Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Big 4-0 in the Big Easy!


1. The ARCHITECTURE was stunning.

In the Garden District:

The wrought-iron balconies were a.maz.ing

2. BEADS WERE EVERYWHERE. I asked a local why someone doesn't come around after Mardi Gras and take down the beads that accidentally land on the trees, street signs and stoplights. She looked at me like I was crazy - "Why would we???" I loved seeing trees covered in beads!
Where else in the entire WORLD would you find this?

3. The JAZZ MUSIC was as ubiquitous as the iron work in the French Quarter, and I could have sat for hours and just listened to all the street musicians. (Although for every fabulous jazz ensemble, there was someone standing around singing off-key hoping for some cash.)

We spent an evening at Preservation Hall, this little dive that consisted of nothing more than wooden benches and great jazz.

It was such a tiny place, and we were able to get seats right up front, next to the Emmy award winning drummer.

4. The HISTORY was fascinating. We were able to see a couple old sugar plantations, including the original slave homes. (The US History teacher in me was totally intrigued by this!)

Diamond in front of Oak Alley Plantation - beautiful! (Gorgeous 300 year old trees!!!)

Plus the French Quarter has a ton of buildings that date back 300+ years. Love it!
5. It's a BUCKET LIST thing. I've been to almost every state in the US, but somehow have never made it to the deep South. Plus Diamond had wanted to go and see what it was like. Since he was turning 40, and half in the grave (see below!) it was fun to see someplace new.

LaFayette Cemetery #1, famous for all the mausoleums. (We also got to see the grave of Judge Ferguson, from the precedent setting Plessy v. Ferguson case.)

6. It's a PARTY TOWN. I love that people on their balconies were randomly throwing beads into crowds on an ordinary Tuesday afternoon. And I felt ridiculously cool that I managed to catch some of those beads while in New Orleans!

What I did NOT like about New Orleans:

1. OH MY GOSH it is HOT! 90' and 90% humidity left me wilting and grouchy. Add that to the fact that since we stayed in the French Quarter we walked everywhere. I was plain exhausted a good bit of the time.

Even if it never rained, I swear all this greenery could just drink in the air!

2. While everyone goes on and on about the great FOOD in Nola, I'm not a fan of seafood and was homesick for some ol' Colorado type Mexican. (I ordered nachos at Hard Rock Cafe - loser, I know!) The one exception were the super delicious beignets at Cafe du Monde. Yeah, had those twice.

3. BOURBON STREET certainly deserves its reputation as one of the world's biggest party streets. I could handle the bars and the drunks, but when a strange woman began to solicit my husband with (I swear I'm not kidding) "Hey Big Boy!"?!? Eww. Eww. Eww.

All in all? Although I have no particular desire to go back, I'm glad we went. But I do wonder if we maybe did it wrong - there was so much to see and we pushed pretty hard to see it ALL, up early every morning, and going strong all day. It was not much of a "Big Easy" trip for us. I kinda wish we could have figured out a way to come on business - less pressure to see everything, more down time....

No matter. It was a great surprise for Diamond, and a fabulous way to turn 40!

Saturday, May 8, 2010


For the last several years, I have been putting aside $20 a month in the name of Diamond's 40th birthday. As his birthday got closer, I started selling some of my scrapbook tools on Craig's List, etc. and by the time I put it all together I had enough for a quick trip somewhere in the US.

Of course Diamond knew nothing about any of this.

Our flight was scheduled to leave at 10:30 Sunday morning, so I got up like I was going to my morning leadership church meetings, but came home shortly after because there was a (pretend) emergency, and Diamond and I needed to quickly head up to the hospital. (Really, it was a totally reasonable scenario.) He quickly put on his suit and we dropped the kids off at my parents before heading up to the "hospital".

About 3/4 of the way to the airport, I told him we were actually going to the airport. His first response? Grumpy.

"What about work?" Vacation time had been pre-approved
"I don't have any clothes!" Our packed bag was in the back.
"What about my Sunday School lesson?" I had organized a substitute.
"How are we paying for this?" Taken care of.

When he was finally convinced that all the details had been taken care of, he started to enjoy the process. Here he is changing into travel clothes at the airport parking lot:

"Where are we going?" was his next question. I wanted to keep him in the dark for as long as possible. While we were in line at security I taunted him; "Think of it, you could be ANYWHERE in the US by lunchtime!!!"

We got all the way to the terminal without him figuring out where we were headed. As I approached the sign which would tell me which gate was ours, Diamond said "Come on! You have to pick a side!!!" Nope! I stood right in the middle and closely looked at each and every screen.
Diamond was thinking Phoenix, or maybe New Orleans. But there were also gates leaving for Orlando, San Diego and Salt Lake. "We better NOT be going to Salt Lake!" (Reason #394 why I married him!)

As we passed by the Phoenix sign, he said "I think we're going there." "Maybe!" "Well, I'm sitting down!" So we sat in the Phoenix waiting area for a bit, then I got up and suggested we keep walking around. We basically did the same thing at the Orlando gate.

Then I spotted a flight that was boarding, headed to New Orleans and we got in line. "So we're going to New Orleans?" I told him that he should know me well enough to know that I would stand in the wrong line, just to throw him off. Then again, this could be our flight...

It wasn't until we gave our tickets to the airline worker and actually got on the plane that Diamond knew where we were going: New Orleans, LA.

I had originally envisioned a beach somewhere, but with our recent cruise, I opted for New Orleans, a place we had never been and were curious to explore. Plus Diamond had mentioned a few times that he would love to go there. Once we were settled into our seats, I handed him some travel books and he read up on "Nola" the whole way there.

Day O' Fun

For Diamond's 40th birthday, we decided to surprise him with a Day O' Fun. (Actually, this whole day was created just to throw him off of the bigger surprise that was coming the next day.)

We started with a nice breakfast of creepes and cinnamon rolls. We can never do breakfast in bed with him - he's always up too early! When he was done eating, we presented him with his first of several envelopes - that had a little poem which provided a clue as to where we would be going next: a tour of Coors Field.

In the visitor's locker room:

The highlight of the tour was getting to go down by the field and in the dug out.

Just another game at Coors Field:

In the dug out:

After lunch at Smashbrother (yum!) we were off for some baseball and ice-cream:

Ouch! Those numbers have to hurt!!!

Then we headed to dinner at Texas Roadhouse, where a few of his friends were able to surprise him!


Our Day O' Fun was a lot of, well, fun. However, it was NOTHING compared to what was coming the next morning...

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Easter 2010

Some pictures from our Easter morning:

And, of coures, another hunt at Nanna's: