We finally made it to Louisiana!
We set up camp at Bayou Segnette State Park about twenty minutes outside of the city. This was our first time staying in a state park. The park was great but, like most state parks, they do not offer sewer hook up (they have a dump station that you can access upon exiting the park). In order to keep our storage tanks from overflowing, all showering and other bathroom needs had to be done at the bath house. According to the site map, the bath house looked like it was just the other side of our loop. Seemed like no big deal. Unfortunately, not shown on the map was a dense grove of trees behind us that made cutting through impossible. All trips to the bath house required getting into our truck and driving. This became old very quickly.
Louisiana: Driving across the lower portion of the state reminds me of crumbled crackers dropped onto the surface of a bowl of soup. The terrain is bifurcated with a variety of water ways: lakes, streams, ponds, bayous, canals, levees, deltas, rivers, puddles etc.. It is easy to see why Katrina was so devastating to the entire region and makes one wonder who would select a section of the country that was six feet below sea level to establish a town.. Oh, that's right, it was the French!
First stop: N'awlins! I had heard and read so much about this city's history, music, mysticism, food, Bourbon Street etc.. I was very excited to visit. And, I was not disappointed.
When you enter the downtown area, you are greeted by the St. Louis Cathedral It is one of N. O. most stunning and notable landmarks. Its looks like a cross between an old french cathedral with its pointy steeples and the Cinderella Castle at Disney. It has been looking down on the city since 1727 and evidences the long-held catholic influence over the area.
In front of the cathedral is a statue of Andrew Jackson who masterfully defended the city (with the assistance from Jean Lafitte, a pirate, and his men) from a British invasion in 1815. --Ironically, the Battle of New Orleans actually occurred two weeks after the peace treaty between England and the U.S. had been signed!-- We also found it ironic that there seems to be more streets, shops and buildings named after the criminal Lafitte than Andrew Jackson!
New Orleans is divided into districts. The most well known are the French Quarter, the Garden Quarter, the Arts Quarter and the Downtown (Business) Quarter. We began our visit in the French Quarter.
This is the plaza in front of the St. Louis Cathedral.
It was filled with:
Musicians (the couple playing violins is the team of Wael and Anna. If you youtube them you can hear how incredibly talented they are):
Beautiful architecture with a French, Spanish and Creole flare:
And jazz clubs:
Next stop was the infamous Bourbon Street.
Named after the French royal House of Bourbons, this popular tourist attraction stretches 13 blocks and is filled with bars, restaurants, strip clubs, jazz clubs and.. more bars. We visited once during the day and once at night.
This is the lower section of Bourbon Street.
These pictures were taken as we strolled up Bourbon Street away from the City District.
It is a rather chaotic, sometimes smelly (stagnant water), loud, historic, colorful, crowded and somewhat tired place. It's populated by all sorts of people, from all walks of life and lifestyles.
Some are there to entertain (and are quite talented), some are there for a handout from tourists and some are just flat-out crazy.
I was surprised to see such a large contingent of young vagabonds strolling and milling about. It is similar to what we experienced in San Francisco. These young people look healthy (although in need of a shower), seem to hang out in packs, almost every one of them owns a pet (why?!), and they all are not doing anything but looking for hand outs. They don't play instruments, they don't juggle, they don't sing, they don't paint themselves in colorful spray-paint and stand motionless as a statue. They don't do anything but crowd the sidewalks and I know I'm showing my age but I wanted to question some of them and ask: "Do your parents know you're doing this!" I don't mind giving a donation to someone who seems to be working for it, but not to someone who uses their pet for sympathy or just has their hand out.
Any BAR RESCUE fans out there? Here is the Spirit's On Bourbon Bar that was featured in season 4 of the show:
All in all, we had a fun and interesting time in New Orleans but two days was enough of the French Quarter.
We'll share some our other New Orleans experiences in our next post. We hope everyone back home is doing well!