Thursday, February 23, 2012

More Mardi Gras and New Orleans area

Saturday it rained all day and I thought we might just float away.  Well, we didn't float away, but we did have ponds of water between the sites.  It took several days before the water receeded, and even when we left almost a week later there was still some water standing.  Most of the parades were cancelled for the day.  The Krewe of Endymion rolled in New Orleans, even in the rain, although it quit shortly after the parade started.  New Orleans did not get the rain we did over here on the north shore.

We did go into town on Sunday afternoon to see the Krewe of Bacchus parade.  Along the streets people have brought ladders so they can get up high to see the parades (and also to better catch the beads).  The boxes on top are for small children to sit.

The floats here at Mardi Gras seem to be so much more colorful and decorative than most parades.

We wandered down to Bourbon Street and found  many people in costume.

And of course we had to stop and get a hurricane at Pat O'Briens.

You really never know what you will see on Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras...  

Even on Sunday it was quite crowded.
On our way back to the car we were on Canal Street and a parade was still ongoing.  We found ourselves in a crowd like I have never been in before.  I truly understand now how people get trampled.  People were pushing and shoving and it was all you could do to keep standing.  If someone had fallen, then would have been trampled.  It was scary.

Monday we took the day off from Mardi Gras and took a bike ride on the Tammany Trace from the park to Abita Springs.

At Abita Springs is a statue showing an Indian maiden taking the healing waters of the spring.

On Fat Tuesday we again headed to downtown New Orleans for the parades.  Nancy and I joined the festivities by getting dressed up.  Maybe not as crazy as lots of the costumes we saw, but we had fun.

My intent was to get to town for the Krewe of Rex, which have the King and Queen of Mardi Gras.  But we got there in time to see most of the Krewe of Zulu.  

I think I enjoyed the floats in the Zulu parade better than the other parades I saw.  They also threw the best beads and gifts.

I quit trying to wear all the beads I caught, they got to heavy, so I only kept a few on.  We are taking all the beads to the Bandera Dance Rally since one of the dances is a Mardi Gras night.  I'm ready...

I'm not even going to try and post all the pictures of unusual costumes, there were way too many.  I'm really glad I made it to this Mardi Gras.  It has been a lot of fun.

One of the floats from the Krewe of Rex.

Another from the Rex parade.

It was crowded again on Bourbon Street and the parades were still going on too.  And more people were in costume today than on Sunday.

We went back into town on Wednesday (after Mardi Gras) and many of the trees still were covered with the beads from the parades.  I wonder how long it will take for the city to clean up all the signs of Mardi Gras?
Well, it's over, and I'll be heading on down the road, but I am glad I came.  It was an experience like I've never had before.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

New Orleans and Mardi Gras

Leaving Pensacola, we traveled to Gulfport, MS, where we spent the night in the parking lot of Island View Casino.  It is so sad to travel along Hwy 90 between Biloxi and Pass Christian.  The area still has so many signs of devastation from Hurricane Katrina, and the old homes can never be replaced.  But the next morning we were on our way again to Fountainbleu State Park, on the north shore of Lake Ponchatrain.  Just across the 24 mile bridge is New Orleans on the south side of the lake.  Tom V. had never been to New Orleans before, so we headed down to the French Quarter so he could see it before the craziness of Mardi Gras next week.

Even the market dresses up for Mardi Gras

You can find musicians, mimes, magicians and street acts going on all through the quarter.  Notice the man in the air.  He jumped over the group of people by tumbling.

Had to take Tom to Cafe Du Monde for beignets (pronouced been-yeh) and coffee.

This is typical of most bars and restaurants in the area.  Large doors open to the public with tables outside as well as inside.

But what set this place apart from others was this help wanted sign.  

We walked up to Pat O'Briens for dinner.  This is their famous flaming fountain inside the courtyard.

As the sun sets it gets more crowded on Bourbon Street.

This is me with another parade watcher showing off the hats we caught.  They throw more than just beads I found out.  This is my first Mardi Gras and it has a rich tradition going back to the 1700s.  Originally started in Mobile, it gained its notoriety in the 1880s here in New Orleans.  But I did not know the parades do not go through the French Quarter.  The parades start on Feb. 4, and go until Fat Tuesday, which is the day before lent starts.  Towns all throughout Louisiana and along the gulf coast celebrate Mardi Gras.  As it gets closer to Fat Tuesday, there are more and more parades, sometimes 3 in one evening.  We only stayed for the first of 3 parades this night.

Each parade has a theme and is put on by a Krewe.  The floats all represent the theme in some fashion.

Friday evening in Mandeville, on the north shore of the lake, the Krewe of Orpheous was putting on the parade. 

The floats are all beautiful, heavily decorated and they throw everything from beads, to stuffed animals, to cups, frisbees, and even hats.

After the parade we came back to the campground and had a fire.
Saturday is forecast for rain all day and as I sit here posting this blog, it is raining outside and the campground has large puddles of water standing everywhere.  But the rain is supposed to stop tonight and clear out, so more parades tomorrow.  

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Pensacola, FL

Parked at the Blue Angel Naval Recreation Area on Perdido Bay.  We tried to get into the campground at Gulf Island National Seashore, but they were full.  After getting here though, I think we have a better campground anyway.  The gulf is just a block away and if it wasn't so cold, I'd put the kayak in the water.

Downtown Pensacola had the Peacemaker docked and you could tour the boat for free.  But as Max said, it wasn't free since we bought some pastries they had for sale and he gave a donation.  The Peacemaker was originally built in 1989 in Brazil by an Italian shipbuilder.  It was taken to Savannah, GA, to be finished, but sat for 8 years untouched.  The Twelve Tribes bought the ship and finished it in 2008.  

The ship, both inside and out, was beautiful.  All wood and stain glass, it was luxury like I have never seen on a masted ship.  The Twelve Tribes is a religious organization which believes in separation from the things of the world.  When you join you give all you have to the tribe.  All money you make from then on goes to the tribe.  You live, eat, and do everything together as a tribe.  For more info, google the Twelve Tribes.

This area is known for its white sand beaches.  Some of the whitest, finest sand I've ever seen.

Fort Pickens is at the end of the barrier island.  It was one of 3 forts built to protect Pensacola Harbor.

It is probably most famous as the home of Geronimo when he was sent out  here after his capture.  Although he only lived here 2 years before being returned to Ft. Sill, OK, Florida capitalized on his presence while he was here.

Pensacola Naval Air Station is home of the Blue Angels, the Navy's premier air show troup, and also has the Naval Aviation Museum.  This is my second time here and neither time were the Blue Angels here.  When they are in town they practice on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and you can go watch them for free.  But the museum is worth going to anyway.

This Stearman is the aircraft Cadet George Bush flew while in training for WWII at the Naval Air Station in Minneapolis, MN.

This funny looking plane is actually the first plane to cross the Atlantic.  We usually think of Charles Lindberg when we think of the first Atlantic flight, but he was the first non-stop Atlantic flight.  This aircraft crossed the Atlantic some 13 years earlier, in 1919, make 2 stops.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

St. George Island and Mexico Beach

We headed out to visit Port St. Joe and Cape San Blas lighthouse.  If we had stayed they were having a moonclimb to the top of the lighthouse later in the evening.

On our way we spotted a pair of eagles.  They were sitting in separate trees, but I got a good shot of this one.

Their idea of snowbird appreciation day was to register for $9 and you get a baked chicken dinner under a tent in the parking lot with a cash bar.  We declined, deciding we would rather pay out $9 for a dinner of our choice in a location of our choice.

St. George Lighthouse.  If you registered you got a discount on the cost of climbing to the top of the lighthouse.

We decided to check out another sunset from Mexico Beach at a place called Toucan's.

Great sunset over the gulf.  Tomorrow we head down the road to Pensacola.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Super Bowl Party at the Moose Lodge

The Moose Lodge in Panama City.  We had stayed here back in 2009 and were looking forward to seeing the friends we made back then.  In addition to staying here we met up with members from this lodge at Talladega, AL, for the nascar race.  You can check in my archives about that visit.

They really go all out for Super Bowl.  Behind the 2 large screen tv's is the VIP Tent.  For $50 you have private seating. 

In addition, you got free food and drinks and special service too.  Only 15 tickets were sold for the VIP tent.

There were silent auctions going on as well.  I bid on and won a 19 inch digital TV for a bargain.

Sparky is the governor of the lodge and our friend.

They had both a kids and adult karaoke contest.

And guess who the judges where?  Yeah, you got it.  We didn't really know most of the contestents, so they thought we would be more objective.  There was a 15 year old girl who won the kids contest who could really belt it out.

And yes, we did see some of the game.  It was just after half time when the final karaoke contest was over, so we saw the best part of the game anyhow.  Tom and I both won door prizes as well.  Tom's door prize was a gift certificate to Sharky's restaurant (yes, where we watched the sunset).  And I have a gift certificate to Sonny's BBQ.