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Winter Wanderings Day #16, New Orleans, Fountainebleau State Park, Mandeville, LA

My final day in New Orleans with Ashe, we went to lunch between her classes. We ate at Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, again, close to campus at St. Charles and Carrollton, across from Jazmine Café, and next door to Le Madeleine, all on the Tulane meal plan, which is so nice. They have so many fabulous restaurant options near campus, around Uptown that are on their meal plan. These are restaurants people come to New Orleans to dine at. The students are so spoiled! I hope they know how lucky they are. We started with Boudin Balls, which are fried sausage, rice, onion, and peppers, a New Orleans specialty. So good! Ashe got a yummy pasta primavera. I got one of the specials, a Thai shrimp wrap with Caesar salad. It was delish! The servings were huge and enough for a whole other meal for both of us. Yea leftovers! I took Ashe back to school and went to run some errands before picking her up again.

That evening, after work, Wiley drove over the 24mi Lake Pontchartrain Bridge to come meet us at Ashe’s. He had never seen her new apartment and, of course, wanted to meet Hugo. I had scoped out a wide street with two other vans parked on it, right around the corner from Ashe’s, for Wiley to park Happy. Luckily, when he arrived there, there was a spot available. He came in to see Ashe’s place and meet the kitty. Hugo did not come out, right away, so we decided to go get the puppies from the van to go for a walk down fabulous Freret St. in Ashe’s neighborhood. We stopped to get chai at Mojo’s then did a big loop back to the apartment. We put the puppies back in the van then hung out for a while at Ashe’s. Hugo, finally, came out and warmed right up to Wiley. He’s such a friendly cat.

For dinner we drove back down Freret, to Uptown favorite, High Hat. It had a great atmosphere. It was a historic pharmacy with beautiful tile floors, dark wood, and huge windows. It was crowded by 6pm with a happening bar scene. Luckily, we walked right in and got a table by a window. We could not resist and got Boudin for the second time that day, but wanted Wiley to try it. Plus, this was not rolled into balls and fried, but flat and grilled. So yummy! Wiley got their fried catfish. I got the fried chicken special with pimento cheese mac and cheese and greens. Ashe got the oyster po-boy. I tried everything. It was all divine. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed it. It was a wonderful evening. Eat at High Hat!

After dinner, we said our difficult goodbye then Wiley and I hit the road back across Lake Pontchartrain to Fountainebleau State Park. It took about 45min, which is not bad. It’s so much nicer than the Bayou Segnette State Park, only 30min from Ashe, but there’s no comparison. Bayou Segnette has pitiful trails along concrete culverts and chain link fencing by the highway. The road noise is constant. The campground looks like a parking lot with no trees. Fountainbleau is gorgeous, so worth the extra drive time. It is our New Orleans campground home now. I looked forward to exploring a little the following day before having to leave. Wiley had been telling me all about the great trails and boardwalks through the woods, the bayou, and along the lake. I was bummed I had missed the two young wild pigs, that crossed the trail right in front of him, the previous day. Wiley and the puppies had been having plenty of fun without me, which felt weird, but I was glad they had enjoyed themselves. I cherished the time with Ashe and would not trade that for anything. So grateful for Wiley driving us to NOLA and for the van, allowing us to so easily visit family and friends. Yea Happy Camper!