new orleans

I spent the end of last week attending a conference in New Orleans. The conference itself was good – it was about supervising legal work, and that’s exactly what I needed to learn about. I have already scheduled individual meetings with the attorneys under my supervision next week to review their case files. Nobody has done this type of thing in the three years I have worked for this organization, so I think it will be a bit of a culture shock for everyone involved. We’ll see how it goes…

I was surprised when I checked into my hotel – the Astor Crowne Plaza in the French Quarter (very nice, great location) – to see these sleep aids placed against the pillows on the bed. Sleep CD? Ear plugs? Why in the world would I need earplugs? This later became quite clear when I realized that my window was 9 stories above Bourbon Street and the live street music for which New Orleans is known. I loved the music – until it was time for bed!

One evening I took the famous St. Charles streetcar up through the Garden District to Tulane University, where I met my cousin Sam (a junior) and treated him to dinner. I have never before been the older, wealthier relative visiting a starving college student, but I do remember those types of visits when I was at Purdue oh-so-many years ago. It was always a treat to get a real meal! We walked around the campus after dinner, and it was quite lovely. I was even invited to Sam’s frat party – but graciously declined the invitation.

The conference included a bus tour of Katrina-affected areas on the second day, and I’m so glad I signed up. I didn’t want to go to New Orleans and only see the touristy areas and not see the areas still devastated by this disaster 2.5 years later. The tour was interesting and definitely enlightening. Much of the 9th Ward has been cleared and demolished – so much so that it was hard to keep in mind that this was previously a very densely populated area. In some places, there were only concrete footers from the houses and dead trees remaining. There were also many houses that didn’t appear to be inhabited – they still had water lines marked on the outside as well as the spray-painted messages the search/rescue teams used. (Unfortunately, I have a feeling that some of these homes were being lived in, although they certainly didn’t look inhabitable to me.) We also drove through more moderate-income areas, and of course there were many more signs of progress in those areas. After the tour I found an outdoor cafe area along Bourbon Street where I enjoyed some jumbalaya and a hurricane (mental note for next time: one hurricane on Bourbon Street is plenty!) and listened to a live band play some great jazz and blues.

It was a short (52-hour) visit but I would definitely like to go back sometime with Craig to see and explore more. New Orleans is definitely the type of place that would be more fun with a traveling companion! I’ve posted my few photos in an album to the left. They’re really, really bad photos. Sorry. I’ll blame part of it on our camera (which we are replacing soon) and part on the fact that many were taken through the window of a moving bus. The others are, well, just bad photos.

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