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by | 2017 | The Lills, Travel

Before heading out of South Carolina, we decided to use the first few days of our trip to take a breath and shake off the residue of having lived and worked from a house for seven years, which is how we built The Lills Design and our 24-7/365 lifestyle.

We made our way to the highest point in Alabama, located in the Cheaha State Park, to reconnect with Mother Nature. There, we surrounded ourselves in good energy, washed away the negative energy by invigorating ourselves in the mountain lake and hiked to see the beautiful view at the “Sleeping Giant”, which completely reset our brains and bodies.

After a full day of relaxation and re-tuning ourselves, we kept trucking along and found our way to the city of New Orleans. Even after more than a decade since Hurricane Katrina, it was clear that many of those who resided there had still not gotten back on their feet.

The Lills | New Orleans Louisiana | Travel VW Bus Road Trip | Sticker

Almost immediately entering the city, we were overwhelmed by the amount of homeless souls there were, barely surviving. We made many encounters, even on the first day, with those who had either lost everything or who had convinced themselves all hope was lost.

While we stayed at a beautiful home in the Garden District, just a few blocks away we met a woman named Samantha, who had just come from the hospital, hoping for some food and water. After filling her belly, it was time to fill her heart.

We told her about how we had started our marriage with nothing but the clothes on our backs, so that we could create the situation we call “blank slate” and build a foundation on love, care and raising awareness.

Blank slate to us, is the state of having nothing or almost nothing, and to us, it is a very good thing. We explained, many millionaires, who live in big mansions and who have endless funds, build up lives based on money, power, greed and/or fame. They may have a lot of stuff, but often times, they also have broken relationships with their mates and children, lack true happiness and lose care for others and the world as a whole. They focus so much on their individuality and “success rate” that the other areas of their lives, such as love, teamwork, the little things, appreciation and happiness, fall to the wayside.

We expressed to Samantha that it is way harder for people like that to turn around, give up their selfish ways and ego, find forgiveness and start again. We mentioned, people such as herself, who have nothing, but thicker skin from challenging experiences, are in a much better position, because they have less to lose and don’t need much to be happy. We mentioned our idea of self-help and the fact that half of the world’s people are living on fifty cents to a dollar a day.

People residing in many of the world’s worst areas could never dream of starting their own business, empowering others or making change. We expressed to Samantha that she today, can come up with an idea (big or small), begin taking action and transform her life and the lives of those around her.

All of a sudden, we saw the change of light in her eyes and the switch turning on inside of her. We expressed that if she began that day, all of the people around her would pick up on her change of energy and be impacted by her good energy and forward movement.

We continued on our way as we watched Samantha dance along, completely alive and now on an exciting mission to change her life. She wasn’t the only person we met and helped wake up and it was amazing to us that nothing was in place to help these people in need.

Once we traveled over to the French Quarter, we became surrounded by tourists, shops and talented artists. The energy was alive and the people were in high spirits. We had a yummy bite of food with our pup, Sunday, on a beautiful balcony overlooking a busy street and regained our strength. We enjoyed lovely music, incredible architecture and we had wonderful conversations with locals and travelers alike. The afternoon and evening was our favorite time to visit this area because of all of the happy energy that filled the streets. Our cheeks hurt by the end of the night from smiling and laughing so much. We even got some magical insight from two tarot card readers. It was nice to be given some unexpected supportive information and spend some time with some very connected souls.

One evening, we jumped on three different streetcars to get to Frenchmen Street, which was like walking into the bar scene in the movie Star Wars, filled with a plethora of different alien species. It was wild and there were tons of artists showing off their skills for pay. Young souls, clothed in eccentric fashions paraded down the streets, while tourists pushed and shoved to squeeze into bars with incredible local music. We were quite overwhelmed by the mayhem, but we found a peaceful little outdoor patio, with live music by a group called The Steve Mignano Band. They were fantastic and turned our night upside down in such a wonderful way. We even got to hang with Steve and the band for a while before we took a taxi back to the Garden District. Even our taxi driver, Muhammed, inspired us with his life story of incredible travels and first-hand experience during Hurricane Katrina.

One of our favorite streets, just a few blocks from the house, was Magazine Street, made up of a ton of really great restaurants and shops. For breakfast one morning, we enjoyed some very tasty fruit parfait on the patio with our pup at Slim Goodies, picked up a super cool VHS tape rewinder shaped like a cool car at a shop across the street and we even celebrated a treat day (well, treat night) at Bouligny Tavern. The restaurant plays vinyl records, offers a lovely atmosphere and is open super late. The food was fresh and revitalizing and the staff was so friendly.

Sleeping Dog - New Orleans - The Lills

One thing we couldn’t help but notice was how many homes had images and cutouts of snow cones plastered to their front doors. The couple we stayed with in New Orleans explained there are families who have served snow cones for generations and that it is a really big deal in their city. They provided directions to their favorite snow cone spots and we treated ourselves with a sugar rush treat twice during our stay. In New Orleans, they are called “snowballs”. One of the businesses, Hansen’s Snow-Bliz, has been in operation for over 70 years and still uses a snowball machine they have had since 1939! We were blown away by the line that wrapped around the building and it was so worth the wait!

We took our pup to the Riverwalk, we visited the oldest pub in the United States, Lafitte, we had classic beignets at Café Du Monde and we enjoyed some fantastic jazz in almost every area we visited. Although we only expected to be in New Orleans for a few days, we spent a week exploring and experiencing everything the city has to offer.

On the night we left New Orleans, we stopped and slept in our bus in Ponchatoula, Louisiana. When we woke in the morning, we were greeted by a teeny tiny kitten, who decided to come over, give our dog, Sunday, a belly rub and put her to bed. Once Sunday was snoozing, the kitten then climbed on top of her and fell asleep. They were instant BFFs and it was amazing to see the two of them get along so well. The kitten was so malnourished that we decided to take responsibility, clean him up and wean him back to health.

We named him Scotia, got him everything he needed and tested his travel skills. What a champ. Since then, he has been by our side and has been so incredibly easy to manage. We could have never dreamed up taking another soul on our trip, but he has completely changed the dynamic of our experiences and has truly become a member of our family.

Cat and Dog | Best Friends | The Lills

Each destination we visit surprises us in unexpected ways. By only loosely planning our trips, not trying to control every aspect, we have continued to be gifted with wonderful and unforgettable experiences. We had an absolute blast in New Orleans and we hope everyone enjoys our NOLA travel video. See what happens next on our cross-country adventure here!


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