Vacation: New Orleans

Last week I had the opportunity to take Bernadette and Elizabeth to New Orleans.

See photos here.

This was my first time going. I was warned against taking a trip to New Orleans in the middle of August. I went anyway – and if you’re going with a family, I’d suggest that this is the time frame to go in.

We did have some rain, but it served as a nice cold drink of water. It rained for like ten minutes each day, and when it stopped – the weather felt great.

It’s not pronounced New Orleens, it’s not pronounced, N’Awlins, it’s more like, Nw’Aarliins. There is a hard W in the word when those native to the area pronounce it. I will abbreviate it as NOLA for the rest of this post.

I tried to design the vacation to be a collection of experiences. And with that said, as a vegan, the food spots were identified up front, and the activities were loosely planned around the location of each restaurant.

Before I get started on describing the vacation, I should say that first and foremost, it really is a tourist city. The French Quarter (FQ) is all Airbnb’d, and those that remain in the FQ help facilitate the tourist economy that exists. It seems that the effects of Katrina are long reaching and NOLA will probably never recover. Two million people left the city after the storm. That’s crazy.

What to do

But with that said, the city is really good at tourism. There are plenty of tours for all ages – pirate tours, vampire tours, ghost tours, voodoo tours. It’s kind of difficult to choose from the array of tours. And if you decide on a ghost tour, you have to decide on which ghost tour you’d like to do. I went knowing I wanted to do tours, but I was taken aback by the variety and quantity offered.


With regards to lodging, there are plenty of hotels, and of course, plenty of Airbnb’s. We stayed at an Airbnb for $67 a night. It had a great kitchen and it was directly between two vegan restaurants that were on the very short list of vegan eateries.


Walking. It’s that simple. Taxi’s are per person – for example, to get from airport to where you are staying, it’s $15 per person. If you are planning a tour outside of the FQ, most likely, there is a tour bus or shuttle that will take you. Food, restaurants, shopping are all located in walking distance from where ever you are. No need to rent a car.

Our Schedule and Activities

Don’t want to make this post too long – so I’ll do a separate post on the tours and the food. But below is our schedule of what we did.

The links will take you to the photo album of the event.

Odds and Ends

We flew in and arrived to our Airbnb in a taxi. We asked the taxi driver about local supermarkets. He pointed us to Walmart and Whole Foods. Whole Foods it is. We settled, then called another taxi to take us to Whole Foods. He pointed us instead to the local grocery story, Rouse’s (I believe it’s called). There they had everything we needed including a food bar, and it was way cheaper than Whole Foods. The food bar had the best brussels sprouts I ever tried. One trip to the grocery store was all we needed for the trip. In retrospect, maybe we should have purchased another loaf of bread.

Regarding our Airbnb, it advertised that we had wifi, but we didn’t. And TV was dependent upon one’s ability to cast from a laptop or smart phone to the chromecast. Since we had no wifi – we had no tv. We didn’t have wifi until Wednesday. And still, even after we got wifi, we weren’t able to cast because I had to download apps and at that point I was just happy to have wifi. I got what I paid for. The company that provided the place was Sonder. They have Airbnb’s in most major vacation destinations, and position themselves as next level hotel. That’s great, but if I paid a bit more, I would have had TV. I won’t use them again.

The first day

We decided to walk into the French Quarter to familiarize ourselves with the city and to talk to locals about recommendations. As we were walking into FQ, which was about a 15 minute walk, we ran into very nice lady trying to sell time shares. Turns out because I was the only adult I didn’t qualify for the presentation, and couldn’t get the discounts for the tours at the other end of the presentation, but she gave me all the information I needed to structure the vacation for the rest of the week. Thanks.

Our mission was to head over to the French Market and get a vegan crepe, and get Bernadette a biegnet from Cafe Du Monde. CDM was on the way so we stopped there first. That was a serious line. Then off to the crepes. Yummy. That night we ate in. The crepes were really good. And because we had not TV, we picked up some books, which were all devoured by Thursday.

The route we took was simply up and down Decatour street, which is like an urban boardwalk. They were selling the same things in every store, and there were tour brochures on every corner.

The good

History. NOLA is known for debauchery and Mardi Gras. But beneath all of that is a history that makes all of that possible. It’s really worth visiting and taking in sites that will help piece that history together. It makes your time there so much more meaningful. If you’re interested in this, take tours that focus on historical context as opposed to gimmicky ones. Of course, you can always take the gimmicky ones. Understanding the history will put the food and music into perspective. For example, gumbo is the major food. A key ingredient to gumbo is okra. Do you know the origin of okra? Ahh – they covered that in the Whitney Plantation tour. Ladies used to put seeds in their braids as they were brought from Africa.

What about Jazz?

It was everywhere. NOLA is the birthplace of jazz. Still not sure why Utah’s basketball team is called the Jazz. Jazz as talked about in the voodoo tour we went on, as well as in the Whitney Plantation tour. We even swung by Congo Square. The birth place of jazz. Preservation Hall is a must. And honestly, just walk down Bourbon St. at any time during the day. It’s in the air in that city.


It wasn’t as hard as it seems. Seed, Cafe Carmo, but most surprisingly, The Gumbo Shop. Rouse’s also had a nice vegan section in the grocery. And the food there was great.

The bad

Alligator claw keychains. These were every where. Alligator jaws. Why are these being sold?


It was fantastic. I would recommend going in August with younger children. It gets hot, but it isn’t crowded. Make sure you hit the Whitney. That is a must.

Burning the rain forest to make room for Brazilian cattle industry

Cattle ranching is “the largest driver of deforestation in every Amazon country, accounting for 80 percent of current deforestation rates,” according to researchers at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies.

Greenwashing, political influence, destroying the Amazon – This story has it all.

The Amazon is being burned down to make way for the cattle industries to meet the demand for Brazilian beef, and it’s backed by a major investment firm that touts Corporate Social Responsibility, BlackRock investments, and is a huge backer of Joe Biden.

JBS, the exporter of Brazilian beef, is mainly responsible for this. JBS is backed by not only BlackRock, but other investment firms such as, Capital Group, Fidelity Investments, and Vanguard.

So let piece this together, the Amazon is being burned to satisfy the markets demand for beef.

Is it possible that if the demand for beef didn’t exist, that maybe JBS wouldn’t be killing the rain forest?

Don’t complain about environmental regulations being pulled back: Just go vegan

Our president has been successful in pulling back all kinds of consumer and environmental regulations and protections. It was expected. He promised this all along.

He is sacrificing long term stability for short term gains. This will come back to haunt everybody in the end.

He will continue doing this. He will also continue to attempt to gut access to adequate healthcare. No need to complain. He is proven to be above the law and is just ignoring the world’s cries.

So – what are you going to do about it?

It’s simple: money talks – go vegan. By going vegan, you will invest in products, and live a lifestyle, that considerably reduces harm to the environment and to yourself.

This will send a true environmental message and give a big middle finger to the White House, and to the corporations manufacturing and processing items that are ultimately killing us, and the environment.

What’s that saying? If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the …….


A global switch to diets that rely less on meat and more on fruit and vegetables could save up to 8 million lives by 2050, reduce greenhouse gas emissions by two thirds, and lead to healthcare-related savings and avoided climate damages of $1.5 trillion (US) , Oxford Martin School researchers have found. (Source)


Random thought: Knowing when to know

Knowledge may hinder. Ignorance may liberate. Knowing when to know and when not to know, this is as important as a fluent blade.

Suzeme-No-Kumo (1434)

Sounds interesting, right? But learning everything in a when-to-know situation might be too late. If one is trying to catch up, one can be drinking from a knowledge fire hose without time to process.

This advice can apply to an executives or presidents trying to distance themselves from bad practices they know exist, but don’t want to get into the details of. For example, FBI investigations and reports on collusion…it’s a way of protecting oneself from the truth and staying out of jail.

This advice also makes for bad long-term planning.

But on the other hand, following it can lead to more fluid reactions, and a stress-free lifestyle–so there’s that; a relax and see-what-comes type of thing, as opposed to anticipation and worrying. I like that part of it.

It’s probably also good for chess and for battle for the super prepared and super trained—like the ninja, hence the sword reference. A sword is only as good as the one wielding it.

Otherwise, back into the advice jar for you–but i’ll keep a copy of it in my pocket.

Processed foods make us fat – Washington Post

Found this article today, How Processed food makes us fat. More vegan options are becoming available, and although they are plant-based, it doesn’t mean that they are healthier for us in the long run. Yes, it’s better to have vegan processed foods as opposed to animal based processed foods, but it doesn’t take away the fact that they, nonetheless, processed foods, and are still unhealthy.


Chocolate, RIP

So it’s been a while since my last update here. Needless to say, a lot has happened. The biggest update has do do with Chocolate. She passed in November during the Thanksgiving break. It’s been hard on us.

We now have a new companion, Peppernoof. We call her Pepper for short. She is approximately 2 years old and mixed breed – terrier mostly. She was a stray from North Carolina and the Providence Animal Center rescued her, and in turn, we brought her home. She still has some PTSD from being on the streets, but she and Shazam are getting along great. They are playing a lot and she has been awesome. Shazam selected her. But I don’t think Shazam had any idea how much she likes to play–Pepper doesn’t know how to stop playing. I think they are getting more comfortable with each other.

Pepper has helped, but we still miss Chocolate’s barking and overall innocence. We had her for 13 years and since she was a puppy. For the about ten of those years she was our only companion. She was with Bernadette since Bernadette was 2 and Elizabeth has always been with her.

A friend told me something that touched me in a text as I was explaining the story of how we lost Chocolate, “our hearts grow each time we love. What’s real is love, and that, in any space, makes the world a beautiful place. I’m sorry for your loss, but thank you for adding love to the world.”

We can make the world a better place through the love we give. Chocolate made our world a better place.