Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Road Trip - Day 9

We started out the morning getting ready and headed out for breakfast. We took note that the birds here are NOT like the birds at the last campground. I think these birds would EAT those birds, ha!

Then we headed for downtown New Orleans. There was a thick haze about the city that we soon figured out was from a big marsh fire not too far off. It was absolutely smothering.

Cafe Du Monde was our first stop for coffee and beignets, which was down near (at?) the French Quarter. The kids weren't entirely sure what to make of them...until they tried the white stuff on top of them.

YUM. What's better than freshly fried dough smothered in powdered sugar?? We started out with two orders (there are 3 beignets per order) and discovered that we needed another. Apparently most people have one order per person.

There was also a musician sitting outside the outdoor cafe where we were eating, who was playing some nice music. So after we were done the kids got to go plunk their change into his soup pot.

The musician was just to the left here. The kids were having fun dancing about.

This cafe originally opened in 1862.

This is a view of Jackson Square with the St. Louis Cathedral in the background (which apparently is the oldest continually used cathedral in the US). Then there is the statue of Andrew Jackson (whom the park was named after) in the middle on the horse. Apparently this is one of three of these statues--the other two are in Washington D.C. and Nashville. And then of course all of the tour carriages and mules waiting out front for tourists. Apparently mules are used because that is what the French imported because they found them to be better suited to the area than horses. Mules are more resiliant in heat, can stand in the same place for long periods of time, and are much more resistant to the "swamp diseases" that horses are more susceptible to.

This cannon, located in Artillery Park (directly across the street from Jackson Square) is a model of one used in the Civil War.

More French Quarter buildings. I loved just walking around and taking it all in. Walking around this area truly feels like you've been transported somewhere else entirely. It's a bit surreal. I would have loved to have just walked and drank it all in for longer, but between the heat, the smoke, and two antsy kids...we headed for the local Children's Museum.

This was Brooklyn's favorite thing to do. It was a camera with all sorts of effects. She had a ball dancing and jumping around, I think she would have stayed here for the entire visit if she could have.

Then we lost Sam. Sigh. What's an outing without losing a child, right? We eventually found him and headed up to the optical area where Russ decided he's glad he's an engineer and not an optometrist.

And where Brooklyn did a cornea transplant for an alligator who had scratched his cornea.

Sam checked out to see how an insect sees the world and decided he didn't like it whatsoever.

We all loved the architecture place. You could design your own blueprints and build things with at least 10 different kinds of blocks and such.

They had a little town build--you can go in each of those houses, they're really super cute. Sam decided he needed to fill in for Mr. Jackson on the horse statue.

They had an awesome restaurant. There's still a bunch of stuff to my right, I couldn't squeeze it all into the photo. It was very cool. As was the grocery store part that I didn't get any photos of. Was pretty impressed with both, obviously, lol.

They also had all sorts of "real" building stuff like this. You could do this plumbing, electric, and there was something else...had to do with building houses. Pretty neat.

I think my favorite part was the art room. The kids drew a self-portrait with crayons and then painted over it with ink. It was okay, but I was really impressed with all of the amazing artwork. It made me want to be more creative and expressive with everyday media--beads, glitter, bottles, aluminum foil, textured papers...lots and lots of neat stuff. And most of it stuck to the New Orleans "feel"...bright, flashy, jazzy.

Ooh, the bubble station was definitely neat.

We realized we'd been there well past what our parking permitted, so we decided to find somewhere to eat. I am sick to death of fast food (and I've only had it what, 4 times in these entire 10 days? lol) and wanted something good. So we found Eat.

In an old New Orleans style house, remodeled very bright and cleanly into this super cute, small restaurant. I loved the atmosphere. It and the people working there were very cheery, and I love love loved the giant charcoal portraits hung all over. They were beautiful.

And the The kids shared a breakfast (3 pancakes, 4 eggs, 3 pieces of bacon, and a servings of grits (which I've never tried before, but didn't think they were too bad at all)). I got a portobello mushroom sandwhich whith a side of fruit. I have never seen a slice of bread this big. There were two giant portobellos on there! And the "side of fruit"?? I've come to expect a small bowl of yesterday's chopped up fruit, but wow! It was beautiful and delicous--1/3 grapefruit, 1/3 orange, strawberries, a banana, and a kiwi!

And Russ. Oh my. He ordered the fried catchish po boy. It was huge. And came with a side of rice and a side of beans and shrimp. And then he ordered us a plum torte. Mmmm.

I highly recommend this place if you decide to head to New Orleans.

After having to remove Sam from the restaurant once (and threaten multiple times after that), we finished up and headed back home for NAPS. Everyone was Cranky with a Capital C. However, Brooklyn ended up falling asleep in the car for 15 minutes, and that was it for her. Sigh. No nap for Momma either, then. Sam slept for another hour after we got back.

At that point though, I was waiting to hear from Amanda, my friend from NC. So we were just killing time, inside. It was so sweltering hot and there are all of these nasty bugs floating int he air all over, it's hard not to inhale them at time. So yeah...all 5 of us inside the trailer for hours. Time to bust out the school stuff!

So we went over all of the different forms of money again, playing, "Can You Find The ____?" They love this game, particularly beacuse Jelly Bellies are involved!

I am sad to say that I forgot my camera at the campsite when we went to visit my friend (and her two kiddos--my kids had been asking for days about "when do we get to go play with our friends?!?!" I cannot tell you the level of excitement there was in the car on the way to their house.). Although Russ (who stayed at camp by himself) did get some interesting pictures of wildlife around here while we were gone. Snakes, birds, giant fun.

Amanda made us delicous red beans and sausage with rice and corn bread. DE-LICIOUS. I think I'll be adding it to my recipe book for sure. It was nice hearing all of the giggles and getting to sit and talk with a girl friend for a few hours. It was tough to leave--we'd been invited to spend the night, and while I would have loved to...there's just no place like "home"...even if it is a trailer, lol.

We got home pretty late--it was after 10:30pm after sitting at the locked campground gate for 15 minutes trying to open the damned lock before I decided to just drive around it. Yeah, I was tired. And THEN when I went to the bathroom to wash up (and take my contacts out), on the way back to the trailer I could see something following me, but not really since it was dark and I didn't have any contacts or glasses. I think it was either another armadillo or an opposum. Either way, I started running and it ran too! And then I scared another armadillo and it ran at me. Eeek.

Tomorrow: Heading out for Lake Fausse Pointe State Park, about a 3 hour drive.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Road Trip - Day 8

Not many photos taken today--it was a travelling day, and one where I actually got to drive for the first time. Ha! And I must say...I much prefer riding shotgun. Much easier to take all of the sights in, document, read....those sorts of things.

Anyways, last night was a bit of a rough night, so morning didn't find me personally very happy to see it. Sam of course was thrilled, "I go pee!...and thwow wocks." Yup. Sure. Fine.

My awesome husband nobally offered to take the kids back to the playground and museum for a few hours...if I wanted to pack up in silence or anything like that... Ha! So I did what any mother of young children does...NOTHING. Okay, I packed a few things up and did some planning of our schedule, but really, how often do you mothers of young'uns get to sit alone in the forest??

I wouldn't say Russ was exactly thrilled when he got back, but he got right to work helping me finish everything up. He's such a great guy. We got everything loaded up and we headed out to New Orleans.

We assumed the kids would pass out since Russ ran them that morning, alas, nope. So we did experiments and games and rocked out to some music. And we finally got to the Louisiana border.

I really would have liked to have taken more photos while we were driving. I'd never seen the "bayou" before and was amazed. Like, we were driving along on the interstate, which was essentially a super long bridge, and the bayou was underneath us. There were lots of houses built along these waterways--it looked like little neighborhoods, even like city blocks. But each house was literally on the edge of the water and each had it's own dock, like a sidewalk going out to your car, but at the end was their boat. Crazy.

Anyways, there was a lot of water and lots of bridges.

That big bridge to the left is a train bridge, and we're just coming across a giant bridge.

So our original plan was to stay at a KOA Campground in the city so we'd be close to everything (I figured it would be a change of pace from being in the woods as well). Well we pulled in and oh my...we turned right around and headed for the nearest state park. The KOA was not a pretty place to be, we'll just leave it at that.

So we ended up at the Bayou Segnette State Park. Although it was frustrating trying to find the unmarked, hidden campground for 40 minutes, we eventually found it and after driving around, found a spot that was right next to the toys, bathrooms, laundry, and wi-fi tower. PLUS there wasn't a soul in sight. That's my kind of campsite!

So the kids immediately jumped out of the car and headed for the toys while we set up camp. We later broke out the screen tent because the bugs were getting pretty bad (surprisingly the first time since leaving NC!).

Brooklyn said we needed to make a volcano. It's a good thing I carry a stash of baking soda and vinegar.

Another thing that happened as soon as the sun went down was that all of the nightlife emerged! I noticed that there were large chunks of wood on top of all of the garbage cans, and now I know why! We saw 10+ rabbits, 1 opposum, and 4 armadillos (which were pretty tame, obviously.). The kids actually chased one armadillo down the road. Brooklyn got so close that she said she touched it and it felt rough, not smooth like she thought it would feel like. Crazy kids.

Russ roasted sausages and corn on the cob for dinner and Brooklyn was the official Marshmallow Roaster, and she took her job incredibly seriously, making sure everyone was taken care of and had enough marshmallows.

By then, the kids were covered in filth, so off to the showers again...and then straight to bed. I think I'll follow suit.

Tomorrow: Off to taste our first beignets tomorrow morning and then high-tail it to the Children's Museum. Woo hoo!

Road Trip - Day 7 (part II)

Sorry I had to do this in two parts--Blogger isn't happy with me tonight, apparently.

Anyways, the last photo left us off with bored kids. Sam had already been in trouble a few times for getting muddy. So I told the kids to get their play clothes on and get as muddy as they possibly could.

Brooklyn was done after about 5 minutes, "Okay, can I get washed up now?" I told her no. She wasn't dirty enough. Her jaw dropped and she said, "You want me to get more dirty?!" "Yup." A smile inched across her face, "Oh-kaaaayyyy..." as she turned around and headed back to the mud.

It took 3 more times of her coming back, "Am I muddy enough?!" "Nope. I can still see the words on your shirt." Sam was more than happy to help her out. They were totally done after about 15 minutes. Even Sam was asking to be washed up. So under the hose they went. You should have heard the giggling shrieks.

We finally went and got into the shower and got squeaky clean. They haven't been asked to stay out of the dirt once since! Ha!

On a side note, we saw our neighbors this morning who were chuckling while watching the entire ordeal. She said, "You look much cleaner today!" The kids loved telling her all about how dirty they got all over again.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Road Trip - Day 7

One week down! And I truly cannot believe it's already gone's all gone so quickly! We only have 2-3 weeks left! Although it has been...different. Not always easy, for has been awesome. I would HIGHLY recommend road tripping/camping for extended periods of time with kids my kids' ages. They see the world through such different eyes, it is amazing to see things they do. Also amazing to open their eyes to such new things for them. was Sunday and quite a lazy day. Sam jumped out of bed as he always does each mroning--"I gah-uh (gotta) go potty!" Then he comes back in and says, "I gah-uh go frow rocks now." He gets his shoes on and is gone for a good half hour flipping rocks, checking out bugs, throwing rocks...such a boy.

Good morning, great egrets.

Good morning girlie who loves to study the insect identification book. So much so that we got her her own.

Good morning husband and golden orb weaver that I nearly kissed this morning....shiver. They are beautiful (in their own way), but that doesn't mean I want them anywhere near me.

We decided to start out this morning at the giant play structure we'd seen (but not told the kids we'd seen, bwahahah) near the museum we went to yesterday. Seriously, this thing is big. This is looking from the front entrance, to the right of the structure.

This is looking straight on.

And to the left. And there was a ton behind it. All sorts of obstacle course type things to do, all sorts of places to hide, and it is built like a castle, so lots of castle-like stuff. Unfortunately, it was absolutely sweltering at 10:30am, so we only lasted maybe 20 minutes (even the kids were dripping with sweat at that point).

Then we ran to Books-A-Million to pick up some more reading--we needed a bird identification book, we found a good bug and reptile book for Brooklyn (and Sam, although he doesn't really care about the pictures at this point--he just wants to pick up the real deal), The Ghost Map (a book Russ has been wanting to read about London in the 1700-1800s), and my first Sookie Stackhouse book.

Then we hit up Kroger to replenish the food stash--must have more chocolate.

On the way out to the car, I was amused at the Bible Belt graffiti that I saw...

Then it was back to the campsite for lots of this...Russ attempting to read while "playing" with Sam (aka - trying to keep him from tearing the entire camper down out of boredom), me downloading photos, and Brooklyn and I doing mad-libs.

...more to come...

Road Trip - Day 6

We decided to head to the Jackson Museum of Natural Sciences today (since we get in free with our Cape Fear Museum pass--best $50 we ever spent.). They had some really neat fossils--some I'd never seen before up close. Pre-historic fish and whales, pretty amazing.

Another tank that you could go inside of. Not sure which was more entertaining to watch--the big frogs inside or the crazy girl who thought she was part of the exhibit.

They also had a large Frogs exhibit with everything frog. They had all sorts of them to see and then all sorts of interactive learning tools too. Very cool.

Two witches making Sam stew. Mmmm.

They had a nature trail that of course we had to check out. All of this is filled with water when it rains or floods or whatever, but it was pretty dried up. Still pretty.

We have a thing for doing rubbings. They're just fun! All of these benches had different carvings in them, so we did lots of rubbings.

All of the stuffed animals. Fun fun.

They also had a really cool kids play place that was SUPERVISED. WOOT!! The kids weren't very happy when I dragged them away, kicking and screaming.

This was probably the kids' favorite part.
My favorite was all of the new fossils that I hadn't seen before.
Russ's was the giant snapping turtle--it was huge!! We thought it was just a boulder, but oh no...that thing could take a hand off if it wanted to!

We got back to camp and they wanted to do more rubbings.

We headed back to camp for some lunch. And guess what I found wandering around our campsite?? IZZY. This dog is seriously the Houdini of dogs. We got her a crate (since she'll need one to fly to CA anyways, plus she just keeps ESCAPING!) and put it inside the nice air conditioned trailer. When I first tried to leave her in there, she whined like crazy. So I went back in and threw an old t-shirt of mine in there and she was quiet. So that's when we left.

But when we got back, she had managed to GET OUT OF HER CRATE. I'm not sure if I didn't get both parts of the lock locked or if she did it (as there were some scratch marks on the side there). But when I pry the cage open there, I can barely get it open 5-6", I don't know how she got out of there or how long it took her...geez. At that point I didn't know what to do. The next time we left we bungee corded the door closed and she was fine. Thank heavens.

After lunch, Russ tried laying down with the kids and I headed to the local coffee shop to score some free wi-fi so I could attempt to get these blogs uploaded. After 2 frustrating hours I gave up and went to the Rainbow grocery store next door. I was in love. Hello organic bulk shopping goodness! Unfortunately, I knew Russ would be expecting me very soon (our perhaps an hour or so ago...) so I grabbed my lettuce, oranges and tea and headed back.

After the kids woke up, they needed to burn some energy so I took them to the campground park while Russ walked the camp nature trail. Brooklyn immediately found two friends--a couple of sweet black girls who were probably about 12. They loved Izzy and were telling us all about everything. It's funny though because Brooklyn could hardly understand their accents, and what's even more funny, they could hardly understand Brooklyn! HA!

They told us they saw an alligator over by our camp though and I was a bit worried until the next sentance that popped out of their mouths, "And a chicken jumped up onto our picnic table and started squalking at us!" Hmmm...correct me if I'm wrong, but I didn't think chickens lived in the swamp...

While I was making dinner, Sam decided to try his off-road biking skills.

And Brooklyn sat contently watching the egrets and herons fishing for their dinner in the creek.

Dinner, showers, laundry, bed.