Saturday, May 14, 2016

NOLA Day 3

Saturday morning. Eight AM. Construction. In the building. Go figure.
Most of the morning was spent getting some work done, but by lunchtime we were ready for some walkabout. As you might expect, the architecture of the homes in the French Quarter is worth stopping to take a look at. These are a couple of the nicest little cottages we walked past.

But, there is just about every kind of townhouse, shotgun shack, and brick building imaginable in this area, and some that just make you go "huh?" And the thing is, because this is a historic/landmark district, owners can't change any aspect of their buildings. They have to be restored to look exactly as they have for the past hundred years or so. It's strictly regulated by the city to preserve the nature of the neighborhoods. And as much of a pain in the ass as it must be for building owners, they're doing a good job of protecting what makes this area such a draw for visitors. According to our Air BnB hostess, you can't even use a different color of paint. So, you know, don't buy an ugly building.
One of the things I like about walking is that you get to see these tiled plaques telling you the names of the streets two centuries ago. There are also tile street markers on each corner.

After a bit of wandering, we settled on Johnny White's for lunch. Actually, we were kind of almost yanked in the door by the "host" who hangs out in front passing out menus to people on the street. "I got a nice table for you on the balcony! Let's go!" And we did, indeed get a nice table right on the corner (okay, two nice tables). Despite being almost uncomfortably warm on the street, there was a nice breeze on the balcony. Which is probably why they built balconies on these old buildings.

William perusing the menu

It was nice and relaxed; the perfect opportunity for selfies.

Thomas with Aunt Faby

Me and my Honey.

The food was gooooood! I've now developed a fondness for BBQ shrimp, NO style. The sauce was deliciously sweet when you dipped the bread in it, but the shrimp themselves somehow didn't pick up the sweetness as much. Just a lovely tangy-ness. And incredibly messy! There is NO way to eat these guys without getting at least one hand covered in sauce. YUM! And just about perfect with a cold beer.

My lunch. You should have been here.

We were in a perfect place to enjoy some live rock/blues music. The bar just across the street had a live band playing (very loudly, but well), so we could hear the music without being deafened or overwhelmed. And during our lunch a parade casually passed by playing live Jazz music.



A teenager being pointed at by a tweenager. The love/hate relationship between these two is something to behold. Though it's mostly love...

After lunch we continued our walkabout.

They could be brothers.

At Market Square we came across a magician just getting started for the day. We were his first audience. He roped us in with the line, "I'm going to start my show just as soon as I can find ten people who give a damn." He used Michael's brand new mood ring (from the Voodoo shop) to do one of the tricks.

"I'm pretty sure you'll get this back."

Michael watches his ring nervously
William has to be just about the best audience member for any act. He just can't hold back his exuberance and appreciation of a good trick. Or show of any kind.

"Oh my god! Dude!"

Even Thomas, who's been practicing card tricks, was impressed.

"Oh, yeah. I totally know how he did that. I think."

After a bit more wandering about, we returned to the house for a rest-up and fresh-up before heading out for dinner with David's entire team at Bourbon House.

Earlier this year, David's company was awarded a very significant contract expansion, going from about a quarter of his client's sites to almost 100% of them. That required bringing on additional staff, so for the first time in a decade or so David has more than just Faby working with him. Can't really see them, but from left to right are Stephanie (Cat Woman), Jason (Batman), Josh (Green Lantern, who came on about a year ago), and Faby (Wonder Woman, who's been with David for 14 years). David is Superman. They refer to themselves as The Justice League. It's a team-building thing. It works. David's team rocks.

Barrett, our drink waiter, was not invited to join The Justice League.

I have to say, this is the best restaurant we've tried so far. The service is fabulous, very attentive without being pushy, efficient but still friendly. And the food was phenomenal. David and I both had the pecan catfish with shrimp. Even the rice was amazing.

And, what is making this young man so happy? The night before, he had discovered the joy of...

...the cheese board! This kid LOVES cheese, though he's generally stuck to cheddar and parmesan. The night before at Orleans Grapevine, he ordered their cheeseboard as an appetizer and fell in love, so he wanted to try this one, which turned out to be quite a bit fancier. 

A few items were never correctly identified

Maybe the most impressive aspect of this dining experience was the food delivery. We ordered several appetizers, and some of us had salads. Instead of the waiter bringing them out in batches, there was a whole team of waitstaff who swooped in and deposited all of the pre-meal goodies all at the same time. No one had to wait for anything. Empty plates were cleared promptly; I swear there was someone whisking away finished plates every five minutes. And when it came time for the meal, whoooosh!, everything all appeared at the same time, delivered by a team. Very cool. Even when there was an improperly cooked dish, a corrected dish was delivered within minutes. And there was this milkshake with rum thingy for the adults that was absolutely to die for.

If you want a really nice, but not extravagant, dinner in NO, definitely try Bourbon House.

Me and my dining buddy


In case you've been wondering how all of this dining and activity has been affecting William's blood sugars, it's been pretty up and down. Mostly up. As you can imagine, most of the places we're eating at don't have nutritional fact sheets available, so it's pretty much guestimating carbs. And at the tiny carb:insulin ratio we're using (4:1), there's a huge margin for error. Add to that a lot more walking than he's used to, which lowers BG, it's kind of a "correct as you go" kind of proposition. Thankfully, that has not dampened his enjoyment of eating wonderful foods.

Friday, May 13, 2016

NOLA Day 2

Our first full day in NO was mostly work for David and I, so we didn't get out until the evening. Stephanie arrived in the afternoon, and she and Faby headed out for a Blue Man Group show. So the Bears wandered out into the French Quarter and down Bourbon Street to see what we could see (there's a lot to see). Of course, we had to stop in at the local Voodoo shop for trinkets.

Thomas, Mama, and William checking out

Eventually we wandered into the Orleans Grapevine for dinner, and sat in the lovely little courtyard.

It was one of those rare opportunities to get pictures of all of us.

Brother Bear aka Thomas

Angel/Squishy Bear aka Michael

Thunder Bear aka Willaim

Including US!

The rarely-caught-on-film Papa Bear and Mama Bear

Part of traveling to different places is trying out the local cuisine. We're pretty sure this was pickled ochre. It didn't go over very well.

"How tiny can I make this bite?"

Deciding whether or not baked clams are something one should eat, eventually William decided "yes" and actually developed a taste for them. He had two, despite describing them as "sea fat." I think the large dose of melted cheese on top helped tip the scales in the clam's favor.

"Fatty...and fishy...perfectly balanced with cheese."

And, of course, tasting new foods means also sharing new foods with everyone at the table.

One of the few times these two will share anything. Win!

Happy memories with my boys.

Possibly the best ice cream I've had in my life. Chocolate, vanilla, and coconut in a gingerbread-ish bowl!

This was definitely shared all around

And, yes, on the walk home I did take a moment to appreciate the view.

Definitely worth $5 for the kiss I got. And for the record, Papa Bear took the pic.


Today was the seventh anniversary of William's diagnosis with Type 1 Diabetes. It's always a rough time of year for me, particularly since it always falls within a week of (or on) Mothers Day. The past few weeks have also been difficult for William, hitting the wall with the unending maintenance required to keep him alive and healthy, the frustration of inadequate and imprecise treatment, and the reality of no cure on the horizon. I don't know if it's just coincidence he's struggling around his anniversary, or if he's experience the same type of anniversary trigger I have for the past six years. William was diagnosed while we were on vacation in Orlando, FL, so traveling at this time of year is something I was feeling some trepidation about. For whatever reason (or no reason), the date passed with no emotional upheaval for either of us. Perhaps we need to plan on a get-away to a new and interesting location for each anniversary...

Thursday, May 12, 2016

NOLA Day 1

David and his team are handling security for his client's annual shareholders meeting in New Orleans. Since it's within drive-able distance, and the team was going to rent an Air B&B as well as hotel rooms, it was a great opportunity for the family to tag along on a little working vacation. Timing turned out great, since I'd sent the final edits to Anna for her novel, and Michael has been bugging me for weeks for a little one-on-one time.

It was wheels-up by about 11:00 for the anticipated 6-7 hour trip. When your drive starts out with this view, you can't really go wrong.

Tailgating a delivery truck

Except, we did have some challenges on the way, and not just construction delays. David had a significant work bugaboo come up that kept him hands-free on the phone most of the drive. David's sister was texting because she's been having debilitating back pain. And Anna sent me the final MS for her book. I downloaded it to my tablet on the road (pretty impressive, huh?) and immediately realized it was going to need one more proofread before it could be sent to the formatter on Monday morning, so I got started on that in the car (until my battery went dead).
But, the long drive and work distractions were worth it just to see Lake Pontchartrain.

Michael was very excited to cross one of the longest bridges in the world heading into NO. He'd learned about this series of bridges on BrainPop.

Similar to our SanFran trip, our digs in NO are a townhouse in the historic district.

Our home-away-from-home

This area also reminds me of the neighborhood where we stayed in SanFran. The architecture of these houses is similar in that many are very narrow and tall. They're similar in their decorative detail, although here there's quite a bit more wrought iron. And construction/remodeling is going on everywhere, it seems.

Faby had already gotten us check in, so we quickly got settled. For dinner we strolled around the corner to Port of Call, a tiny little eatery with a big reputation. The six of us were crammed into a table for four, but the service was good and friendly, and the food was fabulous. They only serve burgers and steaks, and there are no fries, only baked potatoes, which are definitely worth tasting. Perfect with a nice, cold beer.

Miss Faby

William: "This burger shall not defeat me, even if it does come with a baked potato!"

After dinner, Michael and I headed back to the house, while David, Faby, Thomas, and William took a walk-about through the French Quarter. Street performers were not in short supply.

William under construction.

Thomas, William, Mystery Person, and Faby

Sunday, April 10, 2016

End of an Era

We finally sold the pop-up camper (aka "Popper"). A very nice couple came all the way from Alabama to buy her and take her home. We had a lot of good times with that camper, but the boys have just gotten too big for her. I hope her new family gets as much enjoyment from her and we did, and treats her well.

Michael: "I can't believe it's going away!"

Last look at the sticker collection.