On Sunday I flew from Seattle to Houston and then on to New Orleans to meet my friend Gerry Spence for a week of taking photos around the area and as a general excuse to not work. On my arrival I learned that a state of emergency had been declared as hurricane Ida was heading for Louisiana. Four to five inches of rain in New Orleans with 40 mph per hour winds were predicted. The sky was dark and overcast, but no rain as I headed for the hotel. I am writing this Monday and we still haven't had rain plus the storm has been down graded to a tropical storm, but the rain and wind is still predicted for tonight.
We are staying at the Soniat house on Chartres Street in New Orleans. This is a small hotel in the residential area of the French Quarter. It is quiet and off the main area of noise and activity. Lita and I have stayed here before and I like this place. Last night we went to dinner. The cab driver recognized Gerry from TV and was very excited. "Oh my God, it's you." he said and insisted on his autograph. He still wanted his fare however when we arrived. We had an enjoyable conversation came back and went to bed. We are two hours ahead head from Washington so getting up in the morning is difficult.
Monday were driven around the area where we took photos. Our driver, Dan, doesn't know what to make of us and does not understand nor appreciate our sense of humor. He also wants to show us things tourist's like to visit and which we have no interest in. He fails to see why we would want to photo posters on a telephone pole and dogs sleeping on the sidewalk. We did visit the 9th ward where the flooding was so disastrous. As we drive along we see something and tell Dan to stop which he is reluctant to do since it is a traffic violation. We want him to back up on a one way street because we missed a shot, but he would prefer going around the block since backing seems too illegal to him. I believe his impression is that he has a couple of wild cowboys who are a little of out control. This is not a good marriage of photographer and driver.
We stopped at a local coffee shop and bothered all the regulars there having breakfast coffee by taking photos of them.We vistaed the Roch Cemetery which is named after Saint Roch. It features a chapel where crutches and braces hang from people cured by the intervention of this saint. A large black man told us he had worked there for many years and knew all there was to know about the place including the location of the oldest head stone. So, we let him give us a tour. When we came to a head stone that had fallen over and broken he explained that this family had not signed up for their perpetual help plan and had they done so the head stone would have been repaired. He was a fountain of information and we had trouble getting back to our car because he was intent on sharing the information with us. We gave him a few dollars for his time and went on. We had lunch of "po-boys" sandwiches at some local cafe where two young men put them together. It was a local small cafe where the floors hadn't been swept in weeks and the young men used their bare hands to grab food to put in the sandwich. If we don't get some food borne disease we will be fortunate.
That afternoon it started to lightly rain and the wind picked up. We were back at our hotel resting. That evening we took umbrellas and walked a couple of blocks to Irene's where we had an excellent meal. Of course every meal is an experience with my dear friend Gerry. In his booming voice he likes to stop the waiter explaining the specials to explain he is from Wyoming so he needs to talk slow. When the soft shell crab arrive whole he asks the waiter "How do you eat these little fuckers?" and so it goes. The strange thing they all love him for it and give him extra care. We laugh a lot at each other and he has a wonderful sense of humor so it is all a great experience for me. We are in bed before 9:00 and haven't any idea what is happening a few blocks away on Bourbon street.
On Tuesday Dan picked us up and we drove to new areas looking for shots to take with our camera. Dan doesn't really tell us where we are unless we ask and tends to point out landmarks after we have passed them He made the mistake of driving us to the art museum only to have Gerry ask him if he has ever seen a photography book and if he had did he see pictures of art in it? Of course we don't want to go in etc. Poor Dan no longer has clue what we are looking for and while I am taking photos of the unique houses Gerry refuses to do so. We get some unique photos and end up at the Madi Gras building where all the floats and figures for the parade are kept. This is what we have been looking for. We take dozens of photos of figures and floats. A great place of color and bizarre figures. Wonderful.
We go back to our hotel early and say good by until tomorrow to poor Dan. We walked to Jackson Square and had lunch. We took a few photos but the street vendors weren't there and we alked back. The sky has cleared and I think we missed the storm. Tonight we walk back to Irene's for dinner and to see what commotion we can create.