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Live from the steamy levees of N.O.

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    Live from the steamy levees of N.O.

    In this my first hotel stay in NOLA in 25 years, I've been kept busy since arriving Saturday afternoon, so that I'm not in my upgraded room, make that a suite, at LeRichelieu. I think its bigger than my apartment! I didn't get over to the NATCHEZ until the dinner cruise, which had a very 'interesting' entertainer in the Magnolia Suite's private party. Let's just say the old AVALON's brig would have made things easier on the watchmen and Capt. Steve. No harm done, other than a smashed toilet, more or less. Today's crowds were more refined, the usual type we see on the NATCHEZ. It is still strange to narrate and say that the NATCHEZ is one of only two steamboats still operating on the Mississippi River system. Matt and Mat - I did mention there were two steamboats on NY lakes too... Business on the NATCHEZ continues to improve as she runs all three trips every day of the week. The Dukes of Dixieland play the dinner cruise, as they have done since 1994, and Duke Heitger and his Steamboat Stompers entertain on the upbound of the day trips, as they did preKatrina. With Troy Delaney on vacation, today's pilothouse crew was Capt. Don Houghton and Capt. Steven Nicoulin, with Capt. Steve Nicoulin getting a well deserved day off. While we were underway I phoned Larry Walker, who asked how his acorns are doing - all but one are still in great shape, and I believe these were made at least 15 years ago. Larry is 92 and doing well in his apartment in Cincinnati, but certainly misses the times on the NATCHEZ and in NOLA.
    Now this will probably come as a shock to most, but this morning I drove over to the Westbank and down Peters Road, which parallels the Harvey Canal. Yes, I found the MISSISSIPPI QUEEN and yes I ventured up to, but not on, her. It is sadder than it appeared at Perry St. A couple of NATCHEZ officers have been aboard and have been negotiating with the owner for some parts to use as spares on the NATCHEZ. So far the price isn't right. They say that many things are missing since they first went aboard, for example a washer and dryer. Someone tried to take an inflatable life raft, but it inflated as they made their egress, so it now lies on the levee as trash. The owner is trying to sell items before cutting her up - he plans to take her down to the hull, remove the stuff in the hull (remember that held the theater, beauty shop, crew dining rooms, storerooms, etc.) and then redeck it to be used as a barge. Seems to me that the hull itself was one of the major problems (sounds like the ADMIRAL, eh Jim Blum?) But if they don't start cutting soon, there won't be much left to sell. I left the site with digital pictures, nothing else. I didn't have the desire to climb aboard , which would have been possible. As I headed back on Peters Road, I found the MISSISSIPPI BELLE II at the Bollinger Quick Repair Yard. The Harvey Canal is a fascinating area - worthy of a boat trip maybe entitled The Working and not Pretty Side of the Port. One of the industries which I saw was oil containment materials and booms - I suspect they've been quite busy.
    So 33 hours in NOLA have yielded 4 trips on the NATCHEZ, a couple narrating opportunities, a field trip to the Westbank to visit the MQ and the MBII, and a calliope concert by CCH. And heat indices into the triple digits. Ah, New Orleans!
    1) Capts. Steven and Steve Nicoulin on the wing bridge on a stormy afternoon, Capt. Don Houghton in the pilothouse
    2) sunset on a very muggy evening
    3) those stars we've talked about on boats, here on the NATCHEZ bow
    Attached Files

    #2
    More NOLA pictures

    1) Capt. Robbie Mitchell on the wingbridge for the Sunday evening departure. Capt. Don is battling brochitis so didn't climb the perch for this one. Robbie has been Captain on both the JJA and the COTTON BLOSSOM.
    2, 3) sunset on a more pleasant evening. Deckhand Mark is taking down the flags and an empty ship is upbound to a grain elevator, most likely. Roddy always said the dinner trip was his favorite because it was so laid back and quiet, compared to the others. And with sunsets like this and the DUKES playing right below my roof seat, it can't get much better.
    Attached Files

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      #3
      Judy,

      Wish I was there with you...sounds like it is a facinating time already! My sister was just in New Orleans a couple of days ago. I should have stowed away with her on that trip! They just left for Louisville today. Give my best to all there and who knows when I will have reason to come down there...but, know I am waiting with baited breath to do so!

      Travis

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        #4
        More NOLA pictures

        Three more pictures from Sunday evening's dinner cruise.
        Attached Files

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          #5
          On to the Harvey Canal

          1) this is an unknown sidewheel gambling boat which has been in the Canal for several years.
          2) The BOOMTOWN BELLE. This is the boat that was in the background of Capt. Ted's MQ pictures. It is nosed into a bay perpendicular to the canal and MQ. This was originally either the GRAND PALAIS or the CRESCENT CITY, the two mustard colored gambling boats of Christopher Hemmeter that ran for a whole two months out of the River City complex just above Robin St. Doc and Roddy both worked on them, but they had the shortest existence of any gambling boat venture anywhere.
          3) The MISSISSIPPI BELLE II in a drydock at Bollinger Quick Repair Yard. There's an Artco towboat to her starboard. There must be at least six drydocks there. They must be sandblasting her hull, since the drydock is covered. I thought of Pete Sisak there, as there was a seagoing barge under repair which was registered in Ludington Michigan. Sorry but I can't remember the name.
          Attached Files

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            #6
            and finally, the MISSISSIPPI QUEEN

            Look and weep.
            1) optical illusion. No, she's not being towed again. That towboat just happened to be going up the canal and I caught it at the right moment.
            2) Note the name Northrup Grumman. NG is a shipyard, but there are no drydocks or shipyard contraptions where she is docked.
            3) She's up against the wall at this empty lot, guard even with the top of the wall. There is a lot of activity just behind me, but not up at the boat.
            Attached Files

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              #7
              More MQ

              Now those first three didn't look too bad...
              graffiti, mold...
              Attached Files

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                #8
                more...

                1)Look at the spiral staircase - the railing is gone. It was brass, wasn't it?
                2,3) Windows broken under letters, drapes hanging out, over
                Attached Files

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                  #9
                  continuing...

                  1)Another broken window
                  2) oops... it inflated, so now its trash
                  3) I guess the stage is still at Perry, it isn't around here.
                  Attached Files

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                    #10
                    the last

                    3) I once was so powerful I tore out the cobblestones on the Memphis levee. Now here I flounder, helpless and powerless...
                    I suspect these will be my last images of the MQ, as I doubt if I'll get back here until November, and surely she will be gone by then, one way or the other...
                    I've posted these from the lobby of LeRichelieu, as the wi fi isn't working in my suite. Strange, but this lobby has the feeling of the AftCabin Lounge on the DQ... spirits working on me so late at night????
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                      #11
                      Judy,

                      Seeing the MQ like this is very sad. I wanna come down there and grab her and make it all better...but, I couldn't do it if I put all my energy and money towards it (I might be able to repaint the FCL by myself, though). I like the pic od the bow thruster grate showing above the waterline. I know she is degassed by that pic! Poor thing...I love all the pics I am seeing of her...but they are bitter sweet...watching the poor girl fade away isn't what I was hoping to do at this age...I was hoping to still be working on her.

                      By the way, I am looking for a job...have any ideas?

                      Travis

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                        #12
                        Judy,

                        Thank you for posting the MQ pictures. Now that we've seen several groups of photos from different posters here on the message board, I'm not sure if I could bear seeing any more . . . it's just too sad.

                        At the River Ramblings program at Howard Museum in August, I'm going to bring along the videos that Jonathan and I shot of the MQ and DQ underway for the last time on the UMR. We shot these views from a friend's boat out in the river up at Mud Lake with the Upper Mississippi bluffs in the background -- much happier views of these boats when they were still plying their trade.

                        Please give my warmest regards to the crew and to Doc. And have an exquisite almond croissant at Croissant d'Or for me!

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                          #13
                          Job

                          Are you handy with a cutting torch???? That looks like the only thing available on the MQ now...The bow is drawing just about 5 feet, couldn't see the stern since it was against the wall.

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                            #14
                            mid afternoon Monday

                            I'm soaking up a bit of a/c before heading to the golf course - I figure no natives are going to be out there in this steam bath, so I should be able to zip around. This morning as I was peddling my bike rapidly to beat an approaching train to the boat, I heard sirens nearby. Real nearby, like at the Moonwalk. When I walked aboard the NATCHEZ, Capt. Don told me we had our rescue boat in the water. Someone jumped in the river around the steps at the Moonwalk and the current was taking him down towards the Gov. Nic Wharf. Here are some pictures of the boat returning, under the command of Capt. Steven Nicoulin (the younger). The person in the water managed to reach the Gov. Nic ladder on his own, where he was met by a large contingent of flashing lights. The NATCHEZ crew has participated in many a search/rescue effort over the years. Just a ho hum start to a Monday morning...
                            Attached Files

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                              #15
                              Just another interesting day on the River. Can anyone identify the serious safety violation in one of these pictures?

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