Archive | November, 2014
Sunday, 30 November 2014

Daily Pics: Digging Dallas

Best ways to get to know a new city is to eat and walk. We found a local gem (thank you Yelp) of a place – Cosmic Cafe – a Himalayan vegetarian restaurant. Good for the body and soul and even had a meditation center upstairs to boot. Our inner Om connected with our stomach yum.

We had a lovely lazy morning in the hotel room, I had some me time at the gym, off to lunch then a walk along Dallas’ Katy trail green belt area. Just soaking up the glorious Dallas winter sun. 

 

Baby with love me sleep sack

Love me…so easy to do

 

Christmas tree at the Hilton Anatole

It’s starting to feel a bit like Christmas

 

Gym

Feels so good to exercise

 

Baby watching babies crawl on iPad

Teaching Baby Boy O to crawl by showing him how

 

Indian food platter

Cosmic Cafe Om and yum

 

Happy man with Indian food

One very happy English Hubby

 

Baby eating naan

Baby Boy O getting in on the action

 

Buddha painting

Loving the vibe

 

Sunshine on trees by creek in Dallas

Winter sunshine

 

Katy Trail Dallas

Stumbled across the Katy Trail

 

Before I die list

Not sure eating a panda would be on my list

 

Bar

It’s thirsty work walking the trail. Had to stop for a cold one

 

Baby smiling

So happy to be outdoors

 

Baby asleep in cot

Out cold after a big day

 

Yesterday’s post: Speed Bumps on the Road to Dallas

Tomorrow’s post: 

 

 

 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Daily Pics: Speed Bumps on the Road to Dallas

They say a journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. They forgot to mention the speed bumps along the way. Little annoyances that slow you down, scrape the bottom of your car and test your ability to practice mindfulness and compassion. I am pleased to report that we got to Dallas in the end, but only after clearing a few trying hurdles along the way. What hurdles you may ask? Here’s a selection:

  • We discovered our storage unit had a residual oil leak from the previous tenant. Although the manager promised to have it cleaned up before we moved in, it never happened. The last thing we wanted was for our tiny house on wheels, with all the personals we left behind, to smell of oil after three months in an unventilated storage unit. English Hubby came across a fix on YouTube. Cat litter. Yep, sprinkle it on and it soaks up the slick and smells. Cat-astrophe avoided 😉
  • We took Rover to the RV service center to be winterized yesterday. They forgot to drain the pump, which would have frozen over and cracked should the temperatures dip below freezing. A number of calls and an impromptu pit stop back at servicing and it was fixed. Not a biggie, but begs the question why things can’t be done right in the first place. 
  • Just as we were storing the RV, we noticed little mud dauber nests on the struts. Not wanting to come back to an infestation of wasps, we had to destroy their little nests and just hope they don’t return. We could be in for a nasty surprise in three months time, but hey ho.
  • Then after covering 200 miles and arriving at our hotel in Dallas, the front desk informed us there were no more cribs left. What happened to the special request, and phone call to confirm that we had a crib for our seven month old you may ask? A mystery that will go unanswered. 
At the end of the day, speed bumps make the journey memorable. A lot of good things happened too, too many to list without boring everyone to death. 
 
Cleaning up the RV for storage

The big clean up

 

Packing up the RV

Packing up our tiny house on wheels

 

Empty RV fridge

With a valiant effort, we managed to eat most of our food

 

Couple in front of an RV

Getting nostalgic as one chapter ends and another one begins

 

High chair and placemats at chick fil a

Brunch at Chick Fil A whilst we wait for Rover to be fixed. So impressed by the high chairs which came with sanitizing wipes and fresh plastic placemats for kids to eat off. So thoughtful and great service

 

Mud dauber nests

Unwelcome surprise in our storage unit

 

Man sweeping storage unit

Nothing a broom and a stick could not fix (we hope!)

 

RV backing into a storage unit

Wide load

 

RV in storage unit with brake light on

Precision driving

 

Family at sonic

Mid way pit stop and diaper change at Sonic

 

Roller skating sign at sonic

With roller skating waiters and waitresses…so very Happy Days

 

Baby in car seat stretching

We all had a nice little stretch and cuddle

 

Dallas theme song and skyline

Playing the original theme song…

 

Dallas skyline at sunset

…as we roll into town

 

Hilton hotel room

Cribless at the Hilton

 

Baby sleeping on bed surrounded with pillows

Sleeping amongst a castle of fluffy pillows

 

Yesterday’s post: Set…

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Friday, 28 November 2014

Daily Pics: Set…

In the midst of a packing frenzy. Trying to pack for three months abroad, five countries, seven stops, winter and summer seasons, three people, two bags plus baby gear. Add to that, packing up the RV for storage. As Irish Lass commented on Facebook, such a huge first world problem to have!

As with any challenge, solving it starts one step at a time, and with long lists of things to remember on Evernote – remember to empty rubbish bins, give away condiments and frozen stuff, pack international plugs, passports, print travel insurance docs, pack 6 – 12 month clothes, winter and summer stuff…and the list goes on. Ready, set…

 

Baby on bed with clothes all around him

One very important thing to pack!

 

Shoe rack baby clothes holder

Repurposed show rack packing hack

 

Baby clothes in shoe rack in bag

Rolls up and packs beautifully! And everything is ready to go on the other end

 

Vietnamese restaurant with green walls

Crappy Vietnamese. Should have known from the green on the walls

 

Yesterday’s post: So Very Thankful

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Daily Pics: So Very Thankful

Our first thanksgiving as a family of three. We have so much to be thankful for. Our complaints are small, our challenges insignificant in the broader scheme of things, we have good health and a precious fortunate life. Today we had a great opportunity to give back and help others. We helped fold clothes, prep food boxes and set up tables and chairs for Thanksgiving lunch at the Dream Center in Conroe. Our contribution was so minuscule when you realize 45 million people in America are at minimum wage or less (think $7.25 to $9.50 range). That’s a lot of hardship for a lot of people. I’ve come to appreciate it more and aware of this hidden issue since finishing Linda Tirado’s book, Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America. I am thankful for so much and thankful I can help others too. 

 

Baby on front looking at trees

The only way we can get him to do tummy time. The boy loves trees!

 

Mum and baby in Pom Pom hat

We waited so long for you, so thankful to be your mum

 

Thanksgiving volunteering

Driving to the wrong side of the tracks, parking next to a lady turning tricks, trying to order chaos. Some things feel broken and need fixing

 

Man standing in front of dream center

Such a small drop in the ocean, nevertheless it was a drop

 

Baby reading book

So thankful for my beautiful sister who sent us this book

 

Thanksgiving lunch in the hall

Breaking bread – Thanksgiving turkey and pot luck lunch at Thousand Trails Lake Conroe

 

Baby with sweet potato on his nose

Someone liked their sweet potato

 

Baby with two teeth crying

Poor Baby Boy O. Second tooth breaking through. Grumpy

 

Thumb sucking baby

Binky is so yesterday! He’s started sucking his thumb

 

Dad giving baby a bath in RV

Last tub bath in Rover (for a little while at least)

 

Yesterday’s post: Ready…

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Daily Pics: Ready…

Were getting ready for the next leg of our journey. There are an incredible number of things to think through. What to pack, what needs to be done first, dependencies, contingency, milestones, status reports…hold on wait…slipping back into work mode. Today we planned, ate watermelon and burgers, slipped in a second massage at the great Thai place (little gem in Conroe) and got the storage organized. All in a day’s work. 

 

Baby eating watermelon

One of his favorites, so far

 

Thai massage room

Who would have expected to find a traditional walk on your back type Thai massage in Conroe Texas?! Reminds me of the days living in Bangkok 

 

Five guys burger and fries

Then followed by Five Guys for lunch. Heaven.

 

Man closing door of RV storage

Storage organized. Rover has a home for the winter 

 

Baby and mum sitting by the campfire

Baby Boy O’s first campfire

 

Yesterday’s post: Practicing Mindfulness

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Daily Pics: Practicing Mindfulness

It’s been eight years since I started practicing meditation. Some days my mind races all over the place like a monkey swinging from tree to tree. Other days, there there are moments of mindfulness and calm. The world seems to be as it is and right here is where I need to be. Nowhere else, nothing else, just here. This morning was one of those days. Baby Boy O and I went for an early morning walk in the cold. He fell asleep, I did nothing but breathe.  

Baby asleep

Sleeping beauty

 

Carter's store

A sad little outlet mall off the interstate where unloved things sit on shelves. Looking for warm clothes for Baby Boy O

 

Picnic table by RV

Making phone calls in the sun

 

Dinner on the grill

The day seems to disappear, and then it is dinner time

 

Campfire

Sitting by the fire, red wine, pistachio nuts and sweet potato chips

 

Yesterday’s post: Alone at Last

Tomorrow’s post: 

 

 

 

Monday, 24 November 2014

Daily Pics: Alone at Last

Having a baby changes you in all the ways you can imagine, and even more the ways you didn’t know to imagine. Sleepless nights, constant feeding and care, crying, diapers, smiles and all that stuff came easily. The harder part is working out how to make this constantly changing symbiotic relationship positive and enriching. When this little being is physically, and if not, then mentally joined at to you at every moment, finding the line between us and me is a see saw that can slope one way more than the other. Equilibrium takes vigilance and effort. Today that see saw got balanced. Driving in the car alone, having time to think (not about Baby Boy O) and doing something for me, and me alone. A long overdue and welcome step in the right direction. 

 

Baby with spew

Wouldn’t trade him for the world in spite of another round of chunder

 

Lunch on picnic table in the sun

Lunching in the sun, then off to a Thai massage

 

Yesterday’s post: Sunday Afternoon Stretch

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Daily Pics: Sunday Afternoon Stretch

After what seems like a very long stretch of bad weather, the sun finally broke through. I don’t know how people who live near the poles cope. Darkness, clouds, rain and gloom can really be a Debbie downer. Today it was a sunshine day and we escaped to Sam Houston National Forest for a wonderful leg stretching hike. We were all so glad to be outdoors. Baby Boy O was beside himself, all chatty, his legs kicking and arms waving all over the place. Thankful for a wonderful happy Sunday. 

 

Baby with rattle ring

Magical moment – morning playtime in bed

 

Baby and mummy

Went for a morning walk around the campground

 

Panera bread steak sandwich

Slightly addicted to Panera Bread’s steak and white cheese panini

 

Sam Houston loop trail

Setting off on the loop trail at Sam Houston National Forest

 

Sun shining on lake Conroe

Beautiful Lake Conroe. Beware of the alligators

 

Baby and dad with stick

The cobweb sweeper stick

 

Family photo in the sun

Sunshine and happiness

 

HEB supermarket

Another new supermarket chain. One of our last shops as we need to eat everything down before we put Rover in storage

 

Sunset and moon

Driving back after a long fun day

 

Yesterday’s post: Storm Clouds

Tomorrow’s post: 

 

 

 

Saturday, 22 November 2014

Daily Pics: Storm Clouds

Sometimes there’s sun, sometimes there’s rain, and then there are days like today when everything is stormy. The weather’s been crap, we lost power at one point and we’ve been stuck indoors for what seems like weeks. Baby Boy O was upset, sweaty and teething. Misery loves company. 

 

Baby teething

Ouchies! But thank goodness he is sleeping


Panera bread

Heading out for an exciting lunch

 

Yesterday’s post: Pause Button

Tomorrow’s post: Sunday Afternoon Stretch

 

 

 

Friday, 21 November 2014

Daily Pics: Pause Button

After three intense weeks of travel we have decided to hit the pause button and stay put for a little while. We are north of Houston, pointed toward Dallas where we’ll soon be heading off on the overseas leg of our travels. Storage for the RV is now arranged, next comes the packing of bags and packing up to leave Rover over the winter. Parked up at the Thousand Trails on Lake Conroe is a great place to catch up on all the small tasks that seem to grow as the days pass.  It is also a good place to practice meditation and be in the moment, especially since these moments seem to fly by. November already. How did that happen? 

 

Baby chewing on zebra

Practicing being ‘in the moment’ with Mr Dribble Guts

 

Baby sleeping on dad

English Hubby on daddy duty

 

Baby looking out RV window

Being in the moment – watching Baby Boy O watching the rain fall on the trees

 

Panda Express Chinese food

Craving for Chinese food. This was the best we could find in Conroe Texas

 

Baby with groceries in stroller

Another Walmart shop. Something for everyone

 

Yesterday’s post:

Tomorrow’s post: 

 

 

 

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Daily Pics: Sitting on the Dock of the Bay

Today’s soundtrack belongs to Otis Redding. Today we caught our breadth after a few hectic weeks covering many miles and entertaining very important guests. It was nice to bask in the sun, stare out over Lake Conroe and go for a walk. We got back to our half day split routine where English Hubby was on point for Baby Boy O in the morning and I took over in the afternoon. It feels good to be productive and relaxed.

Baby sitting in bed

Hoping for a lie in, but Baby Boy O had other ideas at 5.30am

 

Baby with big tears

Someone was a little upset today

 

Baby sitting looking over lake Conroe

Taking him out always cheers him up

 

Lake Conroe

Afternoon duty, taking Baby Boy O for a walk

 

Baby and mum

Too excited to sleep. So many interesting things to see

 

Waterfront RV site on lake Conroe

Looking back on our waterfront site

 

View of the dock

Practicing meditation along the path

 

Yesterday’s post:

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Monday, 17 November 2014

Daily Pics: Baby Gap

91 days oversees is starting to dawn and get daunting. The weather has a slight chill, which will be nothing compared to the wet English winter. It’s just occurred to me that we have nothing for Baby Boy O that is fit for snowy climes. So hi ho hi ho it’s off to Baby Gap we go. Stumbled on the lovely Woodlands shopping area where a little bit of damage was done to the credit cards. 

 

Baby sitting in seat with bobble hat

Oh little sweet pea

 

Baby in stroller wearing bobble hat

Getting a little nippy in Texas

 

Conroe campground pond

A walk around the campground to watch the ducks

 

Baby in snowsuit

Mummy, I can’t move in this snowsuit!

 

Yesterday’s post:

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Daily Pics: See You Soon

We say “see you very soon” to Mah Mah and Yah Yah, bidding farewell from a Walmart carpark. We will be seeing them in a couple of weeks time, which makes these goodbyes much easier. After the airport run we scooted off to Houston to meet Finnish Gal and Handyman Dan for brunch. A lovely afternoon getting acquainted with Houston town, with our very own historical tour guide. 

 

Dirty RV

Caked in dirt

 

Baby looking at lady

First Finn he’s ever met

 

Walking by the river in Houston

Post brunch walk around Houston

 

Baby in stroller with lady looking at him

Always time for a quick cuddle

 

Houston by the river

Industrial meets…

 

Houston city from railway angle

…city…

 

Houston meets green belt

…meets park green belt

 

Little bird graffiti

With little gems for a keen eye

 

Canoe tree art

Is that a canoe up a tree?

 

Yesterday’s post:

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Daily Pics: Buc-ees and Popeyes

And so continues our crazy manic round trip to San Antonio and back to Houston. A day of driving and high fructose corn syrup excitement with a pull over in the rain stop at Buc-ees. This little beaver has been taunting us for miles, inviting us to stop in. Only Texas can come up with something this cheesy, so we curbed and spent some money on sugary fake food. If the glycemic index hadn’t already shot through the roof, we would send it sky high by finishing the day with an infamous Popeyes fried chicken with all the trimmings dinner. Heaven have mercy on our waistlines. 

 

Baby and dad cheek to cheek

Y’all have a great morning

 

Morning cuddles with grandparents

More morning cuddles

 

Man eating campground breakfast

Campground breakfast on classy foam plates

 

Baby smiling wearing winter hat

Still a barrel of sunshine even though it is wet and yucky out

 

RV at Buc-ees

Buc-ees, Buc-ees, Buc-ees. We wanna stop at Buc-ees

 

Man and baby at buc-ees

No turning back now!

 

Dad with cowboy hat and baby with Texas hat

Only in Texas

 

Aisles in Buc-ees

Aisles and aisles of crap

 

Beaver nuggets

Beaver poop

 

Popeyes chicken

Fried chicken heaven

 

Yesterday’s post:

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Friday, 14 November 2014

Daily Pics: Last 4 Hour Stand

The battle at The Alamo lasted only 45 minutes, much faster than it took English Hubby and Yah Yah to work their way through the museum and historical site. We made our last stand at the mall during which Baby Boy O sprouted a tooth, mastered calculus and graduated from college. Only after, English Hubby returned to meet up with us. It was a long, long day. 

 

Baby's first tooth

Breaking through, his first Texas tooth

 

Baby and grandpa taking

Having a man to man talk 

 

The Alamo

Making a last stand

 

Baby in bear suit

All dressed up and nowhere to go, except the mall for four hours

 

Taco dinner

Capping off the Mexican theme

 

Yesterday’s post:

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Daily Pics: Grumpy and Cold

When we did our road trip in 2005 we had countless days of sunshine, warm weather and only five days of rain. This time around it seems like San Antonio is intent on tipping that record on its head. Not sure if we were brave or foolish to head out in arctic conditions to dinner on the Riverwalk tonight. I can report that no one caught frostbite, but I think we were all pretty close. 

 

Cleaning up puke on the duvet

Puke is never a good way to start the day

 

Baby on okay mat crying

Our little slug baby refusing to do tummy time

 

Baby being held by grandpa

Much happier when he is being held…

 

Baby with grandparents at whataburger

..and held…whatababy at whataburger

 

RV rest stop

Roadside nap

 

Father eating dessert

Like father…

 

Man eating dessert

…like son

 

Yesterday’s post: 

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Wednesday, 12 November 2014

Daily Pics: Houston Space Center

Unlike many, I’ve never wanted to be an astronaut. I like gravity and oxygen too much. The predictable way water runs downhill, the abundance of air and not having to worry about freezing to death or being radiated by the sun to a crisp every time I step outside just suits me fine. Nevertheless spending the day at the NASA command center was pretty cool. It really is amazing what brainpower, ingenuity, physics and some metal and duct tape can do. The thing that stuck me most – the tour guide said the average age of the men (of course they were all men in those days) running the command center that put Armstrong and Aldrin on the moon was 26 years of age. I guess Jesus was 33 when he was crucified, leaving behind a major religion. Mark was 23 when he became the Facebook billionaire. Feeling a little small and insignificant. I guess that’s what happens when you see the earth from space. 

  

Baby napping on diner bench

Starting the day with a nap…

 

Breakfast at IHOP

…and a hearty breakfast…

 

Baby with grandparents at IHOP

…at IHOP

 

Space craft

Then off to the Houston Space Center

 

Baby and alien friends

Baby Boy O quickly made friends who were out of this world!

 

No stroller sign

Houston, we have a problem

 

All bundled up on the tram tour

Luckily it is easy to bundle him up all nice and snug

 

Mission control

Mission control

 

Baby and dad with astronauts

Standing in good company

 

Liquid nitrogen

Some seriously cool stuff

 

International Space Station mock up

Real life mock up of the International Space Station

 

Orion space craft

Headed for Mars

 

Rocket connector

Built by rocket scientists

 

Baby and dad staring at each other

Star struck

 

Astronaut toilet

How do astronauts go to the bathroom? With difficulty…

 

Moon rock sign

The real stuff

 

Moon rock

It rocks! 

 

Space shuttle endeavor

Endeavor, the space shuttle, not boat

 

Space suit

All suited up

 

Baby in rocket command seat

In the rocket command seat

 

Baby bathed by mah mah

Getting him clean for his next mission…off to sleep

 

Yesterday’s post: Hello Texas

Tomorrow post: 

 

 

 

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Daily Pics: Hello Texas

Heading west into the lone star state. Another day, another Walmart. I never thought I’d be a fan of the evil mega store, but when you’re traveling cross country, they sure are a convenient one stop shop for groceries (with a growing selection of organic produce), baby stuff and odds and ends. Hopscotching between grocery store chains like Krogers, Piggly Wiggly, Food lion, H.E.B. and countless others has its drawbacks. It takes forever to orient yourself and find what you need, and after a while it becomes frustrating playing the ‘which aisle is it in’ game. Here’s to crossing over to the dark side. 

Baby in play seat outside RV

Left to his own devices

 

Waffle House

Breakfast waffles

 

Kitchen in Waffle House

A new perspective after reading Hand to Mouth: Living in a Bootstrap America

 

Texas welcome sign

Into Texas we go, waiting for English Hubby to catch up

 

RV in Walmart carpark

Running through the rain at Walmart

 

Grandpa pushing baby in stroller in Walmart

Playing Choo Choo trains up and down the aisle

 

Tamales

We’re definitely in Texas now!

 

Yesterday’s post: Duck Duck Closed

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Monday, 10 November 2014

Daily Pics: Duck Duck Closed

Baby Boy O had his first close encounter with feathered and webbed footed friends this morning. It’s fascinating to watch as his reaction which swung quickly from nonchalance to a ‘you’re not going to leave me with them are you’ frown. Can’t blame the poor kid. They are noisy creatures and even more so during feeding time. 

Speaking of feeding time, today’s adventure was a non starter. Lunch in the carpark of the Acadian Cultural Center was the highlight, given the museum was closed. At least lunch was good.  

Hungry ducks

A flock of hungry ducks

 

Worried baby

Please don’t let them eat me

 

Sitting around in the RV

All work and no play

 

RV in carpark

Having fun at the Acadian Cultural Center (carpark)

 

Freeway with oil refineries

Spot the oil refinery

 

Yesterday’s post: The Sugar Palace

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Daily Pics: The Sugar Palace

Ankles were quite the thing back in the day. Seeing them on a lady meant one of two things – a pistol duel at dawn, or marriage. So walking up stairs was a logistical nightmare. Men had to head up first or be trusted to avert their eyes honorably. How the last couple of hundred years has changed our ideas of modesty, fashion, beauty and manners. Since the days of the sugar palace (aka Houmas House) very little is off limits. Thank goodness as sandles really don’t look good with socks!

Baby sleeping in star fish position

Starfish napping

 

Baby in play chair with fruit

Baby led weaning fruit fest

 

Lilly pads

Gorgeous gardens at Houmas House

 

Baby in car seat smiling

The little Yankee taking it all in

 

Houmas house

The sugar palace

 

Southern belle at Houmas house

The southern belle

 

Houmas house dining room

Exquisite dining

 

Baby and grandpa sitting

Resting weary legs

 

Baby tickles

Belly laughs in the garden

 

Factory

Banks of the Mississippi once lined with plantations are now filled with industry

 

Man filing up at gas pump

After dinner left Baby Boy O with the grandparents and went in search of Walmart. Failed miserably.

 

Yesterday’s post: Louisiana Plantations

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Daily Pics: Louisiana Plantations

Started off the day playing with our new toys. Baby Boy O tried out his play seat and we took the Shark out for a spin. It’s probably not natural to get this excited about a vacuum cleaner, but ever since starting the road trip we had been holding down the fort with a hand held dust buster which doesn’t quite have the suction power to get between the pile. You can imagine what we managed to pick up off the carpet with my favorite new piece of equipment. 

After waging a jihad on dirt and dust we headed out to explore a few plantations. First stop was the majestic Oak Alley Plantation where we walked through reconstructed slave quarters, learned about the history of the house and the people who lived within its four walls, and indulged in a huge lunch which culminated in an almighty sugar high with the best pecan pie ever. 

Our final stop was the Laura Plantation where stories were brought to life and the creole culture shone through. Again a very checkered past with slavery, with the sugarcane plantation held firmly by a family of matriarchs. It was a hard life back then. Makes you realize we have it easy. 

 

Baby in SuperSeat playing

Baby Boy O having a ball in his SuperSeat

 

Shark vacuum cleaner

An absolute god send!

 

Grandma grandpa and baby sitting in front of RV

Baby sitting duty

 

Crawfish étouffée

Finally got to try crawfish étouffée, a Louisiana special

 

Oak trees

Beautiful Oak Alley Plantation, leading to the Mississippi

 

Oak alley plantation house

A Louisiana Taj Mahal, built for his wife (except she was still alive)

 

Oak alley plantation tour guide

Southern drawl

 

Oak alley plantation bedroom

Steeped in history and fascinating stories about the people who lived there

 

These beautiful plantation properties also provides the perfect backdrop to play with black and white…

Balcony at oak alley plantation

Afternoon on the balcony

 

Beautiful oak tree

Majestic oaks

 

Sugarcane burning

Billowing smoke from the sugarcane burning

 

Sunset at Laura Plantation

Sunset at Laura Plantation

 

Orange tree at Laura plantation

Orange tree from the slave quarters

 

Baby Boy O and dad at Laura plantation

My boys in black and white

 

Yesterday’s post: This is How We Roll

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Friday, 7 November 2014

Daily Pics: This is How We Roll

Time to say farewell to New Orleans, crisp white sheets, rainwater showers and housekeeping. Back to the reality of life on the road, lunches in Walmart car parks and exploring the big wide world, notching up hundreds more miles under our tires heading as we head west along the scenic plantation route toward Houston. This is how we roll! 

 

Baby lying on bed talking to grandpa

Morning chat with Gong Gong on Skype

 

View of French quarter from 14th floor

Not a bad view from the 14th floor – trains, paddle steamers and so much to see

 

Mum and baby having breakfast buffet

What a big mess a small baby can make

 

Four adults and one baby in a cab

Jenga style packing, but we all managed to fit in one cab back to the RV park

 

Grandpa holding baby in Walmart carpark

Packed up and headed to Walmart to buy groceries, cabin linen, a vacuum and a baby play center

 

Yesterday’s post: Snap Happy in the French Quarter

Tomorrow’s post:

 

 

 

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Daily Pics: Snap Happy in the French Quarter

Whilst English Hubby and the In-Laws were off on a cemetery and swamp tour, Baby Boy O and I had a marvelous time wandering around the French Quarter on a photography safari playing with apature, shutter speeds, perspectives and angles. Natasha talked about the ‘establishing shot’, one that gives the audience a sense of place, an understanding of what makes it special, a recognition of newness with a dash of familiarity. It occurs to me that life feels like a series of estsblishing shots. Everyday on our road trip we’ve had to mentally take one to ground ourselves, and at the same time appreciate our new surrounds. 

Beignets and coffee

A delicious way to start the day at Cafe du Monde 

 

St. Louis cathedral in New Orleans

Situating shot one – St Louis Cathedral, it’s importance accentuated by the sky

 

Statue of Andrew Jackson on horseback

Our first photography assignment using the light (this one done with an iPhone camera, not the DSLR) 

 

Photography tour group

Photography safari, a great way to practice photography and have welcome help to push a stroller

 

Baby asleep in stroller

An absolute angel and the best photography buddy you could ask for. He soon became the subject 

 

Photography gallery

Taking in the galleries 

 

Foot massage in New Orleans

And a little break for sore feet

 

Bluegrass band

Bluegrass beats on Royal St

 

Baby listening to bluegrass

Listening intently

 

Streets of New Orleans

Soaking up a sense of place 

 

Blowing bubbles

Blowing bubbles to the blues

 

Natchez paddle steamer

Off to dinner on the Natchez paddle steamer

 

Jazz band

Jazz on the Mississippi

 

Steam engines on the paddle boat

Powered by Thelma and Louise

 

Paddle steamer

Pushing forward

 

Yesterday’s post: New Orleans Culinary Experience

Tomorrow’s post:

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Daily Pics: New Orleans Culinary Experience

Food can tell you so much about a place, a culture, an history, a moment in time. Which is why one of my favorite ways to experience a new city is to do a food tour and what better place than the melting pot of New Orleans. We learned about Creole and Cajun food, and what differentiates them – sauces, alcohol and tomato – all pointers to the higher brow Creole cooking. We heard stories of how the different settlers of New Orleans and Louisiana – French, Germans, Italians, African, Irish and more – all brought something to the table, adding their own favors to the mix. We saw bread pudding with hard sauce being made, along with gumbo, jambalaya and sweetest of the sweet pecan pralines. New Orleans has been a feast for the senses.

 

Baby with dog toy

Special delivery all the way from England for Baby Boy O. It talks with an English accent too

 

Sign for rubys slipper

Breakfast nawlins style with eggs on cochon and biscuits

 

Grandpa pushing stroller

Exploring on foot

 

Beer sign

Q&A session

 

French quarter street

French quarter sightseeing 

 

Baby biting on hot sauce bottle

Looking to spice things up

 

Sitting at the table at New Orleans cooking school

Getting ready at the New Orleans cooking school

 

Hot biscuits

Biscuit starter with sweet molasses

 

Baby eating biscuits

Everyone got in on the action

 

Cooking school demonstration

Watching Michael bring it all come together – gumbo, jambalaya, bread pudding and pralines

 

Spoons of roux

Different shades of roux

 

Baby with plastic cups on his hands

Keeping himself entertained…for almost three hours 

 

Pecan pralines

Delectable sweet buttery pecan pralines

 

Bluegrass buskers

Buskers on Royal St

 

Not haunted sign

Good to know it doesn’t come with any added extras

 

Red wall of photos

Next part of the foodie tour in the hallowed dining rooms of Antoine’s

 

Green dining room

Each Krewe with its Kings and Queens of Mardi Gras

 

Sandy with shrimp Remoulade

Sandy taking us to try Remoulade shrimp, the German side of New Orleans

 

Fine dining room

Fine dining in the back room

 

Mardi Gras ball gowns

Party gal Germaine’s Mardi Gras ball gowns

 

Grandstand at Antoine's

Grandstanding

 

St. Louis cathedral

Strolling by St Louis Cathedral listening to the jazz

 

Baby asleep in stroller

Someone held up very well, having been out all day

 

Tujacques bar

Last stop for beef brisket

 

Pouring grasshopper cocktails

And world famous grasshopper cocktails (yuck!) 

 

Dad and baby in over 18 bar

Little rebel

 

Baby with grandparents in pub

Having a good hard look

 

Arm in the mouth of an alligator

We’ve taken a bite out of New Orleans, now New Orleans is taking a bite out of me!

 

Baby looking in the mouth of an alligator

Where’s my mummy?

 

Yesterday’s post: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Tomorrow’s post: Snap Happy in the French Quater

 

 

 

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Daily Pics: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Mah Mah and Yah Yah have arrived after 19 hours in transit. Plans almost foiled by a missed plane connection, a mile long train which stopped strategically so no road traffic could actually pass, and an intricate logistics shuffle to leave the car back at the RV park and get to the hotel in the French Quarter. The good news is that everyone arrived safe and well, Baby Boy O is sleeping like an angel and although we had to wait way too long for our dinner order which subsequently came out cold, the hotel did the right thing and comped us for our meal. Funny how the world always looks better and brighter when you get more sleep. Things are on the up!

 

Man working on laptop in RV

Busy morning with conference calls, work stuff, digital admin and the usual bill paying madness

 

Drive by mail boxes

Mail run and spotted the lazy man’s solution

 

Christmas trees in the department store

Running errands at the mall and noticed Christmas trees. Really? Already?

 

Baby in car seat in front of hotel with bags in background

Crazy how much stuff is needed for a three night stay

 

Paddle boat on the Mississippi

View from the 23rd floor of the mighty Mississippi

 

Baby and mum in mirror

Fluffy robes, white bath, smelly soaps. Happy to be pampered

 

Yesterday’s post: The Big Easy

Tomorrow’s post: 

Monday, 3 November 2014

Daily Pics: The Big Easy

We may be in the big easy, but it wasn’t an easy night of ‘sleep learning’ for Baby Boy O. He cried for the better part of an hour, perhaps even more. Did I say cry? I meant wailed, sobbed, heart breaking howls until he fell asleep, dried salt crusted tears on his face. It had to be done. Somehow he (we) had gotten into the habit of waking up three times a night. An untenable and unsustainable pattern of sleep deprivation that felt like a slow steady torture. Something had to change. Hopefully this is the first step in the right direction. 

 

Baby in dinosaur romper sitting

All happier after a good night’s sleep

 

Winn Dixie supermarket

Taking a stroll around Winn Dixie

 

Baby climbing on dad

Using daddy as a climbing frame after resisting nap time

 

Baby by the pool

Thoughtful reflection by the pool. Getting sleepy…

 

Yesterday’s post: iDisaster

Tomorrow’s post: Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Daily Pics: iDisaster

After driving 200 miles yesterday and hop scotching across Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, Sunday was a vey welcome day of rest. However that desired calmness was to be shattered by one little baby boy who, in the last 24 hours, refused to sleep longer than a two hour stretch and an iPhone who decided today was the day it would commit electronic suicide. 

I have to admit I’m not sure which one was worse. Grumpy baby or dead iPhone. Even getting a brand new replacement was bitter sweet. The last backup was in April. Thankfully most photos, with the exception of about 100 taken over the last five days, had backed dutifully. Nevertheless losing some of Baby Boy Os first Halloween pics was sad. Today’s post is thin on photos. 

 

Sleeping baby

First photo with replacement iPhone. He’s finally asleep, but not for long

 

Yesterday’s post: From Walmart to Whole Foods

Tomorrow’s post: The Big Easy

 

 

 

 

 

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Daily Pics: From Walmart to Whole Foods

Access to healthy food choices is so important to overall health. It’s fascinating to see how variety differs significantly as we drive through towns in America. On the whole, access to fresh produce has improved since we did our last road trip in 2005. It is nice to see Walmart stock more organic products and a decent selection fresh produce.

I am so very thankful that the diet we grew up with was one that was balanced and healthy. Junk food was rare, water was the main drink in the house and processed foods were occasional. I am soberly reminded every now and then that not everybody had the same privilege. This morning we did a quick top up shop in Walmart. As we were checking out the slightly older cashier asked me what vegetable this was? I replied broccoli!

Contrast that to the Wholefoods in Jackson Mississippi. We happen to stumble across an on store chili competition. Ten delicious chillies made with all sorts of ingredients like shrimp, andoullie sausage, truffles, white beans, polenta and more. All competing for taste buds. We happily obliged.

Disgusting pink punch drink at Walmart

Not sure anything this color should ever be ingested

 

Jar of pickled pigs feet

We’re in the south now

 

Whole foods chili cook off

A great idea by English Hubby to stop at Whole Foods for lunch

 

Small sampling cups of chili

So many delicious choices

 

Baby eating chili

Even Baby Boy O got in on the action!

 

Empty chili cartons

Chili magic act…we made it all disappear 

 

Cup that reads a good day to have a holiday

A nice reminder that right now we are on holiday everyday!

 

Welcome to Louisiana sign

Moving from Mississippi to Louisiana

 

Sunset over the swamp

Sunset over the swamp

 

Moon rising

Blue moon over the bayou

 

Yesterday’s post: Trick or Treat

Tomorrow’s post: