Tuesday, March 11, 2008

New Orleans is Alive and (getting) Well

We just returned from a fantastic trip to New Orleans. I know what you are probably thinking. Why would anybody want to go to New Orleans? Well, loads of reasons we will get to soon.

I am not going to say that New Orleans has recovered. I'm not here to say it is the cleanest, safest city in the United States. I am here to say that New Orleans is the most incredible city in this country.

Yes, parts of the city are still lying quietly in ruins. There are neighborhoods completely devastated by flooding that are slowly being rebuilt. Some neighborhoods received little water and have recovered rather quickly. Still other neighborhoods (many) were not flooded and you would not be able to tell that anything had ever happened.

One of our favorite places in New Orleans is the Audubon Zoo. Most of the animals fared quite well through the hurricane and its aftermath. The zoo is in great shape and was full of visitors. We were able to take the St. Charles streetcar all the way to the zoo. The majority of the St. Charles streetcar route has been repaired and the cars were full of locals and tourists.

One day was spent in City Park. Most of the park has been restored. Some buildings will have to be torn down and the golf courses have not been repaired, yet the majority of the park is in great shape. We first went to the New Orleans Museum of Art -- a fantastic museum in a beautiful building. Then on to the sculpture garden. While several trees were lost, many of the beautiful live oaks remain. Many trees have already been replaced.

A great deal of wildlife can be found in the park. We even saw pelicans fishing -- although I didn't managed to get a photo of one. I did manage to capture this fellow, though.

Also in City Park is a small amusement park. Aside from the now missing ferris wheel, the park is back to normal. We rode the Ladybug roller coaster 5 times! My daughter was extremely fearless -- I screamed. Each time.

Lily and I rode the recently restored carousel. The indoor carousel had been flooded and the horses and animals almost ruined. They have recently been returned to New Orleans after being restored. Dozens and dozens of brass plaques on the carousel name the donors who helped put this stunning ride back together. I cried a little.

I've cried dozens of times since Katrina. I still do. There is still a long way to go for the residents who still live there and those who want to come back. Yet now I often cry for good reasons. I cried when I read that Commander's Palace had reopened. I cried when I read that the sea lions had been returned to the Zoo. I cried when I stood on a street corner last Sunday and saw the St. Charles streetcar rounding the corner to come and pick me up.

The people that live and work there thanked us several times for coming to visit. I'm glad I went and I am looking forward to my next trip. It looks like it might be a couple of years before I can get back. That is too long. I need to sell some of my work so I can go back sooner.


paula said...

glad you shared this trip, it sounds heartwarming. love the pics.

Gabriela said...

Hi! It was nice to come across your blog! I am also a quilt artist, fiber artist or whatever!
I moved 2 yrs ago to canfield, ohio.Originally from Uruguay but have lived mostly in new England...
Thanks for sharing!