July 1st, 2009


Greetings from New Orleans

I am writing this from the Ramada Inn on Bourbon Street, former location of the French opera house at the corner of Toulouse, where we have returned after a fabulous Cajun dinner at La Bayou -- I'm sure there are better restaurants in the French Quarter but I'm not sure there are many where one can get so many different dishes so well done for so little money -- and wandering around stores selling Mardi Gras beads, voodoo charms, fleur de lis jewelry, images of women my sons probably did not need to see (well, they had probably seen them before, but they didn't need to see them with me around!) and vampire collectibles. It's all utterly delightful, particularly since we are in the quiet part of the hotel where the all-night music can't be heard at 2 a.m.

We started our day very early in Pensacola, since we had good weather -- big breakfast buffet, then a couple of hours on the beach, where we saw lots of fish and comb jellies in the clear water, followed by a visit to the Gulf Islands National Seashore visitor center and their exhibits on sustainable lumber, shipbuilding, and wildlife in the region. It started to rain hard before we could walk the circular path by the water, so we went on to Davis Bayou in Mississippi after a quick stop for lunch. There were no alligators in the swamp that we could see, but there were turtles, crabs, fish, dragonflies, herons, and lots of other wildlife.

We made a brief stop in Biloxi to see the lighthouse and beach, then drove over the Louisiana border, across the enormous bridge spanning Lake Pontchartrain, and into the devastated area of New Orleans near the water there, with dozens of buildings still abandoned or partially collapsed. The French Quarter, however, is very lively even at this hour on a weeknight, with both the music and adult nightclub scenes thriving. Thus far we haven't done any serious sightseeing so I'll save city photos for tomorrow and stick with the delights of the waterways of Florida and Mississippi...

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Wednesday we will visit Jackson Square and the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas!