Random Thoughts on New Orleans

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    New Orleans, also known as the 'Big Easy' and 'NOLA,' is a Southern city entrenched in tradition and permeated with a uniquely special culture. This piece lists my random thoughts as a visitor to New Orleans.

    I first visited New Orleans at the very end of last month (March 2014) and feel slightly ashamed that I have not seen the city sooner for a myriad of reasons. First of all, I have been residing in Texas, a state that borders Louisiana, since 2005. Second of all, I have previously been to northwestern Louisiana more than once to see Shreveport and Bossier City, but never bothered to venture into the culturally-rich southeastern part of the state where New Orleans is located. Thirdly, Allnurses.com maintains a booth at the annual NTI critical care convention every May, and the event has been held in New Orleans before, but my work schedule prevented my attendance.

    Lastly, I feel somewhat shameful for not having visited sooner because my best friend was born and bred in New Orleans and lived there until August 2005, when members of her family relocated in the aftermath of the disastrous Hurricane Katrina. Vanessa* (a pseudonym I will use for privacy and ease of reference) visits New Orleans anywhere from three to four times per year. Most of these visits are three or four-day weekend trips to keep from consuming too many vacation days and unpaid time off from work. Even though she has invited me to New Orleans multiple times over the years, and I've invited her to my home state of California several times, life just seems to pull one close to home when we want to escape the most. So when she invited me to catch a flight with her from Dallas to New Orleans to celebrate her little sister's 30th birthday, I carved out the time to come along. The following is a list of my random thoughts.

    The airport is actually in a suburb of New Orleans.

    Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport is actually located in Kenner, a suburb located west of the Big Easy. However, this shouldn't be too surprising because major airports tend to be situated where open space is available. For instance, the local airport where I live, Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport, is neither in Dallas nor in Fort Worth. In fact, the airport straddles two county lines and is partly in the suburban cities of Irving, Euless and Grapevine.

    The Lower Ninth Ward still looks like a ghost town.

    Vanessa and her three younger siblings were raised in the Lower Ninth Ward, a neighborhood that bore the greatest brunt of destruction when Hurricane Katrina struck. In fact, Vanessa lost the modest Lower Ninth Ward house in which she, her husband and toddler had been living at the time. The Lower Ninth Ward had 14,000 residents before the hurricane made landfall but now only 3,000 people live there, according to the most recent census.

    Vanessa's aunt and grandparents have rebuilt modest homes in the neighborhood, but they are definitely in the minority. Eight years later, the area is still dotted with empty lots, trash-littered fields, gutted houses, boarded-up buildings and very few businesses. By the way, we stayed in one of the rebuilt family homes in the Lower Ninth Ward.

    The French Quarter is a hip, happening place.

    Amazingly, the beautiful French Quarter is situated only three miles from the devastated Lower Ninth Ward. A tourist who only sees the French Quarter would never know that other parts of the city were once destroyed. The structures still look pristine and jazz music fills your ears at every corner. I saw crazy sights such a dead dog in a makeshift coffin, a couple of strippers who stepped outside a Larry Flynt hustler club to 'advertise,' and a bunch of palm readers and fortune tellers.

    The local cuisine is delicious.

    We stuffed ourselves on beignets (French donuts), fried oysters, shrimp, catfish, crawfish, and daiquiris. Since the city is positioned not too far from the Gulf Coast, the seafood was the tastiest and freshest I've ever had.

    Here are other random thoughts.

    The mighty Mississippi River is muddy. 40 percent of New Orleans' tax receipts arise from tourist dollars. Charity Hospital is still closed nearly nine years after Hurricane Katrina destroyed it. Some storekeepers are shady and will sell liquor without a license and/or allow people to pay for the liquor with a food stamp EBT card. New Orleans is a southeastern city bathed in tradition and inundated with a uniquely wonderful culture. I want to visit the city again.
    Last edit by Joe V on Jan 11, '15
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  3. by   Ruas61
    There is a breath of life that NOLA has that I have not found in any other city.
  4. by   nursej22
    I visited New Orleans last year and fell in love. We stayed in the Warehouse District, just next to the French Quarter. While dh was at his buying show, I explored. Yes, the food is out of this world and the people friendly and gracious. And so much history!
    I plan to return, for sure.
  5. by   KristenGuilbeau
    Great read! I live in New Orleans and couldn't imagine living anywheres else! I'm glad you enjoyed your stay here.
  6. by   TheCommuter
    Quote from KristenGuilbeau
    Great read! I live in New Orleans and couldn't imagine living anywheres else! I'm glad you enjoyed your stay here.
    Thanks! I'll definitely return to NOLA. It has an allure that just draws you in.