Tag Archives: Dauphin Island

Trombones and Troubadours – A Visit to New Orleans

Milepost 1-19-15         New Orleans, Louisiana (NOLA)

Our southern wanderings landed us in New Orleans yesterday for the very first time, a day trip from our current campsite at Dauphin Island, Alabama.  The first thing that anyone needs to know about visiting the Big Easy is that one day is nowhere near enough to take it all in.  Kaye and I knew this going in and decided to dedicate our limited time to the French Quarter.

The French Quarter is known for its porch-lined buildings the reflect the traditions of the old country.
The French Quarter is known for its porch-lined buildings that reflect the traditions of the old country.

The streets are rather narrow and lined with old two and three-story  brick buildings with beautiful balconies that add a distinctive charm suggestive of Paris.  Of course.

Our tour was self-guided and on foot, so we avoided the buses and carriages and asked for directions whenever we wanted to;  there were always very talkative locals willing to help.  They were oozing with city pride, walking encyclopedias of local trivia.

There are carriages and rickshaws available and the streets are shared by cars, bikes and pedestrians as well.
Carriages and rickshaws are available and the streets are shared by cars, buses, bikes and pedestrians all at the same time.

We hadn’t wandered very far before we came upon the first of many street bands blaring Dixieland jazz with lots of horns.  It seemed there was a band on every street corner…   and in many of the restaurants as well so the visitors’ meals are always serenaded.

Our lunch and dinner were both seasoned with music at outdoor cafes, first at the Market Cafe, then the Beignet Cafe at Music Legends Park.

We were surrounded by brass statues of music legends at Beignet Cafe.
We were surrounded by brass statues of music legends at Beignet Cafe.
A 12-piece youth band was performing on the street corner across from the Market Cafe.
An 11-piece youth jazz band was performing on the street corner across from the Market Cafe.
This 12-year-old was a spirited trombonist.
This 12-year-old was a spirited trombonist who put a bit of southern soul into every note.

The French Quarter is a wonderland of street performers, and they are not all musicians.   Some were troubadours, artists and statues…  who came alive at choice moments and startled passersby.

This silver Steampunk statue came alive with whirring sounds when he moved.
This silver Steampunk statue came alive with whirring sounds when he moved.

Troubadours

There is a plethora of shops down both sides of every street between the cafes and pubs,  so the signature pralines and poboys and beignets were readily available…  and a whole lot more!

Spiritists and palm readers abound in the French Quarter.
Spiritists and palm readers abound in the French Quarter.

Pink shop

A part of the architectural extravaganza here — and not to be missed  — is the famous Saint Louis Cathedral in the middle of the French Quarter.  It is beautiful both inside and out.

Saint Louis Cathedral towers over Jackson Square.
The fairytale-looking Saint Louis Cathedral towers over Jackson Square.  It’s taller than wide.

Saint Louis interior

Anyway, I would not recommend the French Quarter of New Orleans for a quiet getaway.  It’s a loud and raucous place full of brass bands, rich cuisine and southern soul.  And that’s in the daytime.  After dark, add neon lights and a bit of decadence.

Street performing is hard work and this guy was done for the day.
Street performing is hard work and this guy was done for the day.  We could relate;  walking tours are exhausting too!

And check one more amazing place off the bucket list!

 

The Seasonal Southern Shift

Milepost 1-3-15   Dauphin Island, Alabama                              70 degrees

Call it Snowbirding or Winter Migration or whatever, the population of the nation undergoes a significant redistribution twice a year.  Kaye and I are part of the northern exodus that accompanies the onset of cold weather in Michigan.  We stayed home long enough to have Christmas with the kids and grandkids, and then we hitched up the RV and set the GPS for the Alabama coast and took off.

On the way down, we stopped at Memphis Tennessee for a New Year’s Eve dinner of catfish and ribs at B.B. King’s Blues Club.

Outside B.B. King's Blues Club the street was starting to fill with party-goers who were waiting for the midnight Guitar Drop.
Outside B.B. King’s Blues Club the street was starting to fill with party-goers who were waiting for the midnight Guitar Drop at the end of Beale Street..
BobnKaye at BB King's
A New Year’s Eve dinner at B.B. King’s Blues Club was an unexpected bonus for us.

Our first campsite of the trip and of the year was at Tom Sawyer RV Park on the west bank of the mighty Mississippi River where the tugs were shoving the barges up and down the river all night long.

A third day of driving landed us at Dauphin Island Park a few miles off the coast of Alabama at the mouth of Mobile Bay.

Dauphin Island is surrounded with white sand beaches.  Oone of them a short walk from our campsite.
Dauphin Island is fringed with white sand beaches,  one of them a short walk from our campsite.
Our campsite is under a stately old live oak tree.
Our spacious campsite is under a stately old live oak tree.

Dauphin Island is the site of the historical Fort Gaines that saw action during the Civil War Battle of Mobile Bay (1864).   It’s open to the public and promises to be a great backdrop for some photography in a couple of days.  Across the bay is its counterpart,  Fort Morgan on another barrier island.

I'm looking forward to a wandering tour of Fort Gaines with the good camera.
I’m looking forward to a wandering tour of Fort Gaines with the good camera.

On the first day here I jumped on the bike and took off for a 6-mile ride.  This is one of the reasons Kaye and I like to get away from the north during the winter;  our exercise routine falls apart when the cold weather arrives.  At this southern island there are many miles of cycling trails and beaches to be explored.

All roads -- and bike trails -- lead to the beach at Dauphin Island.
All roads — and bike trails — lead from one beach to the next at Dauphin Island.

The island also is home to a nice Audubon sanctuary, although I think the terns and the pelicans may be outnumbered by snowbirds during the winter.

So this is our home for the month of January.  When we left the north it was 10 degrees.  Today it reached 70 here.  That’s what I’m talking about!  I haven’t slipped on snow or ice even once since arriving.

Bob at Dauphin Island beach 2502
I dug out my shorts and flip flops shortly after arriving and setting up camp not far from the beach..