Monday, March 23, 2015

Bucket List: New Orleans

New Orleans was one of those places I always wanted to visit but haven't until now. I wanted to see it before it disappeared forever beneath the rising seas.

Mississippi River
Since reading Mark Twain and watching Maverick on television as a child I have wanted to ride a sternwheeler on the Mississippi. The river is narrower than I expected. While the river is a mile wide near St. Louis, squeezed in by levees, it is only 2000 feet wide at New Orleans. But it is deep. At 200 feet deep, the Mississippi River is deeper than Lake Erie and most of the water in the river is flowing past New Orleans below sea level.

French Quarter
Bourbon Street is the most famous street in the French Quarter and has all the historic charm of an '80's strip bar. However, since the most popular bordellos back in the day were on Bourbon Street, it does retain the same debauched ambiance of olden days. Just one short block closer to the river is Royal Street and that looks like the French Quarter I expected.
Royal Street.
Classic antebellum buildings and charming art galleries provide a gentile charm. The French Quarter abounds with street musicians and buskers and many people are bi-lingual. To tourists they speak standard American English without even a Southern drawl. Among each others, however, they speak a Creole English that outsiders can hardly interpret.

Cypress Swamp
I also wanted to get away from the city and boat up a bayou into a cypress swamp. Gators and snakes, song birds, wild pigs, plus more water that you'll find in California in a generation. That alone was worth the trip. If I return it will be to spend more time on a bayou.

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