I departed for New Orleans December 30,2015. A very long car ride to watch my favorite football team play in the Sugar Bowl. But, I did not go just for the game this trip. I was over the moon with the idea of being in New Orleans, of seeing the French Quarter and Garden District. I could not wait to get there and drink in all the sights. What I didn’t know that morning as Scott and I packed the truck and headed out was how much this trip would change me. I had no idea how much strength and hope I would discover on this journey.  I will forever be grateful for this opportunity. Such an amazing trip, amazing sights and the wonderful people.

Upon arrival I was able to see The Mercedes-Benz Superdome  where my team would be playing. I could see our hotel, The Sheraton on Canal street in the heart of downtown and .5 miles from the French Quarter.  I loved seeing the city at night, such a beautiful place and still decorated for the holidays. The first thing we did was check in at the hotel, then we marveled at our view from the hotel. Facing the river and a beautiful view of our area. After we ventured out on Canal street and walked a bit before returning to eat at the hotel. I did a video call with Thomas and the kids to show them what I was seeing. So many people, such beautiful buildings and rich with history.

First Night

One of the reasons I was so excited to visit this city is because I’ve been seeing it in my favorite series The Originals and The Vampire Diaries as well as many of my favorite Ann Rice books. I woke early the first morning and ventured out on my own. I walked down to the French Quarter and took a lot of photos on my walk. But mostly I just enjoyed seeing the city prepare for the night, New Years Eve. There were so many delivery trucks bringing in food and alcohol. Hotels with balconies hanging beads to later be tossed down on Bourbon Street.  I also loved watching the people walking around drinking in the sights just as I was. I also met many homeless as I walked around downtown and the quarter. I took stock of the sight of a human being laying on cold cement ground and was a bit heart broken at the sight. Once I had my fill and didn’t want to get lost, I headed back to the hotel and woke Scott.

First Morning and New Years Eve

We then ventured out to find a bite to eat. We decided on Daisy Dukes. A wonderful 24 hour restaurant with breakfast/lunch and dinner items.  Our waitress was wonderful and very kind. Next to us a couple with a 18 month old sat and tried to keep her quiet. I told them she didn’t have to be quiet, she was singing songs, because no one in New Orleans was going to be quiet on New Years Eve. They laughed and she continued her singing. Such a sweet sound and had us laughing while we ate. The food was great and the company was wonderful. A very packed place, which we would learn every place would be packed.

After we had food we walked down to the French Quarter. Taking photos, enjoying ourselves more than I thought we would. So many people, and the street performers were wonderful. I enjoyed stopping and watching them dance, sing, do magic tricks, play music, and pretend to be statues. (Very convincingly I might add.) Being from Oklahoma with very strict alcohol laws, we were blown away by people walking around mid day with alcohol drinks. We walked in to a little bar and had a drink, I tried a frozen Hurricane, he had a stout beer 8.0 strongest he’d tried.  That, sadly would be our only New Years Eve drinks. I didn’t want to drink due to walking around and being out in crowds.

We then ventured to Jackson square. There I visited St. Louis Cathedral, I went inside and spoke with the Priest and lit a candle for my grandfather. It was a very unreal feeling being back in a church after so long. After we walked around Jackson square taking more photos and laughing with all the other people. Such wonderful spirits they had. We watched the Sugar Bowl parade and as we did we could smell something wonderful. At first we thought it was the Cafe Du Monde, but it was a bakery. They were making fresh fudge and the man pouring the newest batch was singing as he did. “Fresh fudge, making hot sweet fresh fudge.” He had a beautiful voice. I found all the employees to be wonderful people.  He misunderstood my order of Caramel Chocolate Fudge and started to give me some with nuts. When I explained I needed it plain due to allergy and I apologized  for the mix up, he laughed and said “It’s okay, but you see now  I have to eat that mistaken fudge.” with a wink. I told him if he wanted me to mix up again just let me know. We laughed and carried on a conversation while waiting in line. As I said, I loved the people!

The Quarter

We then began our walk back to the hotel. We needed to rest a bit before New Years Eve. So we headed back, stopping to take  photos all the way to the hotel through the Quarter. The streets were getting busier and busier. Every place to eat and drink had lines out on the sidewalk. We hit a few shops as well and purchased a few items to take home. I loved my visit to the Voodoo shop, no photos of it as they asked everyone not to take pictures.  Rev Zombie’s Voodoo shop. It was a wonderful little shop with so many beautiful items. The feel of it was amazing. I left my little bracelet on the voodoo altar (an old tree stump with tons of different items left by others).  I picked a Voodoo doll blessed for “peace”, she’s adorable! Scott found a very cool little skeleton guy he purchased as well. We both loved the shop and though it was beautiful.  We made our way back to the hotel.

We rested for a bit talking and just enjoying a cup of coffee. Then we headed out to enjoy our New Years Eve on Bourbon Street and in the Quarter. This is where the little Okie girl saw some very cool things. The street was so full of people we could hardly walk. We got beads tossed to us and proudly wore them as we melted into the sea of people. Drunken people, singing people, dancing people, very happy people. We saw people dressed in formal wear walking down the street, ladies in mink adorned in diamond tiaras. People who like myself traded my dress clothes for comfy walking around all night clothes. People sharing good times with the homeless, which made me happy. We had trouble finding a place to eat. Then Scott found a place he knew to be famous in the area, The Court Of Two Sisters, and we decided since they had an opening we would eat there. It was a special event with a set menu and set price. But we didn’t care we were tired and hungry. I had BBQ Shrimp, Salad, Grilled Double Cut Pork Chop and Crème Brûlèe for dessert. I loved the BBQ Shrimp and the pork chop. Of course my favorite was dessert. Scott had bacon wrapped duck, turtle soup, LA. SEAFOOD ÉTOUFFÉE, and caramel ice cream in a cup made of almonds.  He loved the duct and the dessert. Entertainment for the night as we ate was a man trying way too hard to be someone he was clearly not and I could not stop laughing. I tried so hard to behave, but it was comical. We had not been prepared to eat at such a fine dinning place, so it just added to the fun. I will have memory of this guy for years to come. He reminded me of Zach Galifianakis trying to play a serious character. So many laughs while eating. After we finished eating we headed down to Jackson Square for the Count down.

Once we finally reached Jackson square we located the Jax Brewery where the fleur de lis was to rise then fall at midnight followed by fireworks over the Mississippi river. We started heading back to our hotel as the fireworks were going strong. Both worn out from a full day of moving and walking. We looked at his phone and it showed we had walked over 7 miles, not including the mile I walked myself earlier in the day before he woke. I was so tired, and yes I took pain pills to help me get through it all, but I was happy. I had done so much of what I wanted to do and in just one day! I was afraid of getting there and being in too much pain to enjoy it. We wanted to get back and rest as we had the game the next evening. On the way back we were treated to a huge wedding party walking down the street as a band played “When the Saints Go Marching In”. The bride danced with a white lace umbrella and the groom with a black one. The wedding guests danced while spinning white handkerchiefs around and having a wonderful time. We saw many of the New Orleans balcony hotels full of patrons tossing beads down, everyone wishing everyone a happy new year. On the way back we had a giggle. We witnessed a lot of drunken people, but this one cracked us up. A young lady and her friends walking down the street, she was dressed up and had on one high heel, walking with one bare foot. The other shoe was not to be seen. She was walking as if she had no clue the shoe was not on her foot. I tried to get a photo but it was too dark down the street. We also saw towards the end of the night all the ladies that wore these stiletto heels could not walk at all. I felt bad for them. One young lady was so drunk by the parade her friends were talking about leaving her at the hotel, this was before three pm. Many funny sights were seen that night. We truly enjoyed ourselves!  But the way I started my New Year out was the best way I could think.

Here is what I wrote that night about my experience.

Happy New Year! In a year where being offended became a right to breed hate, be cruel and such unrest in our world, I started the New Year with hope for mankind.
As everyone took to the streets of New Orleans, drinks in hand, smiles and laughter, tossing beads, begging for beads, one thing came to light. No one was judging each other. No one cared what religion the other had faith in, they didn’t care about color of skin, or social status. Everyone wished everyone a Happy New Year. For just a night all the hate was put away. 

As we started walking away from the party in Jackson Square, I witnessed something that gripped my heart with such powerful emotion and human faith restored.
To my right several young college students in town for the Sugar Bowl were celebrating with plastic champagne flutes. They each had one in hand and a young homeless gentleman sat near them. They handle him a flute and poured him a glass. Then they cheered with him and toast to a peaceful New Year. My heart was moved. It was the single thing that will stick out in my mind from this trip. I rang the New Year in whilst witnessing human compassion, not hate.
So to those young men, thank you for showing me something I truly needed to see, hope.
Wishing you and yours a beautiful, peaceful and amazing new year!
XOXO
Lynda
Be that kind of awesome!

It warmed my heart to see such a gesture from the next generation. It truly renewed my faith in people, as many I saw being rather rude and cruel to the less fortunate. We returned to our hotel worn out but full of laughter and excited for all that we had seen. I loved watching the boats on the river at night and listening to the street below. Still full of people even into the wee hours of the morning. New Orleans can throw a party!

New Years Day started off brilliant. Game day! We dressed and headed down for lunch in the hotel grill. We were both so worn out from the day before that we just wanted to eat someone where close and without waiting in line for an hour. So we went down to the Pelican Bar and Grill and a lovely couple from Ole Miss offered us their table as they were leaving. I thanked them kindly as it was packed. We sat and had some lunch, drinks and watched other football games. Some of our group joined us for drinks before deciding to get a cab to the stadium. Let me tell you, the cab drivers in New Orleans are insanely good at their job in an insane situation. Six of us jumped in a cab and the driver was very cool. He instructed us on how to get a ride back to the hotel after the game and everything. Sadly The Big Easy is not awesome on organized events. Once in the stadium we found our seats. The Superdome is an older stadium so the stairs are very steep and the seating is as well. You get the feeling you will fall forward if you stand from your seat. We were in the middle of the row so we decided to just sit and stay for the game. No getting up for drinks or anything. Sadly OSU lost in a horrible way that night. It was heartbreaking, it was rough to see our boys play so badly, but all in all it didn’t damper our trip. Now, the trip back to the hotel was rather horrid. We walked to the Hyatt, as the cab driver told us it would be easier to get a cab there. It was very cold and windy so we went in the Hyatt and sat for a long time before venturing out to hail a cab. We could not get a cab as the road to the hotel was blocked by mobs of people walking and police. So finally we walked over another street where two young ladies had a cab pulled over but they didn’t need it. They let us take the cab and finally we made it back to the hotel. We enjoyed a buffet the hotel sat up for after the game. After eating we went to bed about 4 am, knowing we had to be up and on the road before 11 the next morning.

Sugar Bowl

It took the hotel two hours to get our truck from valet parking. That set us back on our trip home.  So while we waited we sat at the Pelican Bar and Grill one last time . I ordered a mimosa and loved it. First one I’ve ever had. I also took one last picture of the boats I enjoyed watching from the hotel window at night.

 

We were able to head to the Garden District where we toured and photographed a famous Cemetery used in the filming and writing of many movies and books. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. I had this overall feeling of, it’s hard to explain, peace and yet in total awe of the beautiful old tombs with cracks in them allowing life in the form of plants to emerge from them. We walked along the  pathway, noting underfoot where the asphalt was broken you could see the seashells that originally paved the way for the mourning. We took photos of the beauty before us and we were both, Scott and I, deciding this may have been our favorite part of our trip. The entire cemetery was beautiful with beads and other items left to pay tribute to the dead and honoring the spirits. I left a bracelet as tribute at the Orphan Boys tomb and shed a tear for the 22 firefighters. I could stay in this place for the rest of my life and be happy.

Lafayette Cemetery No 1

New Orleans had seeped into my soul whilst there. I fell in love with the people, the history, the culture and the beauty. I actually miss the sounds of the city, especially at night, the boats, the cars, the people. This place was amazing for me, and I hope I get to return. I can’t explain it, but this city just felt like home. It is also the very first place I’ve been that my allergies were not absolutely horrible. I could breathe, I was active, I was happy! I will forever be grateful to Scott for this trip. Of all our football adventures, this one was the absolute best. I have come home with beautiful memories, a sense of peace, and a sense of self renewal. I was able to walk all five days we were gone, I was able to enjoy everything I wanted to see and do. I felt an amazing pull to the culture and the history in this city. New Orleans, I love you with all my heart and you are now a part of my soul! Que the jazz, light the porch torch and let’s enjoy a Hurricane together. Thank you New Orleans!

(This was written for a person that asked me to keep details and share them after my trip. I didn’t have a chance till now.)