US travel

Eating Through NOLA 2023

I first visited New Orleans with my daughter in April of 2015. (See previous posts regarding Layfette Cemetery, a swamp tour, visiting Laura Plantation, and, of course, the fabulous food!)

During that visit I was especially mindful of, and mentioned, wheelchair accessibility.

I returned to New Orleans in February of 2023, this time with my two sons and their ladies, and our two service dogs.

Four adults - two men and two women - with two black and white service dogs, standing on the riverside pathway between the French Market and the Mississippi River.
(Left to right) Spencer and Leah, with Harley and Kilo, and Kealoha and George

Our main focus was finding great food throughout the day, and taking the dogs to new and welcoming places!

(Note: Although I had visited some of these locations previously, Leah researched and suggested many of the restaurants, and George found two out-of-area parks for the dogs to explore.)

In a future post – “Kilo and Harley Visit New Orleans” – I will focus on the dogs, parks, cigar shops, cemeteries, and parades.

But this post is all about NOLA food!


Bearcat Cafe – Uptown

Plate of four biscuits, with small containers of jelly and butter

Although Kealoha had to work online during the week, her 11:00 am start time on Wednesday allowed us to travel to Bearcat Cafe on Jena Street for breakfast.

We were seated inside, where Kilo and Harley were able to lay quietly under the table and out of the way. Our server was patient with our questions, gave good suggestions for gluten-free / special diet entries, and even shared the recipe for the outstanding cauliflower grits!

(To read more, see my TripAdvisor review of Bearcat Cafe, and more yummy photos!)

Cafe Du Monde

Since this was the first time Leah and Kealoha had visited NOLA, of course we had to take them to a New Orleans classic: Cafe du Monde.

We were staying in an AirB&B on Frenchmen Street, an easy 30-minute walk to Decatur Street and the powdered sugar-coated goodness of beignets and cafe au lait. Again the dogs lay at our feet, unfazed by the people, the boisterous jazz ensemble on the corner, or the little birds seeking sugary crumbs.

Two-photo collage, each with black and white dog lying on ground underneath chairs at Cafe du Monde, New Orleans

To accommodate Kealoha’s work schedule, we went early on a Tuesday morning and were delighted to find many empty tables. We each ordered a cafe au lait and a plate of beignets: three freshly-fried puffs of pastry heaping with powdered sugar. Yum!

Two-photo collage of beignets, cafe au lait, and a man sitting at a table and eating a beignet, taken at Cafe du Monde, New Orleans.
If you don’t end up wearing some powdered sugar, have you even really been to Cafe du Monde?
Two men and two women sitting at small round tables, eating beignets and drinking cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans


Commander’s Palace

In 2015 Amanda and I had a birthday lunch at Commander’s Palace, and I wanted my sons to have the same great experience. So I encouraged them to have a “day date” with their ladies and take them to a fancy lunch.

Image of two men and two women sitting at table and ready to order lunch at Commander's Palace in New Orleans.
Bird's eye view of restaurant table, with four entries and beverages, and a man and a woman eating. Taken at Commander's Palace, New Orleans

They all ordered the special “Mardi Hog” pork belly lunch, George imbibed in the 25-cent martinis, and the four of them shared a strawberry shortcake for dessert. They came home full and happy!

Two-photo collage, one of "Mardi Hog" lunch plate of pork belly, and one of martini glass with strawberry shortcake dessert in foreground, Commander's Palace, New Orleans

District Donuts, Sliders and Brew

Two plates of desserts on a table, including donuts, cinnamon roll and cookie, with District Donuts, Sliders, Brew box in the background.

One afternoon we grabbed lunch at District Donuts on Harrison, another suggestion of Leah’s. Although we missed breakfast and the Hot Chicken and Honey Butter Biscuit, we were delighted with the sliders and desserts we ordered!

Click link for TripAdvisor review of District Donuts on Harrison.

Coop’s Place

Traveling from Florida, Kealoha and George arrived in New Orleans a few hours before we Texians did. Kealoha had to work, so George found a cigar shop (Crescent City Cigars) and chatted with Tracy, the owner, who recommended we eat at Coop’s Place on Decatur.

We had lunch there the next day, and found Tracy’s recommendation to be spot-on! Red Beans and Rice with Smoked Sausage, Steak Po boy, Cajun Pasta, and Blackened Redfish. All delicious!

Two-photo collage of red beans and rice with smoked sausage, and a steak po boy, taken at Coop's Place in New Orleans.
Close-up view of plate of blackened redfish with green beans and a wedge of lemon on the side, taken at Coop's Place, New Orleans.

And the pups were comfortably tucked under the table, enjoying the smells!

Camellia Grill

Image of a bBowl of gumbo and rice, taken at Camellia Grill in New Orleans.

As we were planning our trip – and our food destinations – I had only one request: Gumbo at Camellia Grill! And it was as delicious as I remembered!

Click here for TripAdvisor review of Camellia Grill plus more photos of deliciousness!


Cochon Butcher

Image of muffaletta sandwich, cut into four wedges, on a white plate marked "Butcher," taken at Cochon Butcher in New Orleans.

The only eatery we visited twice in one week, Cochon Butcher’s sandwiches and sides were worth the cross-town drive!

In fact, our second visit was on a Saturday and many streets near Cochon Butcher were blocked off for the Krewe of Pontchartrain parade. That didn’t deter us; we circled tighter and tighter until we were within walking distance, then found a parking spot and walked in the rain to get to our muffaletta and cubano sandwiches. THAT’s how good they were!

See my TripAdvisor review of Cochon Butcher for yummy details!

Clover Grill

Image of white plate with open-face hamburger, fried onions, and waffle sweet potato fries, taken at Clover Grill in New Orleans.

The guys went to the cigar shop and the ladies went to a wine bar. And afterwards, at the bartender’s recommendation, we walked a block or two down Bourbon Street to Clover Grill for great diner food!

See my TripAdvisor review of Clover Grill for more details.

Cooter Brown’s

Tray of raw oysters on the half shell, with a bottle of hot sauce in the foreground, taken at Cooter Brown's in New Orleans.

Another of Leah’s suggestions, noted to have “yummy bar food, po boys, oysters, loaded fries, wings,” was Cooter Brown’s. And the food was, indeed, yummy!

Kealoha was especially excited about the Tuesday Night special – Louisiana raw oysters on the half shell for half-priced dozens. After sharing with the rest of us, she enjoyed nearly 2 dozen!

Image of man in bar slurping raw oyster, with assorted bar food on table before him. Taken at Cooter Brown's in New Orleans.
Spencer enjoyed some of Kealoha’s oyster bounty!

Please go to the end of this blog post for a special tribute which includes raw oysters.


Along with cheesecake and pecan pie at Camellia Grill, and sweet treats from District Donuts, we did seek out one other fabulous dessert shop.

Angelo Brocato

This tiny shop offers the best specialty Italian desserts. We brought home Lemon Ice, rum-flavored Sciallotti gelato, and an array of sweets – including freshly-made cannoli that reminded me of my visit to Sicily a dozen years ago!

Image of two bakery boxes filled with assorted Italian pastries, including fresh cannoli, from Angelo Brocato in New Orleans.
Image of two bakery boxes, tied in string, from Angelo Brocato in New Orleans.


When I started this blog in April of 2012, one of my greatest fans – and a frequent commenter – was Ted Hess, Carrieanna’s uncle and my sweetheart’s older brother.

Ted’s remarks were always encouraging. He appreciated my adventures and, especially, my photography.

Frankly, one of the reasons I’ve maintained this blog is because I knew Ted enjoyed it so much, and it enhanced his connection to Carrieanna in a special way.

Image of standing man and seated young woman, with water and trees in the background. Taken in West Virginia.


When I visited New Orleans in 2015, Ted encouraged me to have oysters on the half shell and a beer on his behalf. Alas, I could not bring myself to eat raw oysters, and Ted teasingly commented about that omission.

Ted passed away last November, and I have lost a great fan and supporter.

So when given the opportunity, at Cooter Brown’s, to have a raw oyster in his honor, I had to do it. Kealoha was happy to share her bounty with me.

George suggested I have a Vodka Oyster Shooter. Kealoha and Leah joined me in this toast.

Image of three women, standing at table in a bar, holding raised shot glasses, at Cooter Brown's, New Orleans.
Image of three women, standing at table in a bar, drinking from shot glasses, at Cooter Brown's, New Orleans.
Image of three women, standing at table in a bar, making faces after drinking from shot glasses, at Cooter Brown's, New Orleans.

Cheers and Godspeed, Ted. Thank you for your humor, wisdom, and enduring support. We miss you.

Texas US travel

Fort Worth Botanic Garden

To honor the 13th anniversary of Rich’s passing (on September 8, 2022) I wanted to go to a place I thought he would enjoy. Since I have moved to Texas, visiting the Northern California coast was not an option.

Instead, I decided to visit a botanic garden – an activity that we had enjoyed together, most notably in Santa Cruz and in Amsterdam.

(And nine years ago, while traveling in New Zealand, I visited the most spectacular garden in Dunedin! It’s my absolute favorite, and I think Rich would have loved it too!)

Zilker Botanical Garden, Austin, Texas

Earlier this year, while a California friend was visiting, we went to Austin’s Zilker Botanical Garden. It’s a lovely garden, but I wanted to get out and explore a little further from home.

So I decided to travel north and check out Fort Worth Botanic Garden. It was the perfect place to honor Rich’s memory.

(Note: Unless otherwise noted, the following information – in italic type – is from the Fort Worth Botanic Garden website.)

A Little Garden History

The Fort Worth Botanic Garden was established in 1934 and is the oldest major botanic garden in Texas. It contains a collection of more than 2,500 species of plants. Long celebrated for its beautiful rose, perennial and Japanese gardens, the FWBG is composed of twenty-three specialty gardens, including a tropical conservatory, a forest boardwalk, and a water conservation garden.

The Garden’s 10,000 square foot conservatory contains plants from tropical rainforests all over the world and an on-site greenhouse is home to the largest begonia collection in North America.

(I failed to visit the greenhouse conservatory. Obviously I need to go back – probably next spring!)

The Educational Side of the Gardens

The Botanical Research Institute of Texas (BRIT®) began in 1987 as a nonprofit overseeing the former Southern Methodist University 450,000-specimen herbarium and 75,000-volume botanical library relocated to a 20th century warehouse in downtown Fort Worth. The nonprofit eventually built and moved to a Platinum LEED-certified building on grounds adjacent to the Fort Worth Botanic Garden.

Since that time, BRIT has grown into a renowned scientific research, education, and conservation center with a state-of-the-art molecular and structural lab, conservation seed bank, an established press and 1.5 million-specimen herbarium.

Joint Missions Become One Nonprofit

On October 1, 2020, after two years of successful partnership initiatives (involving Education, Volunteer and Membership programs) the two organizations with similar plant-based missions combined to become a single nonprofit.

Japanese Garden | Rose Garden

Spend the day strolling through the Japanese Garden with its koi-filled pools, landscaped hillsides, crafted stonework and dramatic waterfalls.

Waterfall in Japanese Garden
Koi pond at the Japanese Garden
Apparently it was perfect weather for sunning beside the pond!

I did just that, and found that this garden to be a favorite spot, both for reflection and photography!

Nearby, visit the iconic and historic Rose Garden, which includes a terraced ramp featuring walks that border colorful rose beds amidst a cascade of water down the center.

Terraced rose garden, with view of the reflecting pool

Unfortunately, there was no cascade of water when I visited. Another reason to return!

The September heat had faded the roses, yet they were still lovely!

Wheelchair Accessibility

I found most of the garden to be wheelchair accessible. There was a detour around the Native Forest Boardwalk, and the path became packed mulch rather than pavement. A motorized wheelchair or scooter could have navigated it easily; a manual wheelchair might have a bit of trouble.

A warning along the detour pathway, and a good reminder to stay on the path!

Manual wheelchairs are available free to our guests on a first-come, first-served basis. These mobility aids are not available by reservation.

Electric scooters may be rented for $30 per day, with no in/out privileges. This rental fee is not eligible for a member discount. Scooter maximum carrying capacity is 400 pounds per person. Scooters are available on a first-come, first-served basis and are not available by reservation.

There were wide paved and, mostly, level pathways throughout the garden.

Wide, level paved paths throughout most of the garden

Frequently when I encountered stairs I also found an alternate route that was wheelchair accessible.

The Gardens Through My Lens

Of course I spent most of the day wandering and taking photos.

At the Horseshoe Garden

I think Rich would have enjoyed this botanical gem. I certainly did!

Do you have a favorite botanical garden? If so, I’d love to hear about it!

(All photos: ©Jeri Murphy Photography)

US travel

Almost Heaven

Editor’s Note:
In honor of West Virginia Day – 3-22-2020 – I am reposting this piece from October 2012. There are two new photos, and the web links have been updated. Enjoy!

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River….

US travel

Arizona Desert Spiritual Retreat

The sky in the northern Arizona desert is beautiful and ever changing.

Landscape view of dramatic clouds over desert vista.By day, the clouds are pushed around by the wind, sometimes briefly bringing a rain shower or offering a respite from the sun. However, the sun soon regains dominance until it sets in brilliance.

Brilliant, colorful sunset over Arizona desert.

US travel

The Alamo | Remembering Texas History

My history-loving son recently moved to Austin, Texas, which gives me a new travel destination! As we discussed things to do during my recent visit, he suggested going to San Antonio to see The Alamo.

He told me of his first visit there, and how much it moved him. He described the battle and the loss of lives, and spoke of the bullet holes still visible in the chapel.

He remembered standing next to his buddy, a veteran who became so filled with emotion that he had to leave the building.

California travel US travel

Native American Heritage | Southeast Alaska

In the United States November is recognized as National Native American Heritage Month, and November 23rd is recognized as Native American Heritage Day.

It is a time to celebrate the rich and diverse cultures, traditions, and histories of Alaska Native and American Indian people.

US travel

Zion National Park | Utah

My First Visit to Zion

Although I grew up in Utah, my first visit to Zion National Park did not occur until I was in my early 60’s.

We were an outdoorsy family, and our vacations usually revolved around camping, fishing and boating. But our destination was always in the north and/or northeast part of the state, and it wasn’t until October of 2017 that I finally visited Utah’s first national park.

US travel

Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site

During a recent visit to Boise, Idaho for a wedding I had an extra day available for site-seeing. So I asked my daughter, Amanda, if she would be willing to go on a tour of the Old Idaho Penitentiary State Historic Site. “Yes! I love that sort of thing” was her enthusiastic reply. And on a very warm Sunday we took the tour of the “Old Pen.”

Old Idaho Penitentiary | Idaho State Historical Society | prison | Boise | Idaho | wheelchair accessible | Images by RJM

US travel

Alaskan Train Excursion – White Pass Scenic Railway

I love trains. Not in the way Sheldon Cooper (of The Big Bang Theory) loves trains, but I love them. I love the haunting sound of their whistle in the distance and the promise of adventure they represent.

California travel International travel US travel

Seven Years | A Tribute to Rich

(A personal tribute to my heart’s companion in travel and in love.)

Travel | love | photography | tribute | adventure | Olympus | Nikon | camera | Images by RJMIt’s been seven years since Rich died.

As I recently told a friend, in some ways it feels like an eternity ago; in other ways, just yesterday.