weekend in new orleans, la

CrowdedStreetDiana and I met Mike (my college roommate) and Camie (his wife) in New Orleans for Jared Barcenas and his wife, Ezgi’s, reception/celebration. Elek stayed with my mom (we owe her big) for the weekend and had apparently come down with the flu, though we thought it was a 24 hour virus or something of the sort after Diana took him to the doctor. We almost had to turn around halfway there. We left later than we thought we were going to, but we arrived in New Orleans at exactly the same time as Mike and Camie. No really. EXACTLY. We drove under their plane as it was landing. Sure enough Mike called me 2 minutes later and we went directly to the airport to pick them up.
Group
We had just enough time to drop by Target for a couple of things we needed and to get settled in the Biscuit Palace.

The first night we got ready and wandered around looking for a place to eat. We got some general directions for cajun food from a local shop keeper. Ralph and Kacoo’s was where we ended up eating. It looked just as good as any other place. It turned out to be sub par and I’m really upset we didn’t get a chance to try out Mr. B’s! After the disappointing meal, we walked to the party which was in a luxurious suite with a large balcony and an open bar. As you can see everyone there had a great time. We met some new people and celebrated Jared and Ezgi’s marriage.

AquariumAfter waking up and walking to Cafe du Monde (which we did make it back to), we decided we didn’t want to wait in a line that long. On the other side of Jackson Square there was another recommended restaurant called Stanley’s. Despite the almost equally as long wait, the food was amazing!

After that meal we HAD to walk off the food. With no real agenda, we walked up to the trolley station and hopped on. When the trolley came to the end of the line there was the aquarium, right in front of us. I’ve been before, but it had been a very long time. We decided to go in and luckily both Mike and I had our triple A cards with us for the discount. The aquarium is a must see if you’re ever in New Orleans.

CafeDuMondeAfterward, we got a transfer on another trolley and went back to Cafe du Monde where we ate some wonderful beignets and drank coffee (hot chocolate for me).

After a fun filled, touristy morning most of us took a nap with the exception of Diana who walked about 4 miles to get a sweater. What a great nap! We were all recharged and ready for the reception that night at a beautiful inside courtyard. The food was exactly what I love about New Orleans. Everything was perfect. The guests, the food, the dessert, the location. Later that night we went out on Bourbon Street again, but unfortunately that was the night that Diana woke up shivering. She had gotten the flu from Elek. I was sent out at 5AM in the French Quarter to find some place with Sprite and crackers. Luckily I didn’t come back empty handed. It took Diana about 6 days to recover from the flu thanks to Tamiflu. We drove back after breakfast at a 24 hour diner across the street from our hotel.

It was a wonderful weekend in New Orleans and I wish Jared and Ezgi the best! You can see more pictures from the festivities below.

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stanley’s restaurant in new orleans

stanleysWhile we were in New Orleans, we stumbled across Stanley’s Restaurant quite by accident. For breakfast in the French Quarter Saturday morning we were headed to Cafe du Monde when we saw the enormous line and decided against it. Diana asked a local shopkeeper where we should eat and she recommended Stanley’s. We went to the north side of Jackson Square and saw that there was a significantly shorter wait. We put our names on the list and Diana and Camie went shopping for a minute while Mike and I waited patiently at first and then not so patiently. It took a while to get a table, but the host was very nice and explained exactly what was going on and when we could expect a table.

stanleysbreakfaststanleysmenuAfter a while, our time to be seated finally came. We got a four top with a view of the street and the cooks. Diana and I were trying not to eat too much so we could eat lunch at Mr. B’s. so we decided to split the Breaux Bridge Benedict, which happened to be really rich. I’m very glad we split it. I am not very keen on breakfast, but the Breaux Bridge Benedict is one hell of an exception. It was one of the best breakfasts I’ve ever had.

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snow patrol concert in nashville, tn

IMG_2429This past weekend, Oct. 2-4, Diana and I went to Nashville to see Snow Patrol. We left about 3:30 PM Friday and made it with time to spare to their 8PM show. Elek stayed with my mom (Gran) over the weekend and we prepared him for it by telling him a day or two in advance. To the left is a picture of the Tennessee River which is where traffic slowed down to almost a halt. We could not have picked a more scenic place for the traffic slowdown. It was beautiful!

IMG_2441We arrived in Nashville at 6:30 PM. We went directly to Jimmy John’s across from Vanderbilt to pick up our dinner. Our next stop was the infamous Frugal MacDoogal where they had Sailor Jerry (the best rum ever) on sale for $19.99 a handle. We obviously got two. At this point both of us are ravenous! We finally get checked into the hotel around 7:20 PM and made drinks/ ate our Jimmy John’s sandwiches. The Italian sandwich that I got reminded me of college.

IMG_2452We were ready to go to the concert at 9:45 PM. We stayed at the Millennium Maxwell House that we booked through Hotwire for about $59/night. I found this article on Lifehacker that shows you how to pretty accurately guess which hotel you will get on Hotwire using Trip Advisor, which was really helpful. That night we took the free shuttle down to 5th and Broadway where the Ryan Auditorium is. The Ryman is an intimate venue that is about 1/3rd or 1/4th the size of the Orpheum in Memphis.

IMG_2461We arrived at the Ryman right after the Plain White T’s finished, which was perfect. We were seated at the front right of the stage with a great view as you can see from the pictures. Snow Patrol was amazing. It was the best concert I’ve ever been to. The lead singer, Gary Lightbody, was more enthusiastic, humble, and funny than any other musician I’ve ever seen. He’s the type of person you would want to hang out with because you know you would have a good time.

IMG_2465Snow Patrol played from 9:25 to 10:50 PM, which was the perfect length. They came out for one encore where they played some stuff off of their new album. It sounded pretty good and I need to obtain their new album. Their use of piano and large four mallets was wonderful! They were equipped with two drummers, a pianist, the lead singer, lead guitarist, bassist, and an acoustic guitarist. During the show, the guy next to me who was very friendly (and intoxicated) gave me a hard time about not singing loud enough. IMG_2476He then befriended me and bought me a beer that I didn’t necessarily want (fat tire). I drank it anyway and it was great. He also returned my jacket that I tried to leave behind.

After the concert was over, we walked out onto Broadway and toward Decades where we met Dave and Ashley. Ashley has since moved in to Buckwild, which we did not make it to this trip. We went into the first floor of Decades with a $5 cover. I suppose this floor opens a little later than the upper floor. IMG_2480Last time we went to Nashville we were the FIRST people in the second floor of Decades and we were the ONLY ones there for quite a while. We played quarters for about 2 hours with Dave and Ashley. Good times. We had a good time at Decades and left a couple hours later to go home. We passed the trailer park bar, but decided against it and headed back to the hotel. The picture on the left is what the view looked like the next morning. B-E-A-UTIFUL! IMG_2491So beautiful in fact that we decided to eat breakfast/lunch at Noshville’s and head to Percy Warner Park. We were able to finagle some fries out of the cooks at Noshville’s with the help of our awesome 43 year old waitress Alisha. She is from Memphis and related to the Grisanti’s.

We drove through Belle Meade to get to Percy Warner Park. That street has the largest and nicest houses I’ve seen in Tennessee! IMG_2496Once we got there, we climbed the large staircase to the top where a wooded trail began. We started walking along it and came to a point where we asked a fellow hiker where it went. He said it was your standard 2.5 mile trail so we turned around and went the other direction toward the top of the hill/mountain. Once we were satisfied with walking along the trail, we decided to drive on the road that went around the mountain. It took us 30 minutes to get all the way around the trail, but it was so pretty! IMG_2499After we were done with the park, Chris came over around 5 PM to have a drink with us in our hotel. Somehow the topic of save a horse, ride a cowboy came up and I randomly blurted out “save a whale, ride a cheerleader”. Beats me. Afterward, we talked about where to eat and decided on the Rosepepper Mexican restaurant in East Nashville. Diana called her friend Cortney who met us there after we ordered. The food was great and you could tell it was at least somewhat authentic because there were a couple of Mexican guys knocking back some tequila at the table next to us. The portions were ample and the food was quite good. IMG_2504They brought out three different types of dip with our chips, regular, hot, and salsa verde. The dips were all very tasty though my favorite was the spicy.

After the Mexican food, we rode to Five Points in East Nashville and had a drink at one of their bars. Chris bought Diana and me a Bushwaker that was way too filling after Mexican. At that point, unfortunately, Diana and I had to call it a night. We went back to the hotel in utter pain and went to bed. The next morning ended our stay in Nashville. We headed back to Memphis at about 9 AM. Talk about a great birthday weekend! And remember, “Save a whale, ride a cheerleader.”

Also, below are two short clips that give you a feel of the Snow Patrol show. Enjoy.

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videos of our gulf shores, al beach trip

Enjoy these videos from our Gulf Shores vacation.

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week long family vacation to gulf shores, alabama

IMG_1966Last week (9/12/09-9/19/09) Annabeth, my family, and I all went on vacation to Gulf Shores, AL. We rented a beach house that I used to stay in with my family as a child that was fabulous. The house is owned by Bob Wheat and there are pictures on his website. We stayed in the 4 bedroom Gulf Beach house. The week long forecast was saying that there was a large chance it would rain the entire time we were there (like it did in Memphis), but we really lucked out. The rain came and went maybe 2 days and for only a brief amount of time.

IMG_2032We made peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for the road and left Memphis Friday after work at about 6PM. We cruised into Jackson, MS after about three hours on the road. My mom’s sister Nancy was nice enough to put us up for the night. It was great to see her and her wonderful new treasures she found at an estate sale. There were two copper giraffes about three feet tall painted in intricate designs that she got for $20! The copper alone is worth much more than that.

IMG_1994The next morning we were on our way again at about 9AM or so. We managed to make it to the beach around 4PM. While Diana and Elek got to play on the beach in the (what we thought was going to be rare) sun, my mom and I went to the grocery store to buy food for the week. Keep in mind it is MUCH cheaper to buy food and cook most of the time when you go to the beach. To give you a little shock comparison, a handle of Captain Morgan Spiced Rum in Memphis is around $22, but on the beach it’s about $56. Yeah, expensive. I also noticed that happy hour was earlier on average. The one sign I saw for happy hour said from 2 to 5PM.

IMG_2043Saturday night we made hamburgers and baked beans. I brought a small Webber grill that was surprisingly efficient, though we forgot the charcoal chimney, which is the best grilling invention ever. I used Kingston Matchlight and it worked like a champ. The grilling surface on this grill was pretty large and the coals were so close, it took less coals to cook than a larger grill. This was good considering to add more coals would have been a total pain. This is the point the relaxing officially began.

IMG_2311Elek was allowed to stay up much later than usual of course, though this didn’t affect his uncanny ability to wake up at 6AM on the dot. Usually we would put on a show for him and go back to bed for about 45 minutes. Sunday it was overcast for about half the day and sunny for the other part. It shifted back and forth so that the weather determined our beach visits. The best thing about this house and the beach in front of it was that it wasn’t crowded at all and we had the nicest and what appeared to be the largest amount of beach in front of our house.

IMG_2148Over the next several days we went for walks on the beach finding interesting things like abandoned houses with no stairs leading up to them and a rather large boat that appeared to have been burned. The sunsets were beautiful and the night beach walks were a lot of fun as well.

We spent a lot of time playing RummyKub, which was a lot of fun. It turns out Annabeth is a master at this game so if you ever want a swift whooping, ask her to play. Another game we all got into we learned from my mother. I’m not sure what the specific game is called, but it’s solitaire with two decks of cards. You line the 4 kings from each deck vertically, then you deal out 12 stacks of cards between them. It took a little while for it to catch on, but once it did we couldn’t stop playing it.

jacksonMy cousin Mary came to visit us for a day with her son Jackson. My mom, Mary, Jackson, and I went crabbing with no success. It happened to be during the hottest part of the day. Needless to say, that’s not a great idea. We all also sang and the two boys danced while Annabeth played her guitar. I’m glad she brought it. Elek absolutely loved it and was fascinated with the guitar. I’m pretty sure his favorite song was “Pop Goes the Weasel”. Luckily I got some video of him singing and dancing to it.

bdaycakeTuesday was my birthday (Sept. 15). What better way to spend your birthday than on the beach!? I hadn’t really thought about it before, but it was great! Diana baked me a cake (pictured) and Annabeth helped her do the icing. My mom also made a baked oyster dish that was the best I’ve ever had. Speaking of, I need to get that recipe! Elek was very excited about the cake and ice cream. We deemed him a cakehead since he acts like a fiend whenever there is some around. I got some really cool thin ties and button up shirts from my mom and the cards I received were hilarious! Diana is taking me to Nashville Oct 2-4 to see Snow Patrol for my birthday present. I can’t wait!

karyWednesday night the girls (Annabeth and Diana) went out to Karaoke at the Pink Pony Pub. They had a really good time. I stayed in, relaxed and watched a few minutes of TV. The next night we went out to eat at a local place that was pretty good and not too expensive. My mom and her friend Linda that came down to visit for a couple of nights took Elek back to the beach house and Diana, Annabeth, and I went out. We first drove to the infamous bar Flora-Bama, but since they were charging $5 a person on an off season Thursday night we headed to the Pink Pony Pub. We sat on the beach a while and then the girls got up to do a couple songs. We danced a bit before heading back to the beach house.

IMG_2228Annabeth, Elek, and my mom all fed the seagulls chips and bread. It was a very weird site. I took several pictures and a video of it. There were tons of birds flocked together in a small area. I think Elek’s favorite part was scaring them off by running at them. Elek also managed to catch a sand crab one evening. He held it in his hands while I got a picture. I believe it was feigning death while in his hands. Jackson had caught one days before and Elek must have thought that was great.

IMG_2382The trip was a massive success and I would love do it again. This year it was very fortunate that we got to do it in the off season since it wasn’t crowded. I’m really glad that we came back on a Saturday so that we had time to get back on schedule.

If you’d like to see more pictures, you can see them on my facebook page.

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