Our first month in New Orleans hasn’t turned out exactly like we had expected, but taking life in stride is essential to enjoy living on the road. We left our van in Alaska in September and have been living in short-term furnished rentals until we return there in May.
Most surprising has been the cold weather, culminating (I hope) with the snow and ice that is on the sidewalk outside my window as I write. The Interstate was shut down last night and black ice has been causing accidents all day in the area. We’ve got a new heating system where we are living, thank goodness, but the lack of insulation in this early 20th century cottage doesn’t keep the heat in.
We’re living in the Bywater section of town, a hip district where historic single- and double-wide houses are still cheap enough for artists and musicians to live there. Street art is everywhere. We live just two streets from an abandoned warehouse that the graffiti artist bmike2c has turned into an art gallery.
When it is warm enough to go out, and yes, despite the freezing temperatures, the majority of the days here have been mild, Mark and I roam the streets on foot from the Lower Ninth Ward to the Garden District. Before Christmas, the houses were decorated, New Orleans-style.
On Christmas Eve we went out to the levees along the Mississippi river to take part in a Cajun ritual, the burning of bonfires. Teams of men and women build these towering pyres lined with firecrackers that explode in a noisy burst of flame when it is first lit. Fireworks add to the festivities in the dark.
New Year’s Eve is marked by a parade through the Marigney and the French Quarter, with high school bands from around the country that come to play. This color guard led the band twirling wooden guns.
Mardi Gras season kicked off the next weekend on January 6, the Feast of the Epiphany. Purple, yellow and green beads started appearing on neighboring doorsteps and the photos of the Kings & Queens at Masque Balls of the Krewes filled the news each day.
In our neighborhood, Mardi Gras preparations mean that the local high school band takes it to the street. Every afternoon, at the end of classes, the students grab their instruments and batons and march around. Here’s a peek at one of the beautiful aspects of New Orleans outside our front door.
Stay tuned for the next two months while we explore the Crescent City close up.
Listen as Johnny Cash & Lynn Anderson tear it up.
Where we are today.