No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Thursday, January 26, 2017


January 12, 2017


Our first two days in New Orleans were rather chilly, the same cold front that had delayed our arrival also brought a front of cold air to the entire South and made the warm clothes we brought come in handy. It was mostly sunny, but temperatures hovered near freezing for a couple of days.

We did not let the chill air impact our plans and we continued to spend the days in advance of wedding activities just exploring and enjoying the city, trying to visit new areas that we had not been as well as take in more traditional tourist type attractions.

One of the major attractions, located on the Mississippi Riverfront at the foot of Canal Street is the New Orleans Aquarium, known as the Aquarium of the Americas. The world-class aquarium is part of the trifecta of Audubon Institute attractions that also includes the New Orleans Zoo and Insectarium.

The aquarium features of 600 species of animals with over 15,000 sea life creatures ranging from all manner of fish to sea otters and even penguins. The huge Caribbean exhibit features a walk through tunnel where you are literally surrounded by sharks, rays, sea turtles and thousands of colorful reef fish.

It is also home to one of the extremely rare white alligator of which only 18 are known to exist. The alligator which is not an albino, but rather a rare genetic anomaly is pretty cool to see, there are also a couple on display at the Zoo.

There is also a wide variety of art to be found in New Orleans and Kathy and I both enjoy outsider, folk art, street art and just about any unconventional artwork. There is plenty to see in New Orleans and we had a few places on our list of places to see including the Frenchman Art Market and Dr. Bob’s Folk Art studio in Bywater.

We started on Frenchman Street, which itself is a fairly fascinating area that we had not previously visited. There are all sorts of funky nightclubs, restaurants, and stores. Street art dominates the walls of this neighborhood and it is also home to the famed nightly Frenchman Art Market.

Located next to the Spotted Cat Jazz club, one of the more famous New Orleans nightspots and across from famed live music venue dba, the Art Market is a nightly juried art fair where local artists sell their wonderful artwork. Though small, it was still one of the better art fair type event that I have attended as each artist seemed to be an expect in their particular media.

We also stopped in to the Spotted Cat where I had one of the best Bloody Mary’s that I have ever tasted. We also spent time back at the Erin Rose for more delicious frozen Irish Coffee’s and delicious New Orleans craft beer.

Folk artist Dr. Bob, is a New Orleans icon and his massive studio/ workshop is located in the Bywater district of the city another area where we had never spent any time. It is a wonderful funky area and Dr. Bob’s outsider art fits right in to the neighborhood, which is filled with vinyl record stores, thrift shops, funky restaurants such as Elizabeth’s and of course Dr. Bob himself.

We made a special trip just to check his art out and pick up a couple of small pieces for our collection. He is most well-known for coining the phrase “Be Nice or Leave” and many of his pieces reflect that but he also has a plethora of New Orleans specific artwork featuring all manner of New Orleans iconography. I particularly liked his large “No Cat Selling” signs which apparently what once upon a time would be found in dives and juke joints to discourage prostitution. You can check out his art via the link below.

Good Morning America, How Are Ya

January 10, 2017

Willie Nelson

Good Morning America, How Are Ya?

New Orleans. Kathy and I had not made a trip to New Orleans in almost two years, since the ill-fated attempt at running an Indy Car race there, which was a wonderful trip, but a disaster for Indy Car as the race was a rainy debacle. We returned this time to attend the destination wedding of our friends Chris and Livi who had decided to make New Orleans the host to their vows.

Livi and Kathy

As their wedding was going to be held on a Tuesday afternoon, we decided to make a longer vacation out of it and head to New Orleans on the Friday previous so that we could enjoy the many fun offerings that the city has to offer in advance of the wedding activities.

Our trip to New Orleans was not without adventure as crazy freezing rain delayed us in Atlanta for three hours as we waited for the plane to be de-iced, but we at least made it on the original day we were scheduled to arrive, unlike many of those traveling over the weekend from Key West to the wedding who had any number of travel related nightmares.

We arrived and checked in to the Hotel Indigo on St. Charles Street in the Garden District, which is our favorite area of the city. It is right on the street car line and the Garden District is simply beautiful. We really had no plan whatsoever as far as what we were going to do while in the city and we had the freedom to just play it by ear and explore.

After a great breakfast at Stein’s Deli, we took the street car downtown and visited the Audubon Institute’s Insectarium. The Insectarium is basically a cool zoo comprised of insects, over 15,000 different ones are on display and it is a great place to visit.

The sheer number of living insect species on display is impressive and the variety is cool, everything from huge Rhino beetles to colonies of leaf cutter ants to a wonderful butterfly garden, the insectarium offers all manner of creepy crawly critters. I loved it and Kathy I think, enjoyed it as well.

We spent the rest of the day exploring the downtown riverfront area, stopping for beignets at Café du Monde and strolling around the many unique shopping opportunities that the Bourbon Street area offers. We stopped for frozen Irish Coffee at the Key West friendly Erin Rose café. The bar is a popular stop for the Key West crowd and with almost a hundred Key West people in New Orleans for the wedding, it was fun to run in to people we know there.

Bon Bon Vivant

For dinner we returned to one of our favorite New Orleans restaurants, Cochon before heading back downtown to attend the annual Joan of Ark parade in celebration of the iconic figures birthday. It was a fanciful sort of nutty parade with all sorts of people dressed up as Joan of Ark and tossing beads and such.

Post parade, we went to a downtown bar, One Eyed Jack’s where we attended the late night Burlesque show by the Fleur de Tease troupe. The group is one of the most established and well known in New Orleans and their show which was entitled “The End of the World”.  The show was really entertaining but it also made me appreciate how great the Key West Burlesque troupe actually is, but it is always fun to see a fun Burlesque show.

The next day, we were up early and at the New Orleans convention center where the annual ComicCon convention was taking place. The huge show featuring everything comic book related and more was Kathy’s first foray in to the world of comics, cosplay and such. It was pretty cool, but there were not as many people dressed up as I am used to seeing at comic conventions. We spent much of the morning there before heading back downtown where we hung out until the evening.

That night we had tickets to see country music legend Willie Nelson and family in concert at the House of Blues. Nelson is approaching 85 years old, but he still performs amazingly well. He played an hour and a half straight filled with a majority of his hits. His voice was a little gravelly but strong and his guitar playing was as good as ever. It was a fantastic show and we were so happy that the show coincided with our visit to the city.

Willie Nelson