After a great night’s sleep, we decided to fully partake in big city life and jump on public transportation. Our “original” plan had us riding the streetcar from the Archbishop’s residence all the way to Bourbon Street. Halfway through the trip we realized the streetcar rails were under construction and we would be transferred to the city bus. The kids said it was a toss up as to which was more fun.
Streetcar = more scenic
City bus = air conditioning
We bypassed Bourbon Street and walked down Canal Street instead. No need for an early lesson in Theology of the Body, or lack thereof! Jackson Square was exactly as we remembered it. Musicians, artists, palm readers, the homeless and the guy who paints himself gold and looks like a statue. Yep, it was all still there.
St. Louis Cathedral was still gorgeous, although we did find out later that while Hurricane Katrina didn’t do any structural damage to the lower half of the cathedral, the winds and rain practically destroyed the roof and many of the paintings had to be restored.
Just before we took that picture in the middle, one of the cathedral staff walked up to me and said, “I noticed you have an active little boy with you (nodding in Luke’s direction).” Oh, you mean the one who is running laps in between the pews? Yes, I know the one. “Well, we hope you enjoy your tour of the church. But I do want to remind you that should he venture past that rope at the front, the alarms will sound, the firetrucks will be called and we’ll go into lockdown.” Okay, I added that last part. In her defense, she said it all with the nicest New Orleans accent and biggest smile. I assured her he wouldn’t get near the rope and we appreciated her warning.
That’s just prime pickings for me to eat my words, isn’t it? Notice Luke’s stance in this photo. Just after we finished taking this picture, he beelined for the rope. Luckily Will caught him, I gave Scott “the look” and we headed for the exit. I’m fairly certain I mumbled a Hail Mary in thanksgiving as we walked out the door.
What’s a trip to Jackson Square without a beignet from Cafe Du Monde? Not much of a trip, I’d say. This was the kids’ first time to eat a French doughnut and they were licking the plates when we finished. Luke even surprised us all by taking a few bites, letting the powdered sugar hang out all over his mouth and licking his fingers. Y’all, that was HUGE for him. I teared up and then shot these pictures.
We walked around a bit more and then decided to…eat some more! Acme Oyster House satisfied our craving for po’ boy sandwiches and crawfish. Plus, they had the A/C cranking. As we left, we took a quick half block walk down Bourbon Street and that’s all we needed. We headed to the bus stop and waited for several minutes, then we heard, “Mommy, I need to go potty.”
Seriously? We just left the restaurant, y’all. Scott packed up four kids and headed to the bathrooms. Of course, you know this is coming. The bus finally pulls up. I text Scott (and no, I will not share that text, it *may* not be family-friendly). By some miraculous intervention of St. Jude, the patron saint of impossible causes, Scott and the four kids skid into the bus just before it left. Whew.
While we headed back to the house, I see a sweet African-American gal join us at our next bus stop. She kept looking over at the kids and mumbling something, but I didn’t have enough guts to figure out what it was. At our transfer to the streetcar, she taps me on my shoulder and says, “You sure have some beautiful kids. I wish I was white.”
Um, yeah. That’s not one I’ve ever heard before.
We made it off the streetcar, loaded up the van, said adieu to sweet New Orleans and headed east to Florida. On a whim, we decided to text a good friend in college as we knew we’d be passing through his hometown. We wondered if he was free to meet for a quick Coke and indeed he was. Henry and Scott were yell leaders at A&M and Henry and I spent many an evening cramming for Chemistry. The stories were many and the laughs brought back some wonderful memories. Henry and Karen, thank you for taking the time to meet us at Newk’s. They had some awesome sweet tea, but I’d argue that the company was even better.
The stop added about an hour to our arrival time, but it was well worth it. Every year God gives us, I am reminded that it isn’t the things we do in life, but the people that we do them with that matter. It has been nearly a decade since we last saw Henry and it did all our hearts good to reconnect – not on Facebook, Twitter or the blogosphere – but really connect.
Day three brings about the first trip to the beach for 4 of the 5 Whitaker kiddos, a killer dinner and a raucous game of putt-putt.