This past weekend, Andrea and I flew out to Louisana to visit my mom and stepdad for Mardi Gras. We flew in late on Thursday night, arriving in Baton Rouge around 11:30 pm. Mom and Daniel picked us up at the airport and drove us back to their house in Zachary and we all went to sleep.
On Friday, we woke up and had some king cake for breakfast before heading out for the day. We went and toured the Louisana State Capitol, which, at 30 stories, is the tallest capitol building in the country. We then went and headed over to the Old State Capitol which was just a few blocks away. This old gothic revival castle-style building was once called the "Ugliest Building on the Mississippi" by Mark Twain. While the outside is strange, I still wouldn't go that far, and he clearly never set foot in the inside. The interior of the old capitol is highlighted by the interior stained glass dome. This dome is truly incredible in the light of the day. We also met an older tour guide named Mr. Powders, who told us a lot about the history of the building and showed us a collection of old currency and coins, including a couple of half cent, three cent, and half dime pieces.
After leaving the Old State Capitol, we moved on and drove by LSU where we had lunch at The Chimes, where I had a crab cake sandwich. We then went and drove through the campus and stopped at the cage of Mike the Tiger, the LSU mascot. We then drove by the hotel where I stayed in my summer in Baton Rouge and the office building where I had worked. We then headed back to Zachary where we stopped at the grocery store to pick up a couple more king cakes for the ride to New Orleans before heading back to Mom's house to meet Ronnie.
We then drove down to have dinner at Boutin's. We met my Mom's boss at ARS, Danny, and his wife, Melissa, there for dinner. I shared the blackened, grilled alligator appetizer and had a plate of half fried crawfish and half crawfish etouffee for dinner and then shared some wonderful bread pudding with Andrea for dessert. We then headed home and Andrea helped Mom make the sausage bites for the next morning before we all headed to bed.
On Saturday, we got up at about 5:30 am and then got dressed and headed over to the lab to meet the bus. The bus left the lab at 7 to head towards New Orleans. We made another stop at the south side of Baton Rouge to pick up the rest of the crew and then headed towards New Orleans. We all enjoyed mimosas, jello shots, king cake, and the sausage bites on the trip to New Orleans, where we arrived around 9 am.
Since we couldn't get into the balcony on Bourbon Street until 10, Mom, Ronnie, Daniel, Andrea, and I headed over to Cafe du Monde for beignets for breakfast. After having our beignets, we went over to Aunt Sally's pralines to get some more pralines and then continued shopping as a group. As we wandered back toward the balcony, we stopped at the St. Louis Cathedral and then stopped at Pat O'Brien's for a Hurricane. We also had to get Mom and Andrea's picture taken with the Naked Cowboy from New York on the way back as well.
We then went back over to the balcony. Upon entering the balcony, we went and got ourselves appropriately decked out with all of the specialty Mardi Gras beads that were provided with the balcony. Our favorites were the rubber ducks, frogs, and Bourbon St. ones. We then grabbed a drink and headed out onto the balcony to take in the scene. We ended up spending most of the day on the balcony until we headed over to the Tropical Isle for Hand Grenades at around 2 pm. We enjoyed a couple of rounds of Hand Grenades before heading back to the balcony at about 3.
We then wandered over to Canal Street for the Krewe of Tucks parade at 3:30 pm. We stayed and enjoyed the floats and beads and bands for about 45 minutes before we headed back to the balcony for most of the rest of the night. By this point Bourbon and Canal streets were both getting really packed with people.
We stayed and watched the New Orleans Police Department set up their mobile control tower on the street right in front of our balcony, where it would stay for the rest of the night. At around 7:30 pm, Andrea and I went down on the street again to wander around. We stopped by Pat O'Briens again because Andrea wanted a Hurricane glass and then we ended up wandering over by St. Louis Cathedral again before returning to the balcony around 9 pm.
We had to leave the balcony at 10 pm, and it took our group about 20 minutes to go the whole 100 or so yards from the balcony entrance to the next street because the crowds on Bourbon Street were so thick. We then walked a block off Bourbon where the crowds weren't as bad and then back to the rendezvoux with the bus at Canal and Bourbon, except the bus wasn't there. Andrea and I ran over to McDonalds for a quick bite for the way home for us, Mom, and Ronnie. Unfortunately the bag ripped on the way back and we only managed to salvage one drink, a Big Mac, and the chicken tenders. The bus ended up stuck in traffic a few blocks away, and, rather than wait an hour for it to get to us, we hiked the couple of blocks back to meet the bus. The traffic was really bad and it took us about 30 minutes to get the one block across Canal Street but after that, the drive back to Baton Rouge was uneventful and we ended up getting back to Mom's house around 1 am.
On Sunday we all ended up sleeping in until about 10:30. Andrea wasn't feeling well, having picked up a stomach bug at some point, so I got inserted into the golf threesome instead of Mom, since she wanted to stay home with Andrea. So Ronnie, Daniel and I drove up to The Bluffs Country Club and Resort where Mom and Ronnie are members. We had a great time playing despite it being my first time on a golf course since about 1996. I had a wicked slice that resulted in losing a number of balls, but we had fun anyway, and Daniel and Ronnie weren't having much better days. After we finished, we ended up hanging out in the clubhouse and had a couple of drinks while we waited for Mom and Andrea to join us for dinner. The food at the restaurant was very good and we had a great meal celebrating Ronnie's birthday before heading home for the night.
On Monday, we got up around 8 and then packed everything up to go home. We then went over to the ARS lab and met all of the people that Mom works with before heading down into Baton Rouge for lunch. Mom stopped by the apartment where she and Ronnie lived for a short while and then we stopped at the Mall of Louisana for Mom really quick before going to Ralph and Kacoo's for lunch for one more seafood fix. After lunch we then headed over to the Hollywood Casino to kill an hour and a half or so before heading up to the airport to head home.
On the way home we were on the same plane as Daniel from Baton Rouge to Houston, which made life easier. When we got to Houston, we wandered around a bit before having dinner at a barbecue place on Concource C. We then headed back towards our gate where we said goodbye to Daniel and then boarded our flight home, getting back into Denver around 10:30 pm last night.
It was definitely a good weekend and a lot of fun. I was glad that we were able to go down and see Mom and Ronnie's new place. We'll be looking forward to going down again.
Photos from the weekend are in the photo album under Mardi Gras 2007.