We enjoyed the lunch on Thursday with family and friends, and after lunch Bryan's grandma Schambach and I went for a walk all the way to West Esplanade, trailing Mandy on her unicycle. That afternoon, we had a quintuple birthday party with presents and cake for Mandy, Aunt Dot, Juliana, Aunt Julie, and JD. (Emma blew out the candles.) Then we went to Bryan's Aunt Lynn's house for Thanksgiving supper with his mom's side of the family.
It rained most of the day Friday. On Saturday morning, we went on a bike ride on the trail along Lake Ponchartrain. (The trail is closed, which we handled by just yelling "Over there!" at the policeman who tried to talk to us, and continuing to ride.) We rode across the 17th Street Canal to the site of the break that caused so much damage after Hurricane Katrina. The repair in the floodwall is clearly visible, and it's obvious that a lot of homes that used to be in this neighborhood are gone now. The houses that have been repaired or rebuilt are on tall footings.
Late on Saturday afternoon, we got together with Bryan's brother Michael and his girlfriend Juliana at City Park. We didn't have a lot of time before dark, but we used the light that was left for some portraits.
My favorite shot was really an afterthought. The light was gone, we'd finished with what we wanted, and we were headed back to the cars when I saw a warm yellow wall, the outside of the old casino. Juliana sat in an opening in the brick wall, with Michael behind her. We wanted his face next to hers, but it just didn't work out that way, so Bryan just shot what he saw, and serendipity gave us the best portrait of the evening.
Later, we came back to City Park for Celebration in the Oaks. Beginning each Thanksgiving, an area of the park is lit up with holiday lights and carnival rides. One of my favorite things to watch is the restored carousel, with carved wooden horses and brilliant lights and cheerful families bundled up for the evening.
Bryan's mom, Mandy, Julie, and little Emma rode the train around the park. While they were busy, Bryan and I wandered through the park, taking photos.
The park was crowded, but we were able to find quiet moments.
It's a big place, with lots of lights that almost but not quite totally don't go together, a sort of cacophony of Christmas lighting.
Storyland is an area of the park set aside for little ones. It's got lots of scenes from children's books and stories, as big as life, and only slightly creepy. When the train ride was finished, we met up at Storyland to watch Emma play.
Emma's a big fan of slides, but her favorite spot at Storyland seems to be the pirate ship.
We didn't leave New Orleans until mid-afternoon on Sunday, so the drive home was one of our traditional late-nighters. But the extra time spent visiting with Aunt Dot and buying a supply of andouille and beer at Dorignac's is always worth the midnight drive home.