Sunday, January 22, 2012

NOLA: New Orleans, Louisiana

December 16-19th:
Bayou Segnette State Park, New Orleans, LA:

Campsite #11

We've never had a desire to visit New Orleans...ever.  But for some reason, I thought it would be fun to have a Cajun Christmas and visit NOLA.  There is so much to see, explore, and eat there :)  We had one beautiful day of sightseeing in the French Quarter, but we decided to cut our time in NOLA a little short and move on.  We left many sights left unseen unfortunately, but we just never felt comfortable there and we were feeling the pressure to mosey on westward.  Maybe one day we'll be back to see all the rest.

We spent 4 days at the state park... we did our studies, laundry, a little bit of hiking, and lots of playground time!

Teaching the kids how to "cherry drop" like I did when I was a kid :) 

I love the name of this we are starting our journey west!

The best day there was the day we ventured into the French Quarter: 

We took the Algiers Ferry to downtown.
When we were coming up to the dock from the parking lot we found out they were leaving in 2 minutes!  We played Amazing Race and RAN to the dock and made it just in the nick of time :)

Christmas greeted us in Nawlin's!

It was mid morning when we made it to the French Quarter.  We worked up an appetite running to the ferry, so we headed to the #1 place to be...

Can you guess where this looooonnngggg line goes to?

Cafe' Du Monde, of course!

While we were standing in line, the kids were entertained by the "chefs" at Cafe' Du Monde.

Where all the magic happens...

Raw beignets... about to meet their fate in the fryer...

The cook picks up the dough squares and flings them in the the deep oil fryers behind him, without looking at where he was throwing!  See them flying through the air while his head stays looking down?  I guess he's made a few million of these delicacies :)

Here is the reason for the long lines...fried dough covered in powdered sugar.  Does food get any better than this???
I think not!

We took ours to-go and sat in a park to enjoy them...
It was quite a challenge to eat them without getting COVERED in powdered sugar :)

You can tell by the front of Faith's shirt, she lost the battle of the powder sugar.  Actually, none of us finished without a front covered in a white, sticky layer.  

Now that we had full bellies and sugar energy to burn, we walked around the French Quarter taking in all the sights.  However, we were very careful to avoid Bourbon Street!  We didn't want to see those sights!
We walked around and did some sightseeing.  We all loved the neat architecture of the area.
The city was extra pretty all decorated for Christmas!

DT acting like a fountain.

We were looking forward to visiting the Pharmacy Museum...

Unfortunately, it was closed that this is how we toured it---by peeking in the windows   :)

We got to enjoy the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve:
Yay, this one is open.  And the best news...they have private, clean bathrooms!

It was a great little National Historic Park (NHP) where we learned about New Orleans/ Louisiana culture, food, music, peoples, and environment.  Bummer, they do not have the Jr. Ranger program here. 

Listening to the different dialects of the area.
Learning about the flavors of the Delta.

Our last stop was the ONE place the kids wanted to go most of all in NOLA:

The Audubon Insectarium!

This was supposed to be our Christmas photo.  So, Merry Christmas to ya'll from Nawlin's!
Take a careful look at the chandelier... it's a Venus Flytrap!

We were overwhelmed and so impressed with how awesome the Insectarium is!  We spent the whole afternoon here.
Everyone starting exploring right away...insects are everywhere!

They even had creepy, crawling insects to touch!
I'm just not a fan of the cockroach, hissing or any other kind.

There are MANY great collections on display.
Some with funny bugs.... 

Like the Peanut Head Moth!
He's the beige guy in the middle and bottom of the picture.  His head is HUGE!  How does he fly??

Checking out BLUE crayfish...they were very pretty.

Can you guess where the insect is???
Ok, I'll give you a hint:
It's the two "leaves" right in the middle of the picture!
These were so amazing...they look just like leaves that have been nibbled on.

God's infinite creativity is on display everywhere!  You can not deny Him when you really look at the amazing detail that went into creating bugs... He made them funny shapes, to do interesting things, have vibrant colors... and most are never seen by us in our daily lives.  He made them that way for His good pleasure :)

Bug to human ratio...bugs out weigh all the people on the planet!

My little dung beetles...actually, they are just looking at a dung beetle display.

We even got to explore insect life underground!  This was so fun!!!  They had a sound track that represented what it sounds like to insects when we walk on the ground above.  It provided such an interesting perspective.

They had dares in the underground section.  You were told to stick your hand in the dark hole and feel what was inside.  The camera flash makes the darkness not seem as threatening, but it was dark underground.  DT did NOT want to put his hand in these :)

Yahoo.....riding an earthworm underground!

La rue de Insects:  a history lesson about the insects of New Orleans.

The greatest adventure awaits us under this arch!
BUG Appetit!

Can you guess what Daniel is about to eat?
Chocolate covered mealworms!

Here's a closer look at the placard...
Yes, it says, SIX LEGGED SALSA!!  

The "chef" frying mealworms in oil.
They actually smelled delicious, like popcorn.
I'm going for it... a seasonal treat:  Cranberry Cricket Chutney on a Wheat Thin...
It was actually delicious!

We each ate a bug and earned the coveted "I ate a bug!" stamp!
And no joke, we all went back for seconds :)  

Don't think you'd eat a bug???  Well, you already have!

Read your labels, if you find Carmine (natural red #4) in the list... it's the red coloring from a ground up insect that makes it home on the prickly pear cactus...the Cochineal.
On a side note, the USDA allows a % of ground up insects in our store bought foods---Yum, right????
We can't visit NOLA without visiting the Louisiana Swamp!
Crocodile hunter!

More wonderful insect collections!

The beetles were our favorite type of insect because the variety of shapes and colors is so vast!

Metamorphosis Room
Jolie petting a caterpillar, which is the larva stage of the life cycle of a butterfly.

Pupa stage
Pupa and adult stage... watching a butterfly emerge from a chrysalis, always fascinating. 

We've spent so much time here that DT has metamorphosed into an insect!

The Butterfly Garden

This was my favorite insect... a pink katydid!
I've never seen one before.  They are so cool.  From a distance, they look like pink flower blossom on the bush.

Taking the Algiers Ferry back home after a fantabulous day in New Orleans.

Well, it's time to move again.  We're heading to Jellystone to meet Yogi Bear!!!

Our departure route on moving day from New Orleans included tackling the Huey P. Long Bridge (HPL Bridge Info), which we did not know was under construction.  Under normal driving conditions (meaning no 36' RV in tow), it wouldn't matter all that much.  However, here is what it was like from my seat:

... we had no idea that we'd be facing THIS leaving the city!

Look in the mirror to see how T-I-G-H-T it was for our camper...we barely missed grazing the cement barricades!
We didn't breathe the whole time we were crossing this bridge!!!
Monty drove like a rockstar!!!  I'm so proud of him for successfully navigating this challenge :)

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