Mardi Gras

The Mardi Gras season is hitting both its high note and end note along the Gulf Coast. Mobile is the birthplace of Mardi Gras, yet the biggest celebrations are held in New Orleans. Perhaps the city lends itself to more of a party atmosphere than Mobile, but Mobile does its share of celebrating. You can check out the schedule at this link: http://www.marriott.com/hotelwebsites/us/m/mobbr/mobbr_pdf/MG_routesched2011.pdf

You can find New Orleans’ parades here: http://www.mardigrasparadeschedule.com/

Mardi Gras is celebrated all along the Gulf Coast.  The farthest east I could find a current schedule of events is Destin, FL although I read a history of Mardi Gras in Apalachicola.  They stopped their festivities in the early 1900’s.  The farthest west the Mardi Gras is celebrated is Galveston, TX.  We went to a parade there in 2007.  It wasn’t planned.  My husband was working in Houston then and we spent some time day-tripping.  Galveston was a cool town.  We haven’t returned since Hurricane Ike.  I’d like to see it again.

The schools and businesses along the Gulf Coast close for the long week (Friday through Tuesday, usually) returning on Wednesday. It’s hard to get to work or school if you’re on a parade line so basically whole municipalities and local businesses shut down. 

Since we homeschool, it doesn’t affect us. My husband works at home that day, the boys keep on learning and I do what I do.  Most families that get this holiday take this opportunity to take a short trip out-of-town away from the crowds, but we’re staying here this year.  Our big vacation is in the summer.

Parades can be fun but if you do them too often they’re no longer that exciting.   The Gulf Coast does host a parade for just about everything: schools, most holidays, the entire Mardi Gras season just to name a few.  My 4H club participates in a Christmas parade.  Every small town has one so if you’re really addicted to beads, candy and other throwables you can hit several in one weekend; like Mardi Gras. 

How many beads can a person own?  Don’t know but I’d like to meet the person that claims to have the largest collection of Mardi Gras beads caught at parades throughout his or her lifetime.  We went to a few parades, years ago when we first moved to the Gulf Coast, so I have my beads saved.  They fill a shoe box.  They’ve moved from Alabama, through 5 other states and back.  I don’t know why.

Enjoy the Mardi Gras season, if you desire.  If not, take this time and enjoy what you enjoy.

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How I Spent My Summer Vacation Part II

The second week of our vacation we took the boys to New Orleans.  As you’ve probably already read my blogs on NOLA, let me recap briefly.  It was Gary’s birthday so we celebrated by eating our way through NOLA.  You can check out his blog for the details: www.dixiedining.wordpress.com.

My enjoyment came from the trolley rides, Southern Food Museum (which the boys also loved), the crazy sites (always crazy sites in NOLA) esp the men in red dresses.  See my previous blog for that story.  I loved seeing the Mardi Gras beads in the trees.  I noticed them first in Mobile, the birthplace of Mardi Gras, when I recently visited to take the boys to the Museum of Mobile.  Of course, as in New Orleans, the oak trees drape the streets and its probably near impossible to not get beads in the trees during Mardi Gras parades. The floats are rather high so the beads would easily get fixed in the trees on the way down to the crowd.  The last parades we went to were back in Mobile and Fairhope in 1995 and 1996.  We also took a whole day in 1995 to travel the Mississippi coast and attend a few parades…I don’t recall many trees along those parade routes.  And again in Galveston 2 years ago, but there were no trees along that route, either.  New Orleans, from the trolley car was beautiful with the beads hanging from the trees.  It really looked liked there were efforts made to place them where they were.  In fact, one house had beads stuck on its roof.  Wish I had a picture to show you.  I guess you could google “beads on trees in New Orleans.”

We went to 5 Rivers with our neighbors.  The kids, as well as us moms, enjoyed the indoor museum of regional creatures.  We told the children to read all they could and be able to tell us 3 new things they learned.  That challenged them and added a lot of fun the visit.  What did I learn?  Beavers can stay underwater for up to 8 minutes and can breathe while down there, too.  We have bobcats in the area.  Buffalo used to roam Alabama, not just the western plains.  We spotted an alligator in the river behind the museum and examined the banana spiders in their webs around the outside of the building.  The day got too hot to hike the trail so we’ll return another day.

One the way home we stopped at the overlook on the north side of I-10 on North 98.  It was the site of a Revolutionary War battle.  The whole area is so historic.  It was a Spanish Fort (hence the name of the area), and played a role in both the Revolution and the Civil War.  We hung out in the Visitor’s Center and the lady that works their was most hospitable and informative.  Travis was really interested in any ghost stories and hauntings in the battle fields.  All she said was that at Blakely Park, a little further north where the last battle of the Civil War was fought, you can feel a presence.  Now, she couldn’t elaborate except that as you walk around you can feel life around you that you notice.  Hummmmm.  We’ll check it out.   Several years ago we took the boys to Pittsburg Landing in Tennessee where the Battle of Shiloh was fought.  There was definitely something in the air on that property.  I’ll bet it’s the same feeling at Blakely.  I’ll let you know.

The boys practiced for tennis team and Austin decided once and for all that it’s not his bag, baby!  So I withdrew him from the team this fall.  Travis wants to continue.  He’ll be on the youth team which won’t compete.  I’m ok with this.  Austin said he wants to take computer classes instead so I’m looking into it for him.  He’ll still have to get his exercise so we’ll just add a PE class to homeschool this year.  I’ve got a cool curriculum we’ve done each year in parts. 

We did the turtle thing on Friday, and shopped the outlets in Foley.  Saturday we had lunch at Panini Pete’s in Fairhope.  Oh the food was great.  I had the seared tuna panini with cucumbers, field greens and key lime aioli…yum!  Gary has become friends with Pete so we spent time chatting with him when he had time.  Panini Pete’s was on Diners Drive-Inns and Dives on the Food Network.  Sunday we went to the Daphne water front for some sea urchin food…sea grasses.  There wasn’t much but I think I have enough for them for a few days.  I also brought home some snails.  I’ll have to look up what kind they are. 

Well, that’s week 2 in a nutshell.