We spent a week in New Orleans last year and loved every minute of our visit (blog posts here, here, and here.) We were exhausted by the end, but we knew we’d only scratched the surface, so, when presented the opportunity to return this year, we booked another stay. We divided this visit between things that were new to us and things we wanted to do again. Let’s start with the new….
The National World War II Museum
Those who are unfamiliar with New Orleans might be surprised to learn there’s a huge museum dedicated to World War II located in the heart of the city. The Museum was opened in 2000 as the “National D-Day Museum” but renamed in 2003 to reflect its larger subject matter. Why New Orleans? Because Higgins Industries, the manufacturer of the ubiquitous amphibious landing craft so associated with the epic assault on Normandy, was based in New Orleans.
The museum is enormous and they keep adding to it. We arrived around 12:30 in the afternoon and by the time the museum was closing for the day at 5:00, we had seen maybe half of what was there. There were entire buildings we never set foot in. I noticed they offer a $6.00 second day pass (regular non-discounted admission costs $27.00). Had we had the time, I would have wanted to return the following day to continue exploring the enormous campus, but unfortunately, we had to head out.
The museum approaches the conflict from several different angles – explaining the historical context of the war, both overseas and in the U.S….
covering the major strategies and battles in both the Pacific and Europe….
and discussing what life was like on the home front (Click on the photos for full sized versions and captions.)
The curators brought the conflict to life with contextual settings, three dimensional exhibits, and multi-media presentations.
Museum exhibits ranged from historical documents to troop uniforms to particular programs undertaken by the U.S. and her allies.
As I said, we only scratched the surface of what was available. There were entire buildings we never entered, movies we didn’t watch, and grounds we didn’t explore. But from the little we did see, we were impressed. As you can see from the photos, the museum is well attended and there was no question in our minds that its popularity is well-deserved. Should you find yourself in New Orleans, we highly recommend a visit; our only advice would be to give yourself one entire day, or two half days to take it all in.
The Pharmacy Museum
Somewhere along the line, I stumbled into information about a tiny pharmacy museum located just off Washington Square in the French Quarter. The museum invites visitors to peruse its contents for just $5.00 per person, and at 1:00 each day, they offer a free guided tour.
When we decided to visit, we figured we’d just wander over around 1:00 and take part in the tour. We foolishly believed we’d be the only ones there. Alas, when we arrived the first time, we found other guests standing on the sidewalk outside the storefront. There were so many people packed inside for the tour, visitors couldn’t even get inside. We quickly determined that the tour would be more frustrating than educational and decided to come back a different day for a self-guided tour. When we did, we quickly realized why the place is so popular: It’s absolutely fascinating.
From detailed exhibits about medications, methods of administering those medications, alternative therapies, medical procedures, instruments used to diagnose and treat various maladies, and the historic development of treatment protocols, the museum touched on much more than just pharmacy. Indeed, it was like a journey through three centuries of medical practice in the United States.
As always with these kinds of places, visitors marvel at how “backwards” the thinking was and how “primitive” the practices were, but the reality is, we’re still using many of the same medications, techniques, and processes today.
Well, not all of them….
However, there’s little question that 100 years from now, people will wonder what the hell humans were thinking when they “poisoned themselves” with chemotherapy, or used hammers and screwdrivers to set broken bones, or had to worry about dying from the flu. One day, the norms of today will seem at best quaint, at worst backwards.
So stop judging. The “Catnip and Fennel” stomach tonic made a lot of sense at the time.
Anyway, we really enjoyed our visit to this place. The museum offered just the right amount of information to keep visitors engaged without overwhelming them with information. If you find yourself in the neighborhood, it’s definitely worth a stop.
Two New Food Finds
We visited two notable restaurants that were new to us and well worth a visit….
Cochon Butcher is a pork focused butcher/deli/wine bar in a warehouse style setting. It is an ideal destination when you’ve been drinking all day and find yourself in need of sustenance. The problem with that practice, however, is that you’ll wake up the next morning wondering whether the meal you had was as incredible as you thought, or your adoration for this eatery was simply the product of your intoxication. Therefore, you’ll have to return and try it again. Luckily, it’s located right next to the World War II Museum, so you can credibly claim you’re only returning because it’s conveniently located next to that day’s destination, and not because the night before was slightly fuzzy.
Saffron Nola: We found this one on New Orleans Eater (I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: if you’re going to a big city and want to find the best local restaurants, see if there is an Eater page for the city. It hasn’t led us wrong yet.) Anyway, we hadn’t had Indian food in a while so when I saw that there was a hot new Indian fusion restaurant in New Orleans, we figured we’d check it out.
While in town, there were a couple places we absolutely had to hit up again. No trip to New Orleans is complete without a stop for beignets and coffee at Cafe Du Monde (even if you’re not a big fan of donuts of other sweets, these things are phenomenal), a proper Hurricane at LaFitte’s Blacksmith Shop (and by “proper” I mean, “Leave room for a Le Pig Mac because that’s where this night is headed), and a ginormous toasted Muffaletta for two at Napolean House (call us un-American, but we still think this one is better than the one at famous Central Grocery).
We also made time for a couple drinks at the famous Carousel Bar in the Hotel Monteleone and a fried shrimp poboy at Nola Poboys just up Bourbon Street.
And with that, and our fitbits sending messages like “Why do I even bother?” and “You. Are. The. Worst.” we exited New Orleans once more….
Over the course of the next ten days, we stopped at old favorite Palmetto Island State Park in Abbeville, Louisiana, made a pit stop in Austin, mostly to hit up a few of our favorite barbecue places, and took on the project that is crossing West Texas. While we were tempted to just get it done as quickly as possible, we were determined to apply the lessons we’d learned last summer and take it slow. We kept our mileage well below our daily limits, battled boredom by listening to podcasts, left flexibility in our schedule to deal with bad weather, got lots of rest, and kept things low key.
As an added benefit of our slow journey, we got to meet up with fellow fulltime RVers, Alex and Diana who are work-camping in Junction, Texas. These two have the best Instagram handle/blog name I’ve found – “BeeRVing” to honor their goal of roaming the U.S. in search of the country’s best brews.
We had a great night chatting with them and, what do you know, we drank a bunch of fantastic beer!
In real time, we are in New Mexico, becoming accustomed to our daily chats with border patrol agents (seriously – they are everywhere) and enjoying the opportunity to get acquainted with the desert environment. It’s very foreign, but very awesome. More on that soon.
**Featured image courtesy of the National World War II Museum