Thursday, December 10, 2009

New Orleans- Finally!


Ok so hopefully this entry is worth waiting for, because it's been a month since we were in New Orleans! I had a great time there- we weren't really expecting to stop in, but it just turned out that we had plenty of time to get to Texas and you just breeze right by N.O., so why not?!

Unfortunately however, we didn't really have a lot of time to spend here- just an afternoon- so we just had the cab driver drop us off on Bourbon street and we'd take it from there.


As you may know, le Quartier Francais is, well the French Quarter, and as such, is heavily influenced by this culture. In the schools, they still teach French and even Creole which is like a French ebonix :) It's a very interesting language in and of itself. Our taxi driver was taught it in school.


We ate at some random restaurant, as there are millions down there, called "Remoulade", which is actually the name of a mustard-type creole sauce. I enjoyed a Po'boy, which is basically a hoagie.


We visited a couple gift shops, but just like Alaska, once you've seen one, you've seen them all. However, they do have some funny souvenirs such as real crocodile heads (above), feather boas and other very mardi gras-esque trinkets (see below).



And, what would Bourbon Street be without some rather eclectic people?


^^ Yea, uhh what is that?


^^ A creative homeless person- if you look like a street performer, maybe people will give money :)


One of those still-standing mute people that pretend to be a statue


^^ Some dude doing magic tricks

Realizing that Bourbon Street just wasn't our cup of tea, we migrated away. Here is this awesome church, still in the French Quartier. Sadly, I've forgotten the name, but it is well-known, so you can easily google it.



We saw a huge crowd, so we walked over, only to find this dance troupe, who actually I believe were on America's Dance Crew or whatever it is. They were pretty talented!


Then we headed over to the Mississippi River waterfront. Maybe this is lame, but I think that the Mississippi River has a culture of its own. It is such a huge part of this area of the country, and I find it fascinating that it played such a huge role in life during the 19th Century. There is just a mystique about it.

But yea, we were kinda excited to see a riverboat waiting for us :)



Sadly, it began to grow dark in New Orleans...

Photobucket photo-ops became a rarity, and boredom ensued. This is the beginning of Bourbon Street at night:


We did take one last stroll down Bourbon Street, but by then it was getting rowdy (think Mardi Gras every night) and we might have seen a couple girls completely naked, trying to get us to come into the Peep shows, so we called it a night and booked it back to the hotel.

I wish we'd had more time to spend here, as there were a few things I didn't get to see, such as the cemeteries with the raised tombs. Well, we DID see one from the road, but I know there are some older ones near downtown. I also wanted to see some of the beautiful old mansions that New Orleans famously boasts. AND I wanted to see Brad Pitt, but no such luck :(

Despite the short visit however, I did learn a lot about the city, and it was very interesting to still see evidence of Hurricane Katrina. Did you know that nearly 30% of the population left town, and most did not return? There are still many buildings all around that are in ruins from those storms. I also learned that N.O. has one of the highest murder rates in the country, and is one of the poorest cities. It's such a shame because it is truly a gorgeous city, and probably the most fascinating one in the U.S. One of its nicknames is "The City that Care Forgot", implying that it is basically treated like the ugly step-sister, which is kinda evident in the fact that there is very little Federal presence in the city. It kinda does its own thing down, far far away from everything, and you get that feeling when you're there. It's just very...different.



Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Texas, etc.

We have been in Texas since mid-November, and can you believe it, I haven't taken any photos?! I took maybe 2 verry random, not very representative photos with my phone's camera. I admit, I have kinda been burned out and ready for Holiday break. I can't wait to have a 3 week break so I can regenerate. I'm still not fully recovered from working all summer long, I think :)

Anyways, Texas has been interesting, to say the least. We started out before Thanksgiving in Houston, then went to San Antonio. After Thanksgiving, we traveled to Austin area, Houston (again), and now we are in "The Valley", ie just North of the Border :) We have been in the cities of Brownsville, Harlingen and now McAllen. All of the places we've been to have had similar aspects, but have been very different from each other as well.

Honestly though, "The Valley" is a little out-of-this-world, or at least, out of this country. It feels like Little Mexico. We are really close to the border- in fact, apparently there was some crazy shoot out at the Mexic0-Brownsville border yesterday morning. The Mexicans were shooting at people on the bridge or something. Insanity, I tell you. Unfortunately a lot of the area is run down and unkempt, and Brownsville happens to be the most impoverished city in the U.S., a fact that is evident when simply driving down the street.

And, may I say, the people of Texas- sigh. They are very friendly, that's for sure. But if you want to know why, after everything, they still love George W. Bush, it's probably because they see a lot of themselves in him. A couple comments we've gotten MULTIPLE times in our presentations here:

-Trent always asks, "how many hours of direct sunlight do you think we get in Alaska in on the Summer Solstice, the longest day of the year" and for some reason, I always hear someone saying "two!" or "five!"

....I am having a hard time understanding how it could even be summer up there if were only 2 hours of sunlight a day, and why would anyone wanna go up there if they couldn't even see anything? :P

-We hand out Holland America pens to everyone at the end- they are long stemmed with a bear or whale design at the top. We announce that they need to grab a pen on the way out, and for some reason, there's always at least one who says "ooh, what's this? A margarita stirrer?"

....uhh....'nuf said.

Anyways, I will do my best to take some photos and have some tourism ops before I leave Texas. We are doing a Holiday Parade this weekend, so I'll probably have fun to report on that.

I haven't forgotten my New Orleans trip, I just really need to load those pics on here!

AND, a bonus, since I suck at photo taking, here's a map of all the states I've been to.

create your own personalized map of the USA
or check out ourCalifornia travel guide

We will most likely knock out Montana, North Dakota, Arkansas and who knows what else before we're done, though probably not Hawaii or New Hampshire...this time :)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

It's Been a While...

...I know, I know, I've neglected this blog. Well, one good excuse I have is a thing called Thanksgiving- we spent 10 days in Utah, and though enjoyable, just flew on by. We are currently in Houston, TX again, after spending a couple of days near Austin. Then tomorrow we head south towards the border. My biggest hope is that I see at least one Armadillo, wanted dead or alive. :) Anyways, I need to post my entry for New Orleans, so I promise I'll do my best to get that out a.s.a.p.