April 10, 2015
The Big Easy
It has been close to twenty years since I have been to New
Orleans, and at least that long since Kathy was there. Obviously far too long
to be away from one of the most wonderful cities in the US. We missed out
completely on the direct flights from Key West to New Orleans that lasted about
a year before Southwest pulled out of Key West and it wasn’t until the pull of
the Indy Car series hosting their first ever race at the NOLA Motorsports park that
I booked us tickets.
We got a hotel in the wonderful garden district and after
connecting through Atlanta and picking up a rental car we were off to explore.
We arrived the day before any track activity as I wanted to make sure we had a
little time to acclimate and to see some things prior to getting caught up in
the racing activities.
Upon arrival, we wanted to take advantage of the beautiful weather
to check out the huge Audubon Zoo located in Audubon Park just across from
Tulane University in the Garden District. We rode the St. Charles Street, street
car and walked through the beautiful park to the Zoo. The zoo covers 58 acres
and features over 2000 animals and it is part of the larger Audubon Institute
which also includes the Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium both also in New
The zoo features many rare and exotic animals including some
of the very few white alligators in existence and a large Komodo Dragon
exhibit. My favorite exhibit was the wonderfully created Swamp exhibit which
featured animals native to a Louisiana swamp including everything from snakes
and gators to black bears to raccoons and more all in a beautiful and creative
We next headed downtown to the French Quarter to explore. It
was our good fortune to be visiting New Orleans during the weekend of the
incredible French Quarter Festival which celebrates the music, art and culture
of the French Quarter. The largest music festival in New Orleans (which is
saying something) features 23 stages of continuous music over 4 days and just
about every major and minor local musician, band and entertainer is featured,
all for free.
Tons of big names were scheduled to play and there were a
myriad of bands that we were familiar with from playing in Key West such as
Bonerama, Little Brian and the Zydeco Hurricane, Eric Lidell, Dash Rip Rock,
the Neville Brothers (and sister) and many many more. The Preservation Hall
Jazz Band and hundreds of others reflecting the wide variety of musical styles
from Zydeco, Jazz, Blues, Cajun, Country, Rock and everything in between- all
with a New Orleans flavor.
We hit a lot of the tourist spots in the Quarter, Café du
Monde, Bourbon Street, the Voodoo shops, and bars like the Erin Rose and Pat
Obrien’s before calling it an evening and taking the street car back up St.
Charles to our hotel. It was a great first day in New Orleans and it was so
nice to be back.