Monday, January 31, 2011

New Orleans Lower Ninth Ward

New Orleans’ Lower Ninth Ward was the area noted as the “Area of Total Destruction” after Hurricane Katrina. It is a very poor area situated right beside the Industrial Canal off the Mississippi River. It was here where a long section of the flood wall failed shortly before midnight on August 28, 2005. As the protection collapsed, a 13 foot high wall of water burst into the impoverished residential area knocking houses with sleeping families off their foundations and bringing with it a large river barge which ground up all the homes beneath it. An estimated 200 people died in the lower Ninth Ward that night.

As we were driving through the streets today we met a young black man in a truck doing the same thing. We stopped and talked and he told us he was born and raised there. He pointed out where his grandparents house once stood and the empty site of the small store where he and his friends bought single sticks of gum. He pointed to the yard where he and his friends would throw rocks over the flood wall they thought would protect them.

There is still much damage in evidence. Here are some of the houses that are damaged but still standing:

Note the “Scheduled for Demolition” sign on the green house below, and the sprayed signs, “Gas Off” and “SPCA – Dogs” on the second brick house. Not much has changed here since that night in 2005.



Brad Pitt’s Houses

On the bright side, here are some of the houses that actor Brad Pitt is building to give back to the homeowners. The gentleman we talked to said he had mixed feelings when Brad Pitt first announced his project. He figured it was just another rich white actor trying to make himself more famous. He said he soon changed his mind after seeing Pitt riding his bike around the area monitoring the construction of the thirty some houses he was paying to have built. Just Brad riding his bike and talking to the kids with no bodyguards or photographers. Here are some of the Brad Pitt houses. They all have solar panels on the roof and are “Green” construction. The last one has an elevator to get the elderly owners from the parking area to the main floor:


I don’t think I will be missing any more Brad Pitt movies! He deserves a great deal of credit for his efforts in the Lower Ninth Ward!

The Flood Wall

Here is the rebuilt Flood Wall. The original was built in the 90’s by the US Army Corps of Engineers. The construction was let out to the lowest bidder who used substandard materials. Lets hope this one holds next time.

Imagine this wall collapsing and a 13 foot high wall of water hitting the flimsy houses!


Fats Domino’s House

Here is Fats Domino’s house. It is right in the Lower Ninth Ward district as Fats wanted to live right with the people who put him into stardom. The first floor of the house was submerged by Katrina and Fats, who wanted to stay in his house and studio and “ride out” the storm, had to be rescued through the roof of the house. He intends to move back into the house after repairs are completed. Fats started a fund to replace instruments of New Orleans musicians that were lost in the hurricane. His fund has generated over $300,000. Here is his house with his studio attached. It looks almost ready for the big guy to move back in. Ironically, one of Fats’ big hits was Blue Monday and it was on a Monday that Katrina struck his house!


Katrina Photos

There are some very good photos on this linked site of the aftermath of Katrina in the Lower Ninth Ward. Link

Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Mississippi

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Do Not Disturb!

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Canal Street Trolly

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Bourbon Street Buildings

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More Photos on Bourbon Street

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Bourbon Street

For those of you who have never experienced Bourbon Street, the best way I can describe it is “A Disneyland for adults”! In about six or eight blocks there are dozens of live music venues. You can have Rock in one bar, Cajun in the next. Blues across the street and Jazz on the corner. All are playing through open doors at full volume. Ninety nine percent of them are no cover charge and the entertainment is there to be had for the price of one drink per set. All drinks are served in plastic glasses and you are allowed to drink on the street and take your drink with you as you change bars. Some of the bands are mediocre, some good and some very, very good. All are very entertaining.

It gets very crowded and loud at night with standing room only in the bars with the best music. It is all fun and everyone has a good time.


Friday, January 28, 2011

French Quarter RV Resort

We showed up at the French Quarter RV Resort (putting the word "Resort" in allows them to charge more) at about 2:00 on Thursday only to find they had no room at the resort! They suggested we could park across from their driveway with no hookups for $49 per night! Their regular rate is $70. We really had no choice as the next nearest RV park is a ways away so we parked beside a large bus and walked downtown.

We got back at about 9:00 to find the bus with it's generator running. No problem, we have to run ours as well to make coffee and run the microwave. At 10:00 it was still running and setting off our CO alarm. We gritted our teeth and lived with it thinking they would shut it off at any time. At 11:00 and after many, many alarm resets we knocked on their door.

A 30's male opened the door and listened to our request that they turn the generator off. He said they were a band and had to keep their instruments turned on and said they could not even flush the toilet without power, so no, they would not turn it off. The bus was full of teenagers with white painted faces and legs, a real freak show. He said they would be leaving in a little while so as there was nowhere else to go and no room to move away from them, we waited it out, resetting the alarm every fifteen or twenty minutes and running all our exhaust fans on full.

Finally at about 2:00 AM they pulled out and by 3:00 we got to sleep. This morning we went to the office and found they had a space for us in the park. We told our tale and said we wanted a credit for the night from hell and she said she would have to talk to the manager. We are still waiting for an answer.

And now... we are off to find dinner.

Busy, Busy

We are in New Orleans! Bourbon Street is like nothing I have seen before!

We are walking in the day and checking out the entertainment at night. I will Blog when I can. We are here until Monday morning! Stay tuned!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Another Sunset

I love these Louisiana Sunsets!


We have decided to put off our departure to New Orleans for one day. Norma wants to do some laundry.

Vertically Challenged

Cruising around Lafayette, LA yesterday I glanced at the elevation display on the GPS. It read one foot BELOW sea level! The results of this is noticed everywhere. The water table is so high in most places that you cannot bury people. Graves are mostly above ground with the dearly departed encased in concrete to keep them in place. Puddles do not drain quickly so the results of  even minor rains are seen for days after.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Franklin, LA

Named after Benjamin Franklin, Franklin is in the middle of the old sugar plantation area of Louisiana and in it’s heyday was the richest city in the State. This wealth is reflected in the many grand plantation homes and mansions, many of which are still standing.


The main street of the town itself is lined with rows of old street lamps, once gas, now electric.


You May Be A Cajun If....

Cajuns have a great sense of humor (even though they take their history, food, and culture very seriously). Below is a list of sayings by Cajuns' poking fun at themselves.

You know you're Cajun if...

Everyone you know has inadvertently killed an armadillo or nutria rat with their vehicle.

The crawfish and crab shells left over from "crawfish and crab boils" have killed your grass.

There are five seasons in the year: crawfish festival, crab festival, shrimp festival, rice festival, and king cake festival.

Your favorite perfume is that of a crawfish or shrimp boil.

You believe that a fried shrimp po-boy "dressed" is as healthy as a vegetarian sandwich, as it has some lettuce and a slice of tomato.

You give directions to your house by telling people to pass the yellow farmhouse, go uptown, backtown, up the bayou, down the bayou, or on the opposite side of the levee'.

You wash your hands with a sliced onion to remove the shellfish odor.

You're in your teens before you realize that Mardi Gras is not a national holiday, or become aware of what a county is.

You feel that the quality of a po-boy sandwich depends on how many napkins you use while eating it.

You know that "dressed" means that you want lettuce, tomatoes, and pickles on your po-boy, as in "shrimp po-boy, dressed."

Your last name (to non-cajuns') is pronounced differently from the way it is spelled. Such as Prevost (pronounced PREvo).

Anyplace outside of Louisiana has disappointing food.

You start cooking your rice when you make your coffee in the morning, even though you don't have any idea what you're serving for dinner.

You think you're eating a healthy meal when you have a baked potato with your fried seafood platter, and a salad (which means potato or macaroni salad).

You hold on to your newspapers instead of putting them in the recycle bin as you know you will need them for your shellfish boils.

Grandma is "Maw Maw" and Grandpa is "Paw Paw."

You think actors in every movie set in New Orleans and Cajun Country have horribly phony accents.

While you are enjoying breakfast, you are discussing what you will have for lunch and dinner. When your kids ask why you are planning the next two meals of the day when you are still eating the first, you don't understand the question.

You think there are two types of coffee: Community and Cafe du Monde.

You probably live in the same town as your first and second cousins, and know the names of your third and fourth cousins (and are probably related to them).

Weddings and other celebrations are planned around hunting season, the LSU football season, and local festivals.

You have been able to list all the ingredients of gumbo since you were five, when you probably cooked, or at least helped cook, one for dinner.

You have an "ice box," "make your groceries," and "save your dishes."

And you would fight anyone who says they can cook as good as your mama.

While you'll gladly spend an hour making roux, you are perfectly comfortable using "Tony Chachere's" seasoning instead of adding your own herbs and spices.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

It’s A Small World!

After I posted about our trip to Avery Island and the Tobasco factory I got an email from my nephew Don from Ontario, Canada. It turns out they were en route between New Orleans and Houston, TX and stopped at the same plant on the same day! We missed bumping into each other by only a half hour or so! It truly is a small world!

small world