Louisiana

New Orleans – Louisiana

I was looking forward to my visit to New Orleans, but I had no idea I would love it so much.  Crossing from Mississippi into the coastal marshlands of Louisiana you can almost taste the Cajun spices and hear the foot-tapping wash-board backed accordion music drifting through the air.  And did I love the music!  Not many places where you can wonder down the high street and hear EVERY type of music from Cajun, Brass Band, Big Band, Bluegrass to Rock.  The only thing I didn’t see or hear was Elvis, but I guess he’s busy enough up in Memphis.

Now this could have been fate being kind to my liver, or it may have just been very unlucky, but my inability to plan anything more than 1 day ahead meant I had missed Mardis Gras by 2 days!!!  I was pretty gutted, but then decided to make my own Mardis Gras, ultimately meaning fate wasn’t kind to my liver after all.

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Outside my amazing host’s Cajun mansion

My superb guide for the weekend was Gail, a learned local whom, in another twist of serendipitous fate, I was put into contact with by Alison who worked with her sister.  In a quirk of synchronicity, Gail also became my first introduction into the fascinating world of Energy Psychology.  However, neither fate nor synchronicity did much for my pending hangovers.

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The wonderful but ‘once is enough’ Bourbon Street

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Beautiful greenery in the French Quarter

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Cajun Market Downtown

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Yum! All my favourite kinds of food

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Except for this one!

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Beautiful antebellum architecture

It’s so nice to walk through another city with soul & character, rather than the usual USA cities constructed of drab slab sided buildings and malls.  After lining my stomach with the quintessential shrimp gumbo, étouffée and jambalaya, I filled it with copies amounts of beer, wine and cocktails under the trusty guidance of Gail who chauffeured me around all the best sights in town (well, OK, she let me do Bourbon Street on my own!) ending with a great dinner at Arnauld’s and catching Jeremy Davenport’s show at the Ritz; amazing!

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Dinner with Gail at Arnauld’s

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Camping on Grand Isle

After a weekend on the sauce I felt I needed to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life, noise and alcohol, and admit myself into a rehab programme.  However, instead I admitted myself into Grand Isle State Park and threw up the tent for the first time since Florida.  I also felt I had to justify carting around one full pannier and one dry bag full of camping equipment.

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Setting up…

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Finished! Right – let’s go and explore! 🙂

I hate being overloaded, such as I am, and could reduce my load by half if I got rid of all my camping stuff and instead stayed in motels/hotels/hostels.  However, nothing beats the feeling of camping in the wilderness, under the stars, frying some bacon and boiling up a nice cup of tea; even if it does mean I’ll wake up with a sore back!  (Yes, I’m getting old…)  I would prefer a caravan, but these are quite difficult to tow on a motorcycle.

Grand Isle is a very peaceful, relaxing place with not too many people around (not in February anyway).  The beach is wide, sandy and flat, and although not beautiful, there are some nice nature walks through the reserve.  The sea is not quite your typical Hawaiian paradise being shallow and silty, but is what you’d expect being in the Mississippi delta.

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View from the dunes

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Grand Isle Beach, LA

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Good for cruising!

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Lots of stilted beach houses

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OK, time to hit the road! 🙂

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Lafayette, LA

Charles & 3lb of Crawfish, Randols, Lafayette

3lb of crawfish anyone? Yum!

Nothing was really going to beat a weekend in New Orleans, but a night in Lafayette was nonetheless pleasantly interesting. At 18 USD a night, a dorm at the Blue Moon Saloon (recommended by Gail) was a great way to claw back some money after my lavish weekend, and a great way to meet lots of interesting people. I hooked up with Ex-US Navy guy Charles for a few beers and 3lb of crawfish at Randols, and almost got accosted into a dangerous looking beginners Cajun dancing class. Now I know that’s a great place to go when I’m fat, bald and over 60! (OK, I’m already one of those 3, so 2 to go!).

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