A couple of weeks ago, I went on another road trip with Jennifer. She and her parents have a Thanksgiving tradition: instead of having a big turkey dinner, they go out of town for the weekend. This year, they decided to go to New Orleans and Lafayette, and asked if I wanted to tag along. I was up for it, so I went with them and had a great time. I’d been putting off posting about the actual trip, so I figured I’d spend some time doing a recap…
We set off from Jennifer’s parents’ house early Wednesday morning. We made a stop just outside of Beaumont for a late breakfast/early lunch at Cracker Barrel, and then continued on our way to New Orleans with various stops to stretch our legs, the most notable one being at an outlet mall where Jennifer bought tennis shoes for the trip. Once we arrived in New Orleans, we checked into our hotel and napped for an hour or so, before we made our way over to the French Quarter for dinner at Acme Oyster House. We waited in line for about twenty to thirty minutes outside, and let me say, the food was definitely worth the wait. After eating at Acme, we wandered down Bourbon Street (which was far seedier than Jennifer had been expecting) until we reached her parents’ favorite bar: Pat O’Briens. We made our way to the back, where they had a large piano bar, and we sat down and listened to the music and drank a couple of Hurricanes. We actually badly underestimated the potency of the Hurricanes; Jennifer originally said, “It’s just fruit juice!” We were DEFINITELY feeling the effects once we left the bar and headed back to the hotel…
Amazingly enough, neither of us woke up with a hangover the next morning. After a nice breakfast in Shula’s (which the hotel gave us a free breakfast at because the concierge lounge was closed for Thanksgiving), we wandered over to the French Quarter to browse around. With it being Thanksgiving, almost everything was closed, which gave us an opportunity to quietly browse around without any crowds. As we wandered, we took in all of the sights, including St. Louis Cathedral, the river, and the French Market. Once we were finished looking around in the French Quarter, we headed over to Canal Street, where we took the trolley over to the Garden District to walk around and look at the houses there. They had some really beautiful homes there; we even looked to see if we could find Anne Rice’s old house, but had no luck. After wandering through there aimlessly for a while, snapping pictures and admiring the houses, we went back to the trolley station and took a trolley back to Canal Street, where we walked down until we reached Harrah’s. Once in Harrah’s we ate lunch in Fuddrucker’s, and then went our separate ways; Jennifer and her parents looked for the video poker machines, while I went to the poker room and played some $1-$2 no-limit Texas Hold Em.
At this point, I’m going to digress and mention that I REALLY did not like how Harrah’s handled making money off of the poker tables. When I played in Vegas, the house took a cut out of every winning pot. In Harrah’s New Orleans, though, they made all players pay $6 every time there was a dealer change (which was every half-hour or so). I preferred the old way, where you could stay in and only deal with blinds, but only paid if you won a pot. I wasn’t the only one; more than one person I spoke to at the table agreed with me. In the end, I walked away down about $30. While I can say that I don’t know how much I would have been down if they were on the other system, I know that when I take the Harrah’s system into account I was only down $6 due to actual losing hands.
Once I was done at the poker table after a couple of hours, I sought out Jennifer and her folks, and we made our way back to the hotel to rest for a bit. Once we got a bit hungry, we wandered out to the French Quarter, where we had dinner at Pierre Maspero’s, which we had noticed was one of the few restaurants open. Once we had finished eating a delicious meal there, we wandered out to get coffee and beignets from Cafe Du Monde. Along the way, we happened upon a musician who made music out of water glasses, and a man with a telescope with which we saw the Moon and Jupiter with two of its larger moons. Once in Cafe Du Monde, we were struck by how quiet it was (there were a number of wait staff just sitting around and talking), but that didn’t stop us from enjoying our coffee and beignets, which were delicious. :-) Once we were done there, we made our way back to the hotel, where we turned in for the night.
The next morning, we had breakfast in the concierge lounge. Once that was done, we packed, checked out stuff in with the bellhop at the hotel, and made our way back to the French Quarter. One of our first stops was K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, which is owned by Chef Paul Prudhomme. After having a VERY delicious lunch there, we proceeded to wander around the French Quarter, which was MUCH more lively that day, complete with bands, artists, performers, and the like. We also walked past Cafe Du Monde again, and were rather glad we went the night before; the line to get in to the place was down the street. We wandered down the streets of the French Quarter, stopping in the French Market to have a sit down and a drink. (I swear, the margarita I got was loaded with every liquor known to man.)As we left the French Market, we were greeting by a rather… unusual sight: a whole group of sousaphone players marching down the street. It turned out there was some event going on involving sousaphone players; we watched them march to the French Market and play for a bit, and then headed back towards the hotel. Along the way, we encountered the gentleman seen on the left; despite his relatively rough appearance, the man had an INCREDIBLE singing voice. I actually wish I could have recorded it because he did so well. After listening to him for a few minutes, we made our way back to the hotel. We had planned well; as we were leaving, people were arriving from Grambling State and Southern University for the Bayou Classic football game being played that weekend, and the line to the elevators was unreal. We got our luggage from the bellhop, got our car from the valet parking, and left for Lafayette.
Once we arrived in Lafayette, we checked into the hotel… only to find that a college football team had arrived at the same time we did. Fortunately we managed to find a way around the lines to the elevator. :-) After resting for a bit after the drive, we made our way to the Blue Dog Cafe. Jennifer’s parents had been wanting to go there for years but never had the chance before that day. The food there was EXCELLENT, and we really enjoyed ourselves. After dinner, we went back to the hotel, where Jennifer and I had a drink or two at the hotel bar. Once done with that, we made our way to bed.
On Saturday morning, we got up, had breakfast in the concierge lounge, packed, and made our way out. Instead of heading home, our first stop was Avery Island, which was home of the Tabasco manufacturing plant. After crossing the toll bridge into the island, we almost thought the plant was closed, as we seemed to be the only ones there. As we waited in the waiting area, more people arrived… and soon a single woman came out, gave a quick history, led us into a theater, turned on a video, and left. We had been directed to go through a hallway when we were finished, which showed the plant floor (which was shut down as it was a Saturday). As we left the plant area, we encountered some displays which we looked at, and then stepped outside. All in all, the tour (while free) was nowhere near as interesting as the one at the Blue Bell plant. We went into the Tabasco country store, which sold everything Tabasco-related one could imagine. They even had samples of Tabasco ice cream and soda. The ice creams were decent. I didn’t try the soda; Jennifer and her father said the soda was horrifically nasty. When we were done there, we headed on out and headed back to Houston, with a stop just outside of Beaumont for lunch.
All in all, the trip was a lot of fun. The food was excellent, though admittedly it’ll be a while before I’m ready for Cajun seafood again. In addition, we had a great time seeing the sights. I’m not sure where next year’s Thanksgiving trip will go to (if we go instead of spending Thanksgiving with my parents), but I can already say that based on this trip it should be a pretty fun time.