From New Orleans to New Apartment

A week again I was in New Orleans for work. The Association for Commuter Transportation held its annual conference in the Big Easy, five days of greeting industry friends, meeting new ones, learning a lot and being inspired.

One of the highlights was hearing Elizabeth Levin and LaVerne Reid talk about women in transportation and different experiences breaking into a traditionally male industry decades ago. I bought the book “Boots on the Ground, Flats in the Boardroom,” and am looking forward to reading it. Hopefully someday soon….

I didn’t do any biking while in New Orleans but saw the brilliant (and I do mean that literally!) Social Ride, with at least 20 people riding bikes almost entirely covered in lights. That was on Frenchmen Street, where we also enjoyed some local music and beverages.

One of the conference vendors was Lime Bike, a dockless bikeshare system. I love the bikes for their design, but also the solar panels in the front baskets that power the digitally-connected ring locks that unlock the bike for you. I think they mostly cater to the university transportation people at the conference. 

Upon my return from the conference, I jumped in to help The Mechanic finish our move. It sounds like everything that could possibly go wrong did, and we are only now digging out from the chaos. It will be a relief to get settled. Gaston is already quite comfortable in the new place, but then again, he is still in his same place. 

I shall be back to my regular blogging schedule but alas, I doubt I will get any sewing done. It’s just as well – nothing like moving to make me feel like I have too much stuff. I’m trying to purge as I unpacked. Do I really need 6 lipsticks in almost the same color?!?

Let me leave you with some photos from Dat Dog on Frenchmen Street. This hot dog place (yes they have vegetarian/vegan options) is being redecorated in an intergalactic style – complete with Chewbacca over the bar. I love this place. 

Of Swamps and Sazeracs and Cemeteries

Five days in New Orleans with my two best friends from high school, one of whom has been living there for the past few years, was definitely a highlight of the year so far. We three haven’t gotten together in a while, so what better place than New Orleans?! But beyond the friendship, there were some experiences that really stood out to me – the swamps, the cocktails and the cemeteries.

We visited swamps in three different places – the Audubon Zoo; the Pearl River Eco Tour in Slidell (just east of New Orleans); and the Barataria Preserve in Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve. And we saw alligators in all three places! Seriously, I fell in love with the mysterious, lush swamps and could have spent all day sitting in the Barataria Preserve.

Soaking up the sights and sounds of the swamp

Soaking up the sights and sounds of the swamp

The Audubon Zoo, of course, was educational as well, and we learned much about the swamps and who inhabits them, even the leucistic white alligator, a ghostly and massive unique reptile.

The Pearl River Eco Tour was an in-depth ride on a small boat (about 20 people) through the Honey Island Swamp, apparently one of the least altered river swamps in the country. Our guide, a native, told us about growing up in the swamps as well as all about what we saw. It was pretty amazing to see wild alligators! Some came up to the boat, hoping for a bite of hot dog or marshmallow, graciously offered by the guide, while some just eyed us from a distance.

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The Batararia Preserve at Jean Lafitte National Park was probably my favorite, however. The boardwalks meandered through the swamp and ended in a marsh, which, while lovely, couldn’t compare to the swamp. We saw alligators (truly wild, not expecting a snack!), a racoon, several snakes, turtles, squirrels, birds, bugs (at least they weren’t too bad), and lots and lots and lots of Spanish moss. And I got a new stamp in my National Parks Passport!

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After all these swamp experiences, we had to cool off somehow – so naturally, local specialty cocktails were the choice! I tried a Creole Queen at Cafe Pontalba; a Sazerac at Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone, as well as it’s signature drink the Monteleone; blueberry mojitos at St. Joe’s Bar on Magazine Street; and daquiris from the daiquri shop near my friend’s apartment. We balanced out the expensive drinks with local beers. Gotta try all the local flavors!

We ended our trip with some visits to the cemeteries. Alas, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is closed to the casual tourist; you have to be in a tour group. By the time we got to St. Louis Cemetery No. 2, it had just closed. Although we checked out the Old Town Slidell cemetery, it couldn’t compete with the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, which we visited on our way to the airport. I wish we’d had time to do a guided tour of it, because I’m sure we would have learned so much more. Next time! St Louis Cemetery No 1 St Louis No 2

We had been told we could find crypts dating back to the 1700s at the Slidell Cemetery, but couldn't find them, and it was too hot to linger too long. But it's a nice quiet local cemetery.

We had been told we could find crypts dating back to the 1700s at the Slidell Cemetery, but couldn’t find them, and it was too hot to linger too long. But it’s a nice quiet local cemetery.

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I’d love to go back and experience more, but I’ll probably want to return to the swamps and see more alligators! It’s fascinating to see them in the wild, after having only seen them in zoos in aquariums. I was tempted to bring one back… but I didn’t. Next time!Pink Alligator

New Orleans

I am in New Orleans! I’ve reunited with my high school best friends for a long weekend, taking advantage of one of my friends living here – but she is moving back to California in June so we had to squeeze in a visit.

I have been to New Orleans before, 19 years ago, but both times, I was on tour nearby (well, 3 or so hours away), so we rented a car to drive in for the day. I’ve never stayed here. The list of things to do is quite lengthy, leaving us trying to jigsaw our wish list into an agenda. 

The first day was the French Quarter, for rum drinks, beignets and voodoo.  

I wore my khaki skirt and a hat from the Gap, purchased ages ago, but ended up buying a cute straw cloche from Goorkin Bros.  

Next up on our agendas – a swamp tour, the zoo, cemeteries, the pharmacy museum, a plantation, the steam boat, more rum drinks, and crawfish étouffée. Hopefully we can squeeze it all in!