September 20, 2018
Leaving the Atchafalaya region, we slogged through rush-hour traffic in Baton Rouge, getting a glimpse from the Horace Wilkinson Bridge over the Big Muddy at the miles of refinery towers and gas-cracking plants that stretch south and north from the city. Then you’re back in bayou country again as the highway turns south, crossing the jungle-like wetlands that make up southern Louisiana.
Our goal was New Orleans’ French Quarter, where Laura, our eldest daughter lives. In addition to organizing and publishing these little stories, she is developing a program of walking tours of the city’s Central Business District, recognizing that the French Quarter is, for tourists, old news. She found us a vacancy at the charming Hotel Chateau on Chartres Street, in heart of the Quarter.
After our usual wrong turns off I-10, we got to the hotel, where she was waiting. The room was spacious and comfortable, just off a beautiful courtyard that included a pool. After squeezing the van into a semi-legal parking space, we enjoyed a relaxing dinner at Coop’s Place, a nearby bistro, scruffy and loud, but serving great New Orleans food.
It was an evening of getting caught up, not worrying about unpacking or what time we’d be leaving town. Laura is a dynamo with an encyclopedic knowledge of New Orleans history. Her tour program, described at Lolly Pop Tour Shop, offers authentic insights into the city’s background and development, rather than the canned French Quarter ghost stories and local trivia generally pitched by the city’s established tour companies. As we walked the narrow Quarter streets after dinner, she gave us a fascinating exegesis of local lore, both historical and legendary.
I got a quick swim at the hotel pool and slept like a baby, after a day of marinating in Gulf Coast humidity. In the morning Laura met us for a hike to Horn’s on Dauphine Street for a fabulous breakfast of veggies, eggs, and tangy New Orleans coffee. We talked and talked, about her work, her future, as well as ours—what we’ll be up to on our future trips, when we know what’s going on medically.
The time passed too quickly. We got some photos, hugged Laura goodbye, and set off for the homestretch for this too-fast race through the Deep South. We still were more than 600 miles from Greer, S.C., where second daughter Marie, son-in-law Mike, and our grandkids Noah and Patrick have lived since they relocated there last year from Alexandria, Va., where they were 20 minutes from our place.