Mini-Trip to New Orleans! [$120!!!]

Spring is here and it’s time for another road trip! This Sunday I decided to take a one-day trip to New Orleans. The last time I visited Nola was in 2012, and I traveled by train with my family. This time, I took the 4-hour drive alone. My budget for this trip was $120!

First, I toured the Garden District. I’ve always been fascinated with beautiful homes. I felt as though I was walking through a magazine.

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My next stop was Seed; a plant-based restaurant that prides itself in local, natural ingredients, and giving back to the community. I decided to order from the brunch menu! I got tofu scramble, seitan, and wheat toast with vegan butter. I also tried a mango smoothie to go along with it. All for $18 πŸ˜€

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The most awaited part of the trip was the swamp tour! Did I see alligators? Did I get bored by the tour guide? Was it everything I expected?

The swamp tour was much more than I expected… it was my favorite stop! Not once did I get bored by the tour guide. Captain Allen was hilarious, very down to earth, and knowledgeable. I learned so many new things. Alligators can go 6 months without eating, the temperature at which their eggs are hatched determines the gender of the alligator, and they also need warmth in order to digest their food.

I had never been on a swamp tour before, so I had no idea what to expect. The weather was actually pretty cool because of the rain storms on the previous day. And although we were able to see plenty of alligators up close, I had no idea that there was one on the boat the entire time! I was so afraid to hold him on my own, so I held his tail while the lady next to me held his head/mouth (which had tape around it). His belly was surprisingly smooth, and he didn’t try to bite my arm off. Yay!

I ordered my ticket with Cajun Pride Swamp Tours online, and it was $21. The tour lasted an hour and a half. It was a memorable experience that I will always cherish πŸ™‚

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Just a little joke! Fun Fact: gators and crocs are two completely different species.

I wanted to visit Audubon’s Insectarium and Butterfly Garden ($23). Two years ago I toured the Butterfly Garden at The Chattanooga Aquarium, and I’ve wanted to go back ever since. However, the Insectarium is on the edge of the French Quarter, which is always super busy. Plus, there was a live event going on, which meant that it took me an hour to get through all of the traffic.

Once I finally reached the Insectarium, I could not find a parking spot for miles. I had also wanted to try a West African Vegan restaurant in the French Quarter. At this point I was a bit frustrated and I really wanted to get away from all of the chaos. So, I went back to Seed for dinner (where I spent $21 on my meal).

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I tried the vegan chili cheese fries and the vegan chicken nuggets. They were absolutely, amazing. In fact, they were so amazing that I accidentally left my to-go boxes inside the restaurant. Unfortunately, I didn’t realize my mistake until it was too late. I was already on my way to do a little shopping on S Claiborne Avenue. I used the money that I would have spent at the Insectarium, plus money that I had set aside in a separate shopping budget.

Finally, I stopped by the gas station to fill up ($40) before heading back. Overall, I spent about $123 (does the extra shopping really count? πŸ™‚ ) I truly enjoyed my trip to New Orleans. Although I’ve visited before, this time I had a new experience and new adventures. Perhaps next time, I will make it to the Insectarium, and maybe even a Pelicans game! I’m so thankful that God has blessed me with the opportunity to explore what He has created. Now, where to next?

where to next?

Bombingham

While Spring Break is a time when people often sprint to the beach or the mountains, I decided to do something a little different this year. I wanted to revisit the rich history of the nearby city of Birmingham, Alabama… also known as “Bombingham.”

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I was about 8 years old when I first visited the Civil Rights Institute. I still remember vivid details of that memorable, eye-opening experience. I have learned so much more since then, and I believe that plays a major part in making my recent trip all the more valuable.

As planned, I drove to the Civil Rights Institute on Wednesday morning. I met my friend, who also drove to meet me there. Neither of us rode a bus. We didn’t have to walk from our homes. No one told us where we were allowed to sit. It made me think of the small things that we sometimes take for granted. I went to a college and have worked jobs where people of all backgrounds and cultures are present and celebrated. It is a blessing that we are able to work together, live together, and learn together with people of all races and walks of life.

I am so thankful for those that have gone before us, who have fought for equality and justice. I am thankful for those who risked their lives, and lost their lives, so that I would have a better future. Although there are still many areas that need reformation, I am grateful that we are not where we used to be. I am grateful that I have the freedom to use the voice I was given, and tread a way for the generation that is rising now.

“‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: β€˜Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:30-31 (NIV)

 

 

 

 

 

I Traveled To Chattanooga for under $100

One of my goals and desires is to travel more! I decided to take a day trip to Chattanooga, TN and I set a budget of $100. I was determined not to go over that amount, and being the planner that I am, I planned my trip ahead of time.

Originally, I was going to spend 2 days in Chattanooga. I looked around at different hotels and I only found one that I really liked. However, I couldn’t check in until 4:00pm and I was planning to check-out early the next day, so I felt like it wasn’t worth it to spend $300 for a place to sleep, when I could just go back home. I could have just chosen another hotel, but I had the brilliant idea of making it a day trip and having a little fun with a budget!

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First, I filled my gas tank up. It only took $18 because I had driven to Birmingham and back on a full tank, the previous day. However, I don’t like being low on gas. And by low, I mean anything below half a tank. So, I always fill my tank up every Sunday. That way, I always have a pretty good amount of gas, and I don’t have to spend too much money each time I go to the gas station. Fun Fact.

Chattanooga is a 3-hour ride from where I live. I think that anywhere between 1 hour and 3 hours would make a nice day trip. Where are some places that you would like to visit, that are a few hours or less from where you live?

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The first place I went to was a vegan restaurant called Cashew. Downtown Chattanooga was so beautiful! The food at Cashew was also great. I was super excited because it was my first vegan restaurant. I ordered a BBQ jackfruit (“pulled pork”) sandwich and cashew mac & “cheese.” It was hard to believe that all of it was vegan!

 

Next, I went to the art district of Chattanooga, and visited the River Gallery. Admission was free πŸ™‚ and they had some pretty intriguing artwork, with inspirational stories behind them.

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Once I left the art district, I went to the zoo – $10. This was the most anticipated part of the trip. I had been wanting to ride one of the camels at the zoo and was slightly disappointed to find out that I could not. The normal camel that carries the adults had been sick and in the hospital, so there was a different camel there, who was not having it! However, I still got to take a picture with the camel, even though he initially tried to lick me. No thank you πŸ™‚ Overall, I enjoyed the zoo!

Next stop, Incline Railway – $15. First of all, I don’t like heights. Second, I did not have a clear understanding of exactly how this thing worked. Third, I didn’t realize how high or steep the Incline Railway was until about 3 minutes before boarding. Shouts out to the strangers next to me in line that assured me that “it’s not that bad.”

The way that the seats are made, you’re sitting upright until you get to the very top. The higher we got, the more I was sliding out of my seat. I think the trip back down was worse for me, because we were so high in the air! Seriously, my eyes were closed for most of the trip. And any sudden noises made my heart rate go up even more! We landed safely, the brakes didn’t stop working, and we didn’t crash into the other train on the way down, thank God!

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I was pretty hungry at this point and ready for my last stop – Sluggo’s North. It was pretty small, and the food was decent. I ate mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy and a bean burrito with vegan cheese, and tortilla chips.

Usually, I would fill up before heading back home. But after driving for a couple of hours, I decided to stop in Bessemer at the store, to get $15 worth of gas.

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At the end of my trip, I had $6 left over. I really enjoyed my trip to Chattanooga and would love to go again some time in the near future (perhaps in spring or summer next time). I would definitely pass on the Incline Railway and there’s a chance that I may not visit Sluggo’s again. However, I loved the zoo, as well as Cashew’s. I’m already planning my next trip! I can’t wait to share it πŸ™‚

 

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