Posted by: norstarnewengland | April 5, 2009

Trip to Louisiana: Notes

As I mentioned I took a trip to Baton Rouge and New Orleans in the week of January 28, 2009.  This was my first trip to the Baton Rouge area of Louisiana, and my fourth to New Orleans.  Here are some thoughts.

The weather across the three days was pretty good.  I left Boston where temperatures were unseasonably cold – Monday morning was in the single digits, and the day’s high was about 20 degrees.  When I arrived in Baton Rouge, the temperature was unseasonably high – around 63 degrees.  The sky was at first clear, but the clouds came in and by evening, it started to sprinkle.   It was over by night fall, however.  A front passed across Baton Rouge and stalled just to the south.  Temperatures dropped to the 50s, which I’ll still take.  The rain came to New Orleans the day after we arrived.  Still beats the snow.

Sunrise in Baton Rouge

Sunrise in Baton Rouge

I’m used to airports having a steady stream of people through them.  In the terminals, out in the waiting area, or in the garage, usually there are several people that you see walking about.  Not so in the Baton Rouge Airport.  There were points in the terminal and in the garage where I was the only one around.  I didn’t feel that I was in trouble, but, it was just different.

This feeling continued as I drove out of the airport for a ‘test spin’ of the rental car.  The road out of the airport had hardly any traffic despite the fact that there were businesses on the road, as well.  The main road at the intersection of the airport had traffic since it was about the time of rush hour.

I stopped at a municipal park nearby and I was again struck by how empty it was.  There were no cars in the parking lot, and the only human activity heard or seen was the construction of a new hotel nearby.    One of the paths I was walking along was by the entrance ramp to I-110.  A car went by and the man in the passanger side yelled out the window, “You white M*-F*!  Nice welcome.  Not that I was expecting a red carpet and trumpets.

On the way to our work, we passed through Route 1145.  This area looked the most neglected:  buildings that were closed; signs that were punctured or torn; limbs that were down.  We saw more trees down as we traveled west.  Later, talking to locals, the area was hit hard by Hurricane Gustave in September.  Only at that time were recovery efforts were starting.  There were winds in excess of 90 mph that ripped through the area.

We traveled along I-10 all the way to New Orleans.  We traveled along Lake Pontchartrain on a road built above the swamps.  There were several miles of good viewing of the lake.

I didn’t get to see much of  New Orleans this time.  We stayed in downtown New Orleans.  Not a lot has changed from the last time about four months ago.  It was about a month before Mardi Gras, so I saw empty stands and police look-out posts, as well as decorations in the hotel.

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In the hotel, someone noticed my Masonic ring and said that someone else in the staff was part of Eastern Star and she was introduced to me.  We talked for several minutes and compared ‘jurisdictions’, and touched on race.

One change I noticed in this trip was the amount of fees that were imposed, from baggage check fees that were still in force (despite the fact that the fuel prices had gone down months ago), the hotels adding user fees from general charges to the charging for internet access that once was free.  I’m still fuming over rental cars, which seems to be overly rigged toward the rental company.  It makes it hard for me to make a correct estimate on travel expenses.  Likely this was brought about as an adaption to internet based comparisons.

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