After finishing our visit to New Orleans, we stop again in Gulfport, MS, for an overnight stay and cheap fuel. Then, we cross Mobile Bay and dock at Lulu’s in Gulf Shores, Alabama, on New Year’s Eve.

Day 215 – Tuesday, 12/26 – In New Orleans, LA

Tuesday, we went back to the French Quarter for another walkabout. We returned to a few shops we had visited earlier in the week and picked up some gifts for friends and relatives. We then stopped at the New Orleans Collection. This is a “Collection” of 4 buildings surrounding a courtyard. The buildings house a museum of New Orleans history. One of the buildings was the home of William Ratcliffe Irby, a tobacco magnate. In 1918, he installed a player organ in the entry room of his 3rd-floor apartment. It is in excellent condition, and the Collection holds regular organ recitals.

After walking around for a while, we went past the “Museum of Death” and decided to stop in. After paying our entrance fee, we went into the exhibition area. There were lots of newspaper clippings about serial killers and people on death row. Many taxidermied and preserved animals, a collection of cast plaster death masks from famous and infamous people. It was interesting, a bit morbid, but NOT worth the $20 entry fee.

From the Museum of Death, we walked past a fancy-looking Walgreens and then went to The Sazerac House.

The Sazerac House is a Cocktail Museum where you can learn the history of cocktails in New Orleans. It features the “Sazerac Cocktail,” a famous cocktail that originated in the city.


The story goes that back in 1838, Creole apothecary Antoine Peychaud invented the Sazerac in his shop at 437 Royal Street. They say he first served it to his fellow Masons after hours in an egg cup –a coquetier—a word that some insist morphed into “cocktail.” The drink’s name comes from Peychaud’s favorite French brandy, Sazerac-de-Forge et fils. Somewhere along the line, American Rye-whiskey was substituted for the cognac, and in 1873, bartender Leon Lamothe added a dash of Absinthe. Called the “Green Fairy” for its color and the “Black Death” for its licorice flavor, Absinthe was banned in 1912 for allegedly causing hallucinations. Soon after, Peychaud’s special bitters were substituted in its place.

On the tour, you can taste various cocktails made with their bitters and liquors. They also have a distillery on-site that you can walk through and, of course, an extensive gift shop. There, you can buy bitters, pre-mixed cocktails, and the many liquors made by the Sazerac Company. The museum is run by Sazerac Distillers, who make Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Sazerac Cognac, Southern Comfort, Sazerac Rye, Myers’s Rum, Herbsaint, Eagle Rare, Henry Ramos Gin, and several other liquors.

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Day 216 – Wednesday, 12/27 – In New Orleans, LA

On our first trip to New Orleans, we visited Mardi Gras World, where they design, build, and store the floats, and costumes used in the Mardi Gras parades. They also make statues and decorations for a number of commercial clients like the Cows that you see on the Chick-fil-A billboards.

We really enjoyed our first visit, and as it was only a month before the start of the Mardi Gras parade season, we decided to go back for another visit to see what was new. The museum is in the Warehouse District, right along the Mississippi River, next to the Convention Center and cruise ship terminals. We learned that they are building a new home across the railroad tracks in what is now a parking/vacant lot because the city is expanding the cruise port and taking over their building.

At the museum, you take a guided tour. It starts with a 15-minute video, followed by a hunk of Mardi Gras Cake. King Cake is a Mardi Gras tradition. It’s basically a sweet roll with Green, Gold, and Purple frosting. Traditionally, a small baby (plastic) is baked inside. Tradition says that whoever gets the slice with the baby gets good luck for the year.

The sculpting and painting of these huge structures are amazing. Some are made of paper mache, some of fiberglass, and some of styrofoam carved by a CNC Machine. They are then all hand-finished and painted. While we were there they were working on a number of pieces for the upcoming Mardi Gras parade season. They were also finishing up some giant helmets for the Sugar Bowl football game half time show.

Also on display are the “wagons” that people ride on during the parades. We learned that some of them can carry over 60 people. The company that runs Mardi Gras World will provide floats, costumes, and beads for throwing for over 150 Mardi Gras parades in and around New Orleans.

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We spent over a couple of hours at the museum, then took their free shuttle to downtown. If you are visiting New Orleans, we highly recommend a visit to the Mardi Gras Museum. Buy your tickets online in advance to make sure you have a spot, as it is very popular and tours fill up quickly. They provide a free shuttle bus to and from downtown to the museum.

When we got back to town, we stopped at the Bevolo Gas Light Company, where they hand-make the popular gas lamps you see all over New Orleans. It’s interesting to see the craftsmanship that goes into these lamps. If you are in the market for a gas lamp, you can custom-design your own!

Our last stop was a late lunch at “The Royal House.” We sat at the Oyster Bar and watched them shuck dozens and dozens of oysters while we had lunch.

Since we had a late lunch, we skipped dinner. We were treated to a spectacular sunset at the marina!

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Day 217 – Thursday, 12/28 – In New Orleans, LA

On Thursday, we finally met up with our friend Dave, his daughter Sarah, and her husband Ryan. Dave was playing pickleball when he took a header, banged his head, and sprained both wrists. He ended up having to go to the ER to get patched up, so this was his first opportunity to visit us.

They came to the boat around noon, and we had a nice visit. Then, we went around the flood wall to Landry’s for lunch. Even though Sarah and Ryan live very close to New Orleans, they don’t come to the city very often and have never been to Landry’s. We had a great lunch, and it was fun to see Dave and the kids again! The last time Brenda and I saw Sarah and Ryan, they were on the dock at their apartment complex in Myrtle Beach, SC, and waved us off on Day 1 of our first Great Loop trip.

After lunch, we said our goodbyes, then returned to the boat and started preparing for our departure. Brenda took down our Christmas tree, and I did some boat projects. In the evening, we watched a jet-powered surfboarder zipping around the marina basin and saw a great moonrise.

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Day 218 – Friday, 12/29 – In New Orleans, LA

It has been quite windy during most of our stay in New Orleans. The marina is very protected and there were only a few times where the waves made it in and caused slapping. Friday was especially windy with gusts up to 30 knots. We were glad that we were not leaving and were surprised to see another looper boat, Cheryl Ann pull out in the morning.

We were finishing breakfast when we saw Cheryl Ann return and go back down the fairway to their slip. They tried to dock a few times but were getting pushed around by the wind. They eventually gave up and came to dock next to us on the transient dock. We went out and helped them tie up and chatted with them. They thought that it would calm down once they got out of the Lake, but they never even made it to the canal entrance it was so rough. It was a good choice, as the wind picked up throughout the day.

I did my engine checks and put the bikes back on board. Then, we finished cleaning up the boat in preparation for getting underway in the morning. The weather forecast for Saturday was for light winds and clear skies. New Orleans is nice, but we were ready to get going again.

In the afternoon, I worked on the blog, and Brenda worked on her cross-stitch kit. In the evening, we walked back over to the “Fuel Dock” for our last dinner in New Orleans.

Day 219 – Saturday, 12/30 – From New Orleans, LA to Gulfport, MS – 79 miles, Travel Time: 6hrs 10min

New Orleans,LA to Gulfport, MS
New Orleans, LA to Gulfport, MS

In the morning, we got ready to go at 8:00 am. We checked in with Cheryl Ann to see if they wanted to travel with us, however we found them with buckets catching fuel running out of their vent ports. It seems that they had some maintenance done, and the mechanic didn’t set the valves correctly, so the fuel return from the engine overfilled one of the tanks, causing it to overflow. They were waiting for the mechanic to return to fix the issue so they would not be leaving with us.

Our route today was the reverse of the route we took when we came from Gulfport to New Orleans, so we had a pretty good idea of what to expect.

We pulled out of New Orleans Municipal Yacht Harbor and headed east on Lake Pontchartrain to the canal that leads back to the Gulf of Mexico. The first railroad bridge at the entrance opened right up when we called, so that was easy. As we approached the second railroad bridge, we saw a sailboat waiting. There are two bridges next to each other: a road bridge and a railroad bridge. The road bridge has a clearance of 50 ft, while the railroad bridge is marked as 0 ft.

We called the railroad bridge, and the sailboat responded, “You have to book 4 hours in advance for the bridge,” referring to the highway bridge. I guess he didn’t want us cutting in front of him! We could fit under the highway bridge just fine. The 4-hour notice is because a major highway crosses the bridge, and they have the police come to stop traffic when they raise the bridge, so there is a lot of coordination needed.

We told him we didn’t need to wait for the highway bridge and snuck past him. As we went under the highway bridge, it started to rise for the sailboat, and the railroad bridge also lifted just as we approached, so we had a quick transit through that part of the canal.

We connected back with the Gulf ICW route and went past the Entergy Michoud Plant, a mothballed power plant that the birds had taken over. Next was the floodgate, and then down the rest of the canal to the open water of The Gulf of Mexico. There is a very busy train line that follows the ICW route, and Brenda counted 108 cars on one of the trains.

The rest of the trip to Gulfport was pretty uneventful, except for the barge traffic. The barges had been hunkered down for the past few days due to the wind as well, and everyone was moving today! We passed 11 other boats including a Coast Guard Cutter.

We arrived in Gulfport just after 2:00 and stopped at the fuel dock for cheap diesel. Most of the fuel in the area was between $4.00 and $5.00 a gallon. Gulfport was selling it at $3.09 a gallon! We filled up, and then went to our slip for the night. We were right across from our last slip, and once tied up, we pumped out our black water tanks and settled in.

That night was the last night of the Christmas Lights show, but we skipped it and walked to Shaggy’s just down the beach for dinner. It was just as good as the first time!

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Day 220 – Sunday, 12/31 – From Gulfport, MS to Gulf Shores, AL – 89 miles, Travel Time: 6hrs 15min

Sunday morning, we woke to fog at the marina. It was pretty thick, but by 7:30, it was starting to lift, and we decided to go. There was no wind at all, and the water was like glass. We cast off at 7:50, passing the Banana Boats and heading back to the ICW.

Our destination was on the other side of Mobile Bay near the Alabama—Florida border at a marina called LuLu’s. LuLu was Jimmy Buffett’s “Crazy Sister,” and there are several restaurants bearing her name. The location we were going to in Gulf Shores has its own marina as well as a climbing rope course. It is quite a fun place and very popular with Loopers.

Aside from another busy tug and barge day (I think we passed 4 or 5), the trip was excellent. The fog burned off by 10:00, and it was a calm, clear cruise.

Just after we crossed the entrance to Mobile Bay, we saw something odd ahead that looked like it was right across the channel. As we got closer, we saw it was a raft of large dredge pipes right along the edge of the marked channel. The cormorants and pelicans thought it was their very own private island, and it was shoulder-to-shoulder birds!

We pulled into LuLu’s just after 2:00 and were greeted by four other looper boats. After tying up and chit-chatting on the dock for a bit, we were just in time to go up to the bar for a New Year’s Eve drink and a snack, as they were closing at 4:00 for the holiday.

As is my custom, I went to bed at normal Looper Midnight (9 pm) and slept into the New Year. Brenda stayed up to watch the ball drop on TV, but that was the extent of our New Year’s Eve celebration.

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Kiss Some Frogs To Find Your Prince
Thanks for visiting! –Tom & Brenda

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