Things often work out in unexpected ways, like being in New Orleans for Mardi Gras. This was never in our plans when we decided to tour the country, it just kind of worked out that way. The Carnival celebration of Mardi Gras is often portrayed as being more of an adult type of celebration. People getting crazy, drinking, and other un-family friendly activities are what many people associate with Mardi Gras. These things probably do happen, but the Mardi Gras we experienced was not like that at all. It focused on parades, families, crowds, and good times being had by all. It is really about the floats and their themes. These floats are so cool and so well designed, it’s hard to believe they put so much work into them just for this one celebration. The parades were awesome and the throws were crazy, it’s like no other parade we have ever experienced.. They throw out so much stuff (not just beads)! We left after only seeing one of the parade krewes because we had bags full of stuff, it was so incredible. The kids were having so much fun trying to get the good loot that we couldn’t help but let them. All the people on the floats (krewes) wear costumes and masks or paint their faces. It was an amazing experience to be there and I am so glad that we somehow ended up being a part of it.
If you are ever near New Orleans, then I would recommend taking a few hours to enjoy a cruise on the Mississippi River. The Steamboat Natchez is the last authentic steamboat left plying it’s trade on the river (their competitor has diesel engines). When we first went to get our tickets, the ship was playing music with it’s steam. It’s called the Calliope concerts and they hold them twice a day. You can hear the music from the French Quarter and it’s free to check out the boat and listen to the concert. Plus there is a great walking path that takes you along the Mississippi River and the edge of the French Quarter.
Sometimes we come across hidden gems on our adventure. Baton Rouge has an amazing capitol and I will get to that soon, but the old capitol building has been turned into a free museum and it looks like a castle! The spiral staircase with a stained glass dome could be the most spectacular stairway we have seen yet. The museum had tons of Baton Rouge and Louisiana history, plus a display about modern times in Baton Rouge. Across the street is a walking path next to the Mississippi river with a destroyer, museums, fountains and artwork scattered around making it a pleasant place to walk. The kids found plenty of Mardi Gras beads from the parade the previous weekend and we are looking forward to actually seeing a parade soon.