Academic Leigh Speaking

A professor, four kids, and a crash course in work/life balance

New Orleans with Kids, Part One April 20, 2014

We got back super late last night from our wonderful trip to New Orleans. When I heard that a friend, who I’ve known for more than 20 years was getting married in New Orleans, I knew I had to go. When I discovered that kids were welcome at the wedding, I spent some time trying to figure out how to bring mine along.

We considered renting a house/condo with another family for the few nights, but ultimately went with the Hyatt Place by the convention center for its daily breakfast buffet and proximity to the things we wanted to see and do. This post is not about taking kids to the traditional kid friendly things in NOLA–ie the zoo, aquarium, children’s museum–because we didn’t do any of those things. We have access to all that stuff in DC or other places we go regularly. Instead, we did New Orleans things. The boys had such a good time that they woke up this morning and said, “I wish we were still in New Orleans.”

BUS DIVERSION: Our first gig was to get to the hotel. Our flight arrived at noon on Wednesday, so we too the E2 bus from the New Orleans Airport into downtown. On the weekdays, the bus costs $2 and drops you right downtown at an easy corner to catch a streetcar on Canal Street to head toward the convention center or the French Quarter. (The way back to the airport was a little trickier, but we managed through some good luck and talking to locals. Because it was Saturday, the E2 doesn’t come into downtown, so you have to get out to the parish line to catch the bus. We accomplished that by taking a streetcar to Elk Place (Saratoga) and catching the 39 Tulane bus out to S. Carrollton Street, where the E2 picks up. The bus stop on the Jefferson side of Carrollton does not have the E2 marked as a bus that stops there, but it does. You could also take the St. Charles Streetcar to S. Carrollton and walk about about 10 minutes to the stop.)

The boys kind of enjoy taking the bus. This time, they learned that the cord is how you signal the driver that you want to stop and get off. This amused me, because they’re used to riding Metro where the train makes all the stops. Patrick and I were laughing a little about our tendency to drag them into cheap, public transportation situations that our parents would not have considered back when we traveled as youngsters with them. For us, it was because we usually arrived really late to an airport, after buses had stopped running. (Side note: We noticed too, that the airports are shutting down really early it seemed. At 11:00 we were one of the last flights into Dulles. Departing at 8:00, we were one of the last flights out of Chicago Midway.) All in all, we paid about $20.00 total for airport transportation. A cab would have run us $60 each way. Also, the boys think buses, streetcars, and public transport in general is an adventure.

Wow. 500 words and we’re barely in the city. This is either going to be epic, or a two parter.

On Wednesday, we were exhausted, so we ordered some food from a nearby restaurant, ate in the room and took a nap. When we woke up, Patrick had received a text from friends letting us know that on Wednesday evenings, in Lafayette Park there would be music and food trucks all benefiting a local charity. It was free, but you buy food while you’re there. It was about 8 blocks away, so we walked. The boys weren’t super hungry, so I got them a crepe with banana and Nutella. Gilbert was in a mood and refused to taste the crepe, but once he saw Seamus’s joy in it, he grudgingly came around. The temperature was perfect, and the music was great. There was a good sized crowd, but we still found a spot in the sun to enjoy our little picnic.

Thursday, we were up early to eat breakfast at the hotel. We went for a quick walk afterward to try to find where we catch the streetcar for the wedding. It was sunny and nice when we walked past the National World War II museum–who knew this was in New Orleans? We also walked past the Children’s Museum, and it was closed at 8:30 in the morning, but the boys peeked in the window to see the skeleton riding a bicycle.

Our friend Bon came down from Baton Rouge to join us for a walk in the French Quarter. It was the boys’ first beingets. They loved them. Obviously. There’d be something wrong with them if they didn’t like fried dough with powered sugar. A classic moment occurred: Gilbert drank most of the milk I ordered for the boys to wash down their food. Seamus had some at the end, and because the carton was greasy, he dropped it on the sidewalk. I fussed at him, picked it up, bumped into him, and dropped it myself. Everyone but Seamus laughed. I think we’ve got to ease up on him and his clumsiness, because really, he comes by it honestly, and he really can’t help it. So the next morning when he spilled his Rice Krispies, I didn’t fuss at him, and a good thing, because I followed it up with dropping a few things myself. Beingets were some of their favorite things from the trip.

Ahh, too sunny!

Ahh, too sunny!

Right before we left, we made another trip, this time it was sunny and beautiful and we watched the riverboats while we ate.

Gilbert loves milk and beingets.

Gilbert loves milk and beingets.

On Thursday, though, it was a little cold and spitting rain on us. Still warmer than DC, so I’m not complaining! We walked up to Louis Armstrong park, a place I haven’t been before. There were so many interesting sculptures and fountains in the park. Bonny knew its more sinister history; it used to be a slave market, and there is an area of the park dedicated to a drum circle to rid the park of the evil. The boys were particularly interested in the statue of Big Chief Tootie Montana:

and wanted to know if he had a baby in his belly about to pop out. Bonny explained that at Mardi Gras, there is a parade where the New Orleans Indians dress up and that was part of his costume. On the other side are more faces.

On our way to the park Gilbert had to go–it wasn’t going to be pretty. And we were in the French Quarter, a place notoriously low on places for kids to potty. It worked out though, when we found the Ace Hardware on N. Rampart, and they took pity on us. It was the cleanest bathroom I have ever seen. Seriously.

And, it looks like a two-parter. I already have the photos uploaded, so I’ll add more later. There’s more, when we ride the ferry and the streetcar and go to the wedding!

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2 Responses to “New Orleans with Kids, Part One”

  1. George Hardy Says:

    I knew that the WWII museum was in NO. A total whitewash of Ike. The truth hurts.


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