Guess our wanderlust will have to take a hiatus for a bit. Looking back at my most recent past post it looks like we’ve had a little bit of a hiatus already and it wasn’t even due to Covid-19. Yep, we’ve been taking a little bit of a step back from our traveling to focus on things here on the homefront. Like renovating our new house, dealing with the passing of my dad and all that goes with that. Before we knew it the year was just about at and end and we only had one more trip on the near horizon. A trip to MN for our family Christmas.
Yes it was cold, yes they did have snow and yes! we had an absolutely awesome time.
As we moved into the new year though we did have a trip on the horizon. We headed to the Dominican Republic for 10 days. This time is was to be a little bit of a different trip. We decided to just park ourselves in Santo Domingo right in the Zona Colonia. So many times when we’ve been there we talked about wanting to stay right in the Zona but had not had the chance to do so. There are so many things going on at night, the atmosphere is incredible, we could walk all day, go back to the hotel to freshen up and then go back out for dinner without any fears of our safety. To say it was an incredible trip is an understatement! We walked constantly, ate way too much, listened to music from our balcony, discovered new and different things and were even there the day they had their elections, which got shut down because of some problems with the ballots. What a learning experience it was to be there in the midst of their everyday life!
But, soon our trip was over and it was time to head home. Little did we know, as we sat on the plane talking about and planning our next trip, which was supposed to be this month to celebrate our granddaughters birthday in MN, that we would come home to a world of chaos, uncertainty and postponed trips. So until we are back on the road or in the air again we will certainly have tons of memories and pictures to take us back to our travels. Until then…
What an incredible trip it has been. Today was a pretty non descriptive travel day. We were on the road by 7 with a quick stop at the Mandeville Cafe du Monde for our morning cafe au lait. We stopped at the FL welcome center for our traditional OJ and were disappointed to hear that after 70 years it has been discontinued. We tailgated at a FL rest area for lunch and had our wonderful raisin bread and peanut butter. Our last stop wa for dinner at Golden Corral for our last blowout before getting serious! Arrival time home..8:30! May’s are on, we are all unpacked and I’m dreaming of sinking down into my own comfy bed tonight for a nights sleep!
“Wherever you go, go with all your heart” – Confucius (wise words from the Chinese philosopher.)
Somewhere along the way in my reading of how to pack lightly for a trip I came across a couple ideas that have been absolute lifesavers for me! I always have trouble packing my earrings and of course liquid cosmetics, hair products, etc. Well let me tell you that pill cases work perfect for earrings and contact lens cases work wonderful for things like hair products, creams, foundation, etc.
One thing to make sure of though is that you may need more than one container for some things. I learned that when we went to Cuba and I ran out of hair gel before our 2 weeks were over. Tragic move in the heat and humidity of Cuba, even with short hair.
Our last day in NOLA and then we are back on the road to the home front. We made the most of the day and tried to squeeze in as much as we could doing both old and new things. Our first excursion was to Bay St. Louis for lunch. Yep, we drove 45 minutes just for lunch. We actually discovered this area in January when we visited Lazy Magnolia Brewery. Jon had googled “junkie seafood restaurants and the searched came up with Cuz’s in Bay St. Louis. We did try it then and it definitely was worth driving there today for an awesome seafood lunch. I chose the boiled shrimp and Jon had the fried shrimp platter. Bay St Louis is an absolutely adorable town, apparently basically destroyed during hurricane Katrina. There are some sweet boutique shoppes, tons of restaurants, and a wonderful artisan bakery. It truly is worth the trip.
Our next stop- Urban South Brewery back in NOLA. We hadn’t been here before and had actually had one of their brews at one time or another, I don’t exactly recall when or where. But, it was on our list of NOLA breweries to visit. We were shocked when we opened the door and walked to this huge taproom absolutely filled with people, kids, TV’s with the LSU game on (what else) and just an absolutely awesome atmosphere. Very much like a European bier garten there are picnic tables set up end to end to create long seating areas. We wanted to do the tour and for $10.00/person you receive 2 beers, the tour and a souvenir glass. Well worth the price compared to what we have paid for other tours. We had a bit of time before our tour started so we used our first token for our first glass of wonderful beer! Jon had a Paradise Park and I had a Paradise Nights. His being a lighter lager and mine an absolutely wonderful stout. The tour was great and so interesting to find out that they have only been brewing beer for about 3 years and are the 3rd largest brewery in LA. Our 2nd choice for our last token was an Oktoberfest and Paradise Park 100, a light. Great choice for the afternoon!
Back to Covington for the evening and we found ourselves with a quick trip to the local WalMart- yes we do frequent WalMart on our trips and then it was time for dinner. I’m not sure how we actually could have room for anything more to eat or drink, but somehow we always find a way to “choke” it down. We chose La Carreta, a Mexican spot that we have driven by a dozen times. It has a most delightful outdoor eating area, always my first choice, and it’s always packed. We are so happy we decided to finally try it out. I chose a chicken burrito wrap, a wheat tortilla filled with grilled chicken, spinach, refried black beans, & rice with a nice lemony cheese sauce drizzled over top. There was a small tortilla shell filled with pico, guacamole and sour cream and a side or tortilla soup. Jon chose a special dinner with a picadillo burrito, cheese enchilada, tinga tostada and picadillo taco. Each dish was delectable and probably some of the best Mexican food we have had outside of Mexico! We definitely will dine here again- and we won’t have to drive 45 minutes from the hotel!
One more stop to complete the day- Rouses’s Market. Yep, another thing we love to do on our trips is to check out the local supermarkets. One of our favorite excursions in Aruba was experiencing the gigantic supermarket filled with Danish products that we had never seen before. It truly is a cultural experience to check out the local supermarkets when traveling! So, anyway this is one of our favs. We usually end up here basically to see what wonderful local products we can take home with us. It’s a great place to pick up local beers and in NOLA the local coffees. Plus, the meat and seafood counters are always pretty interesting.
Well our time here is just about at an end as we relax in the hotel before heading out at 0 dark 30 in the morning. The car is partially loaded, we’ve gotten in a 3 mile walk trying to justify all we’ve eaten and drank the last couple of weeks and I think we are ready to be back home. Our own bed, shower and routine sounds pretty good right now… at least for a little while!
We arrived in Covington, our base for our continued road trip while in NOLA. We usually try to spend a few days here on our way back home after visiting our family. I truly believe the busyness of being in the area, finding new things to do, explore new food and also taking in some of the old tried and true spots helps to make leaving our family a tad bit easier.
A while back I had been researching for some different things to do outside of the Quarter. I came across Dong Phuong, apparently the oldest Vietnamese restaurant/bakery in NOLA, We tried it out on a Sunday, arriving in time for lunch and it was absolutely jam packed! What was so interesting was that it was the weekend before Mardi Gras and they had a ton, and I mean a ton, of people waiting to buy King Cakes that they were selling from their storage area in the back. We ate in the restaurant side and had an absolutely delightful lunch. But, we didn’t try the bakery side where they had the Banh Mi sandwiches, meat pies and a large variety of baked goods. The line waiting for people to get in had to be at least 1/4 mile long! So, today we decided we would try just the bakery side. Being a Friday it was a little bit quieter and we hardly had any type of a wait at all. I’m trying to expand my palate a little bit but I will be honest when I took a look at the different meats for the sandwiches I decided I would try the meat pie instead. I’m trying to be adventurous, but not at the expense of having a digestive problem while walking around the Quarter!! Jon chose a Vietnamese sausage bahn mi and I chose a chicken meat pie and a pork and onion pate chaud, We also chose a couple of baked goods. One of them being an almond type pastry and the other a mini lemon pie!!! Oh my gosh I could have just eaten the pastry and pie and forgotten the rest.
Our stomach satisfied we headed to the Quarter for the afternoon. The last couple of times we have been here it has been crazy busy and the lines for Cafe Du Monde were absolutely ridiculous. Even though we always catch the Cafe Du Monde here in Covington, to me it’s just not the same as sitting down at the French Quarter one where the floor and tables are covered in powdered sugar, the waiters with their cute little pointy server caps on their heads wait on you and bring you your order of delectable beignets and cafe au lait.
Our exploration continued with just walking around the Quarter, checking out some of our favorite shops, a wonderful beer at the Bourbon O one of our favs. We were surprised by how quiet it actually was around the Quarter, especially with it being a Friday.
We had already decided that one of our goals this trip was to try some of the more “inexpensive” restaurants. Or as we called them- cheap eats. It’s a challenge to find some as most places are so high priced. But, one spot we have always talked about trying was Dat Dog on Frenchmen Street. Oh we were so not disappointed! We decided to do a little bit of a dog tasting, along with a side trip of chicken. So we ordered a Guinness Dog, a classic brat infused with Guinness, a basic classic, just a Vienna Beef dog with ketchup and mustard, and a Dat Chick, a wonderfully in house brined breast grilled with dill pickle, tomatoes and onions. Oh and a side of Tater Tots! I never knew hot dogs and chicken sandwiches could taste sooooo good! Who says you have to eat fancy, dancy food while in NOLA?
So our day basically consisted of a great walk, great food and drinks and great people watching! I’m dreading hitting the scale next week when we return home.
Well today we are headed back south but that doesn’t mean we are finished experiencing new and old! We headed out of Omaha and were amazed at the amount of flooding there was in the area of Plattsmouth, NE. We had to cross this bridge that I think has spanned the river forever. Funny thing is it cost $1.50 to cross. It was one of those kinds of bridges that you really don’t want to linger on too long!
There is a horrific amount of flooding in the area with some exits closed, barns in the middle of water, grain bins tipped over and crops and fields totally lost. It’s been a rough year for the midwest.
Our destination today was St. Louis, one of our old stomping grounds. No trip to St. Louis is complete for us without a trip to Rigazzi’s and Ted Drewes. We spent many times filling our bellies with the delicious fare from both spots and they hold some very special memories for us dating all the way back to the 70’s when Jon was in seminary. When we lived in Litchfield, IL we introduced our sons to these iconic spots. So I will say that there truly is nothing better than a fishbowl of beer made special for Rigazzi’s, toasted Ravioli, pasta with mushrooms and italian sausage smothered with homemade sauce and a Ted Drewes concrete to top of a great day of travel.
Our trek continues south tomorrow to Covington, LA!
Another day in the life of gypsies on the road! Not only are we privileged to spend time basically doing nothing when we are in Omaha visiting our friends but we also are honored to be able to help with their Omaha Against Hunger packing events. I will admit that although it is alot of work it is something so worth it when I think of the number of meals that are packed in a short 45 min. (6500+ meals today). This was actually one of the easier ones to do as in the past some of them have had upwards of 10,000 meals packed which means several hours of lots of people. It’s energetic, fun, exciting, hard work and totally worth it! And…. we also were treated to one of our favorite Omaha comfort foods- Valentino’s pizza! If you know anything about Lincoln or Omaha, NE you know what an icon Valentino’s is. It hasn’t changed at all and was just as tasty as ever!