November 17, Leaving NoLa Behind

New Orleans

Not too much exciting in the morning.  Mostly posting yesterday’s blog post and pictures and packing up.

Tom went to Walgreens for some last minute stuff – again – and he got me the pink fleur-de-lis studded T-shirt I wore to board the ship (official boarding picture coming later).

We got our stuff together and headed to the lobby to check out.  Lots of folks coming in, off our ship!  Many had been on a B2B (Back to Back):  the same cruise we’re doing plus a week like we did on this ship in 2009 to Belize, Roatan, Costa Maya.

There was some snafu at the port and the taxi couldn’t get us all the way to the luggage drop off so he sort of stopped in the street and took our luggage across the street for us.  Then a porter took it the rest of the way.

We got into the building and into Group B.  We were at check-in within about 10 minutes and on the ship within about 30 or so.

Embarkation pictures were taken in front of a green screen which I thought was weird since I knew that we’d eventually have the ship behind us.  Whatever!

We were early enough that we got a nice round table by a window in the Garden Cafe on 12 and had some lunch.

Another couple from Anaheim, CA joined us.  They’d stayed the night at Harrah’s and this cruise (except for port charges) was comped to them.  Depending on how well they do in the casino on this cruise, the port charges may be waived.  She explained to us about how Indian-run casinos pay out compared to non-Indian and said that Harrah’s paid like an Indian casino and didn’t know why.  She was using a “buffalo machine(?)” as an example as my eyes started to glaze over.

The announcement came that our cabins were ready so there was a mass exodus.

We opted for the stairs.  On our last Jewel cruise, Michael had us walking up and down the stairs most all the time and it looks like we’ll continue the tradition.

Checked out the balcony, took some pictures, Tom took a little nap.

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Tom napping

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Watching the busy port

I was reading on the balcony, and this machinery rolled by on a little track.  I got a couple pictures and the guys on it said hello.  I guess it will be to wash windows later, or the ship?  We’ll see!

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Another couple dropped by – part of their luggage had been delivered to our closet.  We opened ours and – Voila! – their stuff was in there.  They tried to tell us that maybe we were in their cabin, too, but that didn’t go over too well.

At 3:15 we went to the Tsar’s Palace for the mandatory life boat drill.  We didn’t have to take our life jackets or stand on deck waiting for stragglers.  Hooray!

After the muster, we went out on deck just to watch the last-minute luggage coming on board and ships and barges on the river.

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Tom under a lifeboat

About 4:00 we set out to find the Chapel since Tom was going to meet some folks there.  It turned out to be tucked away next to the Spinnaker Lounge on deck 13, forward.  I went out on deck to get some sunset pictures and listen to the band during the “Party Like a Norwegian!” SailAway.

About 5:00 the ship finally began to turn around for it’s journey down the Mississippi amid lots of cheers from the folks at the SailAway.  I must have napped just a bit…

Got some good pictures, and some sunset pictures.  I overheard one confused young woman who thought we were heading the wrong way on the river.  Hmmm… Do they teach geography anymore in school or did she plan to go to Ohio?

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Sail Away

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Sail Away sunset

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It started to get a bit chilly on 13 so I headed down to the cabin for my hoodie.  Tom was already there and so was our luggage.  Yea!

Major unpacking and figuring where to put stuff.  Everything away, suitcases under bed. Made good use of the hanging shoe bag I usually carry around. Done.

We’re doing “Freestyle Dining” so we can eat wherever/whenever we want.

On the way to Azura (6, Midship) we ran into the Photo Gallery (7, Aft).  We saw our Embarkation pictures and decided to get those.  When they added the ship in (remember we were in front of a green screen) it made it appear that portions of the ship were “bunny ears”  behind my head.  Luckily – thanks to the green screen – that’s being adjusted.  Isn’t technology grand?

We went to Azura about 6:30, when lots of folks apparently wanted to eat, too.  Because we had to wait for 30 minutes, we got coupons for free soda or champaign in the bar.  We learned that “only Pepsi products” are available on Norwegian.  Luckily, we don’t have a very strong brand loyalty to anyone.

The wait was less than 30 minutes and we had a nice table for 2.  We both had French onion soup.  He had salmon, mashed potatoes and green beans and I had BBQ chicken breast, Caribbean vegetables and sweet potato fries  Yummy!

During dinner they announced that the Saints had won.  Lots of fans on this ship!

We chatted with the folks next to us – they’re from Canada.  She was from Canada originally, he was from England.  They’d been married 36 years and this was their first cruise.  She wanted to cruise the Mediterranean and this is a “trial cruise” to see it they like it.

Their daughter, son-in-law and grandchild live in London so they only see them a couple times a year.

Dessert time.  We had coffee, of course.  I had key lime pie, Tom had lemon sorbet.  Mmmmm.

8:20 – we hustled off to the Stardust Theater to see the show.  Since we were already on 6, Midship we’d just head to 6, Forward.

Unfortunately, we had to head through the Casino to do that.  We saw the Anaheim folks from lunch and said hi but they didn’t see us.  Maybe they weren’t doing too well and wouldn’t be comped.

I always hate going through the casino.  It’s always too smoky!  I understand that our next cruise to Panama on Princess won’t even allow smoking in the casinos.  Yea!

I held my breath and we got through ok.  The Stardust Theater was pretty full so we sat in about the 3rd row.

This preview show was called “A Taste of Things to Come” and was pretty good.  The cruise director (Alex) is from Uruguay.  He gave away some champaign to newlyweds (1 and 2 days each) and some jewelry to a couple married for 62 years.  The man thought it was 66 until his wife corrected him.

The house singers/dancers were quite good.  I always prefer live singing/dancing/music to recorded so I’m pretty easy to please.  They did a song and dance about vacations that showed a lot of good energy.

A comedian came out and he was pretty funny, although I don’t like when they comment on latecomers and possibly embarrass folks.  Other than that, he was funny – and wore a silly suit.

The band was from the Philippines but they managed to channel the Beatles and did I Want To Hold Your Hand.  Apparently, they do a Beatles tribute show at some point during the cruise.  They also appeared around the ship singing I Want To Wash Your Hands at meal time.

A selection of characters from Nickelodeon shows sang and danced.  Most, except for Spongebob Squarepants and Dora, the Explorer I didn’t recognize but the kids in the audience did.  Maybe this is the Norwegian answer to the Disney ships?

The singers/dancers came back for a selection of Mamma Mia! songs like Waterloo, Dancing Girl, Mamma Mia and more.  Love it!  There was a *bit* of singing along.

Back to the cabin by way of Guest Services (7, mid) and Decks 12 (walking around we ran into the Canadian couple) and 13.

The first day, at least, we got a lot of exercise walking and climbing.

Sat on the balcony a bit.  I tried to get picture of the pilot boat leaving us but it was just too foggy.

We saw a bit of the movie Chicago on TV.  I have the movie on my iPad so it didn’t matter that I shut it down early.

Tom went to bed and I got online to do my “Pender work”.  I like to keep that site updated daily, no matter where I am.

I read for about 1 minute maybe, then fast asleep.

Today’s Stats:

Sunday November 17th, 2013

New Orleans, Louisiana

Today’s Forecast:  Chance of Rain, 81F/27C

Sunrise: 6:29 am

Sunset: 5:02 pm

All Aboard: 3:20 pm

Heading Home from San Francisco

Our last morning involved packing – good thing we bought that new bag, a final breakfast at Pläj, a bit of final computer work, then a taxi to the airport.

Before we left, I just had to take a picture of the room key, made of birch, not plastic.

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A final picture of Tom at Pläj

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Our flight back to Midway was uneventful and our pilot didn’t tell us what we were flying over, so I watched a movie (The Producers) instead of trying to see the scenery.

Cover of "Airplane! (Don't Call Me Shirle...

Cover via Amazon

At Midway, Tom got some salads to eat but I wasn’t hungry since I consumed a whole bag of almonds on the first flight.  I was just waiting when I looked up and saw Sandi, a woman from my church choir back home, walking my way.  She was coming in from a business meeting in Denver, and on our next flight!

We spent quite a bit of time talking before the flight and she offered us a ride home from Dulles.  No looking for a taxi at midnight.  YEA!

Flight 2 was uneventful, too, so I watched Airplane.  Big differences from the services that they offered in 1980 and now.  At least we didn’t have to be worried about eating the fish…

At the airport, we waited for those checked bags, then they changed the carrousel so we moved to another part of Dulles.  Sandi’s daughter arrived and drove us home, exhausted, but knowing we had a very successful, if whirlwind, trip.

On Our Way

We got up fairly early this morning so we could take our dog, Mimi, to her sister’s for their visit.  It’s so nice that neither of them has ever seen a kennel!  When we got to Penny’s, we found out that she had taken in another foster dog, a German Shepherd/Australian Shepherd mix who was very shy and quiet.  He won’t be much longer after the 2 rambunctious sisters spend some time with him!

Our taxi came and I noticed that it was a hybrid.  I innocently asked the driver how he liked it – and he spend most of the time telling us how much was wrong with it.  Then he branched off into how bad American drivers are (he’s from Russia), how he’s teaching his daughter to drive using mirrors only – all while we nearly sideswiped a car carrier truck.  He also thought it was fine to drive in the fast lane until a few seconds before taking a right exit.  Fortunately, we made it to the airport in plenty of time.

Our first flight to Chicago/Midway went smoothly enough except I couldn’t sleep due to a screaming child behind me.

I took these photos of all the other Southwest tails from the plane window.

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One of the pins had fallen out of Tom’s watch while we were still at Dulles and I was *sure* that there would be a watch kiosk in Midway where he could get another pin.  WRONG!  We walked all over and went into every store.  I also looked, unsuccessfully, for noise-canceling headphones.  I have some at home which I didn’t think to bring.  Fortunately, I didn’t need them on the next flight.

We finally gave up on our shopping and went to Manny’s Express – I had a craving for potato pancakes (latkes)

mannys-express

I hadn’t had those for at least 3 years and they were so good.  I also got a salad which I saved for the plane.

Manny’s Potato Pancake Recipe

2 c. finely grated raw baking potatoes
¼ c. grated onion
2 eggs, beaten
1 t. salt
1/8 t. ground black pepper
1 T. Flour
1 T. Butter
2 T. vegetable oil

Combine potatoes and onions.
Squeeze out excess liquid.
Add all other ingredients except butter and vegetable oil.
Let rest for 5 minutes

Heat butter and vegetable oil on a griddle over medium heat
Drop batter onto griddle by tablespoonful, flatten with back of spoon.

Fry on both sides until a dark golden brown
Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Our next plane was about 20 minutes late – no problem – there was no deadline for us!

I took these pictures of the Rocky Mountains out of the plane window – not the best!

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Wikipedia says:

“The Rocky Mountains, commonly known as the Rockies, are a major mountain range in western North America. The Rocky Mountains stretch more than 3,000 miles (4,830 km) from the northernmost part of British Columbia, in western Canada, to New Mexico, in the southwestern United States. Within the North American Cordillera, the Rockies are somewhat distinct from the Pacific Coast Ranges and the Cascade Range and Sierra Nevada which all lie farther to the west.
The Rocky Mountains were formed from 80 million to 55 million years ago…”

 

Our pilot told us later that the area below us that we couldn’t see, and didn’t exist, was Area 51.

More from Wikipedia:

According to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the correct names for the Area 51 facility are the Nevada Test and Training Range and Groom Lake, though the name Area 51 has been used in official CIA documentation. Other names used for the facility include Dreamland, Paradise Ranch, Home Base, Watertown Strip, and most recently Homey Airport. The area around the field is referred to as (R-4808N),

It is located in the southern portion of Nevada in the western United States, 83 miles (133 km) north-northwest of Las Vegas. Situated at its center, on the southern shore of Groom Lake, is a large military airfield. The base’s current primary purpose is officially undetermined; however, based on historical evidence, it most likely supports development and testing of experimental aircraft and weapons systems.  The intense secrecy surrounding the base has made it the frequent subject of conspiracy theories and a central component to unidentified flying object (UFO) folklore. Everything that happens at Area 51 is classified Top Secret/Sensitive Compartmented Information (TS/SCI).

After that, the pilot said we flew over the Sierra Nevada mountains.  I couldn’t get a very good picture, though :(

We landed and got a shuttle to our hotel, the Inn at the Opera.  We got checked in – very nice – and went out to find something to eat.  I was surprised how cold it was.  When I’d looked at the weather reports before coming, it always said 61-65.  I guess I should have known that those were the highs.  I’ll be shopping for a hoodie or jacket or something while we’re here!

We walked the couple blocks to Caffe Delle Stelle.  Very nice Italian food!

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Back to the Inn where we put down a deposit on two days of hop on/hop off bus then up for bed.  It was about 1:00am home time or 11 here.  I fell asleep almost immediately.

In a dream, I heard a loud noise, then Tom waking me up telling me that we had to get outside.  It was the fire alarm and I would have slept right through it.

Quickly dressed, down 5 flights of stairs, false alarm – thank goodness!

Back to sleep – finally!

New Orleans, LA, January 11, 2013

New Orleans

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We had the breakfast buffet at hotel and went to the little shops.  Then, for only $3.00 we got an all-day streetcar pass.  We took the streetcar to the French Market and back.

The streetcar driver was very helpful and knowledgeable.  We first got on at the Poydras Street Stop and he said that he had only one more stop – Julia Street – to go before he had to go to his terminal to turn around.  But he would ask us to leave in the “most polite and respectful manner”.

Along the way, he pointed out the Harrah’s casino, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, iMAX theater (“The Largest IMAX screen in the Gulf South”), the Mississippi river, paddlewheel boats (including ours) and more all the way to the French Market.

The French Market is a  series of commercial buildings, stalls and tents in the French Quarter.  These days, it’s mostly food and flee market and most of the stalls sell similar goods.  The food includes stuff like alligator kabobs and other novelties.

It stretches just inland from the Mississippi River downriver from Jackson Square, with the famous Café du Monde at the upriver end, down to the flea market stalls across from the New Orleans Mint building.

The New Orleans Mint operated as a branch mint of the United States Mint from 1838 to 1861 and from 1879 to 1909.   It was closed during most of the American Civil War and Reconstruction.

After its decommissioning as a mint, the building served a variety of purposes, including as an assay office, a United States Coast Guard storage facility and a fallout shelter. Since 1981 it has served as a branch of the Louisiana State Museum. It was damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and reopened in October 2007.

The New Orleans Mint has been designated a National Historic Landmark, and is currently the oldest surviving structure to have served as a U.S. Mint.

The New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park office and visitor’s center is in the French Market.

The French Market market is included on the Louisiana African American Heritage Trail.

We got on the streetcar and rode back to the Poydras stop.

Waiting for the paddlewheel trip  met 2 couples who were also going on our cruise.  One was from Devon, UK – they’d flown to Chicago then Amtrak to Memphis/Graceland. Another UK couple behind them was doing the exact opposite. The couple in front of us was Canadian and they’d just come off a cruise and after ours were going on one in Dubai.

We boarded the boat and headed downriver.  The guide pointed out several of the same sights we had seen from the streetcar.

The Creole Queen

The Creole Queen

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Paddlewheel trip

The paddle

The paddlewheel

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I just liked this message :)

I just liked this message :)

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A pier that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina

A pier that was damaged in Hurricane Katrina

 

We didn’t get off at Chalmette battlefield. This was the location of what is often called The Battle of New Orleans, where United States forces under Major General Andrew Jackson defeated the British, led by  Lieutenant General Sir Edward Pakenham in January 1815. The battlefield is preserved as a national monument, and the military Chalmette National Cemetery is adjacent.

For those who are too young to remember:

Or the more popular:

In 1814, we took a little trip
Along with Colonel Jackson down the mighty Mississip’.
We took a little bacon and we took a little beans
And we caught the bloody British in a town in New Orleans.

We fired our guns and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more, and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

We looked down the river and we see’d the British come
and there musta’ been a hundred of ‘em beating on the drum.
They stepped so high and they made their bugles ring
We stood beside our cotton bales and didn’t say a thing.

We fired our guns, and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Ole Hickory said we could take ‘em by surprise
If we didn’t fire our muskets ’till we look ‘em in the eyes.
We held our fire ’til we seen their faces well
Then we opened up our squirrel guns and really gave ‘em… Well..

We fired our guns, and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Well they ran through the briars, and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go.
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ‘em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

We fired our cannon ’til the barrel melted down
So we grabbed an alligator and we fought another round.
We filled his head with cannon balls and powdered his behind,
And when we touched the powder off, the gator lost his mind.

We fired our guns and the British kept a-coming
There wasn’t nigh as many as there was a while ago.
We fired once more and they began to running,
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Well they ran through the briars and they ran through the brambles
And they ran through the bushes where a rabbit couldn’t go.
They ran so fast that the hounds couldn’t catch ‘em
On down the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

~~

We went by the Domino sugar plant which was in operation.  Susan was fascinated by the process.

We disembarked and headed for the hotel. After we crossed railroad crossing signs, the bars came down and Kansas City Southern went rolling by very close…too close for comfort!  No time to get back under them but time to whip out my phone:

Kansas City Southern.  Too close for comfort!

Kansas City Southern. Too close for comfort!

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Back to Gordon Biersch for dinner. Pineapple mojito was less pineapple-y. I got sweet and spicy cashew chicken. Wonderful. Susan had half a turkey sandwich. Last night’s BBQ pulled pork had been too spicy, even though the waitress said “no spice”.

Susan found an interesting movie on TV, Perfect Pitch, so we watched that then off to sleep.