New Orleans and All That Jazz!

Our accommodations were smack dab in the middle of the French Quarter, an old old hotel, very nicely renovated, carousel bar on the ground level.  Our room was on the eighth floor.

We were in New Orleans for a week in mid August.  Did you read “Following Fay,” my feature story in the September 2008 issue of the Gazette?  Then I don’t need to repeat myself.

Seems that every night this is the thing to do, walk up and down Bourbon Street.  Notice the second level balconies.  They’re almost everywhere.

That’s Allan and I, of course, and Steve Gatlin of White Bear Lake behind me, then Debby Dudinsky of Wayzata, Steve’s wife Chris Gatlin, and Lloyd and Rosalie Pauly of Chanhassen.  Dave Dudinsky is taking the picture.  All the guys are Public Works/Engineer-type people.

Michael Phelps, winner of eight Olympic Gold Medals, was even swimming for the U.S. down on Bourbon Street.  Many establishments were tuned in and following the Olympics …

… including Dave and Allan and Debby.

As I said, you walk up and down, and down and up, Bourbon Street.

We particularly enjoyed Steamboat Willie in Musical Legends Park.

One night the guy on the left was a banjo player, the next night he became a piano player.

Willie was the mainstay, and easy to listen to.  He sounded like we were listening to an old 33 rpm being played on a hand-cranked victrola, or whatever you call those cabinet things in the old days.

On our way to Bay St. Louis, the adopted city of Wayzata, MN, we saw much of the local landscape close-up.  Bay St. Louis is actually located in the State of Mississippi which, of course, lies immediately to the east of New Orleans and also suffered much damage in Hurricane Katrina.

After Dave made a wish to see an alligator, one popped up in the lagoon.

Homes along the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and Louisiana were blown from their perches and scattered in the winds of Hurricane Katrina. 

We witnessed some rebuilding, as shown above, and we wondered how the attraction of Gulf Shore living could outweigh the constant threat of tropical storms and hurricanes.

Even when it’s not raining, there are puddles of water throughout the landscape.

As we were following Fay, the tropical storm that was crossing Florida and inching toward New Orleans, we were also surveying some of the damage still visible from Hurricane Katrina, which had occurred exactly three years ago — in August of 2005.

Fishing boats docked right outside the back door of some homes.  Nice reflection in the water, huh?  These are little canals that meander out into the Gulf.

A church steeple in Bay St. Louis was brought to stand upright again on a cement slab far from its original mooring a few blocks away.  Before Katrina, this cement slab was the foundation of an elaborate home on the Gulf, similar to many other exquisite estates demolished by the hurricane and replaced, at least for the time being, by mobile homes, like the one above, that line the landscape today.

We stopped for lunch at the Sycamore House.  The crab cakes were very tasty.  Our waitress said the place was filled with eight feet of water during Katrina, and she pointed out that the hardwood floors survived but needed refinishing.

I had little uncomfortable antique chairs like that in my house for years!

See the nice hardwood floors?

See the pretty mirror on the wall?

It rained pretty hard on our drive back to New Orleans, but not for long.  Probably fingers of Fay.

There’s no such thing as underground parking in this city below sea level, but there’s lots of double decking.

The Get-Acquainted Party was held at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas,  an impressive and expansive facility located by the Riverwalk on the Mississippi River.  It stands for American Public Works Association.  Nearly 10,000 members get acquainted each fall in some big city in the nation.

After the Get-Acquainted Party, which included enough hors’dourves to call it supper, we again strolled to the French Quarter.  (L-r):  Hi, Chris and Steve Gatlin.  Hi, Tim and Sue Phenow of Maple Grover.  Hi, Deb and Dave.

Allan and I went to Pat O’Briens and had an outdoor table near the flaming water fountain.  The waiter took the picture for us.

There is a very nice swimming pool at the top of the Monteleone.  Chris and Steve were also at this hotel.

Lloyd Pauly, our friend from Chanhassen, received a big national award for Excellence in Education.  Lloyd has spearheaded continuing and graduate professional education for public works professionals for many years.

Lloyd and Rosalie lived in Richfield when we first met years ago.

Thank you, Lloyd and SEH Consulting, for inviting us to the wonderful and delicious gathering at Drago’s Seafood Restaurant. 

Little Christine asked Lloyd to autograph his page and photo in the fancy Awards brochure .

I asked Rosalie to sign Lloyd’s page in my Awards book because I know that behind every good man is a good woman.

It was good to see other friends that evening, including John and Betty Ann Kirtland of Eden Prairie and their daughter Lisanne.

That’s a big fancy casino behind us, on the Riverwalk, but we didn’t even spend a nickel there.

Yes, then it was to Bourbon Street.  Don’t know why everyone wanted to take our picture.

There should  be a prize for funny names in the French Quarter.

We went to the 5 p.m. Saturday night Mass at the St. Louis Cathedral, also within short walking distance of our hotel.  The French Market, which is a shopping and eating area for tourists, is nearby.  It’s where we found the best mufilettas.

A barge and a bridge became picturesque along the Riverwalk.

Because much of the city is below sea level, everybody’s buried above ground in city cemeteries, all family members in one mausoleum.  Many were damaged during Katrina and the flooding.

Only two people had cameras in the group.

This is a lift bridge over one of the canals that flooded into the 9th ward because of a levee breach.  Homes were pushed right off their cement foundations and ripped apart in the storm.

Another angle of the canal as we were passing over another bridge down the way.

This is one of many abandoned buildings since Katrina.

If people rebuild, they’d be like an island in the midst of a desert.

It seems these areas will become developed as something other than single family residential.  We heard talk of a Las Vegas-type scene.

We learned that in order for homes or other structures to now receive flood insurance, they must be built or rebuilt on posts or pillars that offer some protection against heavy rains and possible breaks in the many levees and canals surrounding New Orleans.

We were told that this was once a very nice neighborhood.  A few blocks away, we saw exactly what the neighborhood looked like before Katrina …

The End

Love, Sue