Sunday, December 30, 2012

New Orleans, Part II

For our next day in New Orleans, we decided to take in even more history!  After a yummy diner breakfast at Mena's Palace, we hoofed it over to the massive National World War II Museum.  The complex is still being built, but it was still impressive already.  We opted to include the "Beyond all Boundaries" movie in our visit, which was a great film experience produced by Tom Hanks.  You felt an emotional connection to what we went through as a country in WWII, and they focused on the Pacific theater more so than other museums do.  It felt comprehensive, though I wish I could come back to see the other planned exhibits, which will include aircraft and Holocaust memorabilia and stories.

One thing I enjoyed was seeing so many WWII veterans volunteering at the museum.  They seemed so happy to see the crowds of people wanting to know about what they've done.  My grandfather was in the occupation forces in Japan, so I know how quickly we are losing these veterans.

After the museum, we grabbed lunch and headed to the river for a cruise aboard the Creole Queen, so that we could visit the Battle of New Orleans site in Chalmette.  The voyage allowed us to see New Orleans from the river, and passed through some of the areas worst hit by Hurricane Katrina.  You could see the damage from the water, which was sobering.  There were also old plantation houses and a large sugar factory along the way.  Dad helped us learn a bit about Andrew Jackson and the War of 1812.  The site wasn't large, but had a nice monument to the battle, some cannon by the rampart, and an interactive visitors center that told the story of the battle well.  I learned something!

Then, after a little gambling stop at Harrah's, we headed into the French Quarter for a ghost tour with Free Tours by Foot.  The area after dark was kind of neat to see; it lends an eerie quality to the old architecture, kind of like Interview with the Vampire.  I enjoyed it!

We also stopped by Cafe du Monde for their famous beignets.  It was late by then, but Mom didn't want to leave New Orleans until we'd experienced some jazz.  After a disappointing search of most of Bourbon Street, we finally found the the Royal Sonesta Hotel, though the cover was steep.  I was a bit too tired to really enjoy it (I can't claim to be a jazz aficionado), but I think everyone else liked it.

We decided to head home the next day after a little French Quarter excursion, knowing it was a very long drive back to Indiana for Mom & Dad.  Stopping at my place in Tennessee allows them an overnight rest before a much shorter 5-hour drive the next day.  So I can't complain!

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