NOLA: Sultry City of the South
I promised not to bore my faithful readers with endless tales of one location, but after spending a month in New Orleans, I have so much to tell you.
If you are thinking Sultry City of the South, music wafting from warehouses, homes and corner bars any moment of the day, you are starting to experience the city we found in the neighborhood known as Bywater. We parked our van at a friends and began our stay on the second floor of a former grocery store. On the ground floor, a lively bar and restaurant babbled into the wee hours of the morning.
Our two sons joined us for five days, a treat to spend time together while we are traveling. We spent hours and hours walking the streets, soaking in the riot of color that assaulted your senses…
the gentile streets of the Garden District where merchants and plantation owners once presided.
The intricate wrought-iron detail on porches in the French Quarter…
And the brilliant display of colors on nearly every house we passed.
Creativity is evident all around you in New Orleans, and in public protests like the Women’s March.
We caught the Krewe du Vieux parade, a raunchy, homespun procession that skewers politicians and praises debauchery. It's made up of smaller Krewes, with names like Krewe of C.R.U.D.E., Krewe of Space Age Love, Krewe of Underwear, and Seeds of Decline. The raucous affair is also the unofficial start of the Mardi Gras season.
Local musicians brought out the brass bands in the spirit of the parade.
We were lucky to discover that our friends Hanna and David, whom we visited last year at their home in Washington state, were in town and they joined us at the Krewe du Viuex with their two children, Sarah (and her husband, Philip) and Joe. I saw a lot of the family during the ensuing days – what a treat!
Our second week in town we moved to a cottage owned by the daughter of a friend, a tiny bungalow with a huge lawn out front. The neighbors were friendly, especially Rachel who, like me, is writing a novel and understands the joys and challenges of the craft.
We could walk around the Bywater and Marigney neighborhoods, on the edge of the French Quarter, and see the most amazing murals.
Or listen to a band on Frenchmen's Street.
As Mardi Gras approached, you could hear the bands practicing in the streets nearby, like these from a local high school.
At the end of our stay, we moved the rig to an RV park on a canal that connects the Mississippi River to Lake Ponchartrain. It was quiet and peaceful on the water, a reminder that the Crescent City is first of all a busy port, filled with barges carrying grains and other goods from the Midwest to distant shores.
Finally, we were ready to pull out of New Orleans. We had a final meal of crawfish etouffee and oysters, then headed west. (Sorry foodies, I did not take any photos of the amazing food in New Orleans. We ate well and as a local friend says, there is no bad food here.)
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Listen as Johnny Cash & Lynn Anderson tear it up.
Where we are today.