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Live from the New Orleans Levee August 2012

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    Live from the New Orleans Levee August 2012

    What a beautiful sunrise this morning out of my 4th floor window looking down Chartres Street at LeRichelieu. This is a corner room, so the bathroom window overlooks Barracks Street. Doc's domicile is just half a block up and quite visible.
    I arrived Monday in time to ride the 2:30 NATCHEZ trip, retrieve my bike and golf clubs from the Beauregard House - the apartment is sadly nothing more than a dusty storage room for old books and pamphlets -, have shrimp creole at Coops and return to the NATCHEZ for the dinner cruise for a dose of the Dukes of Dixieland, a bit of narration and time between the sticks. Good crowds on both trips, as has been the case this summer. Usually by now the summer doldrums have hit and numbers diminish, but not so this year. At least there is good news in one steamboating camp...
    I expected to walk out on that sandbar again and video the boat landing right at me since the low water reports were so frequent, but surprisingly, it hasn't really surfaced yet. At low tide - the river stage is 2.5 and there are some tidal effects now, a tip of the beach at the Moonwalk appears, but that is it. With this low stage, the NATCHEZ appears to have shrunk when you approach her - the wharf is even covering the bottom of the boiler deck now, although the big nameboards are completely visible yet.
    They are building protective dams downriver at Belle Chasse to prevent the salt water from getting into their water supply intakes, and if the stage goes any lower, the city of NOLA may have to do the same with theirs too.
    As I flew over and drove into the city, it was a strange sight to see water standing everywhere. Unlike us up north, they have been getting daily deluges, but that doesn't help the river stage since it all gets pumped into Lake Pontchartrain, not the river. Apparently I brought the drought with me, as yesterday was the first dry day they had had in weeks...
    While I was waiting and waiting at the baggage claim at MSY, I counted the CREOLE QUEEN electronic ad appear 4 times on the overhead ad board. Driving in on I-10 I noticed a huge new electronic billboard for the CQ, in addition to the old big one further in. The NATCHEZ advertising? Zilch. It amazes and befuddles me at how little promotion there is for her around town. Of course she benefits from being in many TV and print stories, but those aren't accessible to the arriving tourists. Oh well, I counted 18 pax on the CQ's afternoon trip yesterday, so I guess being the real thing is more important than billboards.
    No pictures to post yet, forgot to take my camera with me yesterday, too excited to just get 'home' I guess.
    On the personnel front: anybody out there a Chief Engineer with some time on your hands? Chief Juan retired and returned home to Peru and Scotty Viaegas is doing double duty. A name from the past, Bobby Gates, is going to return to help out in a few weeks. Another veteran is going to make two appearances at the calliope keyboard today as Debbie is taking the day off. I just might get a picture or two of that occasion...and news from the Lake George homefront: CAPTAIN Matt Dow passed his NY State Masters exam last week, now making it three generations of Dows with Captains papers.
    Time to forage for breakfast, as the Croissant d'Or is closed on Tuesdays. Don't think that will be hard here in the French Quarter...

    #2
    Tuesday afternoon

    Just back from riding the 11:30 trip. Here are 2 pix of the rookie calliope player, C.C. Hawley. Let's see, its been 61 years that he's been playing, and I've heard 60 of those...
    I felt awfully old last night when two of the young men who were watchmen when I started riding the NATCHEZ both mentioned that they turn 50 this year...
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      #3
      As usual, thanks for the blow-by-blow of the going ons in New Orleans. Happy to hear that things are going well, even with Chief Juan's retirement. Bobby Gates coming back for a little bit?! That's also a good thing to hear! There was some rumors going around here this past winter that he was going to do some time here on the MINNE, but nothing ever materialized. Have fun down there, and please tell everyone I say hello :)

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        #4
        Sigh! Congrats on the Master's Papers, Matt and, as usual, thanks to Judy for taking me to NOLA for a few minutes...Steamboating on the Ohio getting short shrift this summer due to shoulder operation and light crew. But we did give MISS BLUE a bit of exercise last week when brother John came up, and Jim Dew did pilot work. Put in at Wilder and went out to the Ohio and then back up the Licking. Fine day. Cap'n Walnut

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          #5
          In your honor, Capt. Dow

          Several of the NATCHEZ crew are going to gather after the dinner trip at the LeR bar. We'll raise a toast to your new official status (as if we needed an excuse to gather).
          Just got back from driving around town. I always go down to the Lower 9th to check on progress there. For the first time ever, I had some traffic to deal with. And several streets were closed for construction. This is not to say there is an awful lot of empty property there, but at least it is beginning to look more like a community rather than just a house here and there.
          I'm in a quandry, trying to decide where to grab some supper tonight. Do I want shrimp creole again, or maybe jambalaya, or...

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            #6
            Tuesday wrapup

            It was neither shrimp creole nor jambalaya - I went to the Verdi Mart and got a muffaleta. The VM is a hidden gem on Gov. Nicholls and Royal - a full deli with sandwiches and hot entrees. If you're ever down here and don't want to spend big in restaurants, hit the Verdi Mart and Croissant d'Or.
            It was a small group that met post trip at the bar, but we indeed did toast you, Capt. Dow.
            Rain struck part of the area last evening during our trip, but it had passed by the time we got upriver. It did dump on City Park, where we have a threesome planning to play golf this morning. Its going to be a bit soggy, unlike the rock-hard surfaces I've been playing on all summer.
            1) The view of the NATCHEZ with the river stage 2.2.
            2) The sandbar beginning to surface at the Moonwalk.
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              #7
              Around the NATCHEZ

              1) The 32 note calliope
              2) The Lunkenheimer whistle
              3) The stacks which have remained shortened, about 63 ft high from the waterline.
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                #8
                From the rooftop

                1) The view of the rooftop from the keyboard. The painted NATCHEZ on the pilothouse was put on in March 1988 for the Dolly Parton TV special. They wanted the name visible when the calliope piece with Vic was done. It was originally red, now black. The liferafts were moved from the main deck, where they were accessible, up to the roof by a Coast Guard order years ago. The CG was afraid they'd float away from the main deck. This will probably be the last year for them, as the inflatable bin-type will be in next year. The little blob on the deck next to the stack of rafts is a spotlight which is aimed at the pilothouse at the wharf. They haven't had them on lately, due to mayflies - just like Dubuque and environs. Off the port side you can see 2 large gray ships: 2)
                2) The stern of the two MARAD ready reserve supply ships CAPE KENNEDY and CAPE KNOX. These are known as ro-ros. Roll on, roll off. You can see the large ramp, one up, one down. A semi loaded with supplies rolls right onto the ship over this ramp, thus quickly delivering the loads. Jim Sutton has posted that he's working as engineer on these on occasion. Haven't seen him this week.
                3) The city skyline from downriver.
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                  #9
                  Judy: Is there still a restaurant in or near N.O. by the name of Yaegers, or Jaegers??; another down town by the name of Brennans??? ...Fond memories of 32 years ago! Cap'n Walnut.

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                    #10
                    Restaurants

                    There was a seafood place on Elysian Fields named Andrew Jaegers. Don't know if it is still there. There are several restaurants run by the Brennan family, but you are probably referring to the Brennans on Royal Street, famous for their bananas foster, and yes it is still there.
                    We just got back from playing golf at the newly reopened Bartholemew Course at Pontchartrain Park and we had a wonderful lunch at Two Tonys, a restaurant out near the lake. There are many good restaurants out there, easily accessible by I-10 and West End Boulevard. Deanies is the famous seafood restaurant in Bucktown, parallel to the 17th St. Canal and a couple blocks off the lake.

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                      #11
                      Judy, do you know the reason for shortening the stacks, and, are the any plans to heighten them. NATCHEZ is such a beautiful boat in either aspect, but, I did prefer the double spreader and tall stacks.

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                        #12
                        Shorter stacks

                        I miss the double spreader bars but don't mind the shorter stacks. Back in 1982 when she came up to Louisville for the race, they made shorter stacks to put on about a third of the way up the base section. This was to get under the lower bridges on the Ohio. They put the regular tops back on upon returning to NOLA. Then for the relief trip in 2005, they merely cut about 10 feet off the top sections, including the second spreader bar. Once again this was for the bridge clearances on the Ohio. Since she was planning to return to Cincinnati the following year for Tall Stacks, they just kept the shorter stacks on. After they returned from Tall Stacks, they just decided not to return the taller sections. Alan Bates always said he thought the originals were too tall. The spreader bar is still around, but I don't think the taller sections are - and they are NOT in my possession...

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                          #13
                          Wednesday in NOLA

                          Not a lot of steamboating to report - Capts. Don and Troy and I played golf out near the lakefront and then dined at an Italian restaurant nearby. I made the evening NATCHEZ trip as usual, and as usual clouds covered the sun so no pretty sunset. But it still was a beautiful evening to be outside. Roddy always said that was his favorite trip of the day because it was more relaxing than the daytrips, with the sunset and the band playing.
                          With Don and Troy on the golf course, the pilothouse was manned by Capts. Steve and Steven Nicoulin. This combination works together regularly since they've rearranged schedules because they have 4 people available for the two positions. Worse than realizing the young guys when I started in 1984 are now 50, young Steven wasn't even born yet then...Time flies...
                          1) Another view of the NATCHEZ at the dock as much of her is obscured at this river stage.
                          2) A little more of the sandbar is showing. I'm guessing by the time I leave tomorrow it will be out all the way to Gov. Nicholls so people will be able to walk out on it.
                          3) The view from my room up Barracks. Doc's place is the high brick walled building with the flag out on the balcony.
                          Attached Files

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                            #14
                            Some French Quarter shots

                            Here are some pix I took this morning as I wandered over to get some beignets.
                            1) the corner windows on the top floor of LeRichelieu are mine. I'm on Barracks looking back at the Chartres Street side.
                            2) one of my favorite balconied buildings on Royal St.
                            3) Other than Green Bay, there is no NFL town which is as involved in their team as NOLA is with the Saints. This banner refers to the year long banishment of the head coach in the Bounty investigation mess.
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                              #15
                              The old homestead

                              While LeRichelieu is a great place to stay, nothing beats your own FQ apartment. I was passing by the Beauregard-Keyes House and there was my neighbor Ott out on the front porch. Ott still lives in the slave quarter apartment and works for the foundation.
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