Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Trip to New Orleans

For my spring break my wife and I drove down to New Orleans, leaving on Saturday and arriving there on Tuesday about noon.  We stopped along the way.  It's about 1200 miles, so it takes a while.  We returned on Sunday late, again taking our time and stopping along the way.  
Here's some stuff we did.  
  • In NO we looked at some paintings of cats in a little place.  They were intriguing and strange, just faces of cats, each one of them with something in its mouth.  The one that caught my eye was one in which the cat was holding a fish, and the fish was smoking a cigarette.  We were going to buy one, but we walked away, and then we didn't remember where we saw it when we decided we'd get one (only $35, a decent souvenir :))
  • We stopped at William Faulkner's house, where there was one room that retained some writing he did on the walls for the outline of a story he was working on.  There's no real road up to the house, no parking lot, so we had to park haphazardly on a dirt road and walk down a tree-lined brick walkway up to the big house with columns on the front. That was in Oxford, MS.  
  • We took a walking tour of the Garden District in New Orleans where our guide, Sarah, told about the cemetery there, dating back to the 1700's.  It was a Protestant cemetery, so there were no angel statues.  Most of the people interred there were Germans.  They're crypts, little marble buildings where they put the bodies, that, because of the heat in NO, get cooked pretty quickly, and they later push them to the lower part or gather the bones.  She said that's where the phrase comes from: "I wouldn't touch that with a ten-foot pole" (the poles they push the body with).  
  • We saw houses owned by John Goodman, Sandra Bullock, and Anne Rice (author of all those vampire novels).  
  • Sarah told us about the history of New Orleans.  
  • We stopped at Eudora Welty's house in Jackson, MS.  She lived there all her adult life, much of it with her mother.  Then she gave the house to be a kind of museum.  It was full of books, and that's the way she lived, so that people had to move books when they came to visit and wanted to sit down. 
  • We went to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis.  The museum building is the hotel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was shot in 1968.  You can go look at a room like the one he was staying in when he stepped out on to the balcony and was killed by James Earl Ray, who fired a rifle from a little boarding house across the street.  
  • You could also go up in the boarding house and see the room where the shot came from.  It had the rifle and all the other evidence that led to his arrest.  It took a while to find him--if I remember right, he was caught when he arrived in London with a handgun.  
  • On Thursday night in New Orleans we saw a lot of people walking around with drinks (legal in the French Quarter), many of which were "Hurricanes" in hurricane glasses, a noted thing in NO.  On Friday morning when we were leaving, the streets were lined with trash from the night before, lots of plastic cups and strings of plastic beads.  
  • We ate beignets on each of the three days we were there (I think I gained about 5 or 6 pounds :().  They're very messy, a little biscuit that tastes like a donut, with tons of powdered sugar on them.  It was tricky to keep the powdered sugar off yourself, and I'm not tricky.  
  • I had been letting my beard grow; it's almost all white, and in the pictures it looks pretty bushy, so this morning before class I trimmed it all back down again.  
  • We listened to a book on CD while we traveled.  It was James Lee Burke's novel about a detective in New Orleans, lots of people getting killed, and lots of fun and disturbing insults that characters throw at each other.  The Tin Roof Blowdown--it was set during the Katrina hurricane.  
  • Our car CD player quit, and one of the CD's is still stuck in it, but we stopped at Wal-Mart and bought the cheapest boom-box we could find ($23).  
  • The woman running the art shop where we saw the cats was a bit of a kook.  She kept coming around and telling us about stuff that we stopped to look at, like a box with some sticks that had been painted.  She had to tell us where the woman picked up the sticks.  
  • When we arrived in New Orleans we were almost there, just a few blocks from our hotel, and the navigation system told me to take a u-turn.  When I did, it told me to take a u-turn.  When I did, it told me to take a u-turn.  I did have to take a u-turn, but I wasn't going far enough.  I finally figured it out after taking two loops around the median.  It was downtown New Orleans.  I cussed.  
  • Right after that I drove right past the hotel even though the navigation said "Your destination is on the right."  It was just a small entrance, and the hotel opened out behind the buildings on the street.  
  • Coming back from being out one night we saw that Willie Nelson was playing at the House of Blues.  There was a long line down the street.  I'm sure some people were smoking weed.  
How's that?  
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