NOLO 13The requisite destination to New Orleans (NOLA) is the French Quarter; however, it ain’t all Bourbon Street!  If you’ve never been to Bourbon Street, then you’ve missed the smells and sights of a party place reserved primarily for the young and stalwart drinker relegated to a few parallel  cobblestone streets lined with bars with catchy names, like “Huge Ass Beer” – known for a plastic beer container with a protruded posterior and 72-ounces of libation and a tee-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “How much ass can you handle”.  You can’t make this stuff up.

Another extremely popular destination is the Cafe Du Monde; famous for their interpretation of beignets and coffee laced with chicory.

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I have fondness for the coffee from a memory of having coffee with my grandfather when my brother and I would visit my grandparent’s home during Summer vacation from elementary school.

My grandfather, born in 1900, lived as an adult during the great depression in the 1920’s.  Many of those of the era, including my grandfather, would, due to the lessor cost, use chicory to extend their more expensive coffee.  If you’ve never tried this type of coffee, it is on par with a Starbucks-Americano, with three shots.  It’s an eye opener.

As for beignets, the name must be French for “may I have some fried bread and powdered sugar”.  It is a culinary indulgence not recommended for those of us eating gluten free or trying to shed our beer baby; but what the heck, it’s a NOLA thang!NOLO 4

A different NOLA is off Bourbon and N. Peters Streets on the back side of Jackson Square and down the streets of Toulouse, Dumaine, and St. Louis. There is a mix of restaurants, shops and 3-4 story apartments.  Many of the streets are one-way only and quite narrow; especially when street performers are busking for their daily bread

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We’ve searched for homes to buy in several states across the USA and have used the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to cull our search.  It seems that NOLA has added a new category for residences when we saw a sign that added, as one of the selling points, ‘Not Haunted”.  Not something I’d ever considered as a draw, but hey, we’re not in Kansas anymore.

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It appears there is another world of gentry lurking behind the drawn shutters and wooden doors hardened by age and use.

We spied a glimpse of ‘normal’ life through a metal fleurs-de-lis gate and found a beautiful slate patio area lined with ferns and wrought iron furniture surrounded by a bright-yellow stucco edifice.

I’m an odd bird when it comes to the way I think and process information.  Whenever I visit a zoo and stand to study an animal, I often wonder if the animal is, in turn, studying me.

NOLO 5From the number of residences, that are the grace of NOLA, perched above the shops and bars, I have to wonder what, those who live above this foray and watch the day-to-day mass of humanity pass below them, are thinking of us.  Maybe the zoo came to them.

Our shell is staying a bit more in NOLA and the Paisley Turtle is inching onward to new experiences of people and stories to tell.

(All photos by Jennie Edwards)

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Travel can be an insulator or a conduit. Whereas we may not get everything we want, we’ll always get 100% of nothing if we don’t invest in an experience.  Like all things, our reward depends on the amount effort we put into an endeavor, relative to expectations.

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The richness of travel is emersion into the culture of the area.  We either learn of something new, we didn’t know we were missing, or find a new entry into the chapter of “I’ll never have to do that again”.  Louisiana is a culture-rich state, steeped in language, music, food and beer.  Lot’s of beer.

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Our visit to Lafayette, Louisiana landed us in the middle of a week-long event called “Festival International de Louisiane”.  A blending of Cajun French inspired music that was a cross between Bon Jovi meets Bedouin Monk and Earth-Wind-and Fire meets Garage Band; set up in a 5-block area of downtown Lafayette.

Four large stage areas, at opposite compass points around the city, boomed with music throughout the day as the tens of thousands of people cycled from venue to venue sampling food, drink and each other.

Being the nosy one, I asked a 30-something couple, whose four year-old daughter was perched upon her father’s shoulders, about the dual-language announcements being made over the sound system between bands.  “Cajun French” I was told.  Unlike Quebec, Canada, where Parisian French is the preferred and dominate language, Cajun French has been relegated to a generation gone by and, according to this couple, “…is dying out.  When we were young, and in school, we were punished and looked down upon if we spoke Cajun French, so we just stopped”

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It appeared that some of the young people in the audience, and every performer we heard on stage, still spoke the language.  The revelry of the crowd ratcheted up a notch each time someone spoke in Cajun French; but I have no idea what they said.

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There was a sponsor banner above one of the venues we stood with the words Fais Do Do in the lower right-hand corner.  I asked a middle-aged couple behind me what that phrase meant.  They said it was Cajun for “Dancing in the street”.  Now that, I understand.

Our shell is moving and the Paisley Turtle is inching onward to New Orleans.

I saw Texas the first time in 1975 when my former wife and I traveled the country on our 1973 Honda 500.  We came from the North and traveled down to Corpus Christi.

The only portion of my first visit that exists is the amount of road construction going on.  Was in 1975, and is today, only on a grander scale.1507132_10203092440408887_1515716765_n

This time my wife, Jennie, and I entered Texas on the Western side where Texas meets New Mexico heading East on Interstate 10.  A windy, barren and dusty drive with Mexico to our right and vast nothingness to our left.  Miles and miles of the same view until we reached Texas Hill Country where the landscape began to green up.

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With the exception of mountains, the topography and horizons of Texas are an amalgam of every place I’ve ever lived.  Desert to lush, barren to treed, it’s all here.

We’ve observed a few things about Texas that makes me love this place.  The first being, Texas is a place of personal responsibility.  I have lived the last 25 years in California. California is the home of laws against just about every conceivable thing; the purpose I suppose, to protect people from themselves.  Not so much,Texas.

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Motorcycle helmet laws? Nope.  Purchase ‘really good’ fireworks? Yep.  Purchase automatic, high capacity ammunition, weapons?  Yep.

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We camped on the beach side of Galveston Island, Texas for five days. (I kept hearing the Glenn Campbell song from my youth echoing in my head the whole time.)   There is a sidewalk along the seawall that stretches for miles that sits above the beach, several feet.  We saw a sign posted on the sidewalk that was one of the best examples of personal responsibility we’ve seen.  It simply reads: “Caution Drop Off”.  That’s all.  No fence, no guardrail or security patrolling the walkway to remind people not to get too close to the edge.  Nothing obstructed the amazing view of the beach and Gulf of Mexico as the waves continually lapped the shore.

Another observation is that Texans, really love Texas.  If there is a USA flag flying anywhere, there will be a Texas State Flag flying right next to it.  Homes and businesses alike.

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We observed that Texans love to eat meat.  I saw a bumper sticker that read, “I love animals; they’re delicious”  That just about sums it up.  Texas BBQ of ribs and brisket are a staple food and available from large restaurant chains to Leroy’s BBQ, in Willis, Texas – near Lake Conroe. If you’re anywhere near Houston, Thursday through Saturday, Leroy’s is worth the drive.  (http://www.allmenus.com/tx/willis/60419-leroys-b-b-q/menu/ )

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We found the most delightful senior lady whose property boarders the Steven F. Austin park in San Felipe, Texas. Her childhood home was declared an Historic Site and she shared stories of the home and area with us as her granddaughters frolicked about the park exploring the weeds and fences.

There are jobs aplenty in Texas.  I lost count of the number of “We’re Hiring” banners I saw draped across the front of businesses.  A friend of mine, who left Eureka, California a year and a half ago to join the family business in the Dallas/Fort Worth area, told me that his business grew from 200 to 600 employees in just the time he’s been there.  The oil business is booming and money is flowing to every other industry as a result.  Seems Trickle Down economics thrives in Texas.

The Texas State Department of Transportation operates a FREE vehicle and pedestrian ferry between Port Bolivar and Crystal Beach. (saves miles, not time; however, it is a very nice drive back to Eastbound Interstate 10).  We passed Seawolf Park and the memorial for the 3,500 submariners lost during WWII.  I served aboard the USS James Monroe (SSBN622), so I too paid respect to some amazing men as we passed.

Homage to Sub Sailors

As Texas is now in our rear-view mirror and Louisiana is in front view, our shell is moving and the Paisley Turtle is inching onward.

(All photography by Jennie Edwards)