We found a little stowaway that fit in our carry-on suitcase! She was playing in the hotel room and would completely close the top. She's so little that it didn't even bulge out! After flying into Dallas, we spent the night in Allen, TX where Willie's Aunt Regina and Uncle Ralph live. The next morning, we woke up really early and got on the road, in hopes to avoid morning traffic on our way out of town. We drove all the way down to New Orleans and arrived around 3 in the afternoon.
Willie, Max, and silly-face Zahra in Jackson Square. New Orleans.
Zahra eating beignets at Cafe Du Monde (New Orleans). We've made beignets from scratch at Auntie Colleen's and those were delicious. I tried making them with Zahra after the "Princess and the Frog" movie came out and those were... edible. By far, I think the best beignets are the Mickey-shaped ones they have at Cafe Orleans in Disneyland. So light. So fluffy. So delicious! So of course, we had to stop by Cafe Du Monde (world famous?) since we were in New Orleans. I was very disappointed. When I had them the last time I was there (pre-Katrina), I didn't really have anything to compare them to so I thought they were OK. This time I thought they were terrible! Not even worth it. Then, at the end of our dessert, I had to go to the bathroom because I knew walking back to our hotel would take a long time. Yuck! The kitchen was a disaster! It made me really not want to eat them again.
Mostly, Max and Zahra enjoyed the powdered sugar. They didn't really even dig into the doughy part of the beignet. But they loved it. So at least they enjoyed the experience. We walked around the French Quarter the next day and kept asking if places served beignets. No one did! The only place that seemed to have them was Cafe Du Monde. For being the state dessert or whatever, I didn't really understand the monopoly on the beignet market. I wanted to try different ones to compare, the way we did comparing malasadas when we were in Honolulu. Sorely disappointed with the beignet experience in New Orleans. I will continue to crave the ones from Disneyland.
All right, so you had to pay to take a picture with this character, but Zahra really wanted to do it! I didn't think it was worth $1, but Willie wanted to make her happy. It was funny because I think she was really intrigued by him, although you can't really tell that from her expression. After we walked away, she seemed jazzed about the whole experience.
Willie and the kids in front of the Mississippi. We visited Mardi Gras World to look at all the floats that are made for the holiday. The floats were housed in this huge warehouse that was open to the outside which meant that it was super hot in there, probably around 90 degrees. Max was suffering from a cold so he was miserable and cranky. He just kept screaming and fussing. That with the heat made the whole experience difficult. I think Zahra got a kick out of seeing the huge floats, though.
My favorite picture of the whole trip! Zahra in front of a gold-covered Buddha that was probably on a float at some point. Inside the air conditioned gift shop of Mardi Gras World.
Max playing inside the window in the hotel in New Orleans.
Family picture at Jackson Square (New Orleans)
Reading in bed in New Orleans with sleeping Max. He just crawled up and laid down and went to sleep on my arm. I love this part of vacation! I got to read so much. I probably read over 400 pages of this book while we were on vacation. (Thanks, Maryanna, for letting me borrow the latest Elizabeth George!)
After an afternoon and a day in New Orleans, we left to drive north. We had lunch in Baton Rouge with Willie's cousin Chasity.
After lunch we drove to Shreveport. Max had this bag of chips and he climbed up into the bed by himself. The pillow was there and he just made himself comfortable, popped his hand in the bag and started eating the chips. It was pretty hilarious.
When we went to Willie's Aunt Shirley's house, Zahra just made herself at home right away. I thought she might be kind of shy, but maybe because we said it was family and she heard there were kids, she just ran right back into her cousin Christian's room. They were instant best friends. It was so cute that they just started playing together like they had been lifelong friends!
At the Boardwalk in Bossier City with family from Bessie's side of the family.
After a few days in Shreveport, we drove north some more and went to Texarkana (a city which exists across the state line in both Texas and Arkansas). Willie's grandmother (Big Mama) lives on the Arkansas side. Here we are on the porch in Big Mama's backyard with family from his dad's side.