Sunday, June 12, 2016

Oh, Canada!

The paddlewheel of the Steamboat Natchez!
A couple of years ago, my sweet in-laws moved to Canada to plant a church. Since then, they've traveled home a couple of times for visits, but we had yet to visit them. That changed last week! Read on for our Canada adventure!

My in-laws live in White Rock, a suburb about an hour outside of Vancouver in British Columbia. When we went to book flights from Jackson, Miss., they were mostly red-eyes. Since we were bringing little man with us (because if we'd showed up in Canada without him, I think my in-laws would have promptly sent us back stateside to fetch him), that didn't seem like much of an option. So, we decided to add a night our two to each side of the trip (coming and going) and fly out of New Orleans on a saner schedule.

We left Jackson and headed down, checking into the Omni Royal. It's a lovely hotel in a fabulous location. (Be warned, though - parking in the French Quarter is a bit of a sticker shock. Estimate in the $30-$40 range per night. And that's on top of your routine hotel charge and taxes.)

That first night, I had plans for our little tribe. We were taking a dinner cruise on the Steamboat Natchez. It has been YEARS since I'd been on a steamboat on the Mississippi River, having taken the Creole Queen to the Audubon Zoo as a child. It was so much fun!! We got there early and had our very filling and yummy dinner in the dining area. Then, we were free to enjoy the ship! We checked out the big, beautiful paddle wheel in the back, then explored the engine room to learn how the boat was powered. After that, we drank in the breeze on the front of the ship, later retiring to the top deck for live music as the sun set and the lights of New Orleans came on. Also on our cruise was a choir from Georgia. When the band took a break, they serenaded us with "What a Wonderful World." Magical!
Parade history at Mardi Gras World

Then, it was off to bed! The pillows were soft, and the blackout curtains were effective.

We awoke late the next morning and ambled to Stanley, in Jackson Square, for an indulgent brunch. I had a biscuit benedict, and it was delicious! Afterward, we made our way down the Riverfront to Mardi Gras World. (Note - This walk is a bit of a hoof, but it was such a gorgeous day! At the very end, you'll wonder if you've gone astray, as the RiverWalk peters out and you are in an industrial area. Don't fear. You're only a block or two away at that point.) At Mardi Gras World, you can view parade floats and float pieces, see and try on costumes, and learn all about this extravagant NOLA tradition. We checked in and explored the gift shop before our tour, then began our tour with a short film, a costume photo session and tastes of King cake. Then, it was off to see how floats are made and check out floats from years past.

This place was so cool! TONS of photo ops, amazing history of the city, and an eye-popping collection of floats! We really loved this attraction. I can't believe, considering all the years I've been traveling to New Orleans, that I'd never been there! Definitely recommended. And if your dogs are barking after walking there and around the attraction, not to worry. They offer a free shuttle back to the French Quarter.

Clay and I, continuing our goofy photo
tradition at Mardi Gras World
After Mardi Gras World, we took a break at the hotel pool, which is located on the top of the hotel, with an observatory where you can get a lovely view of the French Quarter. (I also may have slipped out for a quick Pimm's Cup at the Napoleon House, which was only a block from our hotel). Then, it was off to dinner at Brennan's. YUM! We sampled oysters (because you have to eat oysters in New Orleans), fish, veal and more, washed down with specialty cocktails. Delightful!

The next morning, we were off! For the most part, our flights were uneventful and on time. However, there was one snag, which is worth mentioning here. At LAX, which was our one stop, we had no idea that the terminal we were flying into, and terminal 2, where we were boarding our flight to Vancouver, DO NOT CONNECT. What that means - we had to go through airport security A SECOND TIME in LAX. Not cool, LAX. Not. Cool. We luckily had a long layover, so we made it, but it was very close. I will not be flying international through this airport again, if i can help it.

At any rate, we arrived in Vancouver, no worse for the wear, and our sweet in-laws picked us up from the airport. It was so nice to see their smiling faces! Then, it was off to White Rock, the suburb outside of Vancouver that they call home. The first night, we just rested and a caught up with one another. Our adventures officially began the next day!

More to come . . .

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