7 Things: Texas-Louisiana Findings (4-7 of 7)

We’ve left Louisiana and here we are in Gulf Shores, Alabama. So, I guess technically these are Texas-Louisiana-Alabama-by-way-of-Mississippi findings. Truthfully, it’s not horrible, but it’s not exactly class central either. It reminds me, unsurprisingly, of other beach towns with its gazillion condos, mini golf courses and tacky souvenir shops, but the crowd reminds me a little of Vegas. If you don’t love the casino crowd, you get this. If you love casinos and the pajama-with-fur-coat-wearing patrons who chain smoke their way through them, my apologies.

Here are findings for the rest of the trip thus far –

4 – The beignets that are famous at Cafe du Monde were made famous by those who have never eaten a funnel cake. Apparently. Because that’s what they tasted like. Maybe they are just made famous by those who have never eaten a funnel cake for breakfast, and maybe those people aren’t making the association because no one ever should eat a funnel cake for breakfast. Like, maybe they get their pillowy funnel cakes… er, beignets… from Cafe du Monde for breakfast and say to themselves, “This is the best breakfast pastry I’ve ever eaten,” because they want to believe that it’s a breakfast pastry. Not that those are particularly healthy.

I say, if you want a funnel cake for breakfast on vacation, why not just eat a funnel cake for breakfast? No need for misnomers. It’s vacation. Own your fluffy fried grease-patty.

5 – I shouldn’t have heeded anything at all that I read online about New Orleans. Here are just some of the things that I found to be either untrue or misleading…

– New Orleans is a dangerous place.

Now, don’t get me wrong. New Orleans IS a dangerous place. This is not an unfair reputation. The crime statistics, sadly, support this statement. I would also admit that the nice parts of New Orleans aren’t like the nice parts of other cities. I didn’t go around without my camera, as many people suggested, but I didn’t keep it around my neck outside of tourist areas either. We didn’t avoid going out after dark, but we didn’t walk down empty streets either. It did feel like constant vigilance was required, maybe even a tad more so than I would use elsewhere.

I wasn’t afraid, though. Not where we were . I could see, though, why some people would be.

– Go to the French Quarter. Don’t leave it.

Well, we went to the French Quarter, and it was worth seeing. A few cool, interesting sites. Great architecture, obviously. Local artists doing their thing. History. It was all good.

It was also very touristy. Shops for tourists. Food for tourists. Even the outdoor market place was geared toward tourists. In other words, it wasn’t quite our scene. But since we were there for the first time and for a limited time, we felt like we should go to the French Quarter first, and so we did.

The first night we were there, we walked Bourbon Street. Which is definitely not our scene. Drunk people, smokers, half-naked people and leers. Also very reminiscent of Vegas, actually.

– Don’t walk between the French Quarter and the Garden District.

We didn’t. Not all the way. But that’s because we’d been walking all day and it ended up being a bit further than it looked on the map. We did, however, walk about eighty percent of the way. Nothing bad happened. Of course, that doesn’t mean nothing bad ever does happen to unsuspecting tourists. It does. But bad things happen to fearful tourists who leave their cameras at home and take cabs everywhere too. They miss stuff and get no pictures.

– New Orleans is more like a European city than an American city.

Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha. It isn’t. It may look more European than other American cities, but it’s not like European cities. This was clearly declared by someone who has never seen a European city. Or a Canadian city.

6 – New Orleans food will change your life.

Did I mention the beignets?

I found New Orleans food to be more of a contradiction really. I had the best jambalaya I’ve ever had. And it made my face smile. Then, I had the worst bread pudding I’ve ever had for dessert. (Fruit cocktail? Oh, hell no.) Later that day, I had the worst gumbo I’ve ever had. (That stock was from a bouillon cube and you won’t convince me otherwise.) Then, I had one of the best… if not the best… bread pudding I’ve ever had.

Either way, the cooking was New Orleans-true, but it wasn’t life-changing. Except for, maybe, the bread pudding. The second to-go order we grabbed on our way out is doing some very pleasant things to my tummy area as I type this.

7 – TCBY still exists here in Gulf Shores. Who knew? And, also, the shells are large and quite frequently found whole. Today, Shawna found an intact oyster shell and I found a conch shell. Okay, so mine was half an inch long. But size doesn’t matter. Or so they say.

Also in Gulf Shores, you can find the Gulf Coast Zoo. And we did. There’s a sign out front advertising it as “The Little Zoo That Could”. It’s more “The Little Zoo That Tries,” but, still, I didn’t mind it. The reptile building was a little pathetic, the exhibits were a little sad, but the animals appeared healthy and happy.

At one point, there was a wild bunny. It looked like it was about to run into the lion cage and become lion lunch, but it wised up at the last. Then, a little neon frog  jumped like six feet right next to us. It doesn’t sound that exciting, so you’ll just have to believe me when I tell you it was wicked.

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