Thursday, October 31, 2013

Mardi Gras - Page Two

Here are the rest of the pictures from Mardi Gras World. I hope you enjoy them....Double click to make them larger.

Debi got into this one. I can't tell which is the "angel".....

Debi kissed this guy and I

As I said earlier, many of these figurines are kept and all that's changed are their jersey numbers, depending on who's hot. Notice how large they are compared to Debi.

Venus, and the Cat in the Hat next to Cinderella's carriage. Jaws in the background.

Other stockpiled sculptures hoping for a simple makeover and to ride on another float.

This is just ONE float, encompassing THREE trailers. The detail was absolutely amazing.

This float is almost complete. All the flower arrangements are meticulously applied and must be placed in a particular order so they give the proper 3-D effect

Since dragons are popular and are used every year, this float gets a prep every year and is mothballed.

Check out the detail in this sculpture. They do look happy, don't they? Makes one smile just looking at it....

This magical creature needs no introduction.

Be sure to look for this one in 2014!

Sort of my favorite.... ;)

"I'll gladly pay you Tuesday, for a hamburger today"....For the younger generation, this is Wimpy!

King Kong, Superman, Teenage Ninja Turtles and of course, The Incredible HULK!

Even Big Bird was there, and I saw Elvis!

We finished off the day at Harrah's Downtown

Mardi Gras

New Orleans is famous for the Mardi Gras Carnival. The carnival begins on King's Day, (Feast of the Epiphany) which is Jan 6, 2014 and will continue until the Mardi Gras on Fat Tuesday, (day before Ash Wednesday, when Lent begins) The first Mardi Gras parade was held in 1857. By law, every float rider must wear a mask. On Fat Tuesday anyone may wear a mask as well. We visited Mardi Gras World which is where the floats are prepared each year. There are about 300 floats made each year but only 28 floats can participate in any one parade. That's why there are so many parades and why it lasts the entire day and well into the night. I've included a sample of the float preparations below. Because of the large number of pictures, I've whittled them down to as few as I could. As a result, I will put them in no particular order and post them on several pages. Enjoy!

These "sculptures" are created, used and then many are saved to be used on other floats. Often small changes are made, such as the jersey number.

Goodness Gracious! It's Jiminy Cricket! Bigger than life....

We even got to dress up!  I've never been much of one for dress up, but this guy made me do it....

The float starts out as an artist's rendering. It's then colored and finalized then sent to the warehouse to begin construction. The float basics are already constructed as they use them year after year. The extras are added to complete the float.

The sculptures start out as large sheets of styrofoam that are laminated then carved. Watching these folks work was inspiring. Imagine being able to take a block of styrofoam and make it into the figurines you see in the following pictures. I can only dream of being that talented.

These two ladies were working from nothing more than a rendering. She was using a knife to chip away the foam and the detail was awesome!

Check out the details and the vibrant colors they use when creating these masterpieces.

I loved the bright colors of these hot air balloons. The guy painting them made it look way too easy.

This will adorn the front of one of the floats for the 2014 Mardi Gras Festival.

Look for this float in next year's parade.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Orleans

We visited New Orleans earlier this year. After taking two tours, we realized there was a lot of things we had missed. With that in mind, we made the decision to revisit this wonderful city if we could. As we swung west from Florida we had made plans to spend another week or so in The Big Easy. Unfortunately, because of the government shutdown all of the Civil War sites were closed.

We stayed at Ponchartrain Landing RV Resort. If you stay in the Presidential Site you're provided with your own personal jacuzzi, cabana, BBQ grill, fridge and more. I used the spa at least once a day, sometimes two. Talk about getting spoiled.

Ponchartrain Landing RV Resort is on what they call the Industrial canal. It actually connects Lake Ponchartrain with the Mississippi River.

From our river front site, we could watch ships and barges as they moved up and down the canal delivering goods. 

Besides excellent fishing, the canal provides many recreational boating activities, such as this power boat, sailboats, jetskis and other personal watercraft.

We found it extra relaxing to sit and watch the ships sail past. Everyone was friendly and always passed with a wave and a hello.

Jasmine spent many hours on our front porch watching the fish jump out of the water. The canal is filled with Asian carp. These fish will literally jump out of the water at the slightest sound. There were hundreds of them all day long.

This "castle" was discovered along the Irish Bayou near New Orleans.  The origin of the Irish Bayou is unknown. This castle was originally built as a tourist attraction and was built to withstand 100mph winds. Unfortunately, it's owner passed away before it was completed. It now stands mostly neglected along the banks of the bayou.

This causeway bisects Lake Ponchartrain. 

Lake Ponchartrain encompasses 630 square miles with an average depth of 12-14 feet. It was created 2600-4000 years ago as the Mississippi River evolved.

The causeway was built to connect the northshore cities with the City of New Orleans. It is slightly over 23 miles long and as such is the longest continuous bridge across water in the world. Here you can see the New Orleans skyline from the bridge. It is a toll road ($3.00/car) southbound but northbound is free. Over 40,000 cars pass over this bridge daily.

Since we had spent the better part of the day visiting the northshore area, we headed back towards New Orleans around 4PM. This afforded us many Kodak moments as the sun began to set in the west. I hope you enjoy the next three pictures as much as I enjoyed taking them. These are three of about 100 pictures I shot crossing this beautiful estuary.

As this picture suggests, the sun is setting on today. Tomorrow we visit Mardi Gras World.
 It promises to be an exciting event.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Gulf Shores Alabama

Trying to do some catch up here while I still have excellent internet accessibility. As many of you know, traveling on the road sometimes has it's challenges. DirecTV comes to mind as does phone coverages. I have Verizon and Debi has AT&T. Both tout how they have the most coverage nationwide...well, I'm here to tell you that's not always the case. Usually one of us has decent service but rare is the case we both do. We depend on cell coverage for our wifi service and it's not always available. Anyway, we are at another RV Resort that has excellent wifi so I'm trying to bring my posts up to date. It's 2am and I have to be up in four hours to take Jasmine to the vet's office by seven. Tomorrow is another insulin check day. Hopefully it'll be her last for awhile as I believe we finally have her dosage correct. 

We will be leaving Alabama soon but while we were there we met up with our friends, Brian and Bill. We decided to make it a day of racing, so off we went to the Track in Gulf Shores.

What better way to quench your thirst for speed but to go about 30 laps in go carts!

The Track has a tri level wooden track with twists, turns, ups, downs and lots of bumps. We had a ball.

All the excitement of racing made us really hungry, so we headed into Orange Beach for lunch at the Gulf restaurant. This is their outdoor seating.

For those not familiar with this area, The Gulf restaurant is rated #9 out of 107 restaurants in Gulf Shores. They offer inside seating but the real draw here, other than the food of course, is the ambiance of sitting right next to the sea wall for lunch. 

The food was delicious!

While eating, you can watch dolphin, sea gulls, pelicans and an occasional heron. Watching the boats come in and out of the harbor was also fascinating.

The Gulf Restaurant - Trip Advisor

Anytime you have outdoor eating, you're bound to have a visitor looking for a hand out. This guy wasn't shy. He hung around for a few pictures before he realized we weren't going to give up any part of our delicious eats!

He wasn't too happy that we weren't going to feed him so he squawked about the loudest of any bird I've heard and took off to find easier pickings.

Notice the beautiful weather!

Our next stop will be New Orleans, Louisiana.Yes, we were there in March, but there were many things we missed so we wanted to return for more adventures, so we're headed back to The Big Easy.