Life in the Big Easy was everything I hoped it would be and so much more. Near the end of May, Chris, Truman, and I traveled to New Orleans, LA to visit his long time best friend, Bryan and his family. Bryan and Chris go way back, Navy buddies. I had met Bryan twice before this trip. The first time in Las Vegas for their mutual friends wedding, and the second time for our own wedding. To have only spend two different occasions with Bryan and Melissa, it's almost creepy how long I feel like we have all been friends. My time with them has been short, but each time it has been so special it makes me tear up just to think about it. Love them both very much. Because Bryan and Melissa are both from there, NOLA has been like a second home to Chris for many years, but unfortunately he hadn't been able to visit for awhile and was long overdue on a trip there. So off we went. We flew there and despite my anxiety, Truman did great. He politely declined to sleep on the way, but was as friendly as ever. Smiling and waving to all the other passengers. I'm always a nervous wreck every time we fly with him. The thought of being confined in a tight space with strangers and your 10 month old is pretty intimidating. Luckily though, we managed to keep him entertained with a couple of toys and a book. But let's be honest, we were all happy to have our feet on the ground again!
We spent our time there mostly visiting with Bryan and his awesome family. Like a man after my heart, he had bourbon waiting on me :) I met his daughter, Hanna for the first time. That sweet girl fell in love with Truman right away and if we lived closer I have no doubt that they would grow up as cousins. Bryans better half, Melissa would also be in trouble if we were a little closer. I told her several times she would get sick of me because I would make it my mission to be her real life bff. Our evenings were spent sitting around on their back patio talking and laughing. Listening to stories of their time together in the military is always entertaining. Chris and Melissa stuck to their choice of beers, and Bryan and I bonded over our mutual love of bourbon. Perfection.
We did manage to make our way to the French Quarter which I loved. My favorites were the beautiful balconies dripping in flowers and vines. There's so many things about the south that I adore, the lush flowers, jazz music, history, cajun food, what's not to love? There were so many quirky little stores and places to stop along the way. We of course walked down Bourbon Street, and I had a Hand Grenade (the most powerful drink in NOLA?) It was pretty good and I can definitely see that the street must transform during the evening hours. But it was pretty tame during the afternoon with baby in tow :) My favorite thing at the French Quarter was walking through the French Market and of course stopping for coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde. We had a picnic with our coffee and beignets in Jackson Square while listening to a live jazz band playing on the street. Love. Really wish I could beam myself back to that very moment.
We also went on a swamp tour which was a blast! I seriously thought we'd be lucky to see one alligator...wrong! We probably saw upwards of 25-35. We were on a boat similar to a pontoon boat and I loved the scenery. How can floating through the swamp with alligators all around seem so peaceful? Ha ha, it is. Promise. Truman enjoyed it, but he seems to enjoy everything so hard to tell what he really gets excited about.
The definite highlight of the trip was a craw fish boil that Bryan had for us on Saturday. He and his brothers clearly know what they are doing when it comes to this. No laughing matter. Serious business. 150# of craw fish plus potatoes, corn, garlic, lemons, sausage, and french bread. Watching this whole process was so interesting and a blast!! I told Chris numerous times, that now I feel so sorry for anyone that is visiting NOLA and not friends with Bryan! Ha ha, but really. Just being a tourist and visiting all the places you think you are supposed to see will never get you this true Louisiana experience. I was a little nervous about eating the crawfish, sucking the head, ect. But that fear was nothing that a couple of Bud Lights couldn't fix ;) The truly went all out. There were probably 50 people there throughout the day. And they were all like one giant family. Friendly, talkative, funny, and welcoming. It was hard for me to even keep tabs on Truman's whereabouts because someone was always whisking him away. We finished the night with a spiked watermelon. Just writing this makes me miss it and them so much. It was the first time in my life that I have ever cried on the way to the airport because I didn't want it to end.
Bryan, Melissa, and Hanna, the Elie's love you so much. Thank you for one of the best trips of my life. And we will do it again soon.