We were up, showered and on the road at 09:20 which was a nice early start. We again used the shower in the RV, this time because it was a very cold night and we didn’t fancy walking to the shower block in the cold. I can’t remember when we last used a campground shower block for one reason or another. Our destination today was New Orleans which involved us being in four States in one day. This morning we crossed from Florida in to Alabama, after that it was in to Mississippi and finally in to Louisiana. We covered much of the journey on I10 as we had a long way to go and didn’t have time to travel on the slower but nicer minor coastal roads. We passed fairly close to the berth of the USS Alabama a WWII battleship, now on display at Mobile www.cityofmobile.org . After a long holdup crossing yet another bridge due to roadworks we arrived on the outskirts of New Orleans www.neworleans.com . Pretty it isn’t and probably never was, Hurricane Katrina just gave them something to blame. By the time we reached the campground we’d made up our minds to just go downtown this evening on the shuttle bus, have a meal, take a look around the French Quarter and unless we had any unexpected pleasant surprises leave town tomorrow.
After parking and getting hooked up we prepared to catch the 17:00 shuttle in to town. I had to pop back to the RV as I’d forgotten to pick up a spare video tape for the camera leaving The Chef to make her way to the office. On my return she was making her way back shaking her head. It seems we’d crossed a time zone during the day and moved from Eastern Standard Time to Central Time and had thus gained an hour; it was only 16:00 and so we were an hour early for the shuttle.
The campground seems well connected, we have the busy Jefferson Highway outside, across the road from it is a dyke or levee with the Mississippi River on the other side that. Down the road about 3 miles is the international airport and somewhere nearby is the obligatory noisy railroad.
At the correct time there were only 4 of us travelling on the shuttle, the other couple were German who were over here for a month touring the southern states in a rented motorhome. Enroute we had an interesting guided tour from the driver who showed us various points of interest regarding the flooding. The social pecking order in the city seemed to have worked in the opposite way to most others in that here the richer you were the further you lived out of the city centre because the higher ground was out of town and it sloped down to the city and river area which is lower than sea level. So who got to build their wooden homes close to the town and river, lower than sea level? Yup, it was the poor, who after the flooding caused by Katrina were re-housed all across America and are still waiting to return. For things to improve somebody has to be convinced it is worth spending a penny on repairing their rotting glorified wooden sheds for homes, and then persuade them to return home to them – good luck, this is one story where the poor win – they’re well out of it and I bet they won’t be hurrying to return.
On our arrival downtown we were dropped off close to the Steamboat Natchez www.steamboatnatchez.com . This was the last shuttle of the day and we would have to make our way back by taxi costing $28. The German couple suggested that if we were in agreement we could meet up and share the cab back which we agreed to and arranged to meet up at 21:00.
We had a look around the French Quarter including Bourbon Street. The area was similar to Memphis and Nashville with lots of souvenir shops, neon signs, restaurants and noisy bars, some with live music, in one of them Gay Elvis was singing something like ‘Can I Put Your Ring Around My Neck’, another bar had a rough looking young girl dancing on the bar with a few male customers drinking heavily in the hope that she’d look better by the end of the night, cruel and sexist but good for bar sales.
The whole area reminded me of Mombasa in Kenya and frankly smelt as bad. The streets had the aroma of alcoholic, unwashed vagrants, very unpleasant. Even the flies stayed away, maybe everywhere was still drying out after the flooding. Having toured so many of the eateries we ended up going back to the non touristy end of Bourbon Street, beyond the neon signs and the groups of ‘homeless’ ring-through-the-nose, dog-on-a-rope fraternity, and had a very pleasant burger at Clover Grill www.clovergrill.com it’s not that we were trying to be mean, it’s just that nothing much appealed down the touristy end, lots of the restaurants didn’t have their menus or prices displayed and so we stayed clear of them, others looked dubious and there were those you could enter for food and leave with burst eardrums from the noise of the music.
We’d had enough by just after 20:00 and decided to make our way back to the quayside in case the German couple arrived back early. As luck would have it they were there and waiting when we arrived at 20:30. We hailed a cab and managed to get a ride back for the agreed $28 sharing the cost. Although we’d taken the stills and video cameras we hadn’t taken one picture down there, which speaks volumes of our opinion of the place. After entering the RV I swear I could still smell the French Quarter on my clothes.
If they’re really lucky they may manage to rebuild New Orleans before Mother Nature destroys it again, it hardly seems worth the effort; they should just vacate it and build a new city UPHILL and away from the Mississippi River, then hand this one over to the military who can use it for training purposes. A squadron of B52 bombers could bring real improvements with several doses of ‘rolling thunder’; either that or they could sell it all to the Dutch for just $1. They’ll make sure it doesn’t flood again.
Tomorrow we’ll be setting out for Natchez, Mississippi via Plantation Alley and Baton Rouge. Once at Natchez we intend to travel the southern section of the Natchez Trail leaving it at Tupelo, the point we joined it at the beginning of this trip back in September then heading west for Texas.
LOCATION TONIGHT: New Orleans West KOA Campground, 11129 Jefferson Hwy, River Ridge, Louisiana 70123 (GPS: N29.970097 W90.234748).