Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler!
It means “let the good times roll” in Cajun French, (pronounced lay-say le bon tom roo-lay) and is the official greeting of Mardi Gras. We missed Mardi Gras by about a month but did make New Orleans on Palm Sunday, April 2, 2023.
We entered Louisiana on April 1 after leaving Texas and drove from Lone Star Flight Museum, south of Houston the 185 miles to Egan, Louisiana. While en-route we decided to "go native" and stopped for some authentic Cajun food at a local establishment. We indulged in Fried Catfish, Red Beans and Rice, Shrimp Gumbo, and finished off with some Hushpuppies. Thirty minutes later we arrived for the night at the Cajun Haven RV Park. We wanted to get an early start on Sunday to maximize our visit to the "Big Easy"so we left the truck still hooked up to the fifth wheel. Spent the evening watching YouTube videos on raising, harvesting and processing local Crawfish. We needed to also learn how to eat the "mud bugs" at a Crawfish boil.
Sunday morning, 8:30 AM we pulled out of site #1 and drove east the 163 miles through Lafayette to Barton Rouge across the Mississippi River (the big muddy) to Mandeville, Louisiana. We had reservations for one night at Fontainebleau State Park. This beautiful 2,800-acre park is located on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain, just 26 miles across from New Orleans. The crumbling brick ruins of a sugar mill were built in 1829 by Bernard de Marigny de Mandeville, founder of the nearby town of Mandeville, and suggested an interesting history for this site, and indeed there is. The wealthy Marigny developed this area across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans as a sugar plantation until 1852. The plantation income helped support his lavish lifestyle. He named his large landholding Fontainebleau after the beautiful forest near Paris, a favorite recreation area of the French kings. But our time for seeing this park had to take a back seat to our one day visit seeing New Orleans. This park is a definite "do over" when we come back west in the winter months. We want to have time to explore the many bike trails and historic sights.
We set up the RV site as quickly as possible and loaded up the truck to drive the 45 minutes across the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway to New Orleans. After finding parking near the French Market in the French Quarter we took off by foot the find the On/Off Tour Bus available to get an overview of the city. This 90 minute tour was the last of the day, so we stayed onboard and made mental notes of the places we'd like to explore on foot. The tour included a live narration of the sights we got to see. Frankly, this is the way to see a big city initially. We avoided the traffic and got a bird's eye view from this double-decker, open road bus. From the tour we walked a section of the famous Bourbon Street. The narrow street is lined with picturesque wooden and brick buildings with stylized wrought-iron fences around their balconies and porches. The city also has "colorful" people ranging the entire spectrum from the sublime to the disturbing. We were warned to be extra vigilant of people of the unsavory type, but we had no problems the entire day.
We ended the visit before sunset and drove back to Mandeville to have dinner at the Felix restaurant. There we enjoyed a family-style meal of Crawfish boil, Jambalaya, Crawfish Étouffée, a shrimp PoBoy sandwich with fries, and a Caesar salad. After walking 4 miles in The Big Easy we all had the appetite to eat every last morsel. We finished the night with one last stop to get some beignets for dessert. Louisiana-style beignets are square or rectangular fried pastries made from leavened dough rather than choux pastry. In New Orleans, they are best known as a breakfast item served with powdered sugar on top. They are traditionally prepared to be eaten fresh and hot before consumption.
We got plenty in for our one day visit to New Orleans. Morgan (aka Milo) is having a good time on our adventure and Karen and I are enjoying her company.