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Our last full day in New Orleans was spent mostly on the “north shore” as they say in these parts.  First of all, after looking out the window at a rainy, hazy, dreary day, we dressed for warm muggy weather.  After heading downstairs and stepping outside, however, we were shocked by how cold it had gotten overnight.  So we headed back upstairs to change into long pants, socks and sneakers and sweatshirts.  Yes it was that chilly!  Some day we ended up with for a boat ride, eh?

After hitting Nirvana for their ten dollar all-you-can-eat buffet again (our new favorite restaurant for lunch on Magazine St.), we made our way to the Causeway.  I knew it was long, but I didn’t know this until yesterday – that the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway is the longest bridge in the United States – it’s over 126,000 feet long!  That’s about 24 miles!  Shawn remarked that they should have a Causeway Marathon.  That’s an awesome idea!

We arrived in Ponchatoula sometime in the afternoon at Kathy’s house.  She wasn’t home from work yet, so we sat and visited with Paul (Kathy’s husband) and Bev (Tina’s mama) for a while until Nick (Tina’s nephew) arrived.  Then we were off!  Despite the cold and the dreariness, he was a gracious captain and took us out for a chilly yet very enjoyable ride through Bedico Creek.  I was sad for Shawn that it wasn’t warmer and he didn’t get to fully experience the stillness and all the earthy smells of the swamp (and gators too!  It was too cold for ’em).  Still, though, Shawn was completely enamored with the swamp.  As we passed by all of the camps, he said, “This is where I’ll live when I get old.”  He really and truly loved it out there in those muddy waters with gators lurking in the warm, dark places and with herons and hawks swooping overhead.  Nick was just as awesome as I remember from last year – very proud of this place, eager to share his vast knowledge of these waters with us, and equally curious about where we are from and what life is like in the wild mountains of New Hampshire.  Our time together was way too short this time.

After the boat ride (which was cut a little short as the rain started to spit a little harder on us), we headed back to Kathy’s and said our goodbyes to Nick.  We stayed and visited with everyone at the house – Shawn and Paul in the living room, me and Bev in her room.  When Kathy got home, she grabbed Abbie (their adorable, feisty 4 month old rat terrier) and headed to the vet for shots and then was back in a flash.  After such a busy week, it was nice to sit amid the comforts of home – couches, dinner table, dogs at our feet – and spend some quality time with some of Tina’s family.

We stayed for a couple of hours until thoughts of dinner started to swirl in our heads and bellies.  We said our goodbyes and headed back over the Causeway, where we were treated to one of the most beautiful sunsets I’ve seen in a very long time.  Shawn snapped a few pictures (and I did too, all of which you can check out here) of the sunset but of course my little crappy camera couldn’t do justice to the amazing display in the sky.

So, where did we spend our last evening in New Orleans?  You guessed it – back to the French Quarter, for a light dinner at this great little African restaurant called Bennachin.  Shawn had found it one day in an online search for vegan-friendly restaurants in the city (he’s always thinking of me!) and he said, “We really need to try their black-eyed pea fritters, apparently.”  So, that’s what we got – a couple bowls of warm lentil soup and the akara. It’s a tiny restaurant (you have to walk through the kitchen to get to the single stall unisex bathroom) and the service is super slow (one sweet and skillful little waitress to service the entire room) but the food was so yummy and the decor so charming that it was definitely worth the wait.

With dinner in our bellies, we got in the car and Shawn started saying (and I joined him) to the car window, “Bye French Quarter!  We don’t want to leave you!” and we were both feeling very sad about leaving this amazing place.  Time to pack up, pull up stakes and bring some of this awesome vibe back to New Hampshire with us.  The day is gorgeous – cool, dry and sunny – a good a day as any to step foot on the plane for home.

Goodbye New Orleans!  I hope it’s not too long before I’m here again.  My hope in travelling here with Shawn was that he would enjoy himself and like it as much as I did.  We’re leaving here musically invigorated and Shawn can’t stop saying things like, “I wanna live in the French Quarter!”  I’m so glad he loved it as much as I did.  And now we’ll both be singing the song that has had an entirely new meaning for me since I came here last year: