New Orleans’ famed above ground tombs in St Louis Cemetery No. 1

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 was established via a Royal Spanish Land Grant in 1789. It was originally outside the city limits, and was at least twice its current size. The Archdiocese of New Orleans now has control of this cemetery. Currently the only way you can get into the cemetery is with a licensed tour guide. Unfortunately vandalism has forced this action.

Multiple designs for the tombs, some fancy and some plain

The famed above ground tombs and wall tombs are designed for use by generation after generation. Many of the tombs are owned by individual families. Some of the very large tombs are known as society tombs where several families or groups have combined resources.  The laws dictate that a year and a day passes before an additional burial is permitted. As you would expect, there are many well-known, famous and infamous people whose tombs are located in the cemetery.

We are standing in front of the tomb of Marie Laveau, the famed Voodoo Queen. This is reportedly the most visited tomb in New Orleans.

We decided to go on a St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and Voodoo tour put on by the Gray Line. Marcia, our tour guide, was a delightful host of our small group. As mentioned above, you must be with a licensed tour guide to gain entrance into the cemetery. Shop around, but we suggest going with the Gray Line Tour Company.

Plaque on the tomb of Marie Laveau, the most famous voodoo Priestess from New Orleans

Nicholas Cage had this tomb built in the cemetery. The only script on the tomb is the Latin phrase, omnia ab uno, which translates roughly to “all for one” or “everything for one.” Cage says he wants to be buried here, and the IRS cannot touch the asset of a burial plot. We were told that Cage visited the tomb a year ago with his brother.

Not all tombs are as well maintained as others.

Multiple generations of the same family interred in a wall tomb.

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Two Englishmen fight it out in 1870 Louisiana

We noticed a neat park on the Mississippi River levee at the town of Kenner, Louisiana. I turned into the parking lot because I saw an interesting statue. It was, in fact, a statue of a couple of men in boxing stances. I had to see what this was all about. Here is a picture and a little history.

Bronze statue portraying the 1870 boxing contest

On May 10, 1870, a trainload of about 1000 people left New Orleans for the little town of Kenner, a few miles from NOLA. The purpose of the trip was to visit an old sugar house near the banks of the Mississippi River. In that house was a makeshift boxing ring. In that ring a fellow from Beeston, Norwich, England named Jed Mace was the victor over another Englishman named Tom Allen from Birmingham. The 10 round bout was a bare knuckle affair. What made it special was that it was the first World Championship Heavyweight Prize Fight in the United States.

The park offered a great view of the river as well as access to a long trail on top of the levee. Kenner is a quaint little burg with quite a history. In addition to the boxing site, when Kenner was a Native American village it was the site of the landing of French explorer Robert Cavelier De La Salle’s landing in 1682. This was when he claimed Louisiana for France in the name of King Louis XIV.

Memorial to La Salle’s landing on the Mississippi River bank in Louisiana

View of downtown Kenner from the top of the levee

Enjoy great food along with great music at The Maison on Frenchmen Street New Orleans

Sher and I found a great place in New Orleans to both have a great meal and to listen to some fabulous live jazz music. We had been to the Market and another live music bar ( see that story here) and decided we wanted to get something to eat. I had seen The Maison on the web, so I recognized the sign.

Maison @508 Frenchmen

We were seated right away at a table just a few feet from the stage, which was already occupied with the Baby Giants Jazz Band! Doug, our waiter, appeared right away and showed us the drink menu. Sher ordered a “Dixie Revival” made with tequila and grapefruit juice and some other good stuff. Once I took a sip of hers, I had to have one myself. What a great drink!

Enjoying our “Dixie Revival” cocktails

We then ordered our dinners. Sher ordered the Penne Primavera, pasta with seasonal vegetables sauteed in a Creole garlic and butter sauce. I opted for the Cochon de Lait Poboy, a Cajun style slow roasted pulled pork dressed with cole slaw and drizzled with Barbeque sauce, and with a side of fries. It seemed like in no time our plates were brought to us. I actually declared “Wow” out-loud when I saw my Poboy and the huge pile of fries!

Check out that bowl of pasta and that huge Poboy and pile of fries!

The food was absolutely decadent. Sher said her vegetarian pasta was the best that she has ever had. The Poboy was my first, but I just loved the pork on that bed of coleslaw in the bun. And those fries came out almost to hot to touch, so they stayed hot and crisp throughout the meal. I don’t think either one of us could have been more pleased. Hats off to our waiter Doug who took care of us. Even when all of the tables in the room occupied he still was able to continue to serve us.

The Maison on Frenchmen Street is both a marvelous live jazz club, but also a terrific restaurant as well. The prices are very reasonable, the jazz is free with only one drink purchase per set required. When in New Orleans, make sure that you spend at least one evening at the Maison. Here is their website for your reference.

A shopping, food and music filled fun evening in New Orleans

Sher and I have been looking forward to an evening of New Orleans jazz music as well as some good food. We went to the east end of the French Quarter to do some shopping to begin our evening. The eclectic nature of a lot of the shops makes the exploration of them a real treat. We did catch the tail end of the French Market, a large open air lot, some of which was under roof. Many vendor booths were filled with folks selling their wares. You would see everything from imported T-shirts and other clothing to hand made jewelry, leather, or other quality art work.

Under the roof portion of the French Market’s Flea Market. You’ll find everything from quality hand crafted jewelry to cheap imported trinkets.

Frenchmen Street is just outside of the French Quarter’s Decatur Street. A short two blocks worth, Frenchman Street is known for its live music clubs. The first bar we walked into was Bamboula’s. This venue used to be an old printing shop, and the ceiling and support posts were covered with pressed tin panels. The band was already playing so we sat down and had a drink. During the next two sets we enjoyed the music and the ambiance of the bar.

The band at Bamboula’s

Dueling fiddles at Bamboula’s

After we finished our drinks at Bamboula’s we struck out to explore Frenchmen Street. As we had arrived early several of the jazz bars were either not yet open or the band had not yet arrived or started to play. There were not a lot of people out on the sidewalks yet, and the places that were open were not really into the evening yet. We sat for about 5 minutes at one bar after having to ask for a menu. No one came by so we left. This actually was a blessing as we then went to the Maison at 508 Frenchmen Street.

Signs on Frenchmen Street of both the jazz clubs we enjoyed!

The Baby Giants Jazz Band

The Maison was a great venue for the bands we heard. The Baby Giants Jazz Band was playing when we went into tho the bar. These guys rocked the bar with some amazing jazz. I especially appreciated the trombone, as I used to play. The numbers performed offered several chances for instrumental solos. This always gives you a chance to truly appreciate individual talent. We started with a couple of tequila cocktails called “Dixie Revival”. Oh were they good! We then ordered our meals. The food was excellent and very reasonably priced.

The Gumbo Shop restaurant in the NOLA French Quarter

For our first trip to the New Orleans French Quarter I had picked out the Gumbo Shop restaurant as a place for Sher and I to have lunch. We had taken an Uber ride to St. Peter Street from our campground. The Gumbo Shop is located in a building of Spanish colonial style that was built around 1795. The original building on the site was destroyed in the massive fire of 1794 that wiped out New Orleans.

Open air patio seating looking towards St. Peter Street (note the propane heaters that have been required during the past cold weather)

The doors opened at 11 AM, and we were the first patrons seated. We decided to take a table in the back area. You had to walk through an open to the sky patio area. Had it not been raining off and on we would have taken a patio table.

Red beans and rice with smoked sausage

Sher ordered a cup of vegetarian gumbo and I tried the red beans and rice with smoked sausage. Warm bread and butter were brought to the table as soon as we ordered. Our meals came quickly. Sher commented that the vegetarian gumbo was pretty bland. I enjoyed the red beans and rice. My smoked sausage was, like Sher’s gumbo, a bit lacking in taste.

I later learned that red beans and rice is a traditional meal to eat on a Monday in NOLA. It seems that way back in history the women would do the weeks laundry on Mondays. This prevented the preparation of a large evening meal. So the ladies would toss ham bones or any other leftovers from the previous week into a big pot with red beans to cook all day. Served with rice that night, it became a Monday meal tradition that is still served today.

Perhaps we ordered the wrong items, or we just did not like the cuisine. This restaurant has received several awards and accolades. The pricing was reasonable at $4.99 for the cup of gumbo and $10.99 for my red beans, rice and sausage. Here is their website if you want further information.

Some scenes around New Orleans

New Orleans is a remarkable city with seemingly unlimited visual scenes. Here are some photos that we took during our first day in The Big Easy.

New Orleans is celebrating it’s 300th birthday during 2018.

For some reason, only mules are used to pull the carriages that drive around the town.

The window display at Rev. Zombie’s Voodoo Shop.

Above ground tombs in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. Only tour groups are allowed into the cemetery to help control vandalism

Bourbon Street in New Orleans, known for music, food and revelry. Note the famed balcony iron work in the background

Our first day in New Orleans

Today was our first day in New Orleans. Even though our KOA campground offers a free shuttle to the French Quarter at 9 AM, we decided to have a relaxing morning and take our time in leaving. We used Uber and went down to the Gumbo Shop restaurant for lunch. (I’ll have a review up later.)

Some talented street musicians played some great jazz

Have to admit I’ve never seen a Voodoo Shop before

After lunch we strolled down around the French Quarter. If was fun stopping in some of the shops along the way. In addition, we saw some street performers. Several musicians were playing some great jazz. A street “mime” was striking a pose and holding it until someone dropped money into his bucket!

The classic iron railings on the balconies of the French Quarter

The residents of this second floor apartment have their balcony decorated for Mardis Gras

We had also made reservations for a “Cemetery and Voodoo” tour. This 2 1/2 hour bus/walking tour was put on by the huge tour company Gray Line. We were fortunate in that only two other couples had tickets, thus there were only 6 of us on the tour. Our tour guide was very good, and with just three couples on board it was almost like having our own private tour. Seeing the famous St. Louis Cemetery with its above ground tombs was spectacular. More to come later  about this tour!

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, now open only to registered tour groups because of vandalism.

The placement of the structures make you feel as if you are in a maze

After our tour was finished we walked to the Cafe Du Monde, famous for coffee and those unique pastries called beignets, pronounced ben-yays. The coffee was super strong and good. The beignets were simple: fried dough smothered in powdered sugar. And they were indeed very, very good. We’ll let you know what else we see and do over the upcoming days.

Winter storms kept us from reaching New Orleans

With good intentions we left Austin striking out for New Orleans. However, old man winter threw a monkey wrench into not only our plans, but just about the entire eastern half of the country! On our way east, we had stopped at a couple of casinos in the Lake Charles, Louisiana area. We were beginning to hear about the potential for bad weather, so we decided to make another casino stop and see what developed.

The casino is worth a stop. On Tuesday they offer their huge buffet to seniors (55+) for just $5.50. Can’t beat that!

The Coushatta Casino in Kinder is north of I-10. Not only is it very large (100,000 square feet according to the casino website) but is has an excellent RV park. The sites are all concrete, level and with full hookups including cable and a strong WiFi. Yes, I said a strong, reliable WiFi service! A shuttle bus will pick you up at your site for transport to and from the casino. And for only $22 a night, it is a great value.

The RV park was covered with a sheet of ice. You can see the sleet/snow falling. I took this picture from our RV.

The day after the storm hit at night, I-10 was closed in many spots from Lake Charles to Baton Rouge and New Orleans. What a mess! There was a sheet of ice throughout the RV park, and the shuttles had to take it very slowly. The temperature dipped to about 15 degrees. I-10 is closed again tonight, so we will have to decide if we need another night here at the casino.

 

Good bye Austin, New Orleans here we come

We said goodbye to family this morning and headed east. Our original plan was to drive to Lake Charles, Louisiana and stay at a casino tonight. On the way we made some cool stops, saw some neat things, and we ended up deciding to stop at the Rio RV Park again for the night. (See our review of Rio RV here.)

Burton, Texas train depot. Built in 1898 to the specifications of the Southern Pacific Railroad, this structure replaced the original from 1870 that had burned.

Neat old building with signage stating “Burton Auto Co.”. Might have been an early gas station.

Burton Farmers (Cotton) Gin built in 1914. Originally steam powered, it continued in operation until 1974.

New Mural in Brenham, Texas

Detail of mural painting

Built in 1870 for prominent banker, lawyer and landowner Jabez Giddings, this historic mansion in Brenham is known as the Giddings-Stone house.

Blue Corn Harvest Bar and Grill is a near perfect casual dining experience

The Austin, Texas area is home to many great restaurants. Cedar Park is home to the Blue Corn Harvest Bar and Grill. This causual dining restaurant offers both inside and, weather permitting, outside dining under the canopy of beautiful trees. Using local sourced ingredients whenever possible, the menu features varied items with a definite Southwestern flair.

Casual and comfortable dining room.

We dined with our family at the Cedar Park location. (A second location is in Georgetown, Texas.) Between the five of us we enjoyed a nice variety of menu items. All of the entrees were delicious, and portion sizes were larger than your average restaurant. Of note was the chicken fried chicken which I enjoyed. What a large portion, with delicious veggies and terrific mashed potatoes! Corn bread muffins, moist and sweet, were kept on the table at all times.

ROASTED VEGGIE SANDWICH
Grilled farm fresh vegetables and New Mexico cilantro cilantro pesto.

BLUE CRAB STUFFED CHICKEN
Grilled chicken breast stuffed with crab meat, jack cheese and sweet roasted peppers with Cajun cream sauce, cheddar seared potato cake and farm fresh vegetables.

CHICKEN FRIED CHICKEN
Chicken with peppered gravy, mashed potatoes and farm fresh vegetables.

The service was excellent, and our meals were delivered in a very short time. This is most definitely a must dine spot in the Austin area for anyone who wants to enjoy a great meal at a great price. The quality of the food is really superb and the presentation is great. Get there early or make reservations. We were lucky and arrived before the evening crowd and were seated immediately, and shortly thereafter there was a considerable wait for other patrons arriving after us. Five stars for Blue Corn Harvest Bar and Grill. Here is the website for you to check out.