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Wednesday, August 10, 2011

New Orleans, Louisiana - The Secret Trip

You might have guessed from my last post that I would write about this next.

As a part of our 6th anniversary celebration, Judd planned a vacation as a surprise for me.  I knew he had something up his sleeve because my anniversary card from him indicated that there would be travel in our immediate future.  He didn’t tell me where we were going.  In fact, he wasn’t going to tell me when we were going either. 

Except this happened……

Two weeks prior to Independence Day, while walking our dog one evening,  Judd mentioned to me that he wanted to go to Brewton, AL (his hometown) two weekends in a row.  As you all now know, I was consumed by school at that point.  When he mentioned the plan to go home I questioned my ability to travel two consecutive weekends.  You see, we already had plans to visit Brewton for Independence Day.  When I said that, I noticed Judd hesitate.  I could tell he was thinking about something.  We continued the rest of our evening as normal.

The next morning, Judd asked me if I really would be unable to travel due to my course load.  I said that if there was something important he needed to do in Brewton or if it was really important to him to go that weekend, that I would go, but he needed to let me know in advance so that I could get all of my readings, papers, homework assignments, etc. finished ahead of time.

Basically I ruined a major part of my surprise--The fact that he was going to take me on an amazing, and much needed, surprise vacation.  He proceeded to tell me that he had a surprise trip planned for us that weekend and that Brewton was not our destination.  He also told me that he had already called my office and asked for me to have a day off in order to make it a three day weekend.  What a sweetheart.  I, of course, said that I would do everything in my power to make sure I would be available.  He still wouldn’t tell me where we were going though.

He tried to trick me all week.  He would “accidently” drop clues like boat, or plane, or beach, etc.  Eventually, I had a feeling it was a car trip because I knew he wouldn’t really slip up and tell me.  He is too good at keeping fun surprises a secret

In turn, I wanted to do something special for him since he went well out of his way to plan something for me.  So, I packed us a travel basket filled with his favorite goodies (and a few of mine too).  Since he usually gets home from work before me, I left it on our kitchen counter for him to find with a note that said “open me”.



We grabbed the basket and our luggage and hit the road.  Oh, we grabbed the dog too.  At this point, I was pretty sure we were headed south in order for Judd’s parents to doggysit for us while we were away.  Sure enough, I was right about the first leg of our trip.  We drove to Brewton to spend the night.

The next morning we got an early start.  At this point, I thought we were headed to the beach.  But then our car turned for Mobile, AL.  Naturally, at that point, I thought that Mobile was our destination.  Judd, in an attempt to throw me off of his trail, even faked a call to our friend Tripp (a local Mobilian) to see if he wanted to have lunch.  You can imagine my surprise when instead of taking the Mobile exit off the interstate we headed for Mississippi.

Around lunch time, we stopped in the beautiful town of Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  It reminded me so much of Fairhope, AL.  Both cities are lovely, up-scale, artsy retirement communities.  We had a tasty seafood lunch at McElroy’s on the Bayou.

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At this point I figured we were either going to Biloxi or New Orleans.  NOLA it was.  We arrived at our hotel and immediately headed for the French Quarter.  We stopped in at Harrah’s Casino first.  We lost a total of $20 and called it quits. 

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Then, we walked down to Jackson Square.  Gosh, that place is so beautiful.  Don’t let the overcast sky fool you, even with the breeze of the mighty Mississippi it was hotter than you know where in New Orleans in June.

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Afterward’s we cooled off with a few Abita’s (Louisiana’s premier craft beer) at one of Judd’s favorite NOLA bars, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar.

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We decided to walk with our drinks and take a tour on foot to see the beauty and details of New Orleans.  We soaked up as much as we could.  Everything in that city has such charm.  The weathered and aged patina everywhere we looked combined with the sounds and smells of a port city caused true sensory overload.  I LOVED it.

Judd wanted to make sure I didn’t miss out on my first hurricane.  After our walk, he took me Pat O’Brien’s to cool off yet again.

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We then walked back to our hotel to get dressed for dinner.  Judd took me to Antoine’s.  Gosh, it was delicious.

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We spent the rest of the evening walking in the French Quarter and on Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street, as expected, was a little crazy.  We quickly moved on to other parts of the French Quarter.

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The next morning, Judd took me to Commander’s Palace for Sunday Jazz Brunch.  To say that this was the best atmosphere, food, and service I have ever experienced at a restaurant would be an understatement.  IT WAS INCREDIBLE!!!!!

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We captured a video of the fantastic Jazz musicians who played tableside during brunch.  They found out were from Birmingham and played Tuxedo Junction just for us.


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The chefs made our already amazing dining experience even better by writing a special note on our dessert plates.  Also, catch a glimpse of Judd’s to-die-for bread pudding.

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To burn off some calories after brunch, we took a pleasant trolley ride to Audubon Park where we walked and enjoyed the splendor and serenity of the park.  I was amazed when we stepped off the car to see that Loyola University and Tulane University were literally next door to one another.  Both were just across from the entrance to the park.New-Orleans-June-2011 089New-Orleans-June-2011 060

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While walking through the park (and pretty much during our entire trip) we photographed more of the New Orleans vernacular and style including lanterns, landscaping, and homes.  I even found a little DIY project while I was there.  Isn’t this sign with house numbers amazing?  I think part of an old door or old cabinet front would work well when making this on my own.  I wanted to share it so that you could make one too.

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I still can’t get over these lanterns.

Seriously, look at these homes.  They are all so beautiful.  Also, Fab look at the largest image below.  Do you see what I see?  I’m thinking Fab compound for sure.  (Faithful readers, if you don’t know what I just referred to you can catch up with this post.)

Check out this stunning landscaping.

Here are some other fun things we did while we were in The Big Easy.  We peaked through the gates at a historic above-ground cemetery, shopped on Magazine Street, ate macaroons and gelato at Sucre, drove around the Superdome (the home of Judd’s favorite NFL team), and played a few rounds of Bananagrams in our hotel room.  Judd won.

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On Monday morning, before heading back to Brewton to pick up our furbaby, we stopped in at Cafe Du Monde for some delicious beignets and French roast coffee.

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After devouring our beignets in what seemed like seconds, we took one final look at the Mississippi, jumped in the car, and headed down the road.

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We had a blast.  I highly recommend each restaurant and attraction mentioned in this post.  Have you ever been to any of the places mentioned?  What do you recommend?


  1. It looks like you had a lovely trip! I'm glad you were surprised and got a bit of relaxation amidst the craziness of school. So glad that we'll be seeing you guys in October...even if it is for a very short stay! Love you guys!

  2. That bread pudding looks FAN-FRIGGIN-TASTIC!!! So glad you had fun on your trip! New Orleans holds a special place with me because Justin proposed in front of Jackson Square. Can't wait to see what the rest of the surprises were!

  3. yall are so cute!! i love looking at all your pics!! :)