August 3, 2021

THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE NEW ORLEANS!

On Tuesday, we made our way down to New Orleans—about 120 miles from Ocean Springs.  It was Charlotte’s first time to be in Louisiana.  The morning drive over the Lake Pontchartrain bridge—the world’s longest (almost 24 miles) continuous bridge—led us into the heart of New Orleans, which may well be the most unique city in America.

When Tom and I lived in Houston and later in Starkville, we often visited New Orleans.  We would stay at the Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, walk along Bourbon Street, go to Jackson Park and Café du Monde, browse in the elegant antique shops and eat lunch (cheaper than dinner) at some of the fine restaurants like Antoine’s.  Heather recalled her own trips there during her college days.  Today she got to introduce her daughter (who already loves The Big Apple) to the Big Easy.

We parked and took a look at the steamboats on the Mississippi before walking to the Café du Monde for some piping hot beignets.  A jazz saxophonist was playing on the sidewalk outside as we waited. We walked across to Jackson Square and sat on a park bench facing the St. Louis Cathedral and the Jackson statue as we ate our delicious beignets. The noon chimes from the cathedral rang out as we people watched in the park.

Heather then took us on a delightful architectural driving tour of three distinct neighborhoods: the French Quarter, Treme and the Garden District.  We saw examples of French and Spanish influences, including the ornate ironwork on balconies in the French Quarter. 

In the Treme neighborhood, we saw the Louis Armstrong Park which includes the famous Congo Square (the historic site of early African American music and cultural events).  This August 4th is the 120thanniversary of Louis Armstrong’s birth in New Orleans.

In the Garden District we marveled at the grand mansions, the manicured green spaces and the St. Charles Streetcar. As we drove down the streets, Heather remarked that the father (now in his 90’s) of a friend still lived in their home in the Garden District with his caregiver.  Just then we saw a very old gentleman using a walker to make his way down the sidewalk.  By his side was a decades younger African American man who seemed to be his caregiver.  We decided this surely must be her friend’s father!  It seemed an ideal arrangement—remaining in one’s home with a caregiver.  I told Heather that would work for me later —we’ll just find a male caregiver several decades younger.  Oh, wait!  I guess Southern ladies would have a female caregiver.  Or we could start a new trend!  New Orleans style.

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