We got on the steamboat for their lunch tour. It lasts 2.5 hours, with the first thirty minutes sitting at dock and loading people. We were one of the first in line and by the time they disembarked, we had mostly finished our lunch. You can buy the ticket to include a meal or not. There are two seatings of lunch. We chose the first because we figured we could eat before the tour really got started and then be present for the tour. There is a gift shop, and two bars located on the boat. And they have a deal that for $20 you can have unlimited drinks (they had three to choose from, and the one with rum was yummy).
Food was decent. It’s typical southern food, red beans and rice, Bread pudding, etc. It wasn’t the best southern food I’ve ever had, but it was pretty good.
They allow you to go into the engine room (well, part of it, Gabe explained that there’s a lot going on downstairs which we could peak in at but not go). There are some nice signs explaining how the steam engine works. Tristan had tons of questions, some of which Gabe could explain, but as he doesn’t work on steam engines, we had to defer to the engineer on duty. He was sitting and looking at something on his phone and at first, he was acting a bit put out that we were asking questions. After about ten minutes, he started to get really animated and actually did a fantastic job of explaining it all to Tristan who listened with rapt attention through the whole thing. While we were down there, the boat needed to turn back so we got to see the engines stop and reverse. Which was AWESOME (according to one little boy who is definitely gonna be an engineer someday), and then of course, we had to go outside to see the wheel turning the other way.
While in NOLA this October, we decided to try and see some things that we hadn’t in the last few trips. One was the aquarium and zoo. Family membership was at $160, and with 6 of us, it would’ve cost $140 to enter either one by themselves. So we opted for the membership and went to both at a discount.
The aquarium is mostly indoors, and was done pretty well. The majority was focused on local wetland wildlife, with a few of the favorites also added in, such as sharks and upside down jellyfish. If I had had to pay full price for this alone, I would’ve skipped. Good aquarium, but worth over a hundred for us to enter? No. Not really.
We then walked around the corner to the insectarium. Note: it is, for some reason, inside a Federal building. So if you happen to have a sailor in your group who happens to carry a Spiderco knife with him at all times, you will not be allowed to go in. No, they don’t have a bag check where you can leave it up at the front with the police man. No, they don’t enjoy you asking if you can check it with him. And yes, he thinks we should outlaw ALL blades. I almost commented that he looked as though he enjoyed food, and that preparation of said food would be impossible without knives, but I held my tongue as I’m sure he was viewing us as scoundrels who are dragging their poor children into the gutter…..imagine, someone carrying a knife! GASP! (I’m just glad Gabe no longer carries a wrench around….although it WAS handy quite a few times.)
The zoo was larger than I thought it would be. I guess they remodeled it (well, they are remodeling it), and tried to emulate the San Diego zoo. Wide variety of animals. And a lot of them were pretty active. We got to see the spider monkeys go ape (hehehe) over fruit during feeding time. There were lots of teenagers there who volunteered and tried to answer our questions about the different animals. To their credit, they DID know some stuff. But we’ve learned a lot about animals in general, and we’ve been to a lot of zoos, so our questions aren’t typically the 101 variety. Luckily, there were also quite a few full time employees who were very gracious about answering questions and elaborating. Finally, they have a dinosaur exhibit. It costs members an additional $2/each to go through. But they have mechanical models that are staged in different “landscapes” as you walk through. They move. They make noise. Some spit. Fun!
Homewood Suites in NOLA
We stayed there two nights while Gabe was taking a class for work. It was sort of a break in the middle of a long tent camping trip, and the kids acted like they’d died and gone to heaven! We got a two bedroom/ two bathroom suite at $220/night. It included breakfast and dinner, plus the suite itself has a small kitchen. So it would be very easy to end up saving money by staying here versus going to a cheaper hotel that doesn’t give you cheaper ways to eat. The location was great, we were about 5 blocks from the French Quarter and so we didn’t have to drive in our car the whole time we were there.
The dinners were what you’d expect. Spaghetti. Hotdogs and chili. And with as nice of décor as the hotel had, it was odd to be eating hot dogs in their dining room. But, dinner was also served with either soda, beer, or wine. So, I guess that’s my type of place. Nice furnishings, staff that remembers your name, and hot dogs with wine!