MARDI GRAS 2012 WRAP-UP
By Barry Zander, edited by Monique Zander, the Never-Bored RVers.
Mardi Gras Day in New Orleans was perfect. The weather was warm, mostly sunny, and revelers in the Downtown area and French Quarter were in good spirits – some drinking those spirits, but we saw no evidence of rowdiness during our eight hours of being part of the crowds.
Monique was relieved. She, like many who have never been to Mardi Gras in New Orleans, feared the crush of people to be suffocating, despite the assurances by acquaintances and me. We walked down legendary Bourbon Street in the Quarter, looking at costumes and catching beads thrown from wrought –iron-framed balconies. When the easy flow of costumed bodies began to get thicker, we veered off and found a corner restaurant which
provided us with 1) an excellent muffaleta (a New Orleans specialty – one sandwich is enough for a couple; 2) a tasty Bloody Mary; 3) reasonable prices, and 4) a table along the sidewalk where we could continue to ogle the passing parade of costumes.
I haven’t heard of anyone in our group of 90 who was dissatisfied with their stay, and keep in mind that our rally was made up of folks primarily of retirement age. Most elected to participate in French Quarter walks at every opportunity.
Now for a few random thoughts. First, lots of people — I among them — hoped the RV rally would include a swamp tour. It didn’t for good reason. Alligators, the star characters in swamp tours, and other reptiles prefer to spend their winters hibernating. Plus, the gorgeous, eerie cypress trees and much of the other vegetation are not at their best in winter. We’ll try again later.
What is in season, however, is Louisiana seafood. Monday night Monique boiled blue-claw crabs and I opened raw oysters for our quiet little dinner together … well, not so quiet when I put in a Cajun music CD. It’s a real treat when these two favorite Louisiana seafood delicacies are sold just about everywhere, and added to that is our other must-have crustacean, boiled crawfish. This has been the pinnacle of New Orleans eating, especially when our muffaleta was placed before us in the Quarter.
Wrong time for the swamp tour. Missed the huge, internationally recognized Jazz & Heritage Festival which kicks off April 27. The good news for thoroughbred horse racing fans is the Fairgrounds Race Track is going strong. And, with weather like this, the golf courses are no doubt doing well.
“Wood Eternal” and “shock the roux”! What am I talking about? Those are two expressions I heard for the first time this visit. We learned that cypress is “the wood eternal,” because it can last for hundreds of years. It’s prevalent in many of the plantations and other structures around South Louisiana.
A ”roux” is a kind of gravy used in creole cooking, so many chefs begin their classes by saying, “First you make a roux.” It consists of fat and flour that is allowed to slowly brown. To shock it is when you add the stock too fast or the stock is cold. This will cause it to separate and curdle.
A blog commenter asked about bus service at Bayou Segnette State Park where we’ve been staying. We had chartered buses taking us into town. Parking and traffic isn’t that difficult for tow vehicles and toads except around Mardi Gras. It’s a very nice state park.
I want to insert another general comment about RV caravans and rallies. Had we not been part of a pre-paid rally to New Orleans, we would have never shelled out money for each place that we visited. We would have missed a lot of very worthwhile things most locals and visitors never know about or get around to seeing. There are lots of RV and other tours, not only in the U.S. but around the world, offered by at least a half-dozen companies that cater to us RVers. It may be worth your time to investigate.
Where do Monique and I go from here? We’re looking forward to the Good Sam Rally in Phoenix, which starts March 22. Sounds like a great program. Between now and then, we have a few occasions planned with family and friends in Louisiana, with enough time left over to hug the Gulf Coast eastward.
Here’s a good one: as you probably know the best way to start a conversation with strangers at a campground is to tell them about how the GPS misguided you. When we left New Orleans on our way to the Acadian Heritage Center in Thibodaux, Louisiana, our GPS instructed us to “turn left on Puerto Rico 211.” “What did she say?” I asked Monique. “Puerto Rico 211,” and then the GPS repeated it. We deciphered it: “PR 211” means “Parish Road 211” – remember, Louisiana has parishes, not counties. Our GPS was taught P.R. means Puerto Rico!
How could we ever be anything other than “The Never-Bored RVers? We’ll see you down the road.
© All photos by Barry Zander. All rights reserved