Monday, June 22, 2009

Everyone Needs A Dream

The Man and I love New Orleans. That much is obvious isn’t it? During this trip to New Orleans we found ourselves saying the ‘what if’ words many times over. One night The Man pulled up real estate listings for New Orleans just for curiosity’s sake – and that was it. The dream had begun.

In December of 2008 there were 12 thousand houses for sale in New Orleans. 12 thousand! And those weren’t the ones that were For Sale By Owner. Where do you start looking when there is that many? The answer is – it’s hard not to look around without seeing a For Sale sign staring you in the face. So many people left during Katrina and its aftermath and didn’t come back. With all that went on who could blame them?

As we browsed the market we were attracted by an upcoming auction of the Spanish Custom House located on the Bayou St. John. Our handy-dandy GPS was pulled out with our camera and we were off.

I knew we had found the Custom House as soon as I saw it. The house has a certain majesty all of its own. The plaque on the front gate told us it was erected around 1784 – I was amazed.

We took tons of pictures as we walked around the fence line – pointing out areas on the outside of the house that would need repairs - trying to see as much as possible - trying to take it all in. My mind went off on its own little journey – imagining what it would be like to live in this house – what amount of work it needed. I saw so many opportunities as I stood staring through the gate while The Man wandered down to the bayou and took pictures.

The auction was going to take place after we returned to Alberta and I thought about catching a flight to come down just for that. The Man smiled and ruffled my hair when I suggested it to him.

I watched the news of New Orleans about the upcoming auction and was green with envy when they opened the house for a week of viewing prior to it. I managed to find a news story that showed a clip of people going around the house and I watched it repeatedly one day – my heart aching to be back there.

When the news came out that the house had auctioned off for over a million dollars – I smiled.

It was a lovely dream.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain

As we neared the end of our holiday in New Orleans we felt it was time to check out the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain. To do so we had to take the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. The causeway is two parallel bridges over the lake, the longest span being the longest bridge in the world over water. It measures 23.87 miles or 38.42 kms. If you have the time, please read the link – it is quite interesting.

Driving onto the causeway gave me goose bumps. The sight of the bridge going off into the distance - and the water stretching out on both sides, made me feel like we were alone – suspended in watery space. It was an unusual feeling. I could well imagine what it would be like to drive over this bridge in the heavy fog that seemed to be a nightly occurrence in New Orleans.

The north shore of Lake Pontchartrain feels like affluent cottage country. We were astounded by the obvious wealth and the huge houses with their huge boats moored at their docks.

The contrast from the city of New Orleans to the North Shore was almost a culture shock. Don’t get me wrong – there were some sweet little houses nestled in the pines and they had obviously been there for a long time.

Somehow in our wanders we managed to drive down to the shore of the lake and we found a large parking area and a boat launch. As we ate our picnic, a couple strolled past our car and stopped short when they saw our license plate.

“Did you drive here from Alberta?” they asked.

Swallowing quickly we beamed and proudly explained our journey to them as the gentleman pointed out the hitch on our small car. (The Man drives a Volkswagen Golf – diesel – a small car with a lot of torque – enough to tow our little 13 foot trailer)

They then proceeded to tell us how the area we were standing in had been under 8 feet of water because of the last hurricane they had endured. They told us of the precautions they always took when a hurricane was coming such as parking their vehicle on high ground and tying their canoe to the front porch. That way they could paddle to their vehicle and drive for supplies and then get back home again.

I tried to imagine what this kind of life would be like. We had already been looking at houses and trying to figure out a way to live in New Orleans – but were we ready for such a change? We’re used to shoveling snow for most of the year!

As you look at these pictures – some of you who have seen the Brad Pitt movie – The Curious Case of Benjamin Button might recognise the lighthouse. Brad sailed right past this one in the movie. We were so excited when we recognised it as we sat in The Barn with the snow falling outside and the movie playing in front of us. It took us right back to the conversation with this couple and the day we spent on the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Mardi Gras World - A Must See

If you can't make Mardi Gras in New Orleans - then you must see Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World!

When we were in New Orleans in 2006 we toured the Mardi Gras Museum located next to the cathedral in St. Jackson's Square. My brother insisted that we had to see Mardi Gras World, so this time we crossed the mighty Mississippi and did the tour.

It was nothing but fascinating! Mardi Gras World is where the floats are made (and alot of them stored). We were fortunate enough to see people actually building the floats and one chap in particular who was sculpting was full of information and happy to talk to us.

During the tour we could see the water marks left on the floats from Katrina - something I hadn't given much thought to what with everything else that happened in New Orleans. Still - the floats and Krewes in the parade are a tradition.

Blaine Kern fills the need for those floats along with Beads by the Dozen. What would Mardi Gras be without floats and beads?! So - without further rambling by me - I give this space over to pics. Enjoy.