Family Reunion Cruise

For our family reunion this year, we took a cruise around the Gulf of Mexico to Mahahual and Cozumel. We played volleyball, went scuba diving and snorkeling, got sunburns, ate ceviche, played cards, told stories, gambled, tore up the club, and pretty much had a ball. Here are the pictures, and a great travelog-style writeup from Devon. There are also pictures from past reunions, back to 1991.

Barrett Family Reunion 2005

We decided to try a cruise for this, our 13th Barrett family reunion! Julia Davis and Richard Barrett floated location ideas to the rest of the family, and one thought was that a cruise would be especially appealing to our young-adult group of cousins aged 18-26.

Richard flew to Houston several days prior to our reunion for business and to drive with Frank (Houston) and Lola Barrett (Galveston) to New Orleans.

Vanessa and I flew into New Orleans a day early?.just because we could! Vanessa finished finals for summer school early, and I had a wonderful break this summer by not teaching summer school.

Ryan caught a Monday AM plan prior the afternoon sailing of the Carnival Sensation, our cruise liner.

New Orleans

Vanessa and I had a lazy and relaxing day eating and hanging out in the French Quarter and adopting an attitude bolstered by hot and humid Southern weather. The French Quarter (Vieux Carr??, which means old square), was established as a French military outpost in 1718.

We indeed felt like we had hit The Big Easy, The City That Care Forgot, whose motto is “Laissez Les Bon Temps Roulez” (Let the Good Times Roll).

We ate, of course:

  • shellfish at Brunings, a perennial favorite restaurant for the extended Reidenauer family. Brunings is located on Lake Ponchatrain. It opened in 1859, has been managed by the same family since before the Civil War, and is one of the country’s oldest restaurants.

  • mid-afternoon po boys and crab cakes beside the shoeshine man at Caf?? Pontalba (located in one of the Pontalba buildings, a 1850’s-era red-brick structure which is one of the oldest apartments in the US).

  • crab etouffe and jambalaya at the Gumbo House (some of the best regional food we remember having)

  • traditional begniets and hot chocolate at Caf?? du Monde

  • huge complimentary buffet at the Marriott

We walked an empty Bourbon Street by day:

  • baskets of ferns and purple, green, and gold Mardi Gras beads hung from second-story balconies (waiting to be thrown down to evening pedestrians)

  • jazz music floating out of open bar doors, some of which we discovered are indeed open at 8:00 AM

We gawked at:

  • New Orleans’ regional accents

  • street people dancing and drinking oh so early in the morning (it’s just too hot!)

  • the gold-gilt Maid of Orleans statue in front of the French Market (corner of St. Philip and Decatur Streets). This statue, a replica of the original in Place des Pyramids in Paris, was a 1958 gift from the people of France to New Orleans. New Orleans stored the statue for eight years (lack of $35,000 to erect it) until French President De Gaulle found French financing to erect the statue at the foot of Canal Street. Wow, a nice gesture by the French?! The statue was gilded in 1985, then relocated when the Casino was built.

We shopped a bit:

  • choosing pralines and checking out local liquor and seasonings

  • window-shopping the antiques stores on Royal Street

  • ducking in and out of art galleries

  • visiting a rare coins shop with Richard and Frank (he collects American bills and bought a Confederate bill there).

  • choosing jewelry at the flea market (part of New Orleans’ historic French Market located downriver from Jackson Square on Decatur Street). This oldest open-air market in the US began in 1791 and continues to house vendors selling produce, fresh seafood, and assorted Louisiana delicacies 24 hours a day.

We sat-and New Orleans in summer is a great place to sit very still:

  • talking investment strategies and napping on benches in Jackson Square, facing the dramatic statue of President Jackson on his rearing horse. This square is a cast-iron-fenced oasis of grass and flowering trees located across Decatur Street from the river. Originally called the Place d’Armes, the square has served as both a military parade ground and the staging point for public executions.

  • listening to a street jazz quartet on the steps of Jackson Square’s St. Louis Cathedral (the country’s oldest cathedral), the 200-year-old Presbytere, and Cabildo.

We met up with other cousins at the New Orleans home of Ruth, Hale, Kathryn, and Grace Reidenauer (watch out for that telephone pole when you pull into the driveway!). We ate Hale’s seafood dip and pizza while we sorted through boxes of old photos that Ruth brought out for identification. Devon observed with hands off (almost), since she just spent two days helping her Arcadia friend Terra Krulisky begin to organize 25 years of boxed family photos, yikes! Hale showed Vanessa his equipment for brewing beer and root beer, which Vanessa has begun to try.

The young cousins and Frank did walk Bourbon Street by night, and Vanessa experienced drinking alcohol as they walked the street (which of course is illegal in California).

Cruise

We boarded our cruise liner, Carnival’s MS Sensation, on Monday at noon. Danny Davis’ brother-in-law (a port officer) eased our boarding by processing our passports separate from the general throng.

The Erwin Barrett family slid into our line just in time, after driving 2-3 hours from Alabama.

Joanne, Calin, Robbie Quirk and his girlfriend Nichole drove into town from the Dallas area.

Lauren Quirk and her boyfriend flew into New Orleans last night from Chicago.

Ryan flew into New Orleans from San Francisco this morning and met us at the dock.

Most of us met at the Davidsons’ house to trek to the dock (along with our luggage) in a chartered van.

Vanessa and I probably got ourselves on the local TV news during our walk from the French Quarter to the dock to meet the family! We walked by news reporters, news van, and a throng of onlookers checking out Decatur Street, four blocks of which were closed due to a bomb threat. Apparently someone had left an unattended suitcase on the sidewalk outside a major hotel. We rounded a major corner and briefly hovered by the crowd to ask what was happening-which snagged us an interview. Reporters asking bystanders who know nothing about anything to comment? OK! Vanessa refused to give the most basic information about herself, like her last name, or to comment on the situation. Devon made a joke with the reporter.

The Barrett Family Reunion roster included:

  • Richard, Ryan, and Vanessa Barrett and Devon LaHar

  • Lola Barrett

  • Frank Barrett

  • Erwin and Evelyn Barrett; Rosalind, Mallory and Casey Barrett

  • Hale and Grace Davidson; Kathryn and Grace Davidson; family babysitter

  • Danny and Davis; Aimee, Danny Jr., and Justin Davis; Aimee’s boyfriend Louis and Danny Jr.’s girlfriend Crista

  • Joanne, Lauren, Rob, and Cailin Quirk; Lauren’s boyfriend Aaron and Rob’s girlfriend Shannon

The boat had nice cabins, 3 dining rooms, two pools, and food available 24 hours a day. Devon had what she needed, a soda card for unlimited diet Pepsi throughout the cruise. Richard had what he needed, a captive family audience for recording family members reading Walk Down Memory Lane stories and telling their own family stories. Devon, Lola, and Joanne enjoyed the cruise’s two art auctions, and Devon and Joanne bid on and bought artwork. Others tried the various cocktail lounges and shows at night. Cruise Ports Our boat stopped for the day in each of two Mexican ports: Cozumel and Costa Maya. We narrowly averted a hurricane which nipped one corner of the island of Cozumel, but cruise lines are accustomed to rerouting to avoid storms during hurricane season.

Devon and Lola shopped and sat on the beach while Richard, Ryan, and Vanessa scuba-dived.

Overall, we all enjoyed the cruise and thought it was a good experience to try for a family reunion! The 18-26-year-old cousins decided that they liked our typical family reunions better, because we see each other and talk with each other more often and more easily. We usually rent 2-3 large houses by the ocean or a lake, eat some communal meals, do some water sports, and hang out together.