So this is where I left off. Texas was way greener (more grasslands and trees, not eco-friendly) than I had expected. I didn’t see a single tumbleweed or dude ranch in over 12 hours of driving across it. Although, I also didn’t have a strong Boston accent to the disappointment of everyone we met.
Louisiana on the other hand, really does feel like you’re entering a new territory entirely. The grass is thicker and the swamp seems to be everywhere around you at all times. I snapped a shot once we crossed back over the Mississippi for the last time this trip.
We also passed by a number of pre-fab houses on the highway along the way to Baton Rouge for disaster relief.
We arrived on the outskirts of New Orleans just after nightfall. Kara wanted to take some shots as the sun was setting.
The last stretch of highway leading into New Orleans is elevated about 10 feet above the swamplands below. It sits on concrete pillars and seems to go on for miles and miles. When the sun sets it creates a really beautiful reflecting surface and the sky and water melt into a purpley-pink haze.
Kara rolled down the window to take these shots and the car immediately filled with hot, humid swamp air. The car thermometer read 81, the air felt like 95. It was going to be a hot one the next day!
Our hotel was on the end of the French Quarter, we had no trouble finding it, or navigating the streets for that matter. I guess Boston and Venice were good preparation for navigating tricky cities. We started our day in New Orleans with some beignets from Cafe du Monde. They’re less like donuts and more like little fried dough cakes smothered in powdered sugar. Kara and Scott seal of approval!
I have no idea why, but they bring glasses of salt water to the table. Not refreshing! Good coffee though.
Jackson Square. Did I mention it was hot? My weather app was telling me it was a high of 96, humidity of 72%, feels like 106.
We took frequent breaks into shops we had no interest in just to escape the heat.
Steamboat along the Mississippi.
The architecture doesn’t disappoint. Bourbon Street has a certain funk to it that I haven’t smelled since my old frat days. It was sloppy around there by 4pm on a Thursday, I can’t even imagine the craziness that is Mardi Gras.
As uncomfortable as I was in the heat, I really enjoyed exploring this city. The food really is as good as they say it is, even bar food at 10pm was superb. On top of that, the city is filled with live music. Each block has a mix of jazz, funk, blues and guitars. The best part is that you actually want to stop and listen to them play and not just speed on by to your next destination.
After lunch we took a trolley to the Audobon area and we took an unplanned detour onto Loyola campus so Kara could take some business calls.
I busied myself by wandering and taking photos.
We headed back to our hotel because the heat was exhausting. We took the trolley back down St Charles and I watched in horror as kids got onto the trolley in jeans and hoodies. They didn’t even seem to notice the heat whereas I thought I was having an all day case of mild heat stroke.
We grabbed some tapas and drinks for dinner and headed back out into the streets to find some other music that was more our style. Instead we found an open air art showcase with a mix of photography, fine art, jewelry, you name it.
Once we checked out all the stalls I heard what sounded like a marching band down the street. I expected there to be a rowdy bar with a huge band but what we found was way cooler.
A big brass band of kids playing on a empty street corner for tips. They were tearing shit up!
People were dancing, bikes came riding through with glow-in-the-dark lights all over, people came out from all the nearby bars, cars slowed to a crawl and it became this massive block party out of nowhere.
It was awesome. I took a video but I won’t be able to share it until I edit it from home. This was easily one of the highlights from our whole trip.
It’s crazy too. New Orleans was definitely a concern of ours before getting there. Our family and friends warned us more about this city than any other by far. In our experience here we found it to be one of the friendliest and most unique places we’ve seen. I feel like I can see both sides of the coin on this one, I know the city has problems but it also has more interesting things happening than just about any place we’ve been.
I’ll leave it with this, my favorite sign I saw in town read: The longer you live in New Orleans, the more unfit you are to live anywhere else.