"To strive, to seek, to find and not to yield"
- Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1833

"live deep and suck out all the marrow of life"
- Henry David Thoreau, 1845

"Some guys, they just give up living
And start dying little by little, piece by piece
Some guys come home from work and wash up,
And go racin' in the streets."
- Bruce Springsteen, 1977

"...to the heart, there's no time for you to waste.
You won't find your precious answers now
by staying in one place."
- Frank Turner, 2009

"The best things in life aren't things.
They're living and breathing."
- Michael Franti , 2011

"I owned every second that this world could give,
I saw so many places, the things that I did"
- Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic, 2014

All written content and photos by Rob Fulfer unless otherwise indicated.

Friday, January 9, 2015


We picked yet another famous locale to ring in the 2015 New Year.  New Orleans is one of our favorite places and it seemed like an obvious choice.  And since we have been a few times already, we decided to enhance the trip by making it a literal "Planes, Trains and Automobiles" kind of endeavor.

Photo by Wayne Hutton.
December 31:  We switched the order around a bit from the movie title with the automobile coming first in the form of a one-way rental minivan taking us and four of our good friends (Wayne, Mike, Chris and Tarryn) from Nashville to Birmingham, Alabama.  From there we hopped our first-ever Amtrak commuter train for a 7-hour jaunt down to New Orleans.  We were a little skittish about the trip after seeing the rather run-down station in downtown Birmingham a month or so ago and while it wasn't very fancy (looks to be under renovation perhaps), we couldn't have been happier with the Amtrak Crescent train, the staff and our coach seats.  The train arrived on time and we boarded quickly and easily,  The staff did a great job of making sure our party of six could sit together since there weren't assigned seats.  The seats were comfy with lots of leg room and the ride was smooth and problem-free.  It was a very social atmosphere on-board with BYOB not being frowned upon. The time just flew by as we pushed through Mississippi and on into Louisiana with several quick stops along the way.  We even had dinner in the dining car which wasn't bad either.  What a great experience!  We hope to do it again soon ...maybe Memphis to Chicago?
Did I mention it was a social atmosphere?  Here's a pic of all of us along with our nearby seat-mates, a group of young professionals some of whom were also from the Nashville area.  That's the infamous Doug from Franklin in the middle.  No idea who the gal in the back is by the way.  Photo taken by a stranger.
It was a quick cab ride over from the much bigger, newer (and cleaner) New Orleans Amtrak station to our hotel, the awesome Place D'Armes in the French Quarter. We stayed here on our last trip to The Big Easy and even got the same room as before, good ol' # 308.  We took a quick stroll over to Bourbon Street and then rang in the New Year at Jackson Square with fireworks over Cafe Du Monde and even a fleur-de-lis drop high atop the Jax Brewing Building.

Jan. 1 - We slept in a good part of the first morning of the new year and then grabbed some NOLA-famous Hurricane drinks and rode the ferry across the Mississippi River to Algiers, but it was just too cold to explore the river walk they have there.  Maybe next time.  We had a late brunch at the busy Ole Saint Kitchen and Tap which is owned by former Ole Miss and New Orleans Saints' running back star, Deuce McCallister.

We booked this trip well before it was determined who would be playing in the Sugar Bowl (and the first-ever college football playoffs semifinal game).  It was a surprising upset by # 4 seed, Ohio State over # 1 seed, Alabama. We all watched the entire game in Wayne and Mike's amazingly huge room (# 222) and no one was happier with the outcome than our friend, Chris, who is a huge OSU fan.  The rest of us were happy with the bags of beignets from nearby Cafe Du Monde!

Jan. 2 - After an amazing early brunch at The Court of Two Sisters,we took an afternoon streetcar up to the end of the green line to City Park for some fun urban kayaking
We had a delightful two-our tour on the Bayou St. John Historic and Scenic Waterway.  This natural bayou was a key to the settlement of New Orleans and is today a nice blend of nature amid the urban sprawl of the city.
It was back aboard the streetcar after our tour which we squeezed in just before the rain set in.  "Fortune favors the bold." 
Our late dinner was super casual as we checked out the incredible Killer Po'Boys in the back of the tiny Erin Rose Bar.  All sandwiches were good, but the shrimp ones were outstanding.  Photo taken by a nice random guy.
We blew it out on our last night in NOLA up and down Bourbon Street with some activities that are probably best left unwritten on this blog, but that I am sure will be long remembered.

Jan. 3 - We flew back home today on a Southwest airplane. Our reasoning was two-fold.  First, the Amtrak trains back to Birmingham leave at 7 AM (no, thank you!), and secondly, a 7-hour train ride and a 3-hour drive back to Nashville doesn't sound appealing after several days of making good/bad life decisions in NOLA.  It was definitely the right choice.  The flight home was a little delayed due to weather, but we got home safe, sound and happy early that afternoon.

Here's to a great new year!!

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