Posted by: norstarnewengland | August 19, 2010

Baton Rouge and New Orleans One More Time

Place: Baton Rouge and New Orleans, LA – One more time in Louisiana, one more time to assess the changes in that part of the country. And then there is one more thing that region has to combat with.

General Impressions

My time in Baton Rouge was short, as before. I slept in an area away from the cities historical center, but I still walked around. I had an afternoon and evening to travel and walk around in New Orleans. I made every minute count.

Weather-wise, it was near perfect. While it was warm – near 90 degrees – normal for the region, it was actually hotter in Boston. While driving around in New Orleans, there was a line of strong thunderstorms that came through, then it was clear again.

I arrived around the 24th of May. By this time, yet a new challenge was unveiling in the delta: an oil spill from an oil rig that caught fire and sank was spreading and the first reports of evidence of the spill was seen on beaches of Grand Isle, about a two hour drive to the south. I actually was debating to go down there, but I didn’t know what I would be able to see in the hour or so of daylight that I would have, so I decided to stay up in New Orleans. So, I looked for progress in recovering from the flood, instead.

It has been almost five years since Hurricane Katrina made a mess of New Orleans. I had seen it in 1994, 2007, and 2009. Areas I visited before included Lakeshore Drive by Lake Pontchartrain, Carrolton, and the downtown area. Also, this year, a new HBO TV series called Treme was being aired, so I decided to swing by to see that neighborhood.

General observations – the flood recovery is spotty. Some areas, like the Carrolton area, are recovering quite nicely, others are still under reconstruction, like the 17th Avenue area and Lakeshore Drive, and others like Treme look like they have been abandoned. This part is troubling as it appears that the recovery is going straight down wealth lines. True, the city, and the state are about as poor as it gets, but it was starkly different in places.

One last comment is another observation about casinos. When I was down there in 1994, the first land-based casino was being built in Kenner. When I visited in 2007, Hannah’s Casino was firmly established in downtown New Orleans. This time, I saw more of them, including slots at the gas station by the airport. Things to remember as the arguments for building casinos in Massachusetts are underway – well for now the measure died in the General Court after rather heated rhetoric. But I know they will be back, they always will, until they get their way, then push for more.

Geocaches

This will be short. I tried a couple in Baton Rouge, but they were half-hearted attempts. One was located in the back of a Walmart parking lot, and, after seeing a trucker camped out there, I abandoned any effort.

Benchmarks

I didn’t pick up anything new here, either, other than a water tank. I attempted to find a few in Baton Rouge. In one case, it appears that they replaced the wall with a New Jersey barrier type wall. In another, the intersection was drastically changed (College and Perkins) – the building that was referenced was gone. I revisited one in New Orleans and made it a waymark – the other I didn’t find and I fear that it has been destroyed.

Waymarks

The following sampling of waymarks were posted:

Baton Rouge –

Sonic Restaurant – I don’t believe that there are any of these restaurants in Massachusetts, so I was happy to get one here. I remember going to drive-ins long ago.

Casa Maria Restaurant – I had eaten here in my previous trip to Baton Rouge and was impressed enough to go again. I had a seafood burrito that included Gulf shrimp and crawfish. It was a bit saucy but good!

New Orleans –

Pontchartrain Baptist Church – This church is right by where the 17th Avenue Canal break took place. I still wonder what the vertical staff on the telephone pole is trying to convey, though.

Benchmark “Dodge” – This disk and reference disk by Lake Pontchartrain were waymarked this time. Two others that I visited before I did not find, though. Are they lost, or was I looking in the wrong place?

St. Charles Street Car Line – I found the car barn where the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Plaque is located. Both street car lines had changed over the years that I visited and is one of the good stories there.

Louisiana State Bank Building – Just one example of the many beautiful buildings in the French Quarter of the city.

Rodrique Art Studio – It has moved since the last time I saw it. The dog is an icon identified with Louisiana and now there are tables of the dog!

Birthplace of Dixie – Now you know where the term “Dixieland” came from…maybe.

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