Friday, April 5, 2013

We'er Back, ya'all.

As described earlier, we took a Spring Break Road Trip.

It Atlanta we visited the Georgia Aquarium, the largest indoor aquarium in the world.  It was worth the trip.  It looked like most of the other families made a shorter trip.  It was here that I noticed that these southern families were not like mine; They were younger.  People that I thought were big brothers or sisters were actually parents. Maybe some of them should have read the sign to the left.

It was kinda like a reunion because this beluga is from The Coney Island Aquarium.  She was doing a flip for us.

The main attraction at this aquarium was the dolphin show.  "Show" is the operative word here. According to "The newest residents at the Georgia Aquarium are 11 Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. Unlike most of the sea creatures at the Aquarium, the dolphins will not be on display except on special occasions. Instead, they will be part of a Broadway-quality show called Dolphin Tales." Holy shit, was this a show. But not the Broadway I grew up with, this was the new Disnyfied Broadway.  The most amusing part of the show for my kids was that they got to watch me squirm in pain as I looked at our tickets to see how much we paid to see this crap.  Lots of bad dancing and some lip syncing and no science or anything educational at all.

We did some research and found that there is a restaurant in Atlanta.  Flip Burger is owned by one of the competitors form one of them Food Network Shows. The drive there was cool too.  It I think we drove through a neighborhood called "The Park Slope of Georgia"  Eating there was like eating in Willimsburg because nobody talked like a New Yorker expect that when we looked out the window we saw sky as opposed to another building or a bus..
We went back to our hotel and next door was the Museum of Coca Cola.  I could not imagine paying money to see a collection of soda related products.  We looked at it after dinner and it was closed anyway. They do make sure you don't bring you hand gun in with you.  Below is a photo of my son and the man who invented Coke.
17 spoons of sugar.
Then we drove on to New Orleans.  That city was mostly about eating.  Our first stop was the Cafe Du Monde for, zeppoles, I mean beignets.  If they were zeppoles we would be eating them outside in the streets of Little Italy. Beignets are breakfast food.

We wandered the streets of the French Quarter and it reminded me of pre-Giuliani Times Square, but wilt slightly less porn and the drinks had more artificial colors.  I had one meal that stood out as special.  We randomally walked into Sylvain's on Chartres Street.  The service was authentically friendly and everyone liked their dinner.  I actually ordered a food that I thought was extinct. As you know I grew up in Sheepshead Bay.  The bay was named after the sheepshead fish, which has long disappeared from Mid-Atlantic waters.  I learned last week that it is common in the Gulf of Mexico.  It made for good eating.

Thanks VeronicaG at Virtual Tourist
We happened to wander into the Palace Cafe just for dessert.  Little did we know that they had a special place for people to sit who just wanted dessert.  They have a Dessert Bar; 8 or 9 stools facing a window into the dessert station in their kitchen.  We did not have to look at a menu, we got to see what was being made.  But we had our's prepared at our table.  Bananas Foster. We happened to be in the place were Mr Foster ordered it every night.

Do you see the window in the back.  That is where we sat, looking into the kitchen.  Seriously, I bet an entire meal at that place would have been great.

If the crusty kids were a bit nicer they
 would get more drugs.
NOLA (as it is spelled on the t-shirts) is also a cool city to explore.  Like New York it has it's "element".   We have many types of people living in occupying the streets and other public places..  We have the homeless who find that the subway platform is safer than the shelter and the mentally ill who are Lost.  We also have crusties. (hippies who choose to beg and live in the streets)  Even though the outskirts of NOLA were still devastated by hurricane damage we did not see any evidence of it's human suffering in the French Quarter.  Just a lot of fools that gravitated towards the fact that public intoxication is legal and acceptable in New Orleans. Those days are behind me.  One can drink in public as long as it is not in glass.  We had to climb over a pile of them to get to the Mississippi River.

We also took some official tours.  On our fist full day in New Orleans we took a Swamp Tour.  It was fun for the whole family.

We took a flat bottomed boat into the swamp.

and we did see an alligator.  Our guide said they were just coming out of brumation.  Their metabolism was still slow so they were not so hungry.  Our guide said they can't resist a marshmallow because they think they are eggs. I like eggs but think marshmallows are junk.  Does that make me an alligator?

The boat tour was definitely great.  but we choose the optional bus ride to the swamp, thinking that that ride would be somewhat touristy.  Notsomuch.  It was just a bus ride and it cost as much as the boat tour.  We could have save $100 and driven.  Afterward we might have taken a detour and had some real cajun cooking.

We also got to see some of the destruction left by Katrina.  I made a point of NOT asking any of the locals about the hurricanes.  I know I don't like it when tourists ask me about "9-11"

The next day the boys and girls split up for different tours.  The girls went on a buggy ride pulled by a mule.  They got an interesting tour of the city and they got off and entered one of New Orleans' above ground cemeteries.  There they leaned that Nicholas Cage has been preoccupied with New Orleans.  He moved into the French Quarter but the locals would not accept him till he bought a grave site.  There it is to the left.  The locals think it is ugly.  Later that night we saw Nick Cage's house.  (Did you know that Nicholas' real last name is Coppola and that he is 25 years younger than is less hansom brother Francis.)

We were also just a short drive to the Gulf of Mexico.  Didn't go there either.  We see the ocean all the time.  Why go out of our way to see a gulf.

The boy and I got in the car and drove to Fulsom La. to visit the Global Wildlife Center.  For me the coolest part of this mini road trip was getting there.  We got to drive across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway.  The boy got to sit in the front seat and take this photo.

I was actually a little disappointed with the Wildlife Center.  Or maybe I should just say frustrated.  For the first time in a few days we left the world of tourism and were experiencing life as locals do.  I forgot it was Spring Break.  The place was infested with campers and piles of kids supervised by not enough grown ups.

The main activity there was to ride in a wagon into the animals habitat and feed them.  We did not know about the feeding part.  At most of the zoos I have been to you can put a quarter in a gum ball machine and get a handful of animal food.  Here families drooped $30 on a 5 gallon bucket of food.  Then the kids proceeded to through it at the animals.

 It was not a very natural setting for these beasts.  Most of them were quite overfed.
In fact our guide told us that some of the animals were not put there on purpose.  The ducks just flew in and ate so much that they got to fat to leave.

This place seamed to me to be a real life animal version of  Wall-E.  Not the cute robot love story part, but the part about the fact that people got so used to having food shoved down their throats that they could not even get up and get it if they tried.

We also took the Haunted History Tour.  I don't think I would have been uninterested in anything on this tour even if I was not exhausted.  It is a week later and I don't even remember anything.  But I do think it was cool that we saw Touchdown Jesus.  Our guide said it was older than the one in Notre Dame.  Like I knew what he was talking about.  But I took a photo anyway.

Little did I know that we were staying a few block from the actual place that my guitar hero died.  Johnny Thunders overdosed at the Saint Peter Guest House, just a few short blocks from where we were staying.  Maybe I can organize a tour here in NYC  Rock Stars seam to come here to crash and burn..  We will walk by all the places where rock stars died.  Hey, look, it kinda exists already.

On the drive home we were halfway through Tennessee we looked ahead and realized that Bristol looked like a good place to stop. We took out the smart phone got a good deal in a hotel.  Our suite was bigger than my first apartment.  Seriously, in Park Slope it would have been worth at least $500,000, $750,000 with a doorman.  Well that was for the perfectly adequate Hampton Inn - Bristol. 

On the way to the exit in Bristol we saw a billboard for Bristol Caverns.  Hey, we only had to dive 600 more miles to get home, so why don't we go there in the morning.  It was not a big time killer and we got to dive on State Street. The Eastbound side was in Tennessee and the Westbound side was in Virginia, cool!

Anyway we had a very nice 30 minute tour of the Caverns.  A little history, a little science and the guide let my son hold the flashlight.  Very nice and not far from the Route 81.

And then I got a spot right in front of my house.

What more could I ask.


  1. Thanks for the great comments regarding your
    trip with the family...
    I enjoyed reading all about it. xo


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