Saturday, January 30, 2016

New Orleans

Barge on the Mississippi from the Algiers Ferry.

Pensacola behind us we headed west through southern Alabama and Mississippi on I-10 right into New Orleans. That bridge was fun in a big rig!
We stayed in Belle Chasse at the Naval Air Station so had to cross the bridge, and pass through a tunnel to get there. It was our first experience in NOLA and we quickly learned that everything relates to the water. The Mississippi and Lake Pontchartrain and , the levee's. It was quite and education. 
It;s hard to believe the amount of power these tugs have to move those barges against the current.
Belle Chasse is on the West Bank. We could have driven into New Orleans but it was more fun to take the 15 minute ferry ride across the Mississippi from Algiers. It dropped us off right at Canal Street near the Aquarium and the Casino. It was an easy walk to the French Quarter and the Business district where you can pick up street cars to more remote locations.

Of course we stopped for coffee!
We walked right up Decatur street to Cafe DuMonde for cafe au lait and beignets that we carried down to Jean Lafitte National Historic Park to breakfast. We were sitting in the sunshine watching the horse drawn carriages and local artists when a military band marched by. It happened that there was a ceremony taking place to commemorate The Battle of New Orleans (War of 1812). The battle itself was to be reenacted the following day at Chalmette Battlefield complete with cannons and campfires.

Wrought Iron railings and balconies everywhere.

We loved the architectural details but the artfully exposed brick was a little much
 Our bellies full we started to walk Chartes and Royal and honky-tonk Bourbon and all the short Saint named streets in between. We admired gardens and were happy to see roses and pansies blooming. We looked up to see wrought iron railings and balconies full of greenery.

French Quarter Antique Store

 The buildings were small with beautiful architectural details. We stopped to listen to buskers and even met our grandsons favorite transformer Bumblebee!
Gas lights

Pat O'Brien Hurricaines
Fred had visited New Orleans 45 years ago when he had just gotten out of Air Force basic training. One of his favorite and most talked about memories was visiting Pat O'Brien's for Hurricanes, their signature rum filled cocktail served in a Hurricane lantern shaped glass. We stopped at Pat O'Brien's and each enjoyed one while spending an hour of conversation in their enclosed garden with live jazz drifting over from the restaurant.

My brother in law Eric had talked of his visits to Orleans and shared how much he liked Aunt Sally's Pralines. Fred loves his sweets so we wandered over to St. Charles Avenue to visit the store and sample some of those pecan filled delicacies.

On our second day in New Orleans we had a long wait for the ferry. The water was rising and the Mississippi was running very fast. There were murmurs of closing early and we were warned to make our return trip before dark so not to get stranded in the city. The water levels were nearing flood stage and the Corp of Engineers was planning to open the Bonnet Carre Spillway to divert water into lake Pontchartrain the next day.

Interactive dog tags were part of the museum experience.
Our goal on that second day was to visit the National World War II Museum. We started our Museum tour by watching Beyond All Boundaries  a 4D movie experience of the war that changed the world. The museum produced film narrated by executive producer Tom Hanks was a moving experience and a great introduction to the exhibits. When we bought our tickets to enter we each received a dog tag shaped like a credit card. We activated the dog tags at a computer terminal on board the train that started the tour. Fred and I were then able to follow our soldier through then museum and listen to his story at terminals in the exhibits that represented the battle theaters he was involved in. My soldier/pilot was Jimmy Stewart. 

Fred in the Museum's welcome Center
The museums exhibits are extensive and fill five pavilions. Our favorite was the immersive experience of Campaigns of Courage: European and Pacific Theaters.  
Road to Berlin had us walking through actual battle settings like bombed out villages and falling down walls and caved in rooftops. The glimpses of the lives torn apart was heart breaking. The sounds were realistic and the air conditioning on high to emulate cold winter conditions as we walked past snow covered jeeps and encampments. There were many video screens playing actual news reel footage of the time period. My favorite part of the exhibit were the kiosks with personal information about a particular combatant or support person. They made history come alive.  We were pleased to realize that so much personal history of the war had been preserved through an Oral History project that recorded interviews with combatants. 
Road to Tokyo had us travel a different path through Pacific Islands and Southeast Asia where soldiers fought a war in an environment totally foreign to all they knew, struggling against tropical diseases like Malaria, Typhus and Dysentery.

One of the Personal Stories along the way
We highly recommend the Museum Experience. If you are fortunate enough to travel to New Orleans put it on your must see list.
This building on the way to mothers need some windows.

We made it back to the ferry before dark after a quick stop at Mother's to pick up sandwiches to go. Our return trip was uneventful and the Ferdi Specials were delicious.

To see more photos of New Orleans visit our Flickr Album.


  1. Great post, Bonnie! The WWII museum is high on our list. I love Jimmy Stewart's military story, as he served our country well.

    1. It is a great Museum Jim and more Information than you can absorb in one day. We found the presentation of information in the exhibits to be both unique and effective.