New Orleans 2001


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Note: This travelog was written in 2018, so many details have long been forgotten since we took the trip.

Wednesday, December 26, 2001: Our friends Audrey and Brent joined us on a road trip to New Orleans. Brent had a conference to attend so we decided to make a vacation out of it. We spent the day after Christmas driving south to Memphis, arriving not long after sunset.
We had dinner at Elvis Presley's Memphis restaurant, where we tried fried pickles for the first time. At least one of us ordered the peanut-butter-and-banana sandwich that Elvis was famous for loving.
We had given Audrey and Brent a Ninja Burger gift package for Christmas. It included a set of six colorful ninja figures, and they came along with us for the entire vacation. Here they are posing below the statue of Elvis on Beale Street.
Brent and Audrey did the same, ...
... and so did Debbie. Our photos were taken with film but Audrey had a digital camera, so most of the photos in this travelog are her photos. This grainy photo was obviously taken by our film-based camera. Debbie had been photographed at this very spot the previous year.
Here we are on Beale Street. It was late and cold, so this was the only thing we did here.
We were excited to get to Heartbreak Hotel, which was part of the Graceland complex between 1999-2016. It's actual address was at the end of Lonely Street. For real. We stayed in the Graceland Suite, which was featured on this postcard.
This photo, taken the next morning, shows the entrance into the Graceland Suited. It was so fancy and large, it had a doorbell.
It was the largest suite in the hotel and every room was modeled after one of the rooms in Graceland.
The main entrance led to a dining room, with a living room right behind it. The colors and styles are a close match to Graceland's Living Room.
Tom and Debbie stayed in the Jungle Room suite, which was attached but could also be rented separately, which is why it had a separate entrance too. This is the view from the bathroom toward its main room, ...
... and here's the view from the bedroom toward the bathroom.
Here's the bed, along with a very groovy green ceiling.
But this was the main attraction - back in the main room, there was a fountain with lights and plants. The green shag carpeting and furniture also helped mimic the feel of the original Jungle Room at Graceland.
Check out the fountain. Pretty jungle-y, huh?
Our ninja friends stood guard on one of the rock ledges.
This stained glass peacock separated the living room/dining room from the TV Room portion of the suite.
Graceland's TV Room was pretty faithfully recreated with mirrors and murals.
The entire ceiling was mirrored as well.
There was a bar adjacent to the lounge area of the TV Room.
Audrey and Brent stayed in a bedroom based on Graceland's Billiard Room.
The ceiling was draped in the same fabric as the bedspread and side tablecloth.
Here's the entry area outside of the bathroom.
We got comfortable, had a few beers, and played a round of Chez Dork before calling it a night.

Thursday, December 27, 2001: The next morning, we found the ninjas recovering from a rough night.
Here's a photo of the hotel sign on actual Lonely St. as we were leaving town.
We got a quick look as we passed the Mississippi Coliseum in Jackson. The capitol building is visible in the distance in this photo.
When we stopped for gas, the ninjas insisted on helping.
In Louisiana, we crossed the bridge over Lake Pontchartrain, ...
... the the ninjas took a look too. That's a big lake!
We reached the outskirts of New Orleans, ...
... and spotted the Superdome in the distance.
When we got closer, it was a little overwhelming to the ninjas. We checked into the Marriott then went out to dinner for some local food. It was here that we learned that when the waiter asks you how you want your jambalaya and you say, "Hot," and the waiter asks if you are sure, you back down immediately. Always trust the natives.

Friday, December 28, 2001: Brent got spiffed up and went off to his fancy conference for the day.
Tom, Debbie, and Audrey went out sightseeing and rode the Riverfront Line streetcar route. There's a riverboat behind us in this photo so we must be at the Toulouse Station on the route.
We got out at the French Market and started sightseeing in the French Quarter. Of course, every visitor to New Orleans must be photographed in front of Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral.
We passed Preservation Hall but didn't stop. Debbie had been here on her first visit in 1983 and didn't need to go back.
We also stopped by Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo where Debbie got an excellent voodoo doll pencil. The next three photos are postcards we bought, since we didn't take nearly enough photos.
We ate some beignets at Cafe Du Monde, ...
... and bought souvenirs and pralines at the French Market.
When we were done, we boarded the Riverfront Line again.
Then we changed to the St. Charles Line. We rode it all the way to the end, then got right back on to ride it back to Canal Street. It was pretty exciting to pass the Real World New Orleans house (Belfort Mansion) along the way. Later, we met up with Brent for an evening on Bourbon Street. We have no memory of where we went for dinner, but we do recall the nightclub we entered with the one drink minimum.

Saturday, December 29, 2001: With Brent off to the conference again, the three of us headed out for more sightseeing. We took the historic Canal Street Ferry across the Mississippi to Algiers Point.
Here's a small shot of the upper level of the ferry. There's the New Orleans shoreline looking back toward the big hotels where we were staying, ...
... and looking further north toward Jackson Square (on the right in this photo).
Our destination was Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World.
It's a huge warehouse filled with Mardi Gras floats in various stages of completion and repair.
The warehouse can be used for social events, as we saw rows of tables being prepared for a party of some sort.
More floats ...
... and more. When we had seen all that we can see, we walked back to the ferry and crossed the river again.
When we exited the ferry terminal, Harrah's was right across the street.
We weren't wearing our finest purple garments, so we didn't go in.
Instead, we headed along the waterfront right next door to the Aquarium of the Americas.
Here are some mighty catfish.
Debbie was brave enough to touch the giant cockroach on exhibit.
Here are some lovely blue parrots, ...
... and some that are even more colorful.
We got another shot of them looking down from above. Pretty.
Adorable penguins. At this stage of our travels, we had not yet seen penguins in the wild.
Here are some rays, ...
... and here are some more.
When they're as handsome as this, you can see why chicks dig seahorses.
For real.
This big guy is Spots, a very rare white alligator.
Whoa, sharks.
The ninjas were there to check out the fish.
We bought some souvenirs before heading back to the hotel.
Audrey and Brent went their own way this evening, and tucked the ninjas into bed.
We headed down to Bourbon Street where we were maybe going to meet up with our friend John, who was in town for the weekend.
It was a Saturday night, and Bourbon Street was in full swing.
The gentlemen on the balcony above put on a show, ...
... while the ladies on the street below did the same. We never did manage to meet up with John but we had some beverages in tall plastic cups and enjoyed ourselves before heading in for the night.

Sunday, December 30, 2001: We left town the next morning, stopping by Greenwood Cemetery for one last little bit of sightseeing.
We had come down via Memphis and Jackson, but we were taking the slightly shorter route home via Mississippi and ...
... Birmingham, Alabama.
We stopped in Nashville for the night and had dinner at Cock of the Walk.
Of course, we had to get photos of both couples in their oversized rocking chair.

Monday, December 31, 2001: Finally, we were headed home. The ninjas were there as we crossed the Kentucky ...

... and Indiana state lines.

** THE END **


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