The second day of the PapiBlogger Family Road Trip took us on a nearly 11 hour, 590 mile long drive from St. Augustine to New Orleans.
Although driving through the whole of Florida, as we have, is the most dullest driving you will ever do because it’s almost fully flat, parts of northern Florida near Tallahassee actually have scenic hills. When going through Alabama on your way to New Orleans, you’ll want to have the kids awake to see the underwater tunnel in Mobile (always cool) and if you have a couple moments you’ll also want to pitstop in Alabama to see Alabama Battleship Memorial Park. We didn’t have time to pause more than we already did for food (we had a terrific meat lover’s stop at Sonny’s BBQ in Marianna, FL) but if we did we would have also added the still unspoiled beaches of Pensacola. I stopped there once 20 years ago during another drive to New Orleans and remember being captivated by it’s white beaches.
The driving highlight of the trip was the brief argument Angela and I had about whether we could take a tripod-assisted family portrait next to the
Florida-Alabama state line. I wanted to capture the effect of being in two sides of different states until Angela wisely reminded me what happened last month in Austin when we ran out of gas on an access road. If you can believe this, not even one minute after we phoned for fuel service ON AN INCLINE two cars behind the first car that paused to drive around us had a wreck. One girl had to be transported to a hospital with neck pain.
My advice for those of you who plan to make family road trips is to not stop on the state line themselves but rather near the state welcome signs. All states have welcome signs in their state border (yes, even Arizona) that make for nice family portraits if you have the time and the right photographic conditions. The thing you need to note about these signs however is that some states have them next to rest areas where it’s safe to stop and others have them in locations that are too perilous to pause (forget Louisiana’s sign bordering Missippi).
BOURBON-LESS NEW ORLEANS
We made it to New Orleans in time to catch the last jazz performance of the night at the city’s famed Preservation Hall. This historic, old school jazz hall has helped launch the careers of many music legends so if you’re ever in New Orleans, with or without your family, trust me, leave Bourbon Street for later and catch one of the four nightly, 45-minute jam sessions. Even if you’re not the biggest jazz fans (I’m usually not), it is not to be missed. Forty five minutes is about as much as your kids will listen to so even the length of the jam session is perfect.
The famous – or infamous – Bourbon Street is next door to Preservation Hall so be mindful of your walk back because it not only has rowdy drinkers and other unusual folks but it is also stocked with store fronts filled with photos of nude women in x-rated poses. You’re best bet for navigating Bourbon Street is to keep your kids real close to you and prepare to shut their eyes frequently, a variation of my Close Your Eyes Trick for watching rated R movies that are borderline PG.
Our biggest dilemma of the night was finding a late night place near Bourbon Street that was a) open for food and b) allowed kids under 21 to eat. Apparently finding a restaurant that meets both conditions in NOLA is nearly impossible, especially on a Monday so we started angling for anything we could via cab. We were starving for food when we pleasantly discovered good old Creole cuisine at the family friendly Oceana. Jonathan and Elena collected (see my Collecting Countries Trick) Creole food when they ate Creole Shrimp, Alligator Sausage and Turtle Soup. The food was great and the people who served us were even nicer. Nearly 30 minutes after we realized we accidentally left Briani’s milk supply in the cab, the cab driver came back for us with the milk. Her meal and ours were saved!
– Moving forward, we will continue to provide you with what we’ll dub the Sprint Nextel PapiBlogger Road Trip Tip of the Day. This story already features a couple but we’re gathering many more.
– Seems that our epic road trip is inspiring more road trippers in our family this summer. My sister-in-law Melissa is now planning to join us for the leg of the trip that will take us from Seattle through the Niagara Falls. My aunt Millin and uncle Andres will be connecting with us for Washington, DC.
– Parking in New Orleans is the only massive ordeal you will consistently encounter there. In my opinion it is one of the worst parking situations you will find anywhere in the U.S. with scarce parking lots to park at, parking spaces that are extremely tight and expensive parking that almost rivals New York City. In my last trip to Nawlins, four years ago when I was moving my wife from Austin to Miami, we got our Uhaul and our car towed by the city even though our hotel had told us to park there. Parker beware!