Monday, December 12, 2011

Tell me a story. I don't feel funny.

Chalmette, LA at the ferry site
Chalmette (top) and Algiers (bottom) with ferry line marked

It's easy to see how living on the banks of the Mississippi would inspire wanderlust.  Everyone going somewhere, and you're the only one staying where you are.

Erratum:  We didn't stay overnight at the eastern Mississippi Welcome Center Friday night.  They don't have any official overnight parking (but, I wouldn't discount it entirely unless I talked to security, which is on-duty 24 hours).  I've heard that real people working at rest stops are much more sensible about sleepy driving than those grumpy "NO OVERNIGHT PARKING" signs are.  The welcome center does have free RV dumping on the way out.

We stayed in the parking lot of the Island View Casino ("more winners, more often") in Gulfport, MS.  There were several other RVs parked in the lot already, and as we pulled in, security pointed toward where we should park.   It put us a quick walk from the sand beach, but it wasn't a quiet boondocking location - lots and lots of trains.  But, it felt safe and we slept well.  The only walkable restaurant food was the casino buffet, but at $22 per person we didn't feel hungry enough to indulge.  

Here in Chalmette, we're back at the Walmart.  It's not my idea of long-term parking fun, but it's perfect for an overnighter, and man! is this spot level.  It's propane refrigerator heaven. I waited in line at Customer Service to ask permission, and the girl just said "no."  I kept looking at her for a couple of beats, and the older woman at the next station told her "You have to ask a manager."  Which she did, and I did, and he was friendly and accommodating.  Thanks, Shawn!  I'll totally recommend your perimeter lot out past the Lawn and Garden Center to friends!

Elaine, Annie's cousin, works for a construction company.  She told us that apartment buildings here dig 70 feet to pour footers.  Digging, you can begin to hit water at one foot.  There's a Lowe's just down the street that has gone out of business because locals developed a strong loyalty to any business that survived Katrina and first opened for business afterward.  That's why people in Chalmette shop at Home Depot and eat at Burger King.   

Levee blast in 1927 St. Bernard Parish

The Army CoE blew up the levee here in 1927 to save greater New Orleans.  Post-flood racial attacks triggered a massive migration of African-Americans to northern cities.  Hurricane Betsy flooded the adjacent Lower Ninth Ward when a levee broke in 1965.  And, you know what Katrina did there in 2005.

[a few hours later]  We left the city by way of the Lower Ninth Ward, on Claiborne.  Lots of houses still wear their "X."  Chalmette neighborhoods are clean and tidy, even though the vacant lots tell a story.  In the Lower Ninth, there's no need to read between the lines.

I'm obsessed with New Orleans, especially what happens here when the levees break.  If you have a story, I hope you'll tell me.

A local wrote me:  New Orleans is cold now, but by this coming weekend, she should be warm and showing off like the old whore she is.   I'm sorry I'm going to miss that.

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Teresa Evangeline said...

I wasn't there, but I still get goosebumps and even a little angry thinking about Katrina and all that happened there. I wrote once about the body of a black man floating in the flood waters. The BBC visited it by boat every day to see how long it would take for someone to remove it. There job was reporting, not body removal. Took six days. In the United States of America.

If you want to get really pissed off, and you probably don't, watch, "When the Levees Broke," by Spike Lee, or read "One Dead in Attic," by Chris Rose

Don't even get me started on the story of the Danziger Bridge....

Alrighty then.

New Orleans. I have a replica of an old sign in my entryway that says, "All gamblers and fancy women must sign up with captain before boat leaves for New Orleans. Mississippi Riverboat Owners Assoc., Nov. 1879."

You girls did get signed up, right?

The Good Luck Duck said...

Teresa, I wasn't there, either, but I watched in horror for months. I will look for that movie and book in my travels, and look into them when I feel emotionally able to be angry again. Danziger Bridge? I could at least Google that. Thanks for the references.

Oh, you know, we're not fancy so much as we are hearty and sturdy. I hear there's a market for that, too.

154275 said...

You sound a little down. Is that a by-product of what you saw in New Orleans?
Heading waaay West?

Sherry said...

Admire your ability to go there. It was so awful I have been afraid I would be too sad. I was just shocked at what happened to our countrymen there.

I know I should give them my business but I don't actually have much. I don't want to give them THE business and I have a lot of that.

Lisa said...

I was there in 2007 for a work conference. It was haunting to see the Ninth Ward devastation.

We stayed in the French Quarter where it was much easier to pretend that the horror never happened.

Carolyn said...

New Orleans is one of my favorite places. I was devastated by the Katrina fiasco.

I was involved with another travel group and several were saying what a good thing the flood wiped out the poverty was ... as Barbara Bush so eloquently put --- "probably the best thing to happen to THESE people" not verbatim, of course... but that's the gist ....

There was a very strong discussion that ensued... I was absolutely dumbfounded by the mindsets of supposedly well read, educated people of the nawth..well this one woman was from the Pacific northwest!

Talk about prejudice... the north still believes the ENTIRE south are uneducated evangelical dipshits --- and race ain't got nothing to do with it...

Still pisses me off and that's been how many years? They did not want to rebuild New Orleans....

that's right....

One of my responses was... you can NOT describe Nawlins... 'you have to experience it ... having never been outside your asses... I can see where something so distasteful as poor black bastards would upset you.'

They will rebuild and it will be better.

I went back twice since Katrina and have been encouraged each time. The people are indomitable.. their innate sense of fun is ... well? you just have to experience it.

Do not rebuild New Orleans??? I tell ya

I might add that there are people who won't travel south period AND TEXAS being one of the states people are AFRAID of ... in 2011... people are still that backward ... amazing

One woman said they shoot shoplifters here ... at Whole Foods! well, in Austin... I tell ya! Guards carrying loaded pistols to shoot shoplifters...

I could go on... Hahaaa... man

The Good Luck Duck said...

Rodney, I guess that is the reason. Just hard to be my usual smart-ass self. I had my camera out to take fly-by shots of the Lower Ninth Ward, but didn't have the heart after all. But, New Orleans is fascinating. And, Yes! Waaaay west!

Thanks, Sherry. I think I'm feeling a little sadder today, residually. Someone said, just recently, something like "I think New Orleans needed some cleaning out anyway," and I felt sick.

Lisa, I wonder if much has been restored in the 9th since 2007. I don't have any other data points for comparison. I'm sure that, once the media dropped coverage, it was easy for me to pretend the same thing.

Carolyn, do you mean they shoot shoplifters in Texas Whole Foods? Do you mean they have Whole Foods in Texas? :D Okay, now I'm just being a butt on purpose. You know how "frugal" I am - I may have to do my shoplifting on this side of the Texas border before we cross. Or, do you mean that's people's perception of Texas?

People have strange ideas about what's true, and I'm not sure how we'll get beyond that without totally deconstructing our beliefs. Like, "New Orleans needed cleaning out." First of all, it's easy to say from ____ miles away. Second, what exactly needed "cleaning out?" About 200,000,000 people have already said it better than me, but I still don't understand.

squawmama said...

It was so sad the devastation of Katrina ~ and the fact to this day they haven't fully recovered.
God Bless them!!!

Bob said...

I've come back here a couple times hoping I could come up with something pithy to say. Can't be done.
It's just a sad, sad situation. I'm one of those "foreign types", so it's not my place to comment on US politics, disaster preparedness, or lack thereof.
Not sure if I'll ever get to "nawlins" (my phonetic spelling may be somewhat off) but it looks like it would be fun. NOT so sure I'd go during Mardi Gras. I've been a few other places during Mardi Gras, and that was cwazy enough for me. Gettin' old, don't ya know.
I hope your stay is enjoyable.

The Good Luck Duck said...

Very sad, Donna.

Bob, I put you in a bad spot for pith. And, politics is politics, wherever you are. I tend to have a soft spot for socialist policies (that was the sound of readers unfollowing me), and that embraces Canada and Europe in many ways. I love this country. I just think we can do way better.

LG61820 said...

The best way to help the whole Gulf region is to visit & spend some $. I love New Orleans, especially at Christmas. NO is kinda like a foreign country to someone from Illinois, but English is spoken & no currency exchange is required. LG

LG61820 said...

The best way to help the whole Gulf region is to visit & spend some $. I love New Orleans, especially at Christmas. NO is kinda like a foreign country to someone from Illinois, but English is spoken & no currency exchange is required. LG