Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Leaving the Big Easy

I got to the airport just in time, actually entering the rental car bus about 2 minutes before it started pouring rain. This after wandering around the French Quarter of New Orleans this morning.

I got up early again, went for a run around the South side of the LSU lake on campus and then headed back to the Big Easy. I’d never been to New Orleans, and wanted to walk around and see what was down there. It was an easy hour drive, and my plan was to stop at a cafe and have some brunch. I’d gotten a scone and coffee in Baton Rouge, and wasn’t hungry when I arrived at the Riverwalk and parked.

The downtown area wasn’t quite what I expected. Actually I’m not sure what I expected, but I was surprised by all the hotels built down there. It felt smaller than most cities, but with a ton of hotels. I guess that’s why Tech Ed and other large events are down here. Everything’s close. I passed by a Harrah’s casino downtown and moved on to Decatur St, which I’d read about in various books. That seemed like an old time street, with mostly small businesses and restaurants there. None were open at 10am, but it had a nice feel, of old record stores, a bookstore, and various other tourist businesses.

I stopped and got the kids a few T-shirts, and then consulted the map on my G1 to find Bourbon street. It was a few blocks down, so I wandered down there. That was a whole different world.

Dacquiri bars, ready to serve you at any time, sex parlows and shows, including Larry Flynt’s Barely Legal, and a number of other seedy establishments made me think this really wasn’t my kind of town. I’m somewhat sorry I missed it at night, but also not sorry. It’s not something I want to do, and I had more fun hanging out with the tech guys in Baton Rouge, chatting with them. After a few blocks, I was done.

Coming back down Royal street, in between Bourbon and Decatur, was another world, filled with lots of art galleries and jewelry stores. Kind of amazing. About this time I realized that I had a large wet spot in the middle of my shirt, where I’d sweated through. It was hot, mid-80s, sunny, but humid as can be. I checked me arms and back, and they were soaked as well.

So I cut through the large Harrah’s casino, thinking I might play a slot machine, enjoy the air for a minute, before I made my way back to Riverwalk. As much as I like cards, and playing a little poker with friends, this wasn’t my thing either. At 11 am, it felt dirty to me, and I wasn’t willing to even drop a dollar in a slot machine. Again, I’d like to see it at night, watch some gaming, but I really am not a gambler. I’d rather play some poker or spades or other card games with friends at home.

A quick trip through Riverwalk, which was mostly closed, and I was ready to just come home. I’d like to come back next year, and see some of the great people I met in Baton Rouge, but I think that I’d fly there and stick around that town.

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