Monday, August 10, 2009

First Stop ... The Sultry Big Easy

Ahh, New Orleans in August. I've always loved New Orleans, even in the dead heat of summer.

There's something magical about the old part of the city, whether it's the history, the easy-going nature of the locals, or the food. Yes, the food; that has to be a big part of it.

Lunch on Jackson Square, right before the skies opened up.
We ate with rain pouring down around our table, where we were nice and dry.

We enjoyed rain every day, even if it just added to the humidity. I pretended that it must be raining in Austin if it was raining where we were. (Don't correct my mistake, please.)

We did lots of the tourist stuff, which I've never done before, including taking one of the carriage rides around the French Quarter. My excuse was that the tour guide would give us historical snippets of that section of the city, so I could write it off as a homeschooling expense. Instead, the tour guide just pointed out the best places to shop! I guess he just caters to what tourists want, even if they say they don't. (And I figure he got a kick-back, or at least a few free beers from the shopkeepers. haha) He did throw in a couple of interesting anecdotes, but it just left me wanting more.

The kids in the carriage, at the tail end of the rain. That's Sugar Daddy in the lead.

One thing that made a big impression on the kids was the size of the Mississippi. It's one of those things that you have to experience to grasp. G mentioned how easy it was to picture Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn on a raft floating down the great river. I, for one, wouldn't want to find myself in the middle of all that water on a pile of sticks.

Of course, G the geography whiz had to point out the this was nowhere near Missouri. And he also offered great tidbits, like we were standing near the deepest point of the river.

They were amazed at the size of the barges on the river, a few of which you can see in the distant distance.

One thing that we did that made an impression on me, and I hope the kids, was visit the Ninth Ward. I wanted them to see why we spent time volunteering to help strangers after Katrina; to experience first-hand a house once filled with a family, now boarded up or wiped down to the slab; to see the rebirth of a community that had been brought to its knees. We were impressed by the care and love put into the houses that were being rebuilt, how they exhibited a freshness that surprised me. I also was saddened to see the lasting marks on the houses - all these years later - made by the searchers. Most with "0" under the X, but some with "1" or "2." We talked about what those numbers meant, and what the rescue must have been like and the sheer number of buildings that had to be searched. Those images will stick with me. I hope that just a bit more compassion found its way into my kids' hearts during that drive.

Photo of house by infrogmation from here

1 comment:

  1. Very nice trip! Seems like a lot of fun. And, um, yeah, it rained in Austin - some :).