole Gardens B & B