This trip was kind of a 2-for-1! Kelsi had both New Orleans and the French Quarter listed. I decided to check these off the list over the week of Halloween because it was one of Kelsi’s favorite holidays (there’s even a Halloween party in my hometown in her memory) and NOLA is the kinda town you can REALLY celebrate in, am I righttt?! Two of my closest friends Amy Paffrath and Justin Walter joined me on this trip, and trust me when I say we had a GOOD time!
Not tequila, not Fireball, nope...THIS was my first shot in NOLA! I got SO sick the week before my trip an was still feeling it when I got there. These wellness shots I found at Pulp & Grind really helped! I kept joking that Kelsi was trying to takeover my body for the trip, but I'm kind of serious you guys! I had the nastiest cough, my head and chest was loaded with snot (yum), felt like total crap—pretty much how Kelsi or anyone living with Cystic Fibrosis feels every single day. Kelsi always tried her hardest to push through, so the show must go on!!!
Since Kelsi had the French Quarter listed it was really importatnt to me that we stay IN the French Quarter. I found the cutest, authentically New Orleans-vibed hotel on TripAdvisor. Hotel Maison De Ville was the perfect spot right in the middle of ALL the action. Literally steps from Bourbon Street!
The courtyard was hands-down my favorite part of Hotel Maison De Ville. I'm slightly obsessed with it. Woke up to THIS view every morning, plus the sounds of smooth jazz coming from the brunch next door at the Court of Two Sisters. Each day I'd grab a free crossaint and cup of coffee from hotel lobby and relax in the courtyard—HEAVEN! Yeah, yeah I know, I didn't come to New Orleans to RELAX...but you'd honestly never know all the French Quarter craziness was right on the other side!
Kelsi was an artist and she loved color. I know one of her favorite things about New Orleans would have been all the bright and funky homes, especially this lavender one on the non-crazy end of Bourbon Street. She definitely would have wanted to take a few (or a hundred) Instagram pics up against it (ok me too), so I did a full-on photo shoot here while some dudes on the stoop next door watched. Hope they enjoyed the show!
Some of the Un-Bucket List items are simply locations, so I try my best to do stuff I think Kelsi would have liked, and of course I've got to throw in some things I really want to do too. I've been to New Orleans twice before, only for super quick trips, and I've always wanted to do a swamp tour but never had the time. So we took it from the street to the swamp for an airboat tour on the bayou!
Okay I never thought I'd say this, but...how pretty is the swamp?? It was actually really peaceful and relaxing (another thing I never thought I'd say) considering it's full of crazy bugs and giant alligators. So...did we see any gators? You'll have to watch the video (which I don't have edited yet, ha!) and see!
The Main Event: Halloween! Halloween leads into another holiday, Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos, Nov. 1-2). Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican holiday to honor loved ones who have passed away, which is exactly why I came to NOLA: to celebrate the life of my angel Kelsi! She actually loved sugar skulls and even incorporated that style into a few of her paintings. That's her thick gold chain necklace, plus I'm wearing a charm on the other necklace that was our sweet grandmother's, who passed away a few months before Halloween.
We kicked off the night on Bourbon Street, which was exactly as insane as you'd imagine. Made some new friends at Pat O'Brien's, drank a few of their famous hurricanes, and got hit on by this really creepy dude behind the bar...
Two skeletons and a German walk into a bar...I'd like to say Justin didn't get the Day of the Dead memo, but the truth is he had just gotten back from Oktoberfest in Munich (check out his travel blog) and wasn't quite ready to give up the lederhosen!
It was so special having these two with me on this trip. We've been friends for years and they were really there for me when Kelsi passed away. Amy knows the deep pain of losing a sister; she lost her sister Christy to cancer several years ago, as well as her father to ALS . She's passionate about both of these causes and has still somehow managed to help me in my fundraising efforts for Cystic Fibrosis. And Justin has worn NOTHING but mermaid leggings (I mean, merMAN) for my team team Kelsi's Klimbers at the annual CF Climb in Los Angeles...now that's love!
Kelsi really would have LOVED New Orleans, a city that's bright and colorful just like she was. I know she's always with me (even when I don't have her initials painted on my face!) and I'm loving this journey she is taking me on. Thank you Kelsi!