Lafayette Cemetery No1 – New Orleans, Louisiana

The Layfayette Cemetary No1 is located in the heart of the Garden District in New Orleans. Which was established at the time of the neighborhood (1833) to bury the family members of the wealthy land owners who built the area up to what it is today. Similar to other famous cemeteries in the area, the burial is done in tombs above ground. The thing that I particularly like about this one above others is that there are trees, and thus it is not in the blazing sun while you tour. It is also the cemetery used in the filming of Interview with a Vampire.

The practices of above ground burial is not uncommon world wide, though it is a bit here in the states. The reasons why the local folks chose above ground burial traditionally is varied, ask anyone and you will get a different answer. But I would image to a certain degree all reasons have some merit and probably played into the decision. For more information check out Prairie Ghosts site.

Regardless of the reasons why, it really is a lovely little plot of land. A large number of companies will provide walking tours if you are interested. I don’t always suggest such a thing but we really enjoyed the one we partook in and would highly suggest using them if you are interested.

The tours provide not only information about the burial practices and types of tombs but also history of some of the more famous residents, so you also get a good deal of local history which I found really interesting. I have been on a few tours, in a few different local cemeteries and this was by far my favorite.  It also happens to be across the street from the Commander’s Palace, famed brunch and jazz location.

Additional Information

  • Google Maps lists address as: Prytania St New Orleans, LA 70130
  • In reality it is a square block between Washington Ave, Prytania St, 6th St and Coliseum St.
  • Take precaution, heat stroke is really common.  Always wear a hat and sunscreen.
  • Muggings are common in all the cemeteries due to the nature of the environment so never go at night and always go with a group.
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Garden District – New Orleans, Louisiana

The Garden District in New Orleans is 250 acres of sprawling mansions, tree lined streets and the most relaxed atmosphere imaginable. Quite the change from the beautiful but very crowded and cramped French Quarter.

Originally established in 1833 on plantation land bought and developed by wealthy tradesmen from all over the country. Who mind you built their large mansions here rather than the French Quarter to avoid interacting with the Creoles.  It wasn’t until 1852 that the area was annexed to become a part of New Orleans. As such everything about the area is a far cry from what you would expect if all you know of New Orleans is the French Quarter.

The large plots still intact with the original Victorian architecture feels like something about of a movie. Which it is in fact often a part of a movie as filming in this area is quite common, as are celebrities, many of whom live in the area. Sandra Bullock being one of them. I did see her house, though not her. Which is too bad, I swear if she just gave me a chance we would be the best of friends.

But the Garden District isn’t just fancy houses and old trees. It is also home to the Lafayette Cemetery No1.  A beautiful example of the traditional above ground burial practices in the area, which also happens to be tree lined and fully shaded unlike the ones in the French Quarter. Uptown, though not a part of the official Garden District is just a hop skip or street car ride down the road and is filled with local shops and restaurants. Food every bit as good as other parts of town, but with more local flair, less touristy.

Many companies offer walking tours of the area which I will admit is kind of fun. There is so much history it is nice to just take a stroll while learning something. Though if you are on a budget there are any number of self guided walking tour printouts you can find on the internet.

If you are looking to experience some of the charm and beauty of the area but you don’t want to listen to party people shouting all night this is the place for you. Quite, beautiful, clean, and safe. Perfect.

Flora Nola – New Orleans, Louisiana

I wanted to split my New Orleans posts up between the north side of Canal Street and the south side. Or more specifically the French Quarter and the Garden District. They are both really fantastic parts of the city but with very different atmospheres. I love the French Quarter, but there is something really special about the Garden District and if you are looking for a more quiet experience of the city sticking to the south end of Canal Street is really advised.

So for no reason other than getting to share some pictures of the flora of the area, here is a ridiculous amount of pictures of plants. The picture above was taken closer to Tulane University right off the main path of the Audubon Park. If you are in the area with young kids this would be a great place to spend some time, there is a zoo, a golf course, a nature institute and I am fairly certain the park as a whole is larger than Central Park, don’t quote me on it though. I had to take a picture of the tree above because my eyes just about popped out of my head when I realized how big it was. From this angle you can see that it stretches from one side of the street to the other but on the other side it also stretches across the next street over AND around the house which shares the property line.

The above picture was just down the street in the same neighborhood. It is of a Norfolk Pine (you know those little potted trees you see around at Christmas) well it was at least 20 feet tall. Never in my life have I seen such a large one!

Back over in the Garden District you will see these palm leaves every where, not just in plant form but on wrought iron every where you look. It was a popular pattern during the architectural booms of the city and such a great tribute to the area.

I honestly have no idea what type of leaf this is, but I just loved the vibrant green and curling edges. I found it sitting on a path in the Lafayette Cemetery. Which is full of these gorgeous trees. Did I mention too that this was in November, as someone from the Pacific North West it is so lovely seeing so much green when I had just left so much brown and grey.

These little ferns you can see popping up all over garden walls, house walls, steps and tombstones. Really anywhere, though it always amazes me that life finds a way in the worst growing conditions.

Oleander, deadly and so beautiful. And smells so amazing, though a lot of people are terribly allergic.

I just could not get enough of all the plants, over grown and lush. So incredibly. I could and did spend entire days walking around just looking at plants. If you love the outdoors, love plants/flowers or just enjoy spending your vacations strolling around aimlessly with a cup of coffee the Garden District is the place for you.

Cafe Du Monde – New Orleans, Louisiana

Aside from Bourbon Street I would imagine Cafe Du Monde is the next most visited location in the French Quarter. I have no research to back this up, but I have never been day or night when it hasn’t been packed to the brim. In fact more often than not I have walked past, saw the line, turned around and came back later.

Cafe Du Monde opened in 1862 and has been opened every day of the year, 24 hours a day since its opening (with the exception of Christmas day and for the occasional hurricane). They serve a limited menu of mostly french doughnuts known as beignets, coffee and milk.

Excuse me while I drool over the piles of sugar and chicory coffee. It’s not the fanciest of places, the waiters aren’t always the friendliest, though who can blame them given the volume of people they serve each day. But there is something magical about sitting down in the shade drinking hot coffee and eating a pile of sugary fried dough. Don’t believe me? I dare you to try it next time you are there.

Additional Information:

  • Cafe Du Monde History and Menu.
  • 800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
  • Open 24 hours a day 364 days a year (not open Christmas Day)
  • There is an additional location on the other side of Canal Street but the French Market site is the original.
  • Cash only!

French Quarter – New Orleans, Louisiana

I have never been to a place like New Orleans, where just a few blocks away from where you stand you feel like you are a whole world away. Even between several of the Garden District neighborhoods the change in environment is stark. From one side of the Canal Street to the other it’s like being in two very different parts of Europe, all while standing next to the Mississippi River Delta.

The French Quarter, or the north(ish) side of Canal street is in a lot of ways why people come to New Orleans and for good reason. It is gorgeous. Built by the French, in the French style, while Louisiana was a French territory. And it is home to Bourbon street, named as such after the Bourbon Royal line in France, the ever popular party spot. But the district is so much more than just late night drinking.

It changed hands over the years between France, Spain, France again and then finally the United States via the Louisiana Purchase (which included just about the entire middle of the country and a small portion of Canada). As such the history of the area is long and sordid. As well as ridiculously beautiful.

My favorite part of the day is always morning, while everyone else sleeps I like to walk around and experience the world while it is quiet and empty. This is my favorite way to experience the French Quarter, poking my head around every corner discovering all the hidden gems of the area.

It is also a VERY popular filming location everything from the classics like A Street Car Named Desire to the more current American Horror Story. So for all the movie buffs out there if you are planning on taking a trip check out this site to find the must see set locations.

If you aren’t the intrepid explorer type like I am, the area obviously houses any number of other ways to entertain yourself. From top notch food, a variety of museums or of course the night clubs. If you are looking for something other than random wandering check out the French Quarter Website. And maybe if you have a little extra time just stop and look around for a second, I bet you will see something beautiful and unexpected.

Acme Oyster House – New Orleans, Louisiana

I have been to New Orleans a hand of times and I never tire of it. But as someone who doesn’t drink all that much, dislikes loud noises and crowds friends always ask what the draw to the city is. What else is there to do in New Orleans that doesn’t involve a 24 hour party? Among other things, eat of course!

Call me crazy but months and years after I have had a particularly good meal I dream of the foods and someday returning to experience them again. Acme Oyster House is one of those places.

Now it may look like an 80s florescent nightmare, it isn’t the fanciest place by any means and I could imagine a good many people cringing at the thought of stepping into the place let alone eating in it. I have in fact suggested this place to people before and they reported back that they chose to eat at a ‘nicer’ place. Big mistake!

So first things first right off the plane in November I marched my family down the side street and before they had a chance to protest asked for a table and sat down. I don’t eat shellfish but I have heard their oysters are top notch, they are after all called an oyster house. However I go for the po-boys.

About 20 minutes after sitting down the sandwiches were devoured and goofy looks of sheer ecstasy were plastered on my dining companions faces. I had converts! We almost went back but there are so many other places to eat we instead chose to equally dream sweet dreams of returning someday.

No the picture below is not blurry, the glass protecting the diners from the hot grill is just very greasy. Just goes to show you can’t always judge a restaurant by its atmosphere. Sometimes the very best places are a little rough around the edges.

Additional information:

  • Acme Oyster House
  • 724 Iberville St, New Orleans, LA 70130 (just behind the Crown Plaza hotel in the French Quarter).
  • Open 7 days a week 10:30 to 10

International WorkBoat Show – New Orleans, Louisiana

Last November I took a rather ‘unconventional’ trip to New Orleans. I didn’t go for a bachelorette, graduation, retirement party or what ever else people visit the French Quarter for. I went to a boat show, and not to buy a yacht or a speed boat but to look at all things to do with working boats.

Random? Yes probably to some, but not for our family. When my step-dad asked my step-sister and myself if we wanted to go I am pretty sure our reply speed broke the sound barrier. And believe it or not, it was so much fun!

The show is a free convention (for attendees, if you sign up early enough) geared toward anything you could possibly need to run a boat based business from commercial fishing to oil transportation. You name it, they have it.

We spent two days milling about the booths and chatting people up, though it is a three day show.  And despite the fact that all three of us currently work in totally different industries we all found products that we were interested in. There are hundreds of booths with an inordinate number of products and services. I wager anyone could find something they would be interested in.

We all said on more than one occasion “we are coming back again next year right?”.

Information:

  • International WorkBoast Show website.
  • Morial Convention Center – New Orleans Louisiana
  • Generally the last weekend in November or first of December.

MD HANEY & Co. – McMinnville, Oregon

If you happen to find your self strolling around McMinville make sure to stroll off the main street and up to NE 7th street. It is easy to miss, MD HANEY & Co. as you drive by on the main highway into or out of town. It just looks like a cute house. Which it is, an exceptionally cute house turned into a truly stunning home goods store.

The house itself was beautifully remolded by the owners of the store, and each room is set up as if it were a house. I want to live in this house! But scattered about are small collections of store stock in a way that you don’t really notice at first and everything is for sale.

The offer a variety of carefully home decor items, luxury small batch kitchen goods and will help you with any specialty painting you may need done. I stop in every time I go into town just to experience the beauty of the store and usually walk out with a perfect gift for someone I love.

Additional Information:

  • 4925, 636 NE Baker St, McMinnville, OR 97128
  • (503) 857-8176
  • Closed Sunday through Tuesday.
  • Open Wednesday through Saturday 10 to 5.

California Adventure – Anaheim, California

I am old enough to remember a time when the California Adventure park in Anaheim California was a parking lot. Literally it was, we parked in it once. Now its a neighboring park to Disneyland, and you can buy a ticket that will get you into both parks in the same day.  The park boasts slightly more grownup rides than the Disneyland site but does still pack in plenty of kiddie things, including my favorite The Little Mermaid Ride.

I have much fewer memories of this park, as it is relatively new. I at least feel like it is new, but I did just look up the open date which was 2001. 17 years ago?! That was a big year for me, but I don’t recall at the time the opening of this park being front and center in my mind. I do however recall my parents going to Disneyland for the first time that year without me and telling me that there was a new park that they visited and “boy was it fun” said they, while their daughter was busy studying in college. Alas education first, and I have since had the chance to visit plenty of times and I do love it.

As far as real estate goes it is a much larger park, the walk ways are wider and there is more space in the waiting areas. It tends to lend itself to a much more relaxed less frantic atmosphere than Disneyland. We often get park hoper tickets when we go and skip over to California Adventure when the afternoon crowds start to get the best of us. But for all intents and purposes it is just as well executed as Disneyland. Rather than the sole focus on cartoon characters California Adventure celebrates the adventurous spirit of the state, while still managing to stay true to its brand. I really can’t say enough good things about either park. If you find your self having to decide between one or the other I would just do your research because they are both equally fun, but in very different ways. But either way you are sure to have a blast, we always do.

Disneyland – Anaheim, California

I love Disneyland. I have loved Disneyland since I first went when I was nine years old and I will continue to love it for the rest of my life. I am not a Disney fanatic, I don’t wait impatiently for every movie, I don’t obsess about it’s history or collect certain souvenirs. I just really love the park.

There is something truly magical about it that manages to somehow manifest the nicest behavior in everyone. Despite being jammed into a park surrounded by thousands of complete strangers, everyone every single day I have been there is nice. So usually about once a year we pack off for a long weekend and head south to Anaheim with the singular purpose of spending a couple days at the park.

Part of the draw is the sunny dry climate. After sitting around in our perpetually rainy state it is a welcome reprieve. And for better or worse, even though it is a very intentional carefully planned type of magical atmosphere, the place really is magical. The attention to detail in everything, the cleanness, the kindness, the nostalgia…for a couple days a year it really hits the spot like nothing else does. But also Dole-Whip (see picture above).

My love of Disneyland is multi layers.  I love art and models and history and the park itself is a living breathing work of art in miniature (or perhaps more accurately 75% scale). I am and continue to be totally blown away by the attention to detail and seamless creation of an entire world and mood. I could sit in one place in the park all day and be happy just observing all the minuet details that have been put into the place to create the mood of which ever part of the park you are in.

Then there are the rides, if you are a roller coaster person there isn’t a lot of rides in the park for you. They are all small, low key and even the fastest not all that daring. But I love them all the same, and again part of that is the attention to detail. The rides aren’t just about the thrill. Its about waiting in line and being surrounded by this new world, which is approximately 20 feet from a totally different world. I like the nostalgia and the fact that these rides were invented and have been operational longer than I have been alive in most cases.

I first went when I was nine years old with my mom, step-dad and three step-sisters. I was very tiny at the time, and didn’t get to go on many rides. The first time I rode splash mountain was actually several trips later when I went with my dad.

He stood outside the Splash Mountain ride and told me he was going on and either I was going with him or I was waiting at the entrance by myself until he got back. He claims to have no memory of this. But it happened,  and I went on the ride with him. Do the things that scare you right. I loved it.

My husband and I went there to celebrate a big job change for me. We celebrated by Mom’s 50th and 60th birthdays there. I have ridden Space Mountain, and Thunder Mountain so many times I can repeat all the announcements and warnings in my head right now, in both English and probably in Spanish as well if I thought about it hard enough.

Yes the park is crowded, yes the food is expensive, yes the lines can be long. My only suggestion is to find what works best for your family. Once you have an idea of what kind of experience you are looking for a simple web search will be given more options than you know what to do with. For me though the point is to go to a place with a history of family joy and memories. Its bobbing and weaving through crowds and still being able to pick out your people among thousands. Its standing in line with the people you love most in the world and having conversations you might not otherwise because when do you stand still with another person for more than 20 min. It’s about sharing and experiencing the expensive food that you have worked hard as a family to afford. And then going home and having all those memories to cherish for years to come. It’s about parents and aunts and grandfathers and kids and everything in between all getting to be kids at the same time.

It’s magic. Pure and simple.

Questions:

Have you ever been to Disneyland? What are you favorite things about it?