Sister Trip 7 New Orleans October 14 – October 19

17 Nov

You might recall that we had a great visit at the Rosedown Plantation in St. Francisville, LA. NOLA (New Orleans, LA) is only a little over two hours from St. Francisville, so we decided to go with the wind and see where it took us.

We visited the St. Francisville Cemetery in hope of seeing some very old headstones. It was a very pretty and peaceful place (I should hope it would be peaceful!) Our next stop was Fort Desperate at Port Hudson, scene of the final battle that gave the Union forces full control of the Mississippi River. An interesting site made even more engaginging by volunteers demonstrating medical care, food, naval strategy, artillery and other Civil War details to at least 100 home schoolers.  (Don’t forget to click on a photo if you want to enlarge it)

It was just like any other school demonstration…some paying rapt attention and some, obviously not.

It was just like any other school demonstration…some paying rapt attention and some, obviously not.

I already told you about our visit to the LSU Rural Life Museum. We were disappointed in how the artifacts were cared for and the lack of explanation for many of the artifacts. It was after this visit that we decided to head for NOLA in earnest.

I had Googled driving instructions from the hotel site and we confidently zipped into the city. First, it was a Friday afternoon about 3:30 and, unbeknown to us, the beginning of a weekend when the New Orleans Saints were having a home game. Second, there are many insane drivers, some of whom were already drunk. Third, there are many one-way streets. Fourth, the Google instructions took us down a street that wouldn’t let us turn onto our hotel’s one-way street. So began our hour-long odyssey of trying to navigate our way back to where we could turn correctly onto our hotel street. Believe me, I was ecstatic to turn the car over to the valet for $30 day to not drive it until we departed for the airport!frazzeled

The St. Christopher Hotel was in a super location, though. Everything we wanted to see was within walking, bus or trolley distance. We were happy with it even though we had a room without a window! I thought at first that we might be claustrophobic in it, but it was great. It was so quiet that we never heard any partiers or sirens that other rooms might have been plagued with.

You may think you see a window with drapes, but it's really a mirror to give the illusion the room is larger than it is.

You may think you see a window with drapes, but it’s really a mirror to give the illusion the room is larger than it is. I must admit that we both felt a little weird about running around in various states of undress.

The hotel manager directed us to the Oceana Grill for our first NOLA dinner. It was very delicious as was all the food we ate in NOLA. But all of our dishes had too much good food. We were STUFFED every night.

wedding

Upon leaving the Oceana we heard music and espied a wedding celebration coming down the street. It was so fun to see the band and all the dancing guests following the bride and groom. I was late getting the camera out and only got this blurry picture. You get the idea and you can also see that one can carry drinks in public in NOLA.

The next morning, we were out fairly early to walk to Jackson Square to take a carriage ride around the French Quarter and visit one of the famous cemeteries. Even by 9AM, Jackson Square was a hoppin' place

The next morning, we were out fairly early to walk to Jackson Square to take a carriage ride around the French Quarter and visit one of the famous cemeteries. Even by 9 AM, Jackson Square was a hoppin’ place

French Quarter buildings fascinated me and I could have taken pictures of them all day long. Iron lace balconies, sweeping fan-like windows and traces of French and Spanish influence comprise “Creole” architecture.

French Quarter buildings fascinated me and I could have taken pictures of them all day long. Iron lace balconies, sweeping fan-like windows and traces of French and Spanish influence comprise “Creole” architecture.

Our carriage driver took us to the St. Louis #1 Cemetery, the oldest and best known of the city’s above-ground cemeteries. He explained that the graves are above ground due to the high water table in NOLA and that the heat/humidity cause a body to deteriorate (in a sense, be cremated in its grave) within a year. This is why several people can be interred in one crypt. In fact, there is a wall of crypts where people rent a space for a year and then the ashes are removed after a year.  I thought this was a fascinating story.

Entire families are interred in one “apartment” in this large cryptorium.

Entire families are interred in one “apartment” in this large crypt.

 

Our carriage driver is pointing to the Glapion family tomb where the remains of voodoo queen Marie Laveau are said to rest. You can see in the background that there are many shapes and sizes of tombs in the cemetery.

Our carriage driver is pointing to the Glapion family tomb where the remains of voodoo queen Marie Laveau are said to rest. You can see in the background that there are many shapes and sizes of tombs in the cemetery.

We worked up an appetite during the carriage ride and decided that we must have a beignet at Café du Monde, a world famous place for those delectable treats. Well, the line was about a block long and we decided to try another place that had a much shorter line.

 Jerri’s first taste of a beignet. It was tasty, but I’m sorry we didn’t get to try the Café du Monde.

Jerri’s first taste of a beignet. It was tasty, but I’m sorry we didn’t get to try the Café du Monde.

We walked through the French Market and saw local treasures as well as cool things from other parts of the world. It was fun seeing all the tourists milling around and trying to figure out which was the best bargain.

We visited the Old U.S. Mint next door to the French Market. The 1835 structure was a federal mint 1838-61 and was the Confederacy’s only mint for a few months in 1861. It continued to be a U.S. mint until 1909. It’s now a Louisiana State Museum site and houses the Louisiana Historical Center as well as an internationally renowned jazz collection. The mint was of particular interest to us because our Nevada State Museum was originally a U.S. mint.  I liked this portion of the museum because it displays some of the same things we do as well as similar photos.

This press looks a lot like our Press #1, complete with the bronze plaque above the press part.

This press looks a lot like our Press #1, complete with the bronze plaque above the press part.

Adjusters - See the next picture for an explanation

Adjusters – See the next picture for an explanation

Click on the photo to enlarge it

Click on the photo to enlarge it

A cutting machine is pictured here. The ore was rolled out to a prescribed thickness and then blanks (planchets) were cut out. Those planchets were then fed into the press where they would be pressed into coins.

A cutting machine. The ore was rolled out to a prescribed thickness and then blanks (planchets) were cut out. Those planchets were then fed into the press where they would be pressed into coins.

Jolee had given me a NOLA walking tour book and we took several of those tours. It was fun walking at our leisure and seeing many French Quarter buildings and learning a bit about each.

It’s so humid in NOLA that ferns can grow right out of building walls. The weather is just right for a plethora of trees and plants.

It’s so humid in NOLA that ferns can grow right out of building walls. The weather is just right for a plethora of trees and plants.

St. Charles Trolley

St. Charles Trolley

We took the St. Charles trolley out to the Garden District, famous for its nineteenth century homes and gardens. The area was originally part of the Livaudais Plantation It became part of the City of Layfayette in 1833 and then annexed by New Orleans in 1852. Several celebrities have homes here and many films have been at been partially shot here. Many of the homes have too much foliage around them so as to prevent a good photo.

Archie Manning’s home (he was a New Orleans Saints quarterback for many years and is Peyton and Eli Manning’s father).

Archie Manning’s home (he was a New Orleans Saints quarterback for many years and is Peyton and Eli Manning’s father).

Right next to the Garden District is the Lafayette Cemetery #1 founded in 1833. Again, the crypts are above ground. Some appear to be well kept and others look to be in terrible shape.

Right next to the Garden District is the Lafayette Cemetery #1 founded in 1833. Again, the crypts are above ground. Some appear to be well kept and others look to be in terrible shape.

I thought it interesting that one was for sale. Apparently it’s been in use for many years because the inscription on top has different names than the ones naming who is interred.

I thought it interesting that one was for sale. Apparently it’s been in use for many years because the inscription on top has different names than the ones naming who is interred.

We had to take a ride on the Natchez, a sternwheeler, and experience a bit of what it was like to ride one in the old days. It takes on a two-hour tour down the Mississippi and back again. It was fun but too hot if one wasn’t in the shade.

We had to take a ride on the Natchez, a sternwheeler, and experience a bit of what it was like to ride one in the old days. It takes on a two-hour tour down the Mississippi and back again. It was fun but too hot if one wasn’t in the shade.

We saw a portion of the 9th Ward that was inundated when Katrina went through in 2006. The levees were too high to get any good pictures of the reconstructions. We also saw where the Battle of New Orleans was fought by Andrew Jackson against the British a few weeks after the War of 1812 was ended.

Ocean going vessels sail up and down the River quite often and we saw many tugs along with barges parked along the shore. Since we were there on a Sunday, maybe they weren’t working or didn’t have a load to move.

Ocean going vessels sail up and down the River quite often and we saw many tugs along with barges parked along the shore. Since we were there on a Sunday, maybe they weren’t working or didn’t have a load to move.

The sculpture facing the River honors immigrants as they land in the USA. I liked it and thought the sculpture was well deserved. I don’t know if it was ironic or not that pigeons were on the sculpted people.

The sculpture facing the River honors immigrants as they land in the USA. I liked it and thought the sculpture was well deserved. Is it ironic or not that pigeons were on the sculpted immigrants?

Now for the Coups de Gras in museums! The World War II Museum, a Smithsonian affiliate, was one of main attractions we wanted to see New Orleans. Wow! What a place, filled with artifacts, great depictions of causes, warfare tactics, the home front and the war’s lasting significance! We arrived when it opened at 9 AM and didn’t leave until closing at 5 PM. To our surprise, we didn’t take very many pictures because the exhibits were too big with sometimes moving parts and the fact that there were many visitors all trying to read the signs. One of the first things we did was to view the “Beyond All Boundaries,” a cinematic experience featuring 4-D special effects and narration by Tom Hanks. That was a perfect set up to go see all the other exhibits.

Jerri with the gunner’s portion of a B-24D Liberator

Jerri with the gunner’s portion of a B-24D
Liberator

A truck named Dorothy...after our mom, I'm sure!

A truck named Dorothy…after our mom, I’m sure!

Since this is a Smithsonian affiliate, I wondered why it was not located in Washington, D.C. New Orleans was chosen as the site to honor Andrew Higgins, a local boat builder, whose amphibious landing craft was credited by Dwight D. Eisenhower with winning the war.

Since this is a Smithsonian affiliate, I wondered why it was not located in Washington, D.C. New Orleans was chosen as the site to honor Andrew Higgins, a local boat builder, whose amphibious landing craft was credited by Dwight D. Eisenhower with winning the war.

Home Front Chick

Home Front Chick

Army uniforms like the one Dad wore

Army uniforms like the one Dad wore

I do believe this is one of the best museums I have ever visited. It really had our attention throughout the day and we were surprised when the PA system announced it was closing time. The museum is massive, as you can well imagine, and utilizes the latest technology to help you understand and relate to what happened. The relationship begins almost as soon as you enter when you are issued a dog tag and that tag becomes encoded with a person whose war career you will follow throughout your time in the museum. It was just great! The museum behooves one to go back because the experience is rather overwhelming if one reads all the labels and sees all the exhibits. http://www.nationalww2museum.org/visit/exhibits/index.html

After being on our feet all day, we took it easy for a while the next morning. We walked to catch the St. Charles Trolley (the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world—150 years!) and rode it to the end of the line and back. It rumbles and sways by the Garden District, through a tunnel of live oaks, past dozens of antebellum homes, by historic monuments and Tulane and Loyola Universities.

We loved traveling on the trolleys and the bus because we could get a Jazzy pass for only $3 and we could ride all day long.

We loved traveling on the trolleys and the bus because we could get a Jazzy pass for only $3 and we could ride all day long.

Usually, a trolley is much more crowded than this. We hit it at a slack time.

Usually, a trolley is much more crowded than this. We hit it at a slack time.

Jerri loves to go on ghost tours and said we had to do one in New Orleans. After all, there should be many ghosts there with all its history and voodoo practices. So on the night before our departure, we joined a small group of ghost aficionados. We heard some stories about sightings in the French Quarter..one was rather gruesome. A lady built a very nice house with slave quarters out in back. After some time, people found that she was mistreating her slaves terribly with whipping, chaining them up and starving them. One slave girl jumped either off the building or out of a window to her death and she haunts the house along with other spirits. Nicholas Cage bought the house and was irritated after just one day of moving in, people were staring at the house and pointing. He thought it was about him but it was really people just hearing the ghost story. He didn’t believe the tour guide and was invited to take a private ghost tour of the city. Once he heard the story about his house, he moved out and sold the place. A person from Houston owns it now and isn’t there much, so he, apparently is not bothered by the ghosts.

A haunted house in the French Quarter

A haunted house in the French Quarter

Our tour guide took a break by Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, which may go back to the early 1800s but not owned by Lafitte(a privateer, smuggler, often in trouble with authorities and patriot(?) who fought with Andrew Jackson). It was quite a lively, rowdy place on Bourbon Street.   You can see more of the bar story and pictures at http://www.lafittesblacksmithshop.com/AboutUs.html  I asked the bartender for a margarita and got a purple looking daiquiri. He seemed to think that’s what I asked for. There were a lot of characters in and out of the bar. If you look closely at the picture, you’ll see at the left corner of the building, a guy with a Shetland pony! The poor horse seemed to be taking it all in stride, but I would have thought that all the noise would bother it.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar

Without the help of my friend RDS, I could not have posted this picture because it would not have been family friendly :-)

Without the help of my friend RDS, I could not have posted this picture because it would not have been family friendly 🙂

Our guide took us to the back of the St. Louis Cathedral that was in the photo of Jackson Square. He was talking about the figure in this photo. Most people feel that it is a shadow of Christ, but a little 5 year old boy told our guide that it was a giraffe. It’s all in your perspective!

Our guide took us to the back of the St. Louis Cathedral that was in the photo of Jackson Square.  He was talking about the figure in this photo. Most people feel that it is a shadow of Christ, but a little 5 year old boy told our guide that it was a giraffe. It’s all in your perspective!

Jerri and I horsing around in front of our mirrored “window.” You can see that the wall is very old and we assume it is one of the original walls of the building. I’m pretty sure someone told me that the building was constructed in the 1800s.

Jerri and I horsing around in front of our mirrored “window.” You can see that the wall is very old and we assume it is one of the original walls of the building. I’m pretty sure someone told me that the building was constructed in the 1800s.

Sister Trip 7 was over way too soon, but then they all are. We loved our first three towns and wished that we’d spent more time in them. New Orleans was fun and we saw and did a lot. We enjoyed meeting the locals in every place we visited and felt they were/are extremely friendly and hospitable. This was true in NOLA, too.  But we’re from such a small, quiet town that we weren’t enchanted with it quite like we were in the other places. Bourbon Street was definitely not our cup of tea…with its own odor and culture. Too much booze, I think. However, we fell in love with the Southern food. They do know how to fry vittles down there. It’s a good thing we were only gone 10 days or we both would have gained waaaay too much weight!

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