Saturday, October 19, 2013

Rachel made the News and what I did on my summer vacation

This is not a political post, I just wanted to show off my lovely daughter, Rachel, and share "what I did on my summer vacation." In this news story about the reopening after the government shutdown of Jean Lafitte National Park in New Orleans, she is the slender pretty girl with long hair shown several times in the video.

Last month, Louella and Louella's caregiver Sue, and I spend three weeks in New Orleans. We house sit and dog sit in a lovely home on the same street where my daughter and her husband Joshua live,  just a block down the street. We could walk to each others house and walk the dogs together. It was nice to have the comforts of home rather than staying in a hotel. The dogs were no trouble and in fact I enjoyed them.

Louella has Alzheimer's and has reached a point to where her behavior can be unpredictable and she can have periods of discontent. Some times she can be very difficult. I was concerned about trying to take a trip with her, but she did great. She was happy and sweet and pleasant almost the whole time and she enjoyed the sights and did not complain and want to leave. Little dogs and children are things that always make her happy. The dogs were therapeutic for her. She just loved them, especially a little Terrier named Tia.  She fell in love with her.

The neighborhood my daughter lives in is called, The Irish Channel.  It borders the Garden District. It is a charming area of homes built in the early 19th Century. Almost all of the homes are shotgun duplexes build either right up to the sidewalk or with a front yard no deeper than ten feet and the homes have front porces. All parking is on the street and the houses are only about six feet apart. Lots of people in the community have dogs. With people competing for parking spaces, living in such close proximity, and walking dogs, people are bound to know each other. There is a definite sense of community. Everybody on the street knows everyone else it seems. In the neighborhood there was a neighborhood bar called Parasols, which had the most fantastic Po Boys. I loved the neighborhood.

I took my bicycle and bicycled almost every day, usually about an hours but some days for several hours.  Bicycling is a great way to explore a city and the great thing about bicycling in New Orleans is that there are no hills. Also, adults to not have to wear helmets. I know one should, but they are a hassle to deal with and casual biking is more fun without the bike helmet.

With three weeks to do tourist, we did not have to be rushed. We did everything we wanted to do. We went out of town one day and visited a sugar cane plantation and learned about that aspect of history. We went to the fine art museum, which has a great and varied permanent collection. We saw the sculpture garden, the botanical garden, toured beautiful old churches with frescoed ceiling and stained glass windows and statuary. In addition to St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson square we visited two other churches that look like the cathedrals of Europe.  We rode the street cars, partied on Bourbon street and we ate.

Other than getting to spend time with my daughter, the highlight of the trip was eating.  We did not have a bad meal. We had gumbo, jambalaya, Po Boys, Vietnamese food, Italian food, French pastries, gelato, fried chicken at Willie Mae's Scotch House which the Food Channel says is the best fried chicken in America, pork barbecue and lots of other great foods. We had a couple of very expensive meals in very nice restaurants but some of the best food was in out of the way places tucked in neighborhoods but that  had been recognized by the locals as the best place for that food item for maybe the last ten years.

My daughter in her capacity as a park ranger gives a two-hour walking tour and lecture, which she developed. She talks about the rich history of New Orleans cuisine and the various influences that created it. I got to go on her tour and was very impressed and found it very interesting. New Orleans has a rich tradition of blending and incorporating cuisines and they take their food very seriously. If you visit New Orleans eat a roast beef  Po Boy at Parasols, and if you can go twice have the firecracker shrimp Po Boy. Go to New Orleans just for the food.

I had a great time in New Orleans. In many ways, for good and ill, New Orleans is like a foreign country. If you are looking for a different experience go to New Orleans. Get off Bourbon Street and experience the city. I love Nashville and don't want to live anywhere else, but if I did live somewhere else, I think I could enjoy living in New Orleans.  

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  1. Great piece Ron. Thanks for sharing this.

  2. Absolutely delightful read! Thank you so much.