N’awlins Last Hurrah!

The small hours of Saturday morning on the New Orleans Industrial Canal were not at all restful. Dramatic and recurrent thunder and lightning kept smashing us out of sleep, and we woke in the morning exhausted. After a short good-bye visit with our English friends, who were leaving for points east, we shuttled into N’awlins again.

This time we took a cruise on the Steamboat Natchez, an authentic steam-powered, reproduction, stern-wheeler.

New Orleans is the second busiest harbor in the country and we watched, fascinated, as we passed its wharfs, docks, cranes, and beyond them, the roofs houses, just visible beyond the levees, sitting on land storeys below the level of the river.

The Mississippi was a little higher from the night’s storm and the mid-west flooding, and in the dull overcast light, its surface boiled with ocean-bound currents, opposing currents and eddies carrying flotsam gathered on the river’s long journey all the way from Minnesota. The announcer told us the really glassy surface areas were the result of upwelling of currents from its deep center (180 feet).

Watching freighters, ferries, and pilot-boat-pushed barges negotiate the powerful currents gave us further grasp of the awesome power that the storm surge must have brought with Hurricane Katrina.

During the 2-hour, seven-mile trip, we had lunch on board: jambalya, red rice and beans, fried chicken, salad, and bread pudding. The trip actually ran overtime, as the Coast Guard red-lighted us to stop while a flotilla of twenty barges negotiated the treacherous bend in the river around Algiers, across from the city.

During the wait, we met a couple from, of all places, New Canaan, CT, our old hometown!

Looking toward Algiers’ Mardi Gras Point, we could just see a jazz festival down beyond the levee and decided, after docking, to take the free pedestrian ferry from the New Orleans Riverwalk over to Algiers.

There we ambled through a fine and friendly little festival of food, art and jazz before going to Mardi Gras World. We even met Mr. Mardi Gras himself, Blaine Kern.

His company, Mardi Gras World, builds 80% of the floats for the thirty-odd Mardi Gras parades the take place in N.O.LA each year. The tour took us through a series of warehouses, where fantastic characters and creatures are designed and fabricated and stored for the many Mardi Gras clubs called Krewes, who traditionally commission and ride the fantastic floats (throwing beads, cups and doubloons), making their Mardi Gras parades like no other on the planet.

Dozens of pictures later, we took the ferry back to N’awlins, watched the initial flurry of technicians setting up for a movie shoot in front of Harrah’s Casino and then stopped to dine at Olivier’s on Decatur St. Bruce had shrimp Creole with white rice, and I had Creole rabbit with oyster dressing and sage rice. Both recipes came out of a five-generations country Creole tradition, and were a fine last taste of New Orleans.

Explore posts in the same categories: Historic Sites

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