So we are count down 72 hours or so. I had a great work out last night – but that’s the last one. At this point, on the countdown, I’m not going to get any better; I’m just going to get hurt.
We celebrated J’s upcoming 58th birthday tonight with dear friends; I’ll work a half day tomorrow; we’ll get our house ready for our housesitters; go to a cocktail party; and get up at 3am or sooner to Uber to the airport.
Our travel companion, S from Alaska, who is featured in the beginning of this blog in 2014 when we met him on our Mt. Elbrus (Russia) climb, has already left for Delhi. We will all arrive on Sunday – Delhi time.
On the level of things to worry about I realized today that I’ve been so focused on the summit I forgot about the river crossings – several of them. As some may know, I was almost swept out to sea crossing over to Z Trail on the Muliwai Trail on the Big Island in Hawaii. I am not a water person.
So I think I’ll use that for distraction. I can focus on whether my Costco water sandals will be ripped off my feet as before. The list of things that can seemingly go wrong is insurmountable. I could worry about all of them or none.
The only choice to make it to 20,147 feet is to put one foot in front of the other. I’m as ready as I’m going to be. And I’ll report back on the river crossings.
As we embark on the two week countdown and our final chances for that one last training run, I’ve been thinking lots about mantras.
The last couple of weeks I’ve tried to vary my training routine. We celebrated Memorial Day with what’s now become a talismanic 20 mile hike – the entire West Orange Trail. Years ago we started hiking it in sections starting at each end (see A Walk on the West Orange Trail, West Orange Trail – Starting from the Other End’) but the last few years we’ve simply started at the Apopka trailhead and hiked to Killarney Station. Last year’s erstwhile travel companions, M and S of Everest Base Camp fame, joined us at mile12, with no more incentive than dreaming of treks to come.
By now the West Orange trail has its own rhythm for husband J and me – there’s the area of bizarre churches, the warehouse ruins of the fern industy, the “development” (that is the nastiest bit, involving uphill along a hot busy road surrounded by look alike housing developments), the Buddhist temple, followed by the golf course and memorial gardens (somehow that has always seemed apt to me), and finally, the wooded trek into Winter Garden, Oakland, and Killarney.
I’ve balanced the pleasure of 20 mile hikes with six mile runs in 80 plus degree heat – and literally hundreds of flights of stairs in my office building.
So what does any of this have to do with mantras, you ask? Last year, on the Everest Base Camp Trek, I was forced to confront one of my greatest fears – the incredibly high swinging bridge. And it wasn’t just one. There were a LOT of them. Our guide told me just to keep my eyes on the prayer flags that lined the steel cables atop the flimsy chicken wire sides of the bridges. I did that – and for whatever reason the phrase “God is in the prayer flags” came to mind. I repeated it, sometimes aloud (with the whistling wind no one could hear) while focusing on the flags and M’s white hiking shirt billowing in the breeze as she strode along in front of me. It got me over a lot of bridges.
And on these runs – and many of you know running is not my favorite thing – I’ve kept myself going by finding similar mantras, especially when I’m getting to that point where I’m tired and starting to focus way too much on whether I’ve gone even another tenth of a mile. With a mantra, I can become almost hypnotized by the passing cracks in the pavement, I can slow my breathing down, and those tenths of miles pass by much less knowingly. In fact, yesterday, another runner came toward me from the opposite direction and I was so lost in my present he startled me!
I don’t think these mantras have to be “religious.” Just something that speaks to you and gives an image that you can fall back into in those hard times. As if you’re on a giant fluffy cloud that propels you along effortlessly. I’m picking out my mantras for Stok Kangri.
We leave for India, more specifically Stok Kangri, in just under 4 weeks and it’s time to stop. Time to stop reading other people’s blogs and trip reviews.
You know you’ve read too many over the top accounts of bad weather, deep snow and almost vertical walls when you find yourself repeatedly googling whether the steepest gradient is really 40 degrees (according to the one and only detailed trekking guide I’ve found) or 75 degrees (according to anecdotal accounts by multiple trekkers at varying levels of inexperience). The next clue you’ve gone too far in internet research is when you start googling all the mountains you’ve previously climbed for comparison purposes to see where they rank in this doubtless highly imaginary world of guessing gradients to try to determine if that will give you a clue as to whether you can do this. And that is followed by a good dose of wondering just how good your training can actually be when you live in Florida and a feeing you better rapidly add even more stairs to the stair climb in the office, not to mention increase the distance of your runs.
I guess fear can be a great motivator – for a bit. But I think I’ve hit the point where reading more about this trek/climb is about to backfire. I need to spend these few last weeks getting my head ready to focus on the present moment and the here and now. That’s what it’s going to take get up that mountain. One foot in front of the other; one at a time.
It’s the opposite of the planning and strategizing and analyzing I have to do in my day job lawyering. Sure, there are the logistics – the gear check, travel arrangements, picking out your GU selections – those are fine. But trying to psych out the mountain beyond a certain point – that’s no good. On a trek, typically the guides will not even tell you what the next day holds until the evening before. I’ve figured out the reason for that. You need to focus on where you are and what you’re doing – not where you’re going to be and whether you can make it.
Right now should be a yoga practice. I need to take the space created on the mat…and let that sense of the present be my guide for these last three weeks. And not read any more first hand versions of “how I survived Stok Kangri.” Namaste.
So I managed briefly to trade the flatlands of Florida for the hills of Austin, Texas – courtesy of daughter S who has just relocated there for a year long stint. As many of you know she’s been a six year resident of one of my favorite swamps – New Orleans. But I think I’m going to enjoy what Austin has to offer.
Perhaps it should be called Alternative Austin because I have the feeling it’s real different than the rest of Texas. I found it deceptive. As we approached S’s apartment from the airport I had never seen as many apartment complexes in my life. They line Lamar Boulevard, leading toward a cityscape of yet more apartments – this time high rises – and office buildings. But buried between the complexes are what at first blush look like strip shopping centers – but are actually cool little restaurants and cafes. I commented on how few chain restaurants I saw. Of course, there was also a high volume of car repair and automotive focused shops, including a car wash across the street from S’s apartment that starts vacuuming cars very early on Saturday mornings.
But it was the music and the hiking and green areas that spoke to me. Live music is everywhere. Even the tiniest neighborhood bar has a sign up advertising the upcoming show. On Friday after a dinner of small plates at the Odd Duck – within walking distance of S’s abode – we ventured into the Saxon Pub. Its big neon guitar sign is right outside her window and S had been wondering about it.
The Saxon Pub features three shows a day, the last at 10:30. It’s been around for 20 years or so. We arrived in time to hear an Israeli guitarist Oz Noy – but most remarkably guitarist Eric Johnson just showed up to play a few jazz tunes including some amazing Theloniois Monk. That was followed by the Lucas Johnson Band (no relation) – hard hitting rock and blues from a 20 year old singer songwriter. This crowd bore no resemblance to the tourists filling lots of venues New Orleans venues. These people were serious about their music and chatting while the musicians played would definitely have been out of place.
The next night was equally amazing. Following sushi at a rooftop restaurant in the warm dry Austin evening we made our way to East Austin. According to our Uber driver it was a low income area now reeling from rapid gentrification. Our destination was the historic Scoot Tavern, a saloon since 1871 that now operates as a bar and music venue. The inside is furnished with crushed velvet sofas and and chairs that S thought would make a good addition to her apartment (which currently has no furniture in it). The opener was a very talented female singer from near Waco. But the headliner was Shinyribs – a large band led by Kevin Russell. If you like music that ranges from a scat singing cover of Bowie’s Golden Years to original music with a music hall quality – all featuring a portly gentleman with a long white beard who plays the ukulele and is surprisingly light on his feet (think Jackie Gleason) – then you’d like Shinyribs. The show culminated with a Congo line led by none other than Mr. Shiny Ribs himself.
The age range at these events was extreme. At Shinyribs there were other mother- child combos, including a tiny woman standing next to me (we agreed it was fair for us to stand in the front row) who explained to me that Florida was for “retirees” while Austin was welcoming and filled with “aging hippies.” The most inspiring person there was an elderly gentleman with an oxygen tank who managed to get up from his folding chair and dance spiritedly around, oxygen tubes moving in sync with his long white beard.
But between our musical Austin adventures we managed to find a sort of summit to keep up my training regime. Austin is surrounded by a Greenbelt – and a mere 7 miles from S’s apartment there are miles of trails running along side and above Barton Creek. This is clearly a popular way to spend weekend days in Austin and practically every swimming hole was packed with revellers. After about 3 1/2 miles we came to the “Hill of Life” – a nicely steep third of a mile or so uphill. Granted it was hot and S and I looked somewhat lost, but I still don’t think we deserved the concern expressed by a woman hiking up who warned us it “was a really steep hill.” I resisted the urge to say something extremely snarky about training for 20,000 foot mountains and Everest Base Camp last year. But then I did climbed it twice (and fast) just in the hopes I would see her the second time!
S didn’t bother with the second circuit and I met her at one of the less populated swimming holes where we ate very spicy prosciutto sandwiches. The highlight was watching a young couple trying to teach their labradoodle to swim. Water dogs they are not!
My Austin weekend closed out with a Mother’s Day Brunch at Phoebe’s Diner. Blood orange mimosas accompanied by a smoked beet hash. Yes, I spelled that correctly. It sort of sums up Austin.
Under 5 weeks out from India and Stok Kangri. The gear check is coming up next.
Somewhere between home in Orlando and an expedition to Stock Kangri in India in late June lies Richmond, Virginia. This past Christmas I decided I would only give gifts of experiences. I was tired of tendering never to be worn pieces.of jewelry or clothes. And gift cards just don’t cut it – in fact, I’ve begun to feel the recipient finds it an obligation to spend them! So when it came to my parents, Richmond, Virginia seemed to fit the bill. Not only was it only a couple of hours away from my North Carolina childhood home, but it was also the new home of my niece and her recently acquired husband (new initials to this blog, G and A).
After a too early morning flight to NC, we arrived only to leave shortly thereafter for a drive through the rural countryside just south of the border. We took a detour through Warrenton, a semi decaying but still attractive county seat. Large homes dating back to the 1700s, some done up and some in a state of half repair. Such a contrast to Florida where something from the 20s means the 1920s, not the 1820s.
We had booked rooms at The Jefferson, the denizen of Richmond’s fine hotels. Built in the late 1890s, it embodies the Gilded Age through and through, something that became a theme for the weekend. One of my favorite parts is that they reputedly kept live alligators in the outside fountain and surrounding pool until the 1940s.
We had planned a big dinner that night, to include my side of the family as well as G, A, and A’s parents who lived near Richmond. As restaurants at The Jefferson book quickly I wasn’t surprised when my last minute attempt at a reservation for 9 failed. But I was bowled over when I received a call Thursday to say there had been a cancellation and on Friday night we were ushered into our own private room, with a fireplace no less.
Saturday we toured the Maymont, where A’s father, guide extraordinaire, arranged for us to visit before the masses arrived. It’s located in a 100 acre park, complete with an Italian garden and a huge Japanese garden with a 45 foot man made waterfall careening down toward the James River. The entire property was given to the City of Richmond in the 1920s after the deaths of its owners, Mr. and Mrs. Dooley. His father had started as a hatmaker from Ireland, while she was from an aristocratic southern plantation background.
The house is a frothy extravaganza of the 1890s-1910s. Ornate painted ceilings, silk on walls. The artwork consisted mainly of hand painted copies of famous European masterpieces, including, no less, the Mona Lisa. Clear delineation of male vs female colors. A remarkable bed in the shape of a swan. And oddly enough, as this was a house with no children, representations throughout of mothers with lost infants.
We also explored the cemetery, resting place of many presidents, including Monroe, whose birthday it happened to be. They have a beautiful view of the James, although as my father put it, it’s really wasted on them.
Monument Boulevard was a grim reminder. I’ve lived outside the true south for long enough that I’m unused to the imagery of confederate leaders marching in grandeur down the main street. I was relieved to find the monument to civil rights champion Maggie Walker on Broad Street near where we had dinner, as well as the statue of sports legend Arthur Ashe who haled from Richmond.
Sunday included a lovely breakfast in the main dining room of Lemaire, the restaurant at The Jefferson. We followed that with a visit to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. It is a beautiful structure, with dramatic new additions and is surrounded by installations including Chuhuly’s “Red Reeds,” strands of red glass waving back and forth in a stream that runs past the museum.
It’s best known for its huge collection of Faberge items, including five eggs. But there’s also an interesting 20th Century American collection, some beautiful tapestries, and many other rooms we didn’t even have a chance to visit. There was even a special exhibit of horses in Greecian art – perhaps in honor of the Derby?
My parents gave me a miniature “Faberge” egg pendant from the gift shop for my recent birthday. It will be a nice memento of a very nice weekend. Just another detour on the way to the summit.
Foothills is a misnomer- it implies a lead up to something large and here in Florida that’s apparently only a 375 foot mountain called Sugarloaf. But the Ten Mike Clay Loop has an outsized reputation around here – it’s rumored to be the site of many a professional athlete’s training regimen and numerous folks have mentioned it to J and me as a good candidate in our never ending quest to find some topography in Central Florida.
So now that my weekends are slightly freer than they were in the midst of my trilogy of trials and arbitration, last Saturday we ventured out to try the famed loop. Of course, everything we had read urged an early start but for us that translated into arriving at the small parking area just before noon, when the thermometer was just topping 89 degrees.
Due to the eccentricities of google maps we actually ended up driving most of the loop before we finally located the small parking area, just off of Hwy 27. At that time of day, there was only one other car parked and in fact, on the whole trail we only saw one or two very hot looking runners. We didn’t see any other backpackers.
The clay roads start off with some gradual uphill through cattle grazing land. If you try hard, you can imagine you’re in some spot more exotic than Central Florida.
But at the same time, there’s a tremendous amount of what appear to be very industrial water reclamation or drainage structures. My favorite was at the top of a small hill – large metal pipes and structures by a hollowed out pond of some type and a sign indicating it’s a recharge area for the Florida Aquifer. I guess it was a large scale version of a rain barrel.
You hike first along Five Mile Road. There are a moderate number of cars but they are relatively well behaved. We enjoyed the high school,students who kept stopping in the middle of the road to take photos on top of their car. Eventually you walk past a never ending tree nursery. If you ever wondered where maples, cedars, and the like some from in Central Florida, we found the spot.
Most of the land to the side of the road is cordoned off with barbed wire, but thankfully, there’s an old, unmaintained orange grove without such barriers close to mile 5. I say thankfully because although we had plenty of water we’d brought absolutely no food. Who would have thought a purloined orange could taste so good.
At mile 5, just as you leave Five Mile Road to turn onto SchofieldnRoad I decided to switch into my Grade B2 mountaineering boots, bought specially for the Stock Kangri climb. It seemed a bad idea to me to wear them for the first time on summit day. My costume change was just in time for the hardest and hottest part of the hike. It turns out the steepest hills (and some are quite steep) are during the last three miles. Plus, a lot of it is through soft sand, adding an extra challenge. The other part of the experience is that you can’t tell whether you’ve hiked the final hill or not. There always seemed to be bigger one just over the horizon. Good training for the “fake summit” experience you find on a mountain, just when you think you’ve reached the top.
So, once again we Florida hikers try to morph sand into snow, hot temperatures into below freezing ones, and the rolling hills of what was probably an ancient seabed into mountains formed from earthquakes and volcanos. It’s worked before and I hope it will work again. We leave two months from tomorrow for Stok Kangri.
I realize that I’ve been silent for longer on this blog than at any other point since I started it in 2014. No posts since January 14. That’s because FromSwamptoSummit has been wallowing in the mire of arbitrations and trials almost continuously since late January. And there’s still another to go.
It’s semi-terrifying to realize that at some point I have to pull myself up out of the quicksand of work and get myself back into my training regimen. Working 24/7 is no way to do it. I’ve been able to maintain a modicum of shorter runs, treadmill 5ks, and some yoga, but I can’t even recall the last time I had a good solid stair workout.
This weekend has offered a slight break before the next work-related event gears up, so at least J and I were able to go back to our old faithful, the Cady Way Trail, for a ten-miler. And today is yoga and I’m going to run back home after.
Everyone thinks that the hardest part of climbing a very high mountain is getting up at midnight, braving the frigid cold, and following the faint glow of your headlight as your crampons bite into the snow and ice, and you try to avoid, at all costs, stepping on the rope. But for those of us who can only fund such trips by working pretty intense jobs – the harder part is to keep your focus on that mountaintop experience that lies ahead and not to be diverted by the detours of work stress and the like.
So, if all this sounds like I’m giving myself a pep talk – well, I am. There are a few major work events between now and our June 23 departure to climb Stok Kangri, an over 20,000 foot mountain in Northern India. But there are also enough days between now and then to get me to where I need to be. Deep breath. Look at the top of that mountain.
I took the photo below yesterday on the Cady Way Trail. New growth coming out of a crumbled old piece of wood. There’s a metaphor here somewhere.
The day before New Years Eve seemed the perfect time to check out a new urban/suburban trail. We’ve hiked Cady Way more times than I care to remember – entire housing developments have mushroomed in the seven plus years we’ve been hiking it.
It was time for a change. So we invoked the trusty google search to see what trails might be be lurking in our back yard, or close thereto.
Now, Wekiva State Park itself is an oasis of wilderness surrounded by a sea of suburbia. But you can follow a 14 mile trail through multiple ecosystems and feel you are truly in the wilds (except for that one area where you can hear the gun shooting range and become convinced a serial killer is pursuing you).
Even though it parallels the outside perimeter of parts of the park, the Seminole Wekiva Trail is anything but wilderness. In fact, it makes the West Orange Trail look positively fierce. For multiple adventure on that trail, see West Orange Trail – Beginning to End.
After following some very poor directions from one of the Florida Trail associations’ internet sites, we finally resorted to Google Maps and with only a little less difficulty were able to locate the parking area. The trail itself, which runs along an old railway line, is a walk through suburbia. You pass a softball center, a park, a church, and wind between the backs of many houses. At one point you emerge onto a road lined with McMansions. There is perhaps a couple of hundred feet of elevation gain. At a certain point, there’s a sign commemorating the fact you are standing at a former railroad flagstop location – leading to much discussion about the relationship between flagstops and whistlestops.
Lots of families were biking – Santa apparently brought a many bikes this year. Loved the older brother helping out sister (even if he did inadvertently almost pull her over).
After a few miles the backyards are all enclosed with wooden privacy fences which some good soul decided to paint. It’s called the “Art Wall” and each panel is ornamented with scenes ranging from rock stars to endangered animals to movies. Apparently the artist has another few miles to go. It provides a welcome addition to an otherwise rather boring stroll.
We managed about ten miles, five out and five back. Not sure it did a whole lot for our Stok Kangri training. Part of the challenge of climbing high mountains when you live in Florida is simply finding a way to train. Oh well, still five months to go.
I’ve always felt that the week between Christmas and New Year is one of those odd no man’s land spots on the calendar. I nearly always try to take the full week off work; unfortunately this year due to the vagaries of the calendar and my work schedule I’m stuck working a couple of days of what ought to be a glorious week of nothing.
Christmas and New Years do make the close of the year a double peaked mountain. The first peak comes accompanied by tremendous anticipation; by the time you descend to the pass and face the next peak you start wondering if you’ll make it up. It reminds me of Mt. Elbrus – a long slog up in the wee hours of the morning, hitting a high point – and then a graceful swoop down into the saddle (where I’m convinced I fried my face due to incorrect zinc application). But then you look up – only to see an equally graceful arced curve reaching up toward the summit.
We’ve been in North Carolina this week – not in the mountains but in the Piedmont – itself a spot between the summits of the mountains and the sea. In fact, North Carolina has been called the valley of humility between the two mountains of conceit – Virginia and South Carolina. Apologies to any folks from there but the old saw fit nicely into my theme.
So as we venture through this no man’s land on our way to the next peak of New Year’s, I’m looking ahead to the summits and swamps of the new year. June is the beginning of our Stok Kangri adventure. I read this morning that seven soldiers were killed near the Pakistan border today. That caused me to bring out the atlas attached to my parents’ ancient Encyclopedia Brittanica to confirm that Leh is not too close to the border (it’s not – although it is in and around Kashmir). For those who don’t recall – Stok Kangri is to be our first 20,000 foot mountain and husband J and I will be attempting it at what will then be the ripe old ages of 58 (J’s birthday is on day 2 of our travels) and 57. Challenges for the new year abound; plenty of training yet to be done; and lots of summits out there to conquer.
I’m afraid this blog has suffered over the last few weeks while I have been trudging up what I call Holiday Hill. See for example, Holiday Mountain Part 2 I’m just hoping the downhill comes soon. But in the meantime, here’s a retrospective from November.
This year we traded in our usual Monterey Bay Thanksgiving for an adventure in the swamp – New Orleans, that is. We’ve had an affinity for NOLA ever since we went there on our honeymoon – for no reason other than that I had free tickets on New York Air and they flew to exactly four places, two of which we already lived in. The other two were Detroit and New Orleans. It wasn’t much of a competition.
This time we were rendezvousing with daughter A, boyfriend N, and N’s family including his brother and brother’s girlfriend. A millennial extravaganza. And, of course, daughter S was the impetus for Thanksgiving in NOLA. She didn’t offer to cook dinner for us! But that was OK – since dining out is the sine qua non of New Orleans.
We arrived bright and early to our AirBnb in the Irish Channel. Up Tchoupotoulos (call it Chop) and along a pothole ridden street. Not an auspicious beginning but all NOLA streets have potholes and the AirBnb was very nice. Four bedrooms, sufficient common areas and a great location two blocks off of Magazine.
Rather than a chronology, here are some highlights.
Thanksgiving at the Racetrack. I’ll start with the penultimate day itself – Thanksgiving. When S suggested the racetrack, located in Mid-City, would be an appropriate place to while away the hours before our late Thanksgiving dinner, we all looked at her askance. But it turns out that the racetrack is the place to be. Thanksgiving is the start of the thoroughbred racing season and for years going to the races has been a traditional New Orleans activity. But now it’s spread to what S refers to as the Bywater people, and it’s filled with millenials adorned in all types of race attire. Hats are key. My favorites involved bowls of fruit, a racing scene, and a reindeer head (not just antlers). Top hats were not out of place. Plus I consulted with my friend knowledgeable in all things racing, got some good tips, and doubled my $5 bet. I also loved watching the thoroughbreds prance onto the field, each accompanied by their emotional support pony.
Dat Dog and Pelicans Game. Talk about a cheap night out. Have dinner at Dat Dog where you can get a chefs special hot dog, topped with ingredients as unique as crawfish and whatever else the chef feels like. Pair that with a $15 nosebleed seat ticket to see the Pelicans in the Smoothie King arena.
The Ogden Museum of Art. In all our trips to NOLA I haven’t made it there before. Affiliated with the University of New Orleans, it boasts a very fine modern art collection, this time featuring modern African American artists. There’s also a fascinating film/performance piece about a New Orleans jazz musician who ended up institutionalized…however, I seemed to be allergic to the carpet and didn’t get to see the whole thing.
Bacchanal and Crescent Park Trail. This is a great twofer. Bacchanal, located in the Bywater area, is a wine store, a tapas oriented restaurant, and an eclectic music venue (ranging from gypsy to traditional jazz). You sit in a lush back yard surrounded by oak trees (and there were heaters on the cold day we were there). You can work off those calories with a walk along the Crescent Park Trail, which runs along the banks of the Mississippi, landscaped with native plants, and dotted with sculptures.
Frenchmen’s. That’s what S calls it. She doesn’t even add “Street.” Not even sure which venues we ended up at but there was great music and dancing.
Tipitina’s. Went there on Friday night to hear the Neville Family, who all seem to still be alive and kicking. This is a classic place to hear music in NOLA – I once flew to New Orleans for one night just to hear Rikki Lee Jones there. It’s sort of a free for all, but if you go to the balcony you can usually worm your way to the railing and have a good place to lean. I love the fact there are nets below to catch anything you might drop!
Running along St. Charles and Magazine and thereabouts. One of my great pleasures in New Orleans – when it’s not hot and humid – is running through the Garden District. Yes, the sidewalks are not smooth and it’s a little treacherous, but that’s more than compensated for by the fabulous homes on all sides. I’ve selected at least five or six that would be adequate for my needs, thank you.
Oysters at Superior Seafood. Believe it or not, we had never before partaken of this traditional New Orleans experience. Superior Seafood is an old, dark wood restaurant with a great bar, behind which world class oyster shuckers ply their trade. The oysters at happy hour are cheap and massive- meaning a full two inches. You’re supposed to swallow them all in one but these were so big I was worried about choking!
Mid-City walks. This is a very old area of New Orleans, located near Bayou St. John, and we hadn’t spent much time there before. Many of the houses have steep staircases going up to deep porches and are elevated well above ground, massive stucco structures. There is a lot of West Indies style architecture. You walk right along the bayou and City Park is in the middle of it all. It’s a lovely area and not to be missed.
New Orleans is a comfortable place for us – it’s not home, but we’ve been there so much it feels like it. And especially when surrounded by family and good friends. No better way than to sum it up with a picture of a parade – and a sign for some great New Orleans food.