Travel only fuels my wanderlust even more. The same way people develop addictions that provide a temporary high, traveling to different cities provides that same kind of “life-high” for me. It’s something difficult to capture because it’s fluid; a state of existing in the moment. It is Being. There is an emotional component, a created memory, an experience felt, and moments that can later be recalled bringing one back to that place, and space, in time. It helps to build and bridge connections to the things I’ve learned in life and continues to provide a strong cultural base to spring forward from.
Husband and I spent the entire day Saturday at The National World War II Museum. We experienced a simulated marine battleship at war. Each couple was assigned a work station and we had to work together to target the enemy and protect our submarine. It was in a word: awesome. We watched Beyond All Boundaries, narrated by executive producer Tom Hanks, which is a short film that effectively delineates and elucidates the events of WWII starting with the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. The exhibit covered megalomaniacs Hitler, Hirohito and Mussolini.
What I loved about the museum is that a lot of the accounts were told by everyday working class and middle class people working and living in America before, during and after the war. This shed a light of humanity on the experience that made it feel more personal than a piece of text ever could. We spent the entire day at the museum and left just before closing.
Later that evening we let loose at Mid Summer Mardi Gras which requires no description because it is exactly what it sounds like. There was music blaring in the streets, people dressed up in all types of cool costumes and wigs, girls showcasing their choreographed dance moves and in general: food, festivities and copious amounts of alcohol in a convivial atmosphere. We started the parade on Oak Street at the Maple Leaf Cafe then we walked toward Carrollton Avenue which we took all the way to Palmer Park. Music filled the streets in the sweetest way, people were jumping and jiving, couples were kissing and caressing, kids were running and laughing, beatniks were smoking and the rest of the hipsters at the parade were having a damn good time. Anywhere you looked, fun was had by all.
Mid Summer Mardi Gras began as a small party with about 50 people. The Maple Leaf Bar Krew of Oak or KOAK put together the first party as a way of forgetting about hurricane season for one hot night in August (also, Mardi Gras Mardi Gras is six months away). The summer of this party was in 1986 and it all started as a bar crawl through the Carrollton neighborhood.) The parade is always held at the end of August. The “krew” that throws the party is KOAK, the OAK stands for “outrageous and kinky”. This means the more skin you show, the more you’ll blend in with the crowd 😉 This is not the time to be reserved, bashful or timid.
The next day we did a high speed airboat tour of an alligator swamp! There is something so peaceful about being out in the middle of a swampy marsh feeding alligators marshmallows (something new I learned on this trip is that alligators love marshmallows). What you do is grab a long stick, place a marshmallow at the edge of it, tap that end into the water and they will start to come up to your boat. I do not suggest you do this without a tour guide 🙂 We even got to hold a baby alligator and pet it. It was so small it fit in the palm of our hands — it was so cute and kinda gross at the same time! Now Husband wants a pet alligator back home in Brooklyn — he gets carried away sometimes.
Husband made reservations at Cochon in the Warehouse District for dinner. The food was absolutely delicious. We started with fried alligator and meat pie (essentially an empanada). I was hesitant to try the alligator since we just bonded a few hours earlier, but when in rome, right? Alligator has a bit of a rubbery consistency. It’s a bit more chewy than steak with a mild flavor that resembles chicken, except more chewy. The skin was fried and crunchy and therefore scrumptious. The gumbo was hearty, flavorful and chock full of meat and vegetables. Husband ordered a Louisiana Cochon with turnips, cabbage and cracklings, which was just absolute sex in food form. I described the experience as “an orgy in my mouth”.
As the sun went down, we took a stroll from the Warehouse District over to Frenchman Street in the Marigny. The Marigny has a very local and neighborly vibe to it – much like Oak Street did two nights ago for Midsummer Mardi Gras. We weaved in and out of jazz bars on the strip, tipping each band generously as we go. There was a full band on the street corner playing while crowds surrounded the corner and danced in the street. This city really is filled with music — as a very musical person myself, I was so happy that everywhere I went, the music was not only in my head and heart, but playing all around me.