After Atlanta, I had only one more sightseeing destination on my agenda before I bombed my way across the country towards San Diego and that destination was New Orleans, Louisiana. I have long regretted that I never made it to NO before Katrina but as it turns out, the French Quarter and Garden District were on higher ground than the rest of the city and have escaped much of the devastation. Instead of taking the
uninspired interstate route, I decided to take the old US-90 route that runs right along the Gulf Coast past all of the towns that you would’ve had to have been living under a rock the past couple of years not to have heard of. Pascagoula. Biloxi. Pass Christian. I got all the way through Pascagoula and hadn’t seen anything…I was starting to wonder what spin the media had put on this…so many reports of ongoing devastation two years later…but everything looked fine to me.And then I tried to go over the US-90 bridge at the Bay of Biloxi…still out two years later. So, I went back to I-10 for a bit and back down to US-90…and then I saw what they were talking about. I had originally planned to take pictures of what was left…the only problem…there is nothing left. Either the bulk of the debris has been removed…or the storm just wiped away the structures that close to the water because all I saw was driveway after driveway that led to nothing. Parking lots that had no structures next to them. A few houses where the first floors were washed away and the second floors were still perched precariously on the studs. It was truly horrible.
Naturally, the first things to come back were the hotels and the casinos…many of which looked to be in fine shape. But the beautiful white sand gulf beaches were virtually empty during the hottest week of the summer. Umbrellas sat on the beach with no people under them…jet skis were tied up to the docks (or what remained of the dock). No one was around…it was very creepy. At some point it became clear to me that the taking pictures of other people’s misery was somehow distasteful so I took only the one shot above…the only thing remaining of this house is the brick staircase and the tree swing.
Since I only had one afternoon to spend in New Orleans I focused only on the French Quarter…again…the heat was almost unbearable so I gave up on the sightseeing a little early and thus pictures are limited mostly to architecture examples. The famed Bourbon Street was not quite as I had imagined…for some I reason I pictured a more broad, main boulevard which smaller side streets connected up with. Instead, all of the streets were equally narrow (all single-lane one-ways) and in an organized grid pattern. The FC is a pretty compact area and is a great place to just wander around in…people are friendly and happy (could be the legal drinking in the streets) and what they say is true…New Orleans needs no reason to party. They just do it every day, all day. Many of the bars were open and serving substantial crowds by 10 am.
I also wandered through 1850 House…a 19th century building in the French Quarter that has been refurbished to the style of the home in 1850. Naturally my focus while in NO was food…I had myself some great seafood gumbo and Louisiana crabcakes for dinner. And on Kim’s recommendation for breakfast…beignets at the Cafe Beignet on Royal Street. While I had heard of beignets previously, I wasn’t actually sure what they were. It turns out that they are kind of like square dough nuts covered in powdered sugar and are typically served with cafe au Lait. Not at all good for me…but very, very yummy.
Beignets and Cafe au Lait
After breakfast I headed to St. Louis Cemetery #1 to have a look at the above ground tombs required in New Orleans because of its existence below sea level. The cemetery, opened in 1789, is operated by the New Orleans archdiocese and is marked all over with signs to enter at your own risk. It was clear to me once I entered why that is. Many of the tombs are very old and crumbling and the debris is everywhere. I also nearly had a heart attack when I almost stepped on a homeless man trying to escape the heat by lying in the shadow of one of the tombs…and the haphazard way the plots are laid out would make for a very competitive game of hide-and-seek…or easy means of hiding for a dangerous sort of person. Since it was 9:30 in the morning I wasn’t worried…but the cemetery is certainly not somewhere I would like to be at night which is no problem…the cemetery is open only very limited hours during the day.
St. Louis Cemetery was my last stop in New Orleans so mid-morning I headed out on I-10 with the intent of making it to San Antonio the first night…El Paso the second…and then a very long final push towards San Diego.
This plan was exceedingly successful as today I’m typing to you from San Diego where I’ve been since Monday evening. In a couple of hours I’m off to the airport to pick up my kids before we spend a few days heading up the coast towards San Francisco, Portland and ultimately back to Montana. Kids? What kids? Does Stacey have kids? Indeed…I have the best kind of kids…borrowed….and returnable! You will be meeting them presently…
I didn’t stop much on my way to SD except for a brief scenic drive and historical park stop in Texas. Here’s a picture from Fort Lancaster near Sheffield, Texas. Type to you soon!
Fort Lancaster, Texas
View near Sheffield, Texas