New Orleans

Picture of bellingrath_1 Our first stop of interest was at Bellingrath gardens, near Mobile, Alabama. It's fairly hard to believe there might be some reason to stop in the vicinity of Mobile, but even in winter the gardens were rather nice--if a bit heavy on the ornamental cabbages. It was relatively uncrowded, but then it was also New Year's Eve (morning). Here we see one fine member of the not-so-local wildlife trying to camouflage itself among the ubiquitous cabbages. Unfortunately, blue is not generally the ideal color for disguise. The reddish blob lurking behind the waterfall is really a row of disturbingly healthy poinsettias.
Picture of bellingrath_2 Note that purple isn't ideal either. This picture is cleverly taken to avoid showing any of the hideous Christmas decorations that festooned the gardens during our visit. These consisted mainly of white plastic trellis frameworks of various animals and seasonal things covered in white twinkling lights. This might have actually looked acceptable at night, but during the day, it looked like a bunch of white plastic animal shapes with green electrical cords draped all over them. Note the large island of ornamental purple and white cabbages in the background.
Picture of frenchqtr We spent the next couple of days in New Orleans, not taking very many pictures despite lugging our cameras up and down nearly every street in the French Quarter. Ideally, we would show here one of the many pictures we took by holding Melanie's camera over our heads and aiming vaguely down the street in order to show the exuberant festivities taking place at night along Bourbon Street. Unfortunately, none of these pictures came out. We can't imagine why. In lieu of a festive picture, we are offering beads. Send a SASE. We also offer this picture of some random corner in the French Quarter.
Picture of hotelnwo Our hotel (Le Chateau) was right in the heart of the French Quarter (that line was taken from the brochure), and like so many other hotels in that area, appeared as a slightly disreputable alley from the street. Also like most of the other hotels in the area, once inside, it turned out to be a very nice, and remarkably quiet courtyard with a swimming pool and everything. Everything, in this case, included three staircases made without the use of a level, or possibly even a ruler. Also, they were nice enough to park our car in a nearby gravel quarry that doubled as a junkyard when not being used as a parking lot. All in all though, we can't complain because any parking spot is a valuable thing in the French Quarter.
Picture of oakalley One day we travelled up along the Mississippi River towards Baton Rouge. This part of Louisiana is just chock full of plantation houses (and tour buses). The first one we visited was Oak Alley, named for, well, the Oak Alley shown here. Each of these trees has a name displayed on a small plaque in front of them. We toured the house as well, which had an assortment of period furnishings. This particular house was never really owned by one family for very long. It had a fairly long list of private owners interspersed with banks from New Orleans that obtained the property after the family owning it went into debt. Supposedly it's sort of a bad luck thing to own this particular estate, though we've decided we'd be willing to risk it.
Picture of oakalleytree Here is Melanie showing off an assortment of denim products in front of an oak tree.
Picture of houmashouse The next plantation we visited was Houmas House. Known primarily for being the scene of the movie, 'Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte'. The house may look smaller than Oak Alley, but it was actually a bit larger. The original house consisted of four rooms, none of which can be seen here. When the new plantation was built, it was connected to the old house to form a carriageway/courtyard between them. Tragically, we have no pictures of any of this so you'll have to take our word for it.
Picture of houma

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