Friday, September 18, 2009

Days 6 and 7, Leaving NOLA, driving through rural Mississippi, and home

Well, after 6 days on the road, we were ready to head home. There was so much more to do in New Orleans, but frankly, we really thought better of driving through the "Lower Ninth Ward" which is still, four years later, totally devastated, except for a house here and there. For the work that actor Brad Pitt and his wife Angelina Jolie have done, New Orleans is filled with t-shirts saying "Brad Pitt For Mayor." Should have bought one.

We left the city by way of Poydras Street. Now back in Maine, you may be familiar with the Acadian-French name, "Poitras", in fact I went to school with a guy of that name. Well, time changes everything, and no doubt the "Poydras" in New Orleans is a variation.

Near the end of Poydras and at the junction of Interstate 10 is one of the most famous buildings in New Orleans -- the Louisiana Superdome. Football fans will know this as the home stadium of the New Orleans Saints. But many more will remember it as the "refuge of last resort" during Katrina, with tens of thousands being "housed" here in terrible conditions. Back in Maine, we only saw a small portion of what was happening in New Orleans, and even less of the tragedy being played out in Biloxi, Gulfport, Pass Christian, and Baie-St-Louis.

We picked up I-10, and headed west toward Baton Rouge. The interstate nearly parallels Lake Pontchartrain for miles. It was this salt-water lake is 40 miles wide and 24 miles from north to south. It was this lake which was responsible for much of the flooding in New Orleans during Katrina, and at the eastern end of the lake, the 5 mile causeway of I-10 was destroyed (they're still rebuilding it, as we saw on the way into the city). Northerly winds pushed up a wall of water moving southward toward the city. The levees didn't hold. Most have said now, that flooding in New Orleans was mostly caused by human error, the inadequate and poorly-constructed levee system, and other human factors. In essence, it need not have happened.

We pulled away from Pontchartrain on the way to Baton Rouge, where we got off the interstate and took US routes all the way through the rest of Louisiana and Mississippi. A few miles north of Baton Rouge, we found the Port Hudson National Cemetery (misspelled on their own sign!) which was an important place for soldiers from Oakland during the Civil War. Vicksburg is noted as the last Confederate stronghold on the Mississippi, and it fell to Union forces on July 4, 1863.

But further down the river, the Confederates still held Port Hudson, so Lincoln was wrong when he wrote after Vicksburg, "The father of waters again goes unvexed to the sea." Port Hudson still "vexed" Union troops. A number of men from Oakland were either killed or wounded here, so this place has special meaning for me. It was Andrew Hubbard, killed here, who was the motivation for his brothers' push to build Memorial Hall, a true historical and architectural gem in Oakland.

A few miles further up US Route 61 found us back in Mississippi, approaching Natchez. Settled by the Spanish in the early 1700s, this city was once the main outlet for all "western" US trade down the Ohio and Mississippi rivers, and played an important part in the later cotton trade. As a center of that trade, Natchez became very wealthy, and cotton and other planters built numerous plantations, many of which are still around and host tour groups.

Our goal in Natchez was the military cemetery. Morrill Benjamin Sanborn, one of Barry's Civil War ancestors, died in Natchez in 1864, and though we were quite certain we'd not find his grave (we didn't, he's still "missing"), we looked anyway. The cemetery has two sections, one of which overlooks the Mississippi back toward Natchez. It's a beautiful place which belies all the horrors and tragedy of a civil war raging in the area.

Next up the road was Vicksburg, arguably the second most important battle of the Civil War. Vicksburg was located on a high hill (highest between the Gulf of Mexico and Memphis it seems) on a sharp bend in the Mississippi. Union forces simply couldn't get past the city, so Union general Grant developed a plan to cut a canal across a peninsula formed by the river to bypass the city, while his army landed, headed for the state capital at Jackson, took it, then marched on Vicksburg from the east. After a monumental siege, the city surrendered.

The flood wall along the original channel of the Mississippi (the main channel is now about half a mile west of the city), is painted with scenes from Vicksburg history, as has been done in Paducah and Owensboro, KY.

Some of the paintings portray:

(1) Vicksburg as home to Jefferson Davis, where he lived when he was notified that he had been selected president of the Confederate States of America; he was born in Fairlawn, KY, moved to Gulfport, MS, where we would have seen his home had we wanted to pay the admission; but in 1861, he lived near Vicksburg.

(2) the "Sultana", carrying 1500 Union soldiers, many former prisoners of war who boarded at Vicksburg; the owner of the Sultana needed to have her boilers repaired, but if he had taken time to replace them, he would have lost out on a very good contract, so he instead merely patched the boilers; her boilers exploded seven miles south of Memphis, resulting in the worst maritime disaster in US history; and

(3) US President Theodore Roosevelt, who on a hunting trip near Vicksburg, refused to shoot a young bear tied to a tree by his aides. Immediately, pictures appeared of the President caring for a small bear, and his nickname was shortly applied to the stuffed bears -- "Teddy Bears".

On the way out of Vicksburg, we photographed the court house, which figures prominently in many drawings of the battle. It's one of the most recognizable buildings in the South of the Civil War era. We also got a photo of the entrance to the Vicksburg National Military Park. With a $8.00 per person admission, frankly it was a bit too much for our budget at that point.

Then it was on to explore the Mississippi Delta, which is different from the Mississippi RIVER Delta. . The MD is the area on both sides of the river from Vicksburg north to Cairo, IL, and it includes parts of Illinois, Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Mississippi and Louisiana. It's flat, alluvial land (Mainers call it an "intervale"), very suitable for farming. It's where the "Cotton Belt" was in the mid-south. The Mississippi RIVER Delta is the section of the river south of New Orleans (see our trip to Venice, LA) for a description of the Mississippi River Delta.

The Mississippi Delta is one of the most poverty-stricken regions of the US (sort of like Washington County, Maine). There are few jobs, and even in farming, cotton is now raised and harvested by large corporations using machinery instead of human labor. Consequently, much of the population has left. We passed through Issaquena County, population today estimated at about 1,658. Its per-capita income is the 36th lowest of any of the over 3000 counties in the US. In 1860, 92% of the population was slave, with 115 owners owning 7,244 slaves. "King Cotton" was at his height then. The county, incidentally, is the setting of Mildred Taylor's novel, "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" which I LOVED teaching with Alison.

For miles, we were surrounded by cotton and corn fields as far as the eye could see. This land is incredibly flat, and used to be flooded yearly by the Mississippi, until the levees were built. This was where Kentucky slaves were "sold down the river" to a much harder life working the cotton, sugar cane, or rice fields. The subject of our state song (My Old Kentucky Home) in fact, is slaves who were sold south, and were longing for the old Kentucky home, where their conditions (though terrible) were much better than in Mississippi or Louisiana.

We drove through miles and miles of poverty, only broken occasionally by small settlements; some fields were being burned over, but we didn't see cotton being harvested (one of our goals of the trip).

After a very interesting day nonetheless, (travel is so wonderful, it opens up new vistas and expands one's outlook), we arrived in what used to be called "Robinsonville", now called "Tunica Resorts" in Mississippi. A decade ago, this was just another poverty-stricken region of the poorest state in the US. But Mississippi passed a casino law, and now, Tunica Resorts has nine major casinos, along with attendant hotels, restaurants, roads and infrastructure, and an airport which has seen arrivals and departures rise by 400% over the past two years.

We had reservations at one of THREE hotels at Harrah's Tunica Resort. Got the room for $40 a night -- try THAT anywhere! Of course, they figure you'll leave far more than that at the gaming tables and restaurants -- which we of course DID!

We took the shuttle from the Terrace Hotel - BEAUTIFUL PLACE! -- over to the casino, where we gambled a bit -- again, on the $.01 slot machines. We're not cheap, just poor! We watched one gal on the penny machines lose $240+ in less than 5 minutes -- on PENNY machines, for goodness' sake! We put in $5.00 and if we got $5.05 back, we cashed out! It's fun whether you gamble $5 or $5,000, in fact probably more on the $5 'cause we don't feel quite as guilty gambling 1/4 of our income in minutes!

We ate a late dinner at Replay Restaurant, sandwiches and beverage at a very reasonable price. However, our waitress should have lost her job! Another customer asked for lemon for her tea; the server brought the lemon wedge IN HER HAND -- no glove, no plate, just a bare hand! And while she was handing the gal the lemon, she was rubbing her nose -- not actually PICKING it but still GROSS and disgusting, in an era when everyone is concerned about H1N1 flu! She was quite flippant (seemed humorous at first) with us, and needless to say, didn't earn my usual 20% tip -- by a long shot.

The highlight of the Tunica segment was to have been Paula Deen's Buffet. We planned on breakfast there the following morning, and we showed up at 7:30 am, hungry and ready to enjoy. The menu selection was impressively extensive, but there were some major faults. First, the fresh fruit. The pineapple had not been cored, merely chopped up. The "country ham" was obviously not authentic, but rather a generic processed ham loaf. The biscuits were moist enough to qualify as "gooey". The entire menu was only average restaurant fare, and we could have had a meal at Shoney's (a Southern tradition) for half the price which would have been as good. I have a hard time believing that Paula Deen (THE goddess of down-home, Southern cooking) would actually approve. It only rated an "average" in my review at

So, we left Tunica, headed for Memphis, Nashville, and home. We had planned to cross over into Arkansas to West Memphis, so we could buy a shot glass, refrigerator magnet, and t-shirt, but there was construction on I-40 for the morning rush hour (and Memphis has 500,000 people) causing major delays, so we decided to avoid that, and strike off across Tennessee home. Didn't take any pictures on the last day, so there's nothing to post for that. It was a good, uneventful ride home, and we're so glad we took the trip. Wonderful memories, great photos, good experiences, would do it again in a heartbeat!

Now, planning our next trips -- Paducah for the barbecue festival, and then off to eastern Kentucky exploring the backwoods of Breathitt County and canoeing in Jackson. One of these days we'll actually need to stay home! NAH! Back to Biloxi for beaches and shrimp? Florida again for oranges? Kansas City for KC Strip Steak?

Day 5, Bananas and gambling...sort of

After leaving our hotel, we stopped for breakfast at the Café Beignet on Royal Street, in the antiques district. As I've said before, the beignets here are better, to our taste, than those at the Café du Monde.

We stopped into Brennan's to see if we could just get their world-famous Bananas Foster and coffee, and were told that it'd be best if we came by toward the end of the lunchtime, about 1:30, which we planned to do.

Then we wandered down Royal and turned south at the Louisiana Supreme Court building -- like Maine, the Supreme Court sits in the state's largest city, not in its capital (though Baton Rouge is now larger than NO, due to the huge influx of refugees from Katrina who have not yet returned to NO).

We found ourselves back on Decatur Street on a day that was MUCH better than yesterday, with all its rain. The sun was bright and it was hot and humid. We walked along the levees of the river, where the steamboat Natchez was docked. On the top deck, a man was playing the calliope, a steam-powered organ which "announced" the arrival of the riverboat to local townspeople in days past. One could hear the boat long before one could see it. What a pleasure to see an old river tradition in practice.

Here in New Orleans, the Mississippi is wide and appears slow-moving -- it really isn't that slow, but its width makes it look so. The color is still sort of brownish, and in fact the very word "Mississippi" means "muddy river". So really, "Mississippi River" means "muddy river river"... I learned after we got home, that the fresh water flow is so great, it doesn't mix with salt water very much even in the Gulf, but not until the flow rounds the Florida Keys and merges with the Gulf Stream, does the fresh really mix with the salt!

We then turned southwest toward the aquarium and the convention center. We were kind of startled near the aquarium however, when we saw a statue of a dinosaur. Little did we know that it was animated! It moved!

This area of New Orleans is so different from the French Quarter. It has broad, palm-lined streets, modern skyscrapers, and all the "modern" looks. Of course, the old streetcar lines run through this area, a throwback to the days when they were the major means of transportation -- "A Streetcar Named Desire".

Canal Street is the widest "main street" in the US. It was originally going to be a canal between the Mississippi and Lake Ponchartrain, but the canal was never built. Lined with expensive hotels, shops, liquor stores, and "dives", it's quite an experience.

At the corner of Canal and Decatur is Harrah's New Orleans casino. Of course we went in, and being the "high rollers" we are, we put $5.00 into a $.01 slot machine. Walked away with ... $6.25! A successful day (or 15 minutes) of gambling for us! I don't know how some peoples' hearts can hold out when they gamble hundreds or even thousands of dollars. I get thrills and heart palpitations over $5 in the penny slot.

Anyway, we wandered back up Canal St to Tchoupitoulas St and headed back to the Quarter. "Tchoupitouas" apparently is a difficult word to pronounce, because Dennis Quaid had to correct Ellen Barkin's pronunciation. "Chop-a-too-las."

We arrived at Brennan's just as it began to rain. We figured that would be the end of touring for the day, but we were headed inside anyway. We had a wait of maybe 20 minutes, but a table for two opened up and we were escorted in. We ordered, of course, the Bananas Foster and coffee.

The server actually prepared the dessert around the corner from where I was sitting, but Barry got a pic of it. We were seated right next to the courtyard, with all sorts of tropical plants growing. If it hadn't been raining, we probably would have eaten out there.

Now Bananas Foster is basically a simple dish -- we plan to make it at home. Bananas, brown sugar, fried up quickly, add about 1/2 cup of banana liqueur, wait for the flames to die down, and serve hot, over French vanilla ice cream.

As with much of the tourist 'hype", although it was good, and the restaurant was quite elegant (the prices reflected that), frankly it's one of those things you "gotta" do 'cause you're a tourist. But we can do the same dish at home for less than the cost of a cup of coffee at Brennan's. Go for the experience, and to say you did, but don't rate it a "good value for the price."

As we were waiting outside Brennan's for the rain to end (which it did very shortly), we noticed we were across from the Louisiana Supreme Court building, and a statue of former US Supreme Court Chief Justice, Edward Douglass White. "Edward Douglass White, a former Louisiana Supreme Court justice, served on the U.S. Supreme Court for 27 years between 1894-1921. In 1910, at the age of 65, White was appointed chief justice of the Supreme Court by President William Howard Taft." ... Louisiana Supreme Court website...

For the rest of the day, we just wandered in and out, all around the rest of the French Quarter. We had accomplished doing everything we had planned on this trip, an that was a pleasure.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Day 4, Touring New Orleans

We left our hotel and decided today was the day to see and do everything all the other tourists see and do in New Orleans. And so it goes.

We strolled by one of Emeril Lagasse's three restaurants in New Orleans -- this one is on St Louis St, and is called simply NOLA (New Orleans LA). We had reservations called in earlier by the concièrge at the hotel. Ah, the high life -- having someone else call for your reservations.

But hey, that's what the concièrge's job is, taking care of the hotel guests. Well, Charles got us reservations for lunch at 1:30, and it was only about 9AM, so we had plenty of time to tour the Quarter.

Right across the street is Johnny's Po-Boys Sandwich Shop. Now a po-boy, or poor-boy, is a traditional New Orleans sandwich made with French bread. Not the type of French bread we're used to, but due to New Orleans' high temperatures and high humidity, a very light, quick-rising, airy French bread. Poor-boys come in an innumerable variety -- y'all can put anything y'all want into it. We didn't stop in because we didn't want to spoil lunch at NOLA, and we were headed to the Café du Monde to try their beignets.

We turned left onto Decatur, found the Hard Rock Cafe where we'd stop later for souvenirs (we're Hard Rock freaks, I guess). A short walk took us to world-famous Jackson Square and St Louis Cathedral. The annoying thing was all the calèche drivers (mule-drawn carriages) who were hawking their tours incessantly, but I guess that's what a touristy area is like. St Louis is one of the oldest, still-active, cathedrals in the US, having been built in the early 1700s, and rebuilt in 1798 after the fire which destroyed virtually all of New Orleans as it was then.

We walked across Decatur, photographed this beautiful building on the corner of Decatur and St Louis St, and then went up to the "Moon Walk", not of Michael Jackson fame, but named after New Orleans mayor, "Moon" Landrieu, who pushed for riverfront development, and built a walk along the Mississippi River, maybe half a mile long. It's a great way to view the city and the river, as one can see "uptown" with its skyscrapers, and the Mississippi River Gulf Outlet (MrGO) as well as the Lower Ninth Ward (we didn't go over there, where there is still massive destruction FOUR years after Katrina hit).

After leaving the "Moon Walk", our goal was the Café du Monde, world-famous for its beignets. Tourists MUST stop here (even though we preferred the beignets at the Café Beignet). We were standing in line ready to wait maybe 20 minutes, when some other tourists told us to go into the main building and grab a table rather than wait in line. So we did.

The place was busy, as one would expect of a serious tourist institution. However, the service was not very good, our server barely spoke English, and she did get our order wrong. We ordered two coffees and two orders of beignets, she brought three orders. Oh well, at $1.82 per order we weren't about to complain. We found the beignets definitely good, but not as good, in our opinion, as those at the Café Beignet.

After the beignets, we went back to the Moon Walk, and watched the trolley pass on its tourist route. We didn't take it because it just basically went back and forth on the same route we had just walked, so we ambled over to the French market. There has been a trading post at this site since before New Orleans was settled. The French built the first buildings here in the early 1700s, and it's been in continuous operation ever since. Today, there are maybe a dozen sidewalk cafes, a couple of restaurants, and a whole "flea market" section. While we were in the French Market, the rain, which had threatened all day, finally began to fall. We had left our umbrellas back in Kentucky, and we figured it'd be a quick shower. It wasn't.

While we were trying to avoid the rain, we came across a fully-decked out funeral hearse. New Orleans funerals are something different. Though we didn't see one during our stay, we certainly saw this funeral hearse. The idea is to celebrate the life of the deceased through dancing, music, and general reveling in the streets. This hearse would certainly give anyone a great send-off.

We ran from balcony overhang to balcony overhang, trying not to get wet. But with an inch and a half of rain in about an hour, we were totally soaked by the time we got to Central Grocery. (That's Barry in the wet maroon shirt and white UK hat) It's a small Italian grocery store but the line waiting for the muffulettas was out the door. People dripped on each other while buying this New Orleans signature sandwich. It comes in two sizes, gigantic (half) and humongous (whole).

They are made from a type of round Italian bread, about 10 inches in diameter, and maybe 4 inches tall. Split, the bread is filled with a concoction of salami and other meats, a couple of types of sliced cheese, and an "olive salad" which is basically four or five types of olives, chopped and spread on top.

Apparently all the muffulettas are the same, because they are pre-made, cut (half in two, whole in four), and wrapped in butcher paper. Total time to buy: waiting in line, 5 minutes, actual purchase 1 minute, final taste, PRICELESS. We put the sandwich in the handled bag (which by the way was invented by a man from Danville, KY), along with our other purchases from the French Market, and headed to Walgreen's, where I finally bought an umbrella. Of course, when the horse is out, that's the time to close the barn door, but at least we wouldn't get any wetter, now would we?

We waited until traffic on Decatur eased, then ran across to the Hard Rock Café. We didn't stop for libations there because we had a date at Emeril's NOLA and we didn't want to be too stuffed to enjoy that treat, to which we had been looking forward ever since we first planned this trip! So we just bought our usual souvenirs, and by that time, the rain was almost over. So back up St Louis St we went.

We arrived for lunch at NOLA about half an hour early, and weren't sure we could get in yet, but the hostess graciously took care of us. We rode an open elevator to the second-floor dining room, where we were seated. Now NOLA is not a budget restaurant, as one might expect. As we were seated, the hostess took our napkins and shook them out, then placed them on our laps. Never, ever, have I had anyone do that in any restaurant. We knew we were in a classy place. And here we were in soggy t-shirts and shorts, practically still dripping. Oh well, our money might still be good.

The lunch menu was, of course, elegant. Luckily I could pronounce almost all of the words in the listings. What really looked good was the (from the menu) "Hickory Roasted Beef Brisket with Orecchiette Pasta-Brie Cream Mac & Cheese and Honey Baked White Beans". Barry made that choice.

I took the "Buttermilk Fried Breast of Chicken with Bourbon Mashed Sweet Potatoes, Smithfield Ham Cream Gravy and Sautéed Sugar Snap Peas".

The sommelier came by to ask what we would like for wine, and since we'd had a chance to look over the lunch menu, Barry ordered a red, and I a white. The bread server came by with a jalapeno corn bread, and a nice bruchetta. Then the meal. Everything was delicious, and we really enjoyed just BEING there as much as anything else. It was a highlight of the whole trip. Now don't ask how much lunch was, but let's say my first apartment's monthly rent and my first new car's payment were both less! We probably won't do it again, but it was surely a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us, since we use Emeril's "Essence" in nearly everything we cook, and had watched his show on the Food Network for years.

After lunch, we walked back to the hotel for a rest before going out for one more special treat. Good thing we had that muffuletta back in the room too.

We walked down Bourbon Street, which was beginning to get busy as it was getting dark. We turned right on St Peter Street, to Pat O'Brien's. The tour guides say, "it's the law" that you have to get a "Hurricane" here. The Hurricane is a fruity rum drink concocted here in the early 1940s.

Story goes that most of the grain which would have gone into distilling whiskey and other liquors was going to the war effort, so distilled spirits were hard to get -- legal once again, but just not available.

However, the islands of the West Indies produced loads of rum. Pat O'Brien had to buy 50 cases of rum in order to buy one case of whiskey, so he had all this rum he didn't know what to do with. He mixed it with fruit extracts and added rum, a cherry, and a slice of orange, serving it in a glass shaped like an old-fashioned hurricane lamp. The drink was named after the shape of the glass. So we had one. And one is about all you need!

In the courtyard of O'Brien's, there was this really unique fountain. It was lit with gas, so it had both the gushing water and the gas flame at the same time. Don't know why the water didn't put the fire out though!

After Pat O'Brien's, we stopped at a few other watering holes on Bourbon St, and came across an emergency rescue vehicle that looked as if it had been washed in hot water and shrank. We asked someone if they only charged "half price."

Anyway, thank goodness, we had that muffuletta back at the hotel waiting. Barry had filled the ice bucket with ice, put the muffuletta on top and covered it with a heavy bath towel, so it was nice and chilled for us to chomp on after a night of enjoying much of what the French Quarter had to offer.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Day 3, Driving down to Venice, LA

Day 3 - New Orleans to Venice, LA

Barry had always wanted to drive as far south in Louisiana as he could get. Well we did just that. After breakfast. About 3 blocks from our hotel is a restaurant called Café Beignet. It was obviously convenient, but we didn't realize at the time that the beignets were FAR better to our tastes than the much more famous ones at the Café du Monde, which we tried later. The beignets here, served three per serving, are like fried raised doughnuts on the outside and cream puffs on the inside, and they are covered with confectioner's sugar. I had mine with New Orleans café-au-lait, a steamed milk mixed with coffee and chicory. Strong but really good!

We drove down LA Route 23 to Venice, which calls itself "The End Of The World". The road was 4-lane divided and completely flat for nearly the entire 81 mile length. We followed the west shore of the Mississippi, and as we approached the village of Empire, we crossed a large bridge. From the top, we were looking out into the Gulf of Mexico, and all we could see was water with little bits of swamp land and bayou as far as we could see.

Throughout the trip today, we noticed damage from Katrina. Buildings which were not built on stilts didn't survive for the most part. A new motel is a collection of FEMA-like trailers. Katrina actually came ashore at Port Sulphur, LA, which is exactly 2" above sea level. With a storm surge of even 2 feet, everything would have been flooded. At Pointe a la Hache, the storm surge hit over 14 feet before the gauges failed. In coastal Mississippi, only a bit higher above sea level, storm surges reached as high as 26 feet -- and the whole area is only about 5 feet above sea level. No wonder, we were told, all the casinos along the Mississippi coast filed for bankruptcy after Katrina!

Reconstructed buildings are nearly all on tall stilts -- even the South Plaquemines Parish Middle School. Those which weren't on stilts didn't survive, for the most part.

When we arrived in Venice, certainly not a traditional tourist spot, we saw evidence of the oil industry. Helicopter pads were everywhere, Oil rig parts, pipes, all the equipment needed by the hundreds of off-shore drilling rigs, were everywhere.

And then we found the Venice Marina. And the shrimp boat fleet. And Crawgator's Bar and Grille. Not even a sign outside to indicate that it was a restaurant, but were we pleasantly surprised. The wait staff was friendly and talkative, and didn't mind being asked all kinds of questions by two tourists. This is the spot from where deep-sea fishing takes off, and the successful bring in their catch to be filleted and packed fresh on the spot. The food (shrimp, of course) was wonderful and the onion rings were first-class.

On the way back we stopped at numerous spots on the road, which as I said, was only inches above sea level. If this area had Maine's tides, it'd be under water 12 hours a day!

We photographed cypress swamps, egrets, the water, everything one would expect, and not, of the gulf area.

A car in the bayou, and the "Avalanche", a ship that capsized during Katrina, are both still there.

One of the really sad aspects of Katrina was the cemeteries. In this part of Louisiana, burials are all above ground because of the high water table. So coffins are placed in above ground mausoleums.

When Katrina came ashore with 140 mile per hour winds and 14 feet of water, these mausoleums were often smashed, and the coffins are floated away. Sadly, many will never be found.

And so we returned to New Orleans, having completed one of the major goals of the trip -- driving to "The End Of The World."