Sunday, March 15, 2015

A weekend in the Big Easy

It has been a really long time since our little family of 4 has had a concentrated amount of time to just be together, and now that we've settled a bit into our "new normal" after Dan's transition to Hillcrest, we decided to take a few days and visit one of our family's favorite cities: New Orleans.

Road trips are the easiest thing these days.
Tucker listens to his audiobooks the whole way,
and Lana writes novels:

We made a stop on the Mississippi Bayou for some seafood.  There's no other way to start besides raw on the half shell!  Lana ate more than Dan & I did!

When we began planning this a few months ago, 
I scored a great deal on a hotel through Priceline, 
just a short walk from our favorite restaurant, incidentally,
and we arrived Thursday night late and crashed.

We woke up the next morning to gloom and rain.
That wasn't going to slow us down!
We tossed on ponchos and headed to the closest streetcar stop.

And where else to get off but the French Market for beignets at Cafe Du Monde?!
 It's an absolute must for the first breakfast in the Big Easy!

We stopped to watch the world famous pralines being made at another shop:
We had a taste and the kids did not care for them!

We decided to spend the rest of the morning indoors at the Aquarium.
We love this place so much!

We finished up at Dan's favorite spot in the Aquarium - the aviary where you can hand feed the birds. He could spend hours in that place!  I could hardly take pictures for watching him enjoy himself with our children.

After we finished feeding the birds, we headed straight to our very favorite restaurant in the city: Mother's!
The wait is so worth it!
It moves very quickly - we only stood there about 15 minutes in all.
If you are very in New Orleans, do not miss this place.
The étouffée is my go-to meal, followed immediately by the Debris sandwich.  You can't go wrong with a po-boy, either.

After we refueled, the next stop was the Insectarium.
We had never been to this spot,
and I think it is maybe one of my new favorite things!
Dozens and dozens of beautiful displays and hands-on display centers and activities,
including a walk-through butterfly house.

a blue crawfish

I loved the ant display, and hate that I didn't get a good picture of the whole thing.
It was a wall-sized ant farm; I could have just watched them carrying oatmeal and completing their various jobs all day long.  All of creation shouts His name!
Proverbs 6:6
Take a lesson from the ants, you lazybones!
Consider their ways and be wise.

The kids had a great time exploring!

The Insectarium also has a Bug Cafe!

Tucker would not even consider it, nor would his mother.
I just love that my Lana jumped right in and had a taste!
She wasn't a huge fan of the crickets.

Then she tried mango chutney with waxworms:

and declared it delicious!

Y'all, I can't wait to see what the Lord does with this girl.
She is a breathtaking combination of charms:
her adventurous spirit knows no bounds,
and she oozes compassion and mercy.
NONE of this comes from or is because of me -
rather, she is this delightful in spite of me.
I already know deep in my soul that God will fling this one out,
He will use her in wild ways for His glory.

A side note that we learned in the bug cafe:
ew. ew. ew.

After a long, wonderful day,
we went back to the hotel for some rooftop pool swimming,
a delicious dinner at a local dive,
and then relaxed for a while before bed.

The next morning, we started with our favorite New Orleans activity: eating!
We could stay here a month and not eat at all the places we want to.
The Ruby Slipper was high on our list of places to try, though,
and within walking distance of our hotel.

What were we thinking waiting to eat until 10:00 a.m.?!
The line was around the block.

Boy oh BOY was it worth the wait!

I try not to always take pictures of our food,
but this was just irresistible.

This was my dish: salmon, smoked in-house, sitting atop a freshly baked buttermilk biscuit, and topped with a perfectly poached egg, capers, red onions, and some sort of dreamy sauce.

Dan's: thinly sliced catfish fingers, poached eggs, artichoke hearts, and all manner of other things that were just divine.  This is the Ruby Slipper's specialty.

Sufficiently fueled, we headed to the zoo and spent the rest of the day there.
We have always traveled with our kids, but the older they get, the more fun it gets.
We were totally laid back, going at their pace, doing what they wanted to do.
The weather was perfect, and it was just a really pleasurable day.
We particularly enjoyed the otters, the hand feeding of the giant alligator


We also did this huge climbing thing inside the zoo.
Lana has wanted to do this for as long as I can remember,
so what better time to say yes?
(we also got a discount as zoo members.  :)

I could not even get off the first level.  My palms were sweating, my heart was racing.
I don't DO heights.

But my GIRL and her DADDY - they were maniacs.
These pictures don't even do it justice: they went all the way to the third level,
which was far too high for my liking.
She said she never even got nervous!

They also had a really cute little "tot sized" structure
that Tucker (and mommy!) liked much better!
We hung out here while the two insane ones risked their lives for no good reason.

We had crawfish bites and cokes for a snack,
stayed at the zoo until it closed,
and made it home 3 hours past bedtime -
a rare treat for the kids of Team Davis!

We had a wonderful weekend,
and were so thankful for time away together,
away from work and homework and schedules.
I'm so, so thankful for a husband and children who are genuinely a joy to be with.
We will start this coming week with renewed energy -
and counting down the days until summer vacation!  :)

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