Amusement Parks and Cemeteries

Because where else do you go in New Orleans if it’s not to City Park and Metairie Cemetery? They are two of my favorite places there. Plus, we lucked out because someone had four extra unlimited passes to the amusement park, so Peter and Penny (and us) could enjoy the rides to our hearts’ content. I had always hoped that when I was living in New Orleans that we would all make it to Disney World sometime because I would have loved to see the delight on these kids’ faces. (And I am dying to visit all the different countries in Epcot again. It was my favorite part when I went at 9 years old.) But City Park was good enough. They even have something like the tea cups….

Of course, in New Orleans they are the Slime Buckets. Not quite as charming as tea cups, but I think they enjoyed it just as much. It was so sweet to see Peter take Penny by the hand and lead her to some of the rides.

They got to drive cars, ride horses, and even fly planes.

Peter came with Amanda and me to the Tilt-a-whirl (my favorite) and sat between us as we spun and spun around. When we got off, Mike asked him how he liked it. He said, “It was so fun and the girls were like… Ahhh!”

One attraction we did not participate in, though, were the huge gerbil balls.

Which is too bad because I could have pretended to be a model walking down a runway like on the cycle premier of ANTM.

Peter wasn’t quite sure what to think of the Monkey Jump at first, but I think he ended up loving it! He was so sad when it was over.

I love taking the train around the park because everyone waves at you. It’s like, the most good-natured, friendliest experience I’ve ever had. Plus, I just like seeing people out enjoying the park. There are always barbeques and picnics and family pictures and fishing and paddle boats.

We stopped by Story Land before leaving, and I hung out with Amanda and Lucy while Peter showed Mike the space shuttle and Penny played on the fire engine.

On another morning, we went to the Metairie Cemetery. When I would go alone, I could get all ponderous about life, death, and art.

But when I go with the kids, I basically just play hide and seek.

Penny also practiced her letters.

And when Lucy finally woke up, we took the opportunity to try and get a photo with all three together.

It didn’t last long. Peter was up and running again and Lucy was trying to crawl away.

And that just about wraps up my trip to New Orleans. My mom is going there for a visit this week, and I wish I could just stow away in her suitcase. I miss it.

Audubon

Amanda had to take Lucy to the doctor when I was in New Orleans, so she dropped Peter, Penny, and me off at Audubon Park to play for an hour. Peter brought his new favorite toy with him.

Wait, before we go to the park, there’s something you should know. Earlier that day, Peter was given something awesome for his birthday. (And yes, it was from me.)

He loved it! And played with it constantly. It was to the point where I wished that I had waited until the last day I was in town to give it to him. But on the first day, it was really fun. And it was really fun at the park, too.

Except that it wasn’t the only friend Peter wanted to play with at the park. There were several other little girls playing that he kept trying to befriend, but they wouldn’t include him. How could you not want to play with this little guy?

Penny Lane is getting so big. She wants to play with all the big kids and climb where she probably shouldn’t climb yet.

When they got tired of playing at the playground, we walked over to see the birds.

It was a hot day in Nola, and the kids were thirsty. I dug into my purse to get their sippy cups and sadly, only found one. Uh oh… quite the dilemma. Do I give Peter his milk while Penny doesn’t have hers? But then, is it fair for Pete to be thirsty? These are the questions running through my mind, and in the end, I just couldn’t resist Pete saying how thirsty he was. We sat down on a bench to take a breather, and I saw a photo op. I asked Penny to scoot closer to Peter.

She was happy to do it… but only because she really wanted his milk.

More from the Quarter

Of course we couldn’t just get beignets and call it a day. We did a little shopping, a little meandering, and Peter did a lot of running. That kid has never seen a ramp he didn’t run up or down.

Really, he’s just always running.

One of the saddest things ever was when Peter hurt his toe at Christmas and he said, “Will I ever be able to run again?” (or something like that.) Anyway, that kid likes to run, except for when he likes to climb trees.

There’s a lot of other stuff to do in the Quarter, too. For instance, there’s window shopping.

And there’s those horse things to play with.

I have (had?) such a love/hate relationship the Quarter. I mean, it’s crowded and dirty and impossible to find parking on the weekends. I tried going back there two more times on my visit and just gave up because I got tired of all the drunk pedestrians and not finding parking (really, the parking was the biggest problem, I think). But then… there’s stuff like this:


(This is the beautiful alley for that posh restaurant Amanda and I went to for my birthday.)

And maybe this last picture is of a restaurant in Uptown, not the Quarter, but that’s just the kind of place New Orleans is – full of charming buildings.

Every once in a while when I meet someone new here in SLC and I tell them I just moved from New Orleans, the person responds by saying how they went to New Orleans once and would never go back. First of all, why would you say that to someone who just told you how much they loved it? Second, inevitably, that person visited New Orleans for a convention and didn’t see anything but the French Quarter. I remember telling Amanda once that if I had visited New Orleans and only saw the French Quarter that I would be disappointed, so I can sympathize. The Quarter wasn’t everything I hoped it would be. It can be dirty and it can smell and it can be crowded, but it also just has this vibrancy. The dirtiness just means that it’s lived in, right? I don’t know… I just love it. And I miss it. And if you ever go to New Orleans, make sure that you see something outside of the French Quarter. Take the streetcar Uptown to Audubon Park or something. It provides a nice contrast.

Sugar Lips

What is the first place to visit when returning to New Orleans? Cafe du Monde for beignets. It’s one of those touristy things that is totally enjoyable no matter how many times I would go. We made the mistake of telling Peter early in the morning that he would be getting beignets and that’s all he could talk about. Once we found a seat, we had to wait for a while for the beignets to arrive. Peter and Penny were not happy about waiting.

But it didn’t take long for the fried dough covered in mountains of powdered sugar to arrive and their attitudes to change.

Penny eats her beignet so daintily.

While Peter goes straight for the good stuff.

Penny learned from her older brother to forget the bread and go for the sugar.

But she learned from her mom to still act like a lady.

Unless you try to take some of her sugar. Then it’s no holds barred.

What did Lucy think of all this? She was not at all interested in the beignets. But a spoon can be fun.

Meanwhile, you can never have too much sugar.

And the kids got messier and messier.

Innocent bystanders beware – run-ins with Penny may leave a handprint behind.

Lucy finally tried just a little of the beignet.

I think she liked it.

How could you not?

the swamp

With only one week left in New Orleans, I’ve started working on my bucket list of stuff to do. It’s actually a pretty short list. I feel like I’ve taken advantage of so many things that New Orleans has to offer. I’m glad because it means I can leave here with very few regrets. But there was one thing that I wanted to do but have never gotten around to until now – visit a swamp. There are all sorts of swamp tours you can take where you go out in a boat and pet alligators. But we took a less formal (and much cheaper) route by driving out to Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and walking along one of the trails.

I wasn’t sure what to expect. I knew what I wanted to see, and to be honest, at first it didn’t seem like Jean Lafitte would deliver. I was wondering if maybe we shouldn’t go up the road to the Bayou Barn and take a tour.

But as we walked along the trail to the swamp, I spotted something scurrying around under leaves that made our trip worth it, regardless of what else we saw.

Armadillos! There were tons of them, and they were so cute. I loved the way they jumped as they ran. They were like little tanks.

It didn’t take long till we got to the boardwalk for the swamp, though, and I realized that the park had more to offer than armadillos.

Basically, the whole thing looked like this:

I kept looking for alligators but never did spot any. I’m not sure if I was disappointed or relieved. I’m sure they wouldn’t let us wander around the trails if they were dangerous (and after all, there is an alligator at Audubon Park) but I kind of worried about one chomping at us from the side. Or, you know, one accidental foot twist and falling into the swamp and then suddenly the croc has your hand and you end up like Captain Hook. I know it’s far-fetched, but it could happen. And the slight possibly of it kept me a little on edge (especially with little kids running around).

I have been trying to think about how to express how it felt to be in the swamp, and I keep falling short. It felt so massive. And while everything looked kind of dead (it is January, after all, and the trees were bare and the leaves were brown), the swamp was somehow full of so much life. There were so many sounds and so many different colors and textures. I just felt so amazed that I was able to be there. And then toward the end of our walk, I felt sad because we realized that a lot of the water was full of oil.

(Way to end this blog on a sad note, right?)

So… just a few more things on my list. Oh yeah, and packing… lots and lots of packing.

Mobile Monday 7

Well, I left the snow in Utah to come back to rain. Last Wednesday, I very much regretted leaving my umbrella in the car. It was needed on the short run from our porch to my car across the street. The good news? It’s Mardi Gras season and the king cakes have started showing up at work!

It was my brother-in-law’s birthday on Friday. We had some friends over for gumbo and Amanda’s perfect homemade biscuits (she makes the gumbo, too, and it’s so delicious). Peter insisted that his dad wanted a Lightning McQueen cake. Amanda also took the kids to the store to pick out a game to play with their dad. Their choice? Hungry Hungry Hippo. It got a ton of use during the cold, windy, rainy afternoon yesterday.

We did have a beautiful day on Saturday, though. It was so nice that we all met up at Jackson Square in the quarter for a picnic and basked in the sun. I never got around to taking a mobile photo during our picnic (though I took lots with the canon), but here’s a snapshot of an old theater near the quarter that is just begging to be restored. How great is that sign? Also, when I was pulling out of my very tight parallel parking space, I accidentally backed my side mirror into a pole and it shattered. Oopsies. I think I can get a replacement on Amazon.

This little girly turned 6 months old on Saturday.

And, as usual, we spent lots of time just playing.

Catching Up 1: Besthoff Sculpture Garden

Somehow I got two months behind on my blogging. I know! Two months! And maybe I should just forget about those two months – after all, it’s a brand new year – but then I wouldn’t get to share these pictures. And I have so many pictures. The first neglected event was taking the kids to the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at City Park back in early November. With the kids there, it wasn’t the leisurely, contemplative pace I would normally take, but it was fun to see what sculptures caught their attention. For the most part, though, they just wanted to run around.

Here are some of the sculptures that caught my eye.

The sculpture garden boasts one of Robert Indiana’s Love sculptures, a perfect photo shoot location.