It was nearly a spur of the moment trip, spontaneously asked about and hurriedly booked. It was the end of January and we were headed to The Big Easy at the beginning of February. I love when circumstances in life come together and seem to stand to say, "Don't think, just do." So, we did ...

Booked on Allegiant for what, turns out, was their inaugural flight into New Orleans from Sanford, we landed on a Thursday and stayed until Sunday. It was the weekend of what the official Mardi Gras web site declares family week — the week prior to the week that builds in craziness and excess approaching Fat Tuesday. Still, the parades were grand and fun and the beads were a-plenty! Proof:

We and our parade loot!

Upon arriving in NOLA, we socked our stuff away at our hotel — the Astor Crown Plaza — at the (rather ideal) corner of Canal Street and Bourbon Street, and made our way to Buzz Nola Bike Tours for a 3-hour cruiser jaunt around the city. The historical tour content, comfy bikes and informed (and entertaining) guide were great — the only downer was the lower than expected temperatures and our less than substantial clothing!

A city known for its music and its food, New Orleans didn't disappoint us in either department. I actually had the best (so far) oysters of my life at the restaurant bar in our hotel (Bourbon House). I lapped up more raw at the famous Acme Oyster House later in the trip — no regrets there either. Other yummy eats (and drinks) were found at Superior Grill, the French 75 Bar at Arnaud's, Cafe Beignet (on Royal), Elizabeth's (praline bacon — 'nuf said), Chartres House, The Court of Two Sisters, and Morning Call Coffee Stand in City Park (go here for the best beignets!).

Beyond parades, food and the wandering of famous and storied streets, I got to glimpse the mighty Mississippi, shop for winter gloves and hats at the French Market, win $60 on a slot machine at Harrah's, drink Abita where it's made, and watch my cold-infected sis-in-law go through two boxes of tissues in a day. It was a good trip. Grateful we were asked and grateful we could go!