“And if the music ain’t good, well it’s just too bad….We’re gonna sing along no matter what.
Because the dancers don’t mind at the New Orleans….If you tip ’em and they make a cut”
– Scissor Sisters – Take Your Mama Out
I’m on my way back to Texas for the last few days of my Road Trip 2018. After driving 1,300 miles by myself, I’ve lured my adult kids to meet me here with a promise to show them 3 ways to do New Orleans right! Then I’ll have their company on the last 350 miles back to Houston.
Day 1 of this 2018 road trip was a nine-hour drive across 3 ½ states to end the day with a haunting discovery in Marianna Florida. Day 2-5 was spent with distant family in the small town of Perry, in the Big Bend and Mud Flats of Florida. Now I’m headed back home with this stop in New Orleans to celebrate a safe trip.
Solo Road Tripping is good for thinking
To get to New Orleans, I left Perry at 8 am. That gave me plenty of solo road time to marinate on all the discoveries, and emotions of the past few days. So many of my road trips grow out of a whim.
This whim was to revisit my past and see it through the eyes of my late father’s contemporaries. I had six hours to reassemble my memories with all the additional information I’d uncovered. What I lost in warm fuzzies, I gained in deeper understanding.
If you still have kin that can tell you these kind of stories, don’t delay. Get on the road to visit them.
Pick an audio book to match the mood
I’m a huge audio book fan and always try to have a couple downloaded with stories that are set in an area similar to the one where I’m visiting. Audio books make the long stretches of I-10 roll by more quickly. Randy Wayne White, a former fishing guide from the west coast of Florida and creator of Doc Ford and Hannah Smith mysteries, took me all the way to Louisiana with an engrossing murder to solve.
Now it’s time to celebrate!
Day 5-8 Stats – Leaving Perry, Florida for long weekend in New Orleans (422 miles – 6:22 travel time)
3 Ways to Do New Orleans Right!
Lots of “roads” can bring you to New Orleans. This quirky city is a destination for weddings, conventions, festivals, birthdays, food adventures, and more. I’ve used all those excuses from time to time,including starting my 2016 Road Trip from here.
I’m far from an expert but I’ve learned there is only one way to screw up your visit – spend more than an hour on Bourbon Street. Instead, follow this 3 ways to do New Orleans right…and get the most out of whatever time you have.
1. Forget the expensive eateries and ask locals for suggestions.
My daughter and I introduced my son to Fiorella on Decatur Street for the best fried chicken we’ve ever had. We bought jerk chicken after midnight from a guy barbecuing in an empty lot we passed on our way back to our Burgundy street lodging.
Lemongrass Crab Bisque at the Silk Road restaurant on Royal Street showed another culture was adding its unique stamp to New Orleans’ famously mixed up menus. Anthony Bourdain would approve.
And Bacchanal in the Bywater neighborhood described itself as NOLA’s backyard party. A wine-cheese-meat-serve-yourself shop attached to a backyard dining area with live jazz.
2. Party like a local at the Golden Lantern
After downing a $15 vodka gimlet and savoring the privilege of standing at the Monteleone bar, we headed for one of the friendliest spots in the French Quarter, the Golden Lantern on Royal Street.
While Yelp lists the Golden Lantern as a gay bar, it is very welcoming to everyone so make sure to visit. This trip, we caught the PlayGirlz drag show. This tiny bar has live music until 7:30 pm, great lip-sync performers starting at 10 pm, local pricing on drinks and a friendly, almost “Cheers-like” vibe.
We got there early and sat at an upfront table which we later shared with a female professor in town for a convention and a retired couple who lived just down the street on Royal.
3. Use the streetcars for the best & cheapest way to see New Orleans.
Just $3 per person to ride the streetcars for 24 hours. Warning – you must have correct change!
Want a perfect example of the strange mashup of past and present in this town? You’ll get it sitting in streetcars with hinged reversible wooden seats from the early 1900’s while checking a computer screen over the driver’s head for the next stop.
After the fact, I found a site that would have been useful in getting the most out of my $3. Find it here, then plan your trip around the streetcar stops to see a good cross-section of New Orleans
The big benefit of this road trip
Since I got home, I’ve spent the last couple of weeks thinking about my entire 2018 Road Trip. The most important gift of this journey was getting to spend time with family members who may not be around a few decades from now. Hell, we could all be gone in a few decades!
If you’re lucky enough to have some of the older generation around, get packed and get to visiting them. Dig deep and listen hard. That’s part of your life they are talking about.
What road trips do you love?
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