New Orleans!

Thursday, 12/5 – Sunday, 12/8:

There was a huge ice and snow storm quickly approaching Dallas (well, most of Texas) and we needed to keep moving or we would be spending the next five days in Dallas. Not that we wouldn’t have enjoyed that, we are just quickly running out of days. And, still so much to see!

When we woke up Thursday morning the car, the thermometer read 31 degrees, just the day before we were walking around in t-shirts in the 78 degree weather. What a difference a day makes (we love Al Roker!).

The drive to New Orleans from Dallas was pretty uneventful and long. We got into New Orleans late Thursday night and headed straight to one of Cate’s favorite places for dinner – Camellia Grill.

This would mark Cate’s fourth trip to New Orleans, this was Michelle’s first time. Cate’s four visits have all been for different reasons and have been over the last 13 years, pre and post Katrina. But, each and every visit has included a trip to Camellia Grill. This old school, take you back in time dinner is not to be missed. You sit at the counter watching it all happen in front of you. The waiters have incredible energy and fist pump you post meal. Some of the best burgers and shakes this side of the Mississippi.

We are spending the next few days with Cate’s friend Terry and her family. Cate’s first visit to New Orleans was in 2000 to visit a friend of hers that was in school at Tulane. Little did Cate know, Terry and her family live with in a stones throw of the Tulane campus. Funny to think she’s been so close to Terry’s house without even knowing it!

Our days in New Orleans were spent exploring the vibrant and colorful city. French Quarter, Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, popping into various bars, restaurants and little shops and art galleries. It is pretty incredible that you can hear any type of music at ANY hour in New Orleans.

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No trip to New Orleans would be complete without a meal at the famous Acme Oyster House. When we arrived, a line out the door (per usual), we decided to take two of the three open seats at the bar. Oysters ordered, wine in hand (when in New Orleans, right?), shrimp po boys on the way, we were happy little oysters.

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Little to our surprise, Tony sat down right next to us – the only other open seat at the bar. Tony, from Pittsburgh, was in town for the American Hematology Society Conference (ASH). Apparently, this is the largest conference to come through New Orleans annually, and coincidentally, the weekend we were in town. Doctors everywhere!

It wasn’t until halfway through the conversation with Tony that a light bulb went off in Michelle’s head. A quick trip back down history lane for a moment. Michelle’s first job in NYC was assisting Dr. Hamlin at the Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. He took a chance on her, he taught her life lessons as well as professional lessons and has been a huge influence on her life and a mentor.

“Wait, we used to send Dr. Hamlin and several of the other doctors to this conference when I was working for him. I wonder if he is here?”

Michelle sent off a quick email and within minutes Dr. Hamlin wrote back. Not only was he in New Orleans, we was literally 2 blocks away from where we were. How crazy is that!

He came over to Acme to join us for a catch up, and for some more oysters. Cate had heard about Dr. Hamlin for years and years, but never had the opportunity to meet him. He and Michelle had such a great time catching up on life, their co-workers and old patients. He shared photos and stories with updates on some of the patients that were in treatment when Michelle was working there. Brought tears to Michelle’s eyes knowing so many were doing well and now healthy.

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Also, how many of you have heard the story of the doctor taking Michelle into the bone marrow aspiration surgery? And, in turn, Michelle almost fainting. It’s a good story. Ask her about it if you haven’t heard it. But, Dr. Hamlin is the doctor that took her in to witness the procedure.

Oh and half way through our meal the Georgia State basketball team walks on in. You forget how tall basketball players are until you are standing right next to them. We ended up having a little chat with them, wishing them well in their game against Tulane and took this snazzy photo:

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Friday night we were lucky enough to have tour guide Luke at our services. He isn’t really a tour guide, but seriously Luke, you should think about quitting your day job and just take visitors out at night and show them the town. Ok, scratch that, don’t quit your day job cause you are pretty amazing at what you do. Maybe it is just that you are awesome at everything?

Cate and Luke know each other through work and it was fun to be reunited and spend some time hanging “off the clock.” Luke’s friend Emily and his cousin Rachel joined in the festivities. You girls are so fun!

The night began at Jacques-Imo’s Cafe. I know we keep saying “you have to go to this restaurant and you have to go to that restaurant and it’s really the best we have eaten,” but the food just keeps getting better and better. You can’t blame us for eating well on this trip, that is for darn sure. The food was out of this world and so southern (Michelle felt right at home). There have been a few times in the last few days we have thoughT about turning the car back around again for that alligator cheesecake. Yes, alligator cheesecake. Heavenly.

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Our first (or second if you count dinner) stop of the night was at d.b.a to check out the band Rebirth. Holy horns. These guys are insanely talented and put on quite the show. The room was packed, everyone moving around and dancing! The musicians were so into it. One of the best set of horns we have seen in a long long time. Check them out folks.

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Next up on the tour was Jean Lafittes Blacksmith shop. This cozy little bar, lit dimly with candles, dark wood exposed has this sexy little feel to it. Tucked deep in the back of the room is this grandiose black piano covered in more candles. A man behind the piano singing and playing away. We sat in the stools around the bar, listening to his amazing voice and singing along. About 45 minutes had passed before we turned around and saw about 40 to 50 people had gathered behind us listening to him. Magical.

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A walk down crazy Bourbon street popping in and out of bars to hear different musicians and live bands. We ended the night at the Gold Mine for a serious serious dance party. What a night it was.

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Luke, we really cannot thank you enough for showing us the best of the best in town. You have some serious dancing shoes and we cannot wait for more fun times. Rachel, loved hanging with you girl, hearing your stories and singing the night away with you. It was indeed a night we won’t forget.

As you should, we ate our way through most of New Orleans. We stumbled upon this gorgeous little restaurant, Kingfish Kitchen on Chartres Street. Beautifully decorated, reminded us a lot of one of our favorite old stomping grounds in New York – Parlor Restaurant. The food was out of this world and the drink menu would make you want to stay there for days to taste and try every single one.

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Dinner on Saturday night was at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen Uptown. We were exhausted from walking around all day, starving and just wanted something comforting, warm and tasty. At Luke’s suggestion, we popped in. We both decided on the butternut squash ravioli’s. The best decision we made was to not share dinner – we both stuffed our faces. Some of the most tasty butternut squash ravioli we have ever had. The highlight though was spending some time talking with Thom, our waiter and manager of LPK. Thom was intrigued by our travels, shared stories of his own travels, his decision to move to New Orleans years ago and why he never left. We absolutely loved spending some time with you Thom and so look forward to coming back again soon to share some delicious food – and more conversation. Thank you for your generosity and for the cool bag and hot pads we got to take home with us! A little piece of New Orleans in our new homes (wherever and whenever that may be!)

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Terry, where do we even start to tell you how we feel about you or how to thank you. Simply: you made us feel so at home and so welcome. Part of the family and part of the typical morning coffee and eggs routine in the kitchen. I know Michelle is your favorite, but I love you just as much. Your love for New Orleans is infectious. Your heart is bigger than we can describe. You listen with the open ears and an open heart. You make us laugh like no other. You filled our hearts with energy and love and joy. We simply adore you and your family. Brad, we loved talking football (go Georgia!) and Bogey, sweet Bogey. We cannot wait to get back to snuggle with you again soon.

New Orleans, you stole our hearts and charmed the pants off of us. Your energy is infectious. Your music is thrilling. Your charisma is endearing. You are a city unlike any other. We are so lucky to have spent a few days with you and with your finest – Terry, Brad, Reese, Luke, Rachel, Emily (and Bogey!).

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See you again soon New Orleans!

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Here are some more shots:

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Oh, and did you really think we would leave without a stop at Cafe Du Monde?

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