Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Hitting the road, to the Big Easy

Big Easy entertainment on Jackson Square

For the first time since early December, my wife and I traveled outside the state.

Where else, but to New Orleans.

During the course of the past three months of the year we made numerous trips that included Louisiana, Georgia and North Carolina.

So it was time, then, to settle down for the rest of the year, prepare for Christmas and then have our sons and daughters-in-law and grandkids over for the holiday season.

Well, that came and went and we started thinking about the new year. And it was time to take a trip.

At least, a day trip. The snow trip that I had thought about was just that, thinking about it, never putting it into action.

An unusually decorated bicycle

But just last week, the skies were clear, the temperatures were cool (the only time to visit the Crescent City) and so we decided to give it a try.

There were a lot of people taking advantage of the beautiful weather.

We did our usual routine, parking just behind the Cafe du Monde, and then took a stroll around Jackson Square listening to the entertainment and doing a little people-watching.

The menus posted on the doors on a number of restaurants  had prices increases with our favorite offering, a po-boy going up another $2 in price, with the fries being extra.

Being involved in having a new home built and the expenses involved, I felt like being cheap.

A Rouse’s supermarket came to the rescue. It was located on the block north of the St. Louis Cathedral.

A small half-muffalata and a Coke, set us back just under $8.

We took the food down to the square and found a bench.

Rouses muffalata and a Coke
Next came beignets at the Cafe du Monde.

An order of beignets, a cup of cafe au lait or a small chocolate milk all cost the same thing, about $2.75 each.

I’ve been going to the French Market so long, I can remember when it was less than 25 cents each. That’s how old I am.

Whole Foods on Magazine was our last spot. We like the drive down Magazine, and oftentimes Whole Foods has a variety of sample items out.

We found a piece of sweet bread of some kind, but that was it.

Can’t say that I blame them for not putting out more. They surely don’t make any money off us.

We then headed home, taking the old US 90 route that was so much a part of my childhood, way before the interstate system came about.

Next post: Feb. 1, 2016

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

There isn't a peaceful, easy feeling right now

Events, whether good or unexpected, often lead us on a trip down Memory Lane. Such an event happened this week.

The year was 1978. 

In our long-wheel-based Chevy van, we were going down a desert highway, but not a dark one. It was in the afternoon.

There was a young couple in the distance alongside the road hitch-hiking, their huge backpacks in tow.

 After quickly conferring with my wife over about a 30-second timespan, we decided to pick them up.

For the next day and a half, the Canadian couple traveled with us throughout Death Valley.

They were on a quest.  They were looking for  a certain hotel which they believed to be there. To them, the find would be of significance.

They showed us a picture of the silhouetted backlit hotel at sunset.  

It was off an album cover.

Have you heard of “The Eagles?” they asked. 

During that period of time in my life, no I hadn’t.  

So they went on about the group and how much they enjoyed the band’s music.

That piqued my interest and it didn’t take long to understand their desire to find out everything they could about the singing group.

And now 37 years later, one of the founder’s of the illustrious group has passed away.

Glenn Frey, age 67, who along with Don Henley, founded the group, is no longer with us.

Over the years, the Eagles became my go-to music sound, especially heading down the highway.

Sometime back in the 90’s, upon leaving work one Saturday around midnight in our van at that time, I slipped an Eagles tape in and upon turning down the highway, “Hotel California” was blaring over the speakers.

My windows were rolled down and the wind was whistling through.

I was happy to be off work. Too happy.

I got too caught up in the music. At the end of the local bridge, there were blue lights and a ticket.

Through the years, on vacation after vacation, the Eagles were with us going down the highway.

We bought album after album and our sons gave us more.

There are times in our lives when our mortality takes center stage and we dwell on the times, our age and how fast life has gone by.

Some may have faced their mortality perhaps at the deaths of Buddy Holly, or John F. Kennedy, perhaps Martin Luther King, Jr., or Elvis.

For some, they may give a lot of thought to their mortality with the death of Glenn Frey.  He was of our age, our interests and our love for the kind of music that seems to have disappeared although I understand that some writers like to pan the group.

Our Canadian friends eventually found out that “Hotel California” was the iconic Beverly Hills Hotel located on Sunset Boulevard.

And although Glen is gone, the music continues on. He may have checked out, but he will never leave.

Next post: Jan. 26, 2016

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Heading south is not a bad idea

Hitting the slopes in my younger days
Sometimes the mind overrules the heart when it comes to travel.

Just this morning, I was formulating a trip that would take my wife and I some 600 miles to the north.

I wanted to go where snow was expected. Which means it would be considerably colder.

Years ago, like 20 or so, we would make plans to go snow skiing at 
Sugar Mountain outside of Boone, NC. And then we would follow through on those plans.

Sugar Mountain slopes
On one occasion, it was an extended family outing. More than 20 packed up the needed equipment and clothing and headed north.

We stopped in Atlanta the first night and then it was on to Boone the next day.

About 50 miles from our destination, as we started climbing into higher elevations, the snow began.  It wasn’t a lot, but it was exciting having our family group in a caravan of sorts with children, brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews and parents out for adventure.

At that particular time, the Boone area was covered with snow and ice and we had a good, but frigid time.

On another occasion, the snow was there, but it wasn’t as cold. That was truly enjoyable.

But I was younger back then and our family was in a better position health wise.

This afternoon, wifey and I met relatives for our weekly “Save the World” session at our favorite coffee shop.

It wasn’t too cold when we went in in the early afternoon so I left my jacket in our vehicle.

The sun went down, and the temperatures began dropping. I could feel the cool easing through the store windows. I began to get chilled.

And then it was time to leave. The temperature was at about 47 and I had left my jacket in the van. I hurriedly got my wife into the vehicle and we headed back to our warm home.

I was cold, with a freezing feeling.

I looked over at my wife.

“Maybe we ought to head south.” 

Next post: Jan. 19, 2016

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

'Red Stick' awaits Ole Man River's fury

A peaceful Mississippi River flows under the bridge at Baton Rouge, La. in December

Ole Man River is on the rampage!

The giant Mississippi funnels a lot of water from the midsection of the country down  through Louisiana and out into the Gulf of Mexico.

The rivers water level in December was well below the top of the levee

And with the overabundance of rain during the past few weeks, many homes, cars, roads and bridges have been damaged or destroyed. And lives were also lost.

That weather system didn’t start acting up until about mid-December. That was the time we made a visit to Baton Rouge (Red Stick), La.,  where one of our granddaughters played the part of “Tiny Tim” in a Little Theatre production of Dickens “Christmas Carol.” 

I know, Tim’s a boy, but you know, they just get the best individual they can who can bring passion to the part.

And she did just that.

We arrived in the city early and decided to take a walk along the riverfront next to the downtown area.

There’s a paved walkway that covers a mile or more on the levee that protects the town. The levee is dotted by street lights with occasional benches for resting and enjoying the scenery.

The river at the time seemed to be at peace. But what began happening farther to the north didn’t bode well for everyone in its path.
Afternoon walkers stroll along levee at Baton Rouge, La.

And that story continues to unfold as the surging waters head further south.

Next post: Jan 12, 2016