Wednesday, June 5, 2013

NOLA Follow-up...

You know we couldn't return from New Orleans empty handed, so we managed to pick up a few things that we thought Georgia might like...

We found NEMO at the aquarium gift shop!

And of course, we had to bring home a gator!

The kid is going to be a pro at Mardi Gras one day - she loves beads!

Even scarier, she likes being topless and beads.  Lord help us all!

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Feeling HOT, HOT, HOT!

We apparently brought the bayou heat back with us and it finally felt like summer this past week in DC - it was hot, hot, hot.  So, we rummaged around in the basement until we found our water table and dragged it up to the driveway.  Georgia (and the neighbors) spent 2+ hours just splashing around on Thursday afternoon and a few more hours on Saturday...

Water play = happy girl!

We debated hitting up the pool on Saturday, but again, the water table fully occupied Georgia for a few hours...

And every now and then you get lucky and you happen to catch the pure look of joy on your child's face...  I love, love, love this picture!

Monday, June 3, 2013

Final NOLA Post...

I know, I know... enough with your trip and where is the cute little girl on the blog these days?!?!

I promise - final NOLA recap and a peek at what the peanut was up to while we were away!

After we returned from the swamp, Nick and I returned to the city to check out of the hotel and grab our final meal while in New Orleans... jazz brunch at The Court of the Two Sisters.  The restaurant, located in the French Quarter, has the most amazing courtyard.  We had changed our early morning reservation to early afternoon so that we could squeeze in our gator tour trip, so we caught the end of the jazz brunch.  Literally, there were musicians playing both in the courtyard (where we were lucky enough to sit) and also inside the restaurant.

We had so many great meals (and drinks) while in New Orleans.  I loved this restaurant's take on the classic New Orleans "hurricane" drink - they add orange juice and call it a "flamingo."  If we didn't have a flight to catch, I could have sat there drinking those down all day long.  Instead, we enjoyed our buffet lunch.  I made sure to eat mostly items that I know we don't see too often in the DC area - muffaletta olive salad, shrimp in a spicy etouffe, crawfish, jumbalya, fresh shrimp, etc.  And I topped it all off with bananas foster.  As you can imagine, I didn't get on the scale for several days after returning home!!

Jazz brunch at The Court of the Two Sisters (you can see some of the jazz musicians in the background playing).

Vines growing above us

Oh, NOLA, you never disappoint!  We thoroughly enjoyed our 3 days in the Big Easy, but we were also excited to get home to our Georgia.  Of course, she didn't exactly look miserable from the photos my mom was sending our way...

Mimi & G

Stickers on your nose!!!

Just hanging around at the playground with Mimi and Papa

Chomping away at some watermelon

Putting all of Papa's change in her piggy bank castle

A huge thank you to my mom and Kevin for coming down and hanging out with Georgia for the weekend.  We came home to a happy kiddo, a sparkling clean house, a car with a full tank of gas, and Papa even painted the stairway to the man cave and part of the basement!  Papa even shuttled us back and forth to the airport, so he visited BWI four times during his short visit.  Thanks!!!!

We definitely plan on returning to New Orleans one day... Nick a little sooner than others!  We said that if we had another day or two, we would have checked out the WWII museum, maybe visited a plantation or two, checked out numerous restaurants (including Cochon Butcher, August and Mother's), gone to the aquarium, maybe even the zoo, and taken a riverboat cruise.  

Sunday, June 2, 2013

NOLA - Part 5

By Monday, the last day of our trip, we had accomplished a lot on our trip to-do list.  I offered Nick a few options for day trips, like going into the bayou or visiting a plantation.  Not surprisingly, the next day, I found myself on an air boat hunting for alligators!!

After a quick shuttle ride from downtown New Orleans to Lafitte, Louisiana (named after the famous pirate, Jean Lafitte), we arrived at Airboat Adventures and got ready to board our ride for the day.  However, we first checked out their lodge... complete with stuffed gators and two albino alligators (only 50 are currently in captivity in the US, so they are very valuable).  

Ready for our adventure

Fun fact - Albino alligators are cannibalistic (aka - this guy ate his other albino friend because the owner didn't realize you are never supposed to put 2 albino alligators in the same enclosure together.  Oooops!

All the air boats departing from the dock and heading into the swamp

The first part of our "swamp tour" was very relaxing.  They have to follow certain noise ordinances while within the town limits, so we slowly motored around the waterway while our guide pointed out various things and answered questions.  He let us know that we would need our ear protection once we hit the marker that indicated he could go full throttle with the engine.  

Beautiful morning for a tour

Cemetery along the waterway (rumored to be where the French pirate, Lafitte, is buried!)

And then he floored it...

Nick and I compared our swamp tour and the alligators to our dive at Stingray City in Grand Cayman.  These gators must hear the boats coming, so they immediately all dive into the water to approach the boats.  We couldn't believe how many gators we spotted.  Smart gators have figured out that boats = food.  And their food of choice???  Marshmallows!!  Our tour guide called them "swamp crack" for the gators.

First gator siting

According to our guide, the average size of an alligator in Louisiana is only 5 feet long.  They can grow much bigger, but most are on the smaller size.  He shared lots of interesting facts with us, including how to catch gators, how the waterways were formed for logging purposes hundreds of years ago, etc.  


Multiple incoming!!

Chomping on a marshmallow

Our guide feeding a gator

Our guide teased this one by putting a marshmallow on top of its head.  It swam around for quite awhile and never realized that his favorite snack was (quite literally) sitting right on top of him...

The swamp was absolutely gorgeous and we had the perfect weather for it.  When the guide would stop the boat in the sun, it was hot-hot-hot.  But when we were moving or drifting into the shade, the temperature was great.

And then we got to the coolest part of the tour... our guide whipped out a baby alligator and let us pass it around to hold it and take pictures with it.  He called her "Amy," but said there was no way for them to quite yet tell if she was female or male.  She's quite the pet and devours 175+ goldfish per week!

Nick said he never doubted for a minute that I'd hold the gator "because it wasn't a snake!"  Very true.

Most of the folks on our boat took the opportunity to hold Amy.  She was quite docile and soft.  The funniest part was the biggest guy on the boat - tallest, big muscles, tattoos, etc. - passed up the chance.  His girlfriend held her, but not him.  Until Nick promptly handed him Amy when she was being passed back to the guide.  The whole boat cracked up as this big guy sheepishly held her for a few seconds while his girlfriend quickly whipped out the camera!

Before our tour ended, we got to see lots more gators, including one who rammed the boat by accident while he was chasing a floating marshmallow!

In pursuit of a snack!

Gobbling it up

Tomorrow... I finish up our NOLA trip with our final meal and a Hollywood moment and a hint at what Georgia was up to while we were gone.  Ironically, Nick is headed back to New Orleans today for a Microsoft conference (aka - "Nerd fest!").  I'm beyond jealous that he gets to head back to this incredibly cool city already!!  Have a hurricane or two for me!