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Live from the Levee - Summertime in NOLA

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    Live from the Levee - Summertime in NOLA

    Actually this is live from the lobby of LeRichelieu as I wait out the daily afternoon thunderstorm here in the French Quarter. At least it held off until after the passengers from the 11:30 were off and the 2:30 passengers had boarded. So much for my golf game this afternoon though...
    I arrived in town yesterday morning, just as the daily storm arrived a few hours early. Since I was going to miss the 11:30 NATCHEZ trip anyway, I stopped and loaded up pop and water for my mini-fridge. I then drove over to the Westbank and got some photo ops of the NATCHEZ as she had to hold the Point with a downbound freighter in the Bend. I drove over to the Toulouse St. Wharf, since I hadn't retrieved my bike yet, and rode the 2:30. Capt. Don Houghton was Master and Capt. Steven Nicoulin the Pilot. My first container of chocolate chip and peanut butter cookies (my gangplank boarding pass) went rather quickly. It is hard to believe that Capt. Don was a young Watchman when I started working on the NATCHEZ in 1984, and Capt. Steven wasn't yet... so I guess I'm on my third generation of pilothouse crew... after getting my room at LeRIchelieu and my bike and golf clubs from under the BK House, I headed back for the dinner cruise, which of course featured the fantastic Dukes of Dixieland. They've been the 'house' or 'boat' band for 20 years now. They have a couple of newer members whom I hadn't met, and they came up to the pilothouse to see the face that went with the voice they had been hearing do the brief narration during their break. Roddy always said the dinner trip was his favorite because it was more laid back than the day trips - how true, as we sailed upriver into the sunset with the sound of the Dukes filling the decks.
    This morning was filled with errands - I finally rented a small space in a storage building for my bike and golf clubs, as they apparently are going to do work under the BK house and everything has to go. And if you are wondering, my old apartment is a mess, nothing but a storage area now, making them $0 a month, and the Foundation could use the cash. The hotshot new board member who conned them into almost doubling my rent is long gone of course. It hurts me to see the place so torn up and empty, but then I guess I need to be grateful for the 23 years I was able to have that little apartment...
    As to the NATCHEZ, she is rolling along as great as ever, now in her 39th year, wow. Capt. Steve Nicoulin is the Master, Capt. Troy Delaney Pilot, and Capts. Steven Nicoulin and Don Houghton Alternate Master/Pilot. Chief Scotty Vieages reigns over the Engine Room- many don't know that he was really with the NATCHEZ from the beginning, as he was a shipyard worker at Bergeron and built the boat before coming to work on her. The 'boat' crew numbers remain the same, while the Food and Beverage staff seems to multiply like rabbits...sadly the trend on boats these days.
    Here are some first pix of this NOLA trip, all taken from Algiers Point on the Westbank. The whistle was blown when they saw the container of cookies...
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    Tuesday's calliope player

    Ms. Calliope was unavailable, so they had to go with a sub. This 'rookie' seemed to know his way around the keyboard though. He started playing the AVALON's calliope in 1951, and I can remember hearing him in probably 1952 or 1953 on the Rock Island levee, geez 62 years ago...

    Capt. Clarke C. Doc Hawley playing Running Wild...
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      Meanwhile on shore

      LeRichelieu on the corner of Chartres and Barracks. My current room is the corner one on second floor, with the wraparound balcony...

      Croissant d'Or, the French bakery on Ursulines, which has been my main source of food in NOLA for 30 years. $28 this morning got me enough for 3 breakfasts, an evening sandwich, and a snack. I've got a mini-fridge here, which sure saves money on the food front. The original owner Maurice retired several years ago and it isn't as good as when he ran it, but it sure beats anything at home! They have breakfast pastries but also sandwiches, salads and sweet treats.

      A beautiful balcony on Chartres, with the Beauregard-Keyes House (my old place) in the background.
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        Hey Judy, we'll eat some home-cooked Cajun jambalaya with andouille and shrimp in your honor! Dad's staying with me this week in St. Paul as we work on his AVALON program. The only thing missing is some beignets from the Cafe du Monde! Oh, on that note, Dad was wondering if you might throw a box of beignet mix in your suitcase for him. He'll gladly pay you Tuesday for a beignet today!


          Wednesday evening

          It was a beautiful evening trip after the all afternoon rain. Even though the clouds partially covered the sunset, the sky was aglow as we approached the cityfront on the unbound. With the Dukes of Dixieland playing below, it doesn't get much better.
          I have no pix of this as I left my camera in the pilothouse and I was sitting down on the roof.
          But here are a couple of shots from the lazy bench a bit later as we approached Algiers Bend. That is Capt. Steven Nicoulin between the sticks and checking for downbound traffic.
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            Thursday evening, already!

            Only one day left on this trip, time flies in the Big Easy...
            Sloshed through 9 holes of golf at City Park this morning - the courses here don't drain like ours at home - but it was enjoyable anyway.
            I made it to the 11:30 trip and immediately saw the bright orange shirts on about 40 junior high-ish aged kids who were riding - just can't get away from kids on boats. It was a good crowd, and overall it is surprising how many people are in town, considering it is after the 4th of July. Usually the bottom falls out then. But as I'm sitting here in the hotel lobby, it is busy with people checking in, large families going out on the town, and a lively bunch in the bar. They'll be joined by the NATCHEZ crew shortly as I'm hosting them tonight, since I have no patio anymore for a PP party.
            CCH and I dined at Deanies on the lakefront this evening - missed the Early Bird Special from 3-6. We were there at 6, but the server didn't arrive for several minutes and was rather rude when I suggested we had made the deadline - wonder where I got that parsimonious attitude???

            Today's pix:
            the flags flying atop the NATCHEZ - between the US flags are the state flag of Louisiana and the old Spanish Castille y Leon (castle and lion), my favorite flag.

            In the second pix the old French flag and city of New Orleans are also shown. Note the orange life rafts, stored on the roof so they don't get washed overboard, and SO convenient for the passengers in an emergency. This was the CG's idea many years ago. The steam line to the calliope is visible, as is the calliope console which is covered with a green fitted tarp. The floodlight shines on the pilothouse overnight.

            Third pix is looking up Barracks St. from my balcony. If you look very closely, you can see Doc walking up to his place, working off the Deanie's meal. He's by the third vehicle.

            Time to go fetch my credit card for the crew gathering... life is rough here...
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              The sun has set on my NOLA visit...

              As the accordian and keyboard are blaring in the LeRichelieu bar at a memorial service!!!, I'm posting my final pictures from this wonderful 4 days... I've booked for Nov. 17 already - ah, here is the Happy Wanderer playing now, how appropriate!
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                ...but my spirit remains on the NATCHEZ

                It isn't Ma Greene and the DQ, but............................
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