I had the amazing opportunity to attend this year's historic Mardi Gras festivities in New Orleans, LA. Five years after the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina and two days after the New Orleans Saints won their first Super Bowl, my friends and I drove from North Carolina to the Bayou to celebrate.
I was kindly invited by my friend, Cassie Kelley, to attend this years festivities with her and her family. I was greeted with an amazingly warm welcome that I soon discovered was typical of the kind people of New Orleans. I spent a fabulous four days in Louisiana eating delicious cajun cuisine, attending parades, listening to locals chanting "who dat who dat who dat say gonna beat dem saints!", and having a great time overall.
After a 13 hour drive, anticipation was rising as we neared New Orleans (above). The sign above reads 93 miles to New Orleans. Below, the trusty GPS points us towards New Orleans!
Driving into the city (below).
The first of many delicious cajun restaurants! This is a favorite of Cassie's grandmother (below)
Sara enjoys some warm gumbo (below). Just looking at this photo makes me want another bowl.
New Orleans is a fabulous and colorful city (to say the least)
Downtown parades (below) on Friday.
A flambeau carrier gives me a grin (below).
The dancers and baton twirlers roughed the unusually-cold weather and danced their hearts out (below).
At the Krewe D'Etat Parade (below).
Doubloons being thrown from a float (below).
The start of the Muses parade, a popular all women parade (below) and my personal favorite of the evening.
The next day, we attended my first crawfish boil (below).
I had a little too much fun photographing the crawfish!! (below) I had even more fun eating them!
The New Orleans skyline as seen from the ferry (below).
All the downtown shops were peddling Mardi Gras and Superbowl merchandise (below).
Even the dogs in New Orleans were having fun people-watching (below)!
From the balcony on Bourbon St. (below)
A float from the Grand Isle Parade, a smaller local parade outside of New Orleans (below).
The ground in Grand Isle after the parades (below). Lovely, yes?
On the ferry (below) heading into New Orleans.
The local balconies were exquisitely decorated.
Cassie and Robbie Kelley outside of the Cafe Du Monde gift shop (below). These newlyweds (I photographed their wedding this past summer in Wilmington, NC) were spectacular travel companions!
Cassie and Robbie, Thanks so much for having me tag along to all the good times! Trudy and Gary, thanks for letting us stay with you guys and for the hospitality (and delicious breakfast, po boys, coffee, etc...), Cassie's entire family: thanks for treating all of us like members of the family and for showing a group of North Carolina kids what it means to be cajun! Sara, Kennedy, Jason, Meredith, and Chad: Thanks for the unforgettable memories. What a great time!