Louisiana- New Orleans We stayed in a campground just outside of New Orleans, a 15 minute drive more or less depending on their traffic. This was on the floor in the Visitors Center where we started our 3 day Hop On/Hop Off bus Tour. The coordinates Upriver, Down River Riverside and Lakeside refer to their area; up and down river are of course referring to the Mississippi River. Lakeside is the huge Lake Pontchartrain, which is about 630 square miles but only about 12-14 feet deep! Riverside again refers to the Mississippi River. This map that was in the visitors center shows the New Orleans area as it was first laid out by the French in 1718. This was St. Louis Cemetery #1 right across the street from the visitors center. We chose not to tour it, just a couple of shots as our bus pulled out. The pyramid shaped crypt in this photo is reserved for Nicholas Cage. He purchased it as well as some property here when he was making movies here. He fell in love with New Orleans and wants too spend eternity here I guess! This gorgeous Magnolia was on the tree in the visitors center. My second deck seat was just the right height to get this picture! The Magnolia is the state tree and they’re everywhere in and around New Orleans. On one of our stops we walked through Louis Armstrong Park. Unfortunately, they were working on his statue and the entry gate, so the pictures here were of many others in the park, including this interesting one of Charles “Buddy” Bolden, a coronet player . This is the statue of Charles “Buddy” Boden. The park was originally called Congo Square. Its where the plantation workers would spend their limited time off; usually one or two days a month. During season when there was harvesting they would generally not get any time off! The tour included a little of the “new” city as well. The Superdome; you don’t realize how big it is until you see it in person! I couldn’t get it all in one picture even with my wide angle lens! Parts of our tour of course where on the Mardi Gras parade route; it was pretty evident when you were on it! Beads hanging from everything; trees, wires house balconies! Some decorated year round apparently! There’s always a reason to party in NOLA as the locals call it! Famous Bourbon Street. The old French Quarter influences even extend into the modern city. The first day we stopped at Creole House and had these scrumptious Oysters! There was quite a variety of architecture with both the Spanish and French having been here for eons. Lots of very ornate ironwork touches came from the French influences. These larger estates were in what’s called the Garden District. We saw these on a really fun walking tour of this area. Beautiful! And these stately hundreds of years old live oak trees were equally impressive! This looks like graffiti, right? It’s not. It’s from hurricane Katrina. The police and other rescuers would use these markings to mark which homes had already been checked for people (living and/or deceased) and that the gas and other utilities were turned off. The zero at the bottom is what they wanted to see; that meant no one was there, alive or dead. some people decided to keep the markings as a constant reminder! Another day for lunch we went to Bubba Gumps. This was the bench and suitcase and box of chocolates used in the movie. An old picture of the real Forrest with his mom. mardi gras world- where mardi gras floats come to life! On the way to see Mardi Gras World we passed this abandoned power plant. It’s been used on several movies (none of which I remember the names of)! And this interesting art display! He wasn’t the culprit, just painting something nearby! The entrance DISCLAIMER: I apologize for the poorer picture quality, I forgot to bring my Nikon so these are all iPhone pictures! Inside was a vast array of present and past characters from parades. They try to reuse whenever they can with updates and changes. All the staff is paid. Unlike the Rose Parade, they do not enlist volunteers. They make everything in house in many locations around the city; it’s an amazing process that continues year round. As soon as the current year parades are over they start planning and building for the next. Some are stranger than others! Some downright weird! I noticed a trend; the artists like perky boobs; and it wasn’t cold in there! The Queen of England even made an appearance in their styrofoam shaping room! Along with the Chick-fil-A cows. They make these for them at a price of about $16,000 each. Nice side job! Apparently their ears double as coat racks! They have this cool NC machine that can carve out these huge designs in a fraction of the time it would take by hand! Yes, that’s not snow, it’s piles of styrofoam dust from the process! It all gets recycled. There were some “normal” figures; like this one of their own Drew Brees!