Audubon Zoo

We went on down to the Aubudon Zoo(c) eileensaunders

And they all asked for you.

The monkeys asked(c) eileensaunders

The elephants asked(c) eileensaunders

The alligators asked me, too.(c) eileensaunders

Not the exact song lyrics, but you get the point. You should have gone with us.  The weather was great (warmish and sunny) and the crowd was minimal so we could walk and see what we liked without that “herding” feeling you get sometimes just going along with the crowd.

The boys and I went with a group of about 100 homeschoolers from the area so we got a great rate. But even if you have a minimum of 10 in your group you can get in for $3/person. What a great deal!

It’s been years since I had been to the Audubon Zoo in New Orleans and my children have never been so it was time to go. Did they like it? Yes. How did it rank with other zoos we’ve been to? Well…they loved it. It’s up there at the top.

I think the Audubon Zoo is fantastic. The design was great and the animals were all out and fun to see (I took lots of pix) except for one small display being remodeled. That’s ok.  We saw:

Elephants, Porcupines, Lemurs.

Otters, Wildebeest, Zebra.

Monkeys, Orangutans, Giraffes.

Flamingos, Reptiles, and Cougars.

Lions and Tigers and Bears!

(c) eileensaunders(c) eileensaunders(c) eileensaundersWe also found fat unicorns, and millions of Whistling Ducks living for the season in the Zoo’s lake. The Swamp area was the best and just as I remembered. I loved seeing the white alligators again.(c) eileensaunders

There are other things to do: a children’s playground, Dinosaur Adventure, Carousel, and a splash pad for the summer to beat all.  It’s so big there’s a train you can purchase a pass for to take you around, drop you off and pick you back up for the next stop.

Last time Gary and I were at the Audubon Zoo, the Louisiana Swamp Festival was taking place on the grounds and we had a blast. The most memorable part, only because we still talk about it, was the Moss Man…a cutout of a swamp monster looking thing you can put your face through on one side, covered with Spanish Moss on the other side. Gary stood there and I took a picture. He had chiggers from the moss and was in horrible discomfort for a few days. Lesson to be learned: do not hang out with fresh Spanish Moss. But, we had a good time!

If you’re heading to New Orleans this summer, check out the Audubon Zoo so they can stop asking me about you.

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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.

Nawlins Y’all

We made a trip this weekend to New Orleans. I don’t think we had been there since 1998.  We did drive through on our way from Houston to Sarasota back in 2007.  I remember it was a sad drive along I-10 through the city.  Blue tarps everywhere,  broken up homes, a rebuilt house here with a fence around it, an abandoned house there with a broken/partially missing fence.  Who shopping centers where abandoned.  I don’t know if this was a result of the storm or maybe they had closed before.    Needless to say they are still shut down and boarded up.

On the bright side, it looks like a lot of people got new homes.  There were sections of newly built homes surrounded by the damaged ones.    The new ones looked great and I’m happy for those people after what they went through.

There are “Katrina Trolly Tours” in the city but we didn’t take one.  In all the shops we stopped in, there were Katrina books and the unwrapped ones were fairly tattered from guests looking through them. 

There were sections of town, several different blocks, where the buildings were boarded up on the downstairs floor, broken on the top.  You see this in many cities but it made me wonder if they were Katrina victims or just victims of inner-city decay.

I’m not a fan of large cities but our trip to NOLA was fun.  We walked forever.  We started out near the French Quarter Market, parked the car and walked around.  First stop: Central Grocery for muffalettas.  

We walked on to Aunt Sally’s for pralines.  Cafe DuMonde was way too crowded and we’ve eaten there a ton of times so we passed it by and just made it back to the car before a heavy downpour.  We drove around for a little bit and went to check in at the Marriott (thank you Priceline.com).  When the rain let up we walked to Riverwalk, then took the trolley to Jackson Square, then back to Riverwalk and to the hotel; all between raindrops.

Musicians at Jackson Square

Musicians at Jackson Square

We made the trip to celebrate Gary’s birthday and to check out the food scene, since we hadn’t been there for a while.  We grazed all weekend…roasted oysters, gumbo, pralines, etc  We watched musicians at Jackson Square and looked at art hung on the fence posts.  We stopped in a few stores, not many, because we didn’t come to shop and we weren’t into the voodoo stuff they sold anyway.  We have lots of art from New Orleans from former trips. 

We stopped at the Southern Food Museum at Riverwalk.  My husband is all about Southern Food; I guess the whole family is.  It was a great museum to visit and I recommend you visiting.  The displays on food, old and new machines to whip up good eatin’s, and archived donations were well done and enjoyable especially for the boys.  After all, they are the heirs to the Dixiedining.com dynasty.   Travis likes to eat, try new foods, make food and Austin likes to film what everyone is doing.

at the Southern Food Museum

at the Southern Food Museum

Sunday was another grazing festival.  We took the street car to Camellia Grill for breakfast, drove to Brocatos for spumoni, and Parkway Bakery for poboys.  Thank God I don’t eat much.  If I did I probably wouldn’t have fit in the car after this trip.

Streetcar at the Camellia Grill

Streetcar at the Camellia Grill

Next time we go back to New Orleans, we’ll check out the Audubon Zoo.  The kids have never been.

Check out Gary’s blog: www.dixiedining.wordpress.com for his version of our weekend.