Even a month after Mardi Gras, Bourbon St. was lots of fun. At 3pm, people were walking down the street holding several beers. The bars had happy hours with 3 for 1 beers and drinks. There are strip clubs, bars, restaurants, shops, and even a little gay bar section (that some people call the fruit loop, like in Las Vegas. It supposedly includes the oldest gay bar in the country, Lafitte's).
Before coming to New Orleans, we stopped at the National Naval Aviation Museum for a few hours, looking at the impressive collection of restored planes, helicopters, and spacecraft. It was something of a last minute stop for us, and I'm very glad we did! If you have any interest in aircraft and you're in the Pensacola area, you owe it to yourself to see this museum. It's free!
We arrived in New Orleans around 4pm and checked into our hotel, the Iberville Suites. It's quite a new hotel, behind the Ritz Carlton. The rooms were very reasonable for being so close to the downtown French Quarter in a very nice room. My room had quite the view, but my father's looked out onto another wall of a hotel.
We walked around Bourbon St. for a few hours, taking in all the sights. As it gets later, the bars and strip clubs get more and more aggressive trying to get you to come into their establishment. And the patrons get more and more drunk, just as the police block off the road to all car traffic. It's quite a scene, and we enjoyed it. We ate dinner at a little restaurant in the middle of Bourbon St. with a balcony table, which was a great place to people-watch. The food was decent; my first time trying catfish (at least in a long time). I quite like it!
I ended up staying up pretty late the first night, and haven't been able to catch up on sleep yet. I think I'll need a few days to recover! Yesterday we took a great little bus tour of the city. We visited a lot of the touristy areas and then went down to the 9th Ward to see the still-devastated houses from Katrina. Then on to an above-ground graveyard, a public park and golf course (complete with an alligator-filled water hazard), the parade route, a ritzy, residential area, and then back to the hotel.
We enjoyed dinner at a seafood restaurant across the street from our hotel, Deanie's. Apparently it's fairly popular. The seafood was mostly deep-fried but was tasty and plentiful.
This morning we are off to Austin, TX for the next part of our journey. The next few days are going to be pretty travel-intensive until we get to Arizona, where we'll get a few days' rest before crossing the Hoover Dam to Vegas.