Another Thanksgiving in New Orleans


We left Wednesday evening just after work to drive to New Orleans – to Metairie, actually, which is a sort of suburb. We arrived, as usual, at about two in the morning. After the misery of LAST Thanksgiving with Bryan’s family – click here to go back to that story, because I don’t want to think about it any more – we expected to great time no matter what happened. And we did enjoy our visit, as we always do. Thanksgiving dinner with our family is a treat every year.

We brought Hayduke, which is extra trouble but works out all right. He’s a good traveler, and we never have any problems with him in the car on long trips. We stay at Aunt Dot’s house, and he spends several hours each day visiting with cousin-dog Bourbon at Kevin and Julie’s down the street. I had arranged for us to have a temporary ‘visitor’ pass for City Bark, the nice dog area at New Orleans’ historic City Park, and we took Hayduke (and sometimes Bourbon) to the park to run and play every day we were there. Then, he stayed in our bedroom in the evenings and all night. Continue reading “Another Thanksgiving in New Orleans”

NOLA Pukefest

We always look forward to our visit with New Orleans family at Thanksgiving time, and we always enjoy our time there. Almost always. Maybe not so much this time. But we’ll get to that.

We arrived in Metairie at our usual 2am on Thanksgiving morning, after the long after-work drive from central Arkansas. Hayduke and I got up early on Thursday for beignets and a trip to the dog park while Bryan and Mandy slept in, and then Hayduke went down the street to stay at Kevin’s house while the family enjoyed Thanksgiving dinner. It’s such a treat to spend the day with family. Continue reading “NOLA Pukefest”

Thanksgiving in New Orleans

We always go to New Orleans for Thanksgiving.

We enjoyed the lunch on Thursday with family and friends, and after lunch Bryan’s grandma Schambach and I went for a walk all the way to West Esplanade, trailing Mandy on her unicycle. That afternoon, we had a quintuple birthday party with presents and cake for Mandy, Aunt Dot, Juliana, Aunt Julie, and JD. (Emma blew out the candles.) Then we went to Bryan’s Aunt Lynn’s house for Thanksgiving supper with his mom’s side of the family.

It rained most of the day Friday. On Saturday morning, we went on a bike ride on the trail along Lake Ponchartrain. (The trail is closed, which we handled by just yelling “Over there!” at the policeman who tried to talk to us, and continuing to ride.) We rode across the 17th Street Canal to the site of the break that caused so much damage after Hurricane Katrina. The repair in the floodwall is clearly visible, and it’s obvious that a lot of homes that used to be in this neighborhood are gone now. The houses that have been repaired or rebuilt are on tall footings.

Late on Saturday afternoon, we got together with Bryan’s brother Michael and his girlfriend Juliana at City Park. We didn’t have a lot of time before dark, but we used the light that was left for some portraits.

My favorite shot was really an afterthought. The light was gone, we’d finished with what we wanted, and we were headed back to the cars when I saw a warm yellow wall, the outside of the old casino. Juliana sat in an opening in the brick wall, with Michael behind her. We wanted his face next to hers, but it just didn’t work out that way, so Bryan just shot what he saw, and serendipity gave us the best portrait of the evening.

Later, we came back to City Park for Celebration in the Oaks. Beginning each Thanksgiving, an area of the park is lit up with holiday lights and carnival rides. One of my favorite things to watch is the restored carousel, with carved wooden horses and brilliant lights and cheerful families bundled up for the evening.

Bryan’s mom, Mandy, Julie, and little Emma rode the train around the park. While they were busy, Bryan and I wandered through the park, taking photos.

The park was crowded, but we were able to find quiet moments.

It’s a big place, with lots of lights that almost but not quite totally don’t go together, a sort of cacophony of Christmas lighting.

Storyland is an area of the park set aside for little ones. It’s got lots of scenes from children’s books and stories, as big as life, and only slightly creepy. When the train ride was finished, we met up at Storyland to watch Emma play.

Emma’s a big fan of slides, but her favorite spot at Storyland seems to be the pirate ship.

We didn’t leave New Orleans until mid-afternoon on Sunday, so the drive home was one of our traditional late-nighters. But the extra time spent visiting with Aunt Dot and buying a supply of andouille and beer at Dorignac’s is always worth the midnight drive home.

Thanksgiving in New Orleans

We arrived in Metairie at a completely normal two in the morning. Because that’s just how we travel.

On Thanksgiving morning, after a trip to Morning Call for beignets, we helped put together a big dinner. This is the first year in memory that the meal’s been at Bryan’s mom’s house instead of his grandmother’s. This year our contributions were a turducken and Bryan’s lemon-snow pie. The turducken (a conglomerate mass of stuffing inside a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey) was okay. The pie was wonderful.

After lunch, Mandy put on an impressive unicycling demonstration. (Over the course of the afternoon she taught herself to ride off an 6-8″ dropoff.) And then we went to Bryan’s Aunt Lynn’s for Thanksgiving supper. And then his Uncle Edgar and I conspired to break a lovely decorative serving plate by flinging it across the driveway. This is something Uncle Edgar and I hope everyone forgets about before next year.

On Friday, after a trip to Morning Call for beignets, we picked up Bryan’s grandmother and headed into New Orleans. We parked at the end of the streetcar line and rode all the way down Carrollton and St. Charles, past the park, past Tulane, past all the interesting houses, past history.

We got off at Lee Circle and walked to the National World War II Museum. (Mandy had chosen this spot from a list of possible Friday activities, based entirely on the fact that she knew nothing about WW2. I was proud of this reasoning. Most of us choose based on things we know and like, things we’ve already filled in somehow; Mandy chooses based on blank places.)

The museum is EXCELLENT. It’s well put together, with a great mix of physical artifacts and printed-on-the-wall stories and little alcoves with continually playing movie clips about different small pieces of strategy and destruction and sadness. It’s put together chronologically and makes sense. After eating lunch we saw the movie in their new “4-D” theater, which was stunning. I think we all learned a lot, from Mandy all the way up to Bryan’s grandmother, who clearly remembered getting shoes with ration stamps. And we enjoyed the streetcar ride back to the Subaru.

On Saturday, Mandy got up early to go fishing with Bryan’s dad and his brother Kevin. This time not only did they catch actual fish, but she managed to stay in the boat. (Last time she’d fallen out while peeing off the side.) After a trip to Morning Call for beignets, Bryan and I had some rare quiet time to visit with his Aunt Dot. During this “quiet time” Bryan and I demonstrated our skills on the Rolla Bolla we had recently constructed. Bryan is able to do a “jump mount” onto the Rolla Bolla and then juggle three balls while continuing to balance.

And in the evening we ate what fish our fishermen had caught, along with Bryan’s rice pilaf and some cauliflower withbeachamel sauce.

After supper we had a little birthday party for Mandy, complete with the now-traditional birthday doberge cake. And there were presents: some clothes and games, a neat book, cards with money, and the real prize: a new pocketknife from Mister Grandpa JD!

On Sunday morning we met up with our friends Beth and Jeff in order to say our first hello their new baby, Lucy. (Don’t worry, I still got my beignets. We met at Cafe Du Monde.) By the time we got back to the house, Bryan’s dad had my old broken sled all torn apart. He was replacing the splintered deck with new white oak slats. After a trip to Lowe’s for bolts for the sled, and a trip to Dorignac’s for groceries we can’t find at home in Arkansas, and a stop for poboys at the gas station, and goodbyes all around, we loaded up and headed home.

The trip home went well, though we drove in and out of rain. At ten pm, in Dumas, we stopped to get a snack at McDonald’s. In a downpour, we turned back onto the highway and started driving again. Our conversation was tedious and involved, as it always is when there’s nothing pressing to discuss but there’s a need to keep words flowing, on a drive, late at night, just for something to hang in the air, just to keep eyes open and on the road. I think we were talking about skydiving. The rain came down in sheets. About an hour later, expecting to be near Pine Bluff, Bryan remarked that it was odd to see a lake, there, on the left-hand side of the road. A green road sign that it was just 16 miles to Greenville. And that wasn’t good, because we’d crossed the Greenville bridge hours before.

We’d turned the wrong way, in the rain, in Dumas. And we’d driven south for an hour before noticing. We couldn’t be mad–as driver, Bryan should have had the sense to know which way to turn, but as the copilot, I should have had the sense to notice something was wrong. There was nothing to do but turn around. It was still raining at midnight, and as we drove past the McDonald’s in Dumas again, the light blinked off.

We got home at two in the morning. Because that’s just how we travel.