New Orleans and Gulf Coast, 2007

AA OMA-DFW MD-80 DFW-MSY MD-80
AA MSY-DFW MD-80 DFW-OMA MD-80

Hertz:

MSY Mazda6 AL plates
DFW Dodge Nitro TX plates

Marriott:

JW Marriott New Orleans
Courtyard Hattiesburg MS
Marriott Dallas/Addison

Wifey’s work had turned her into a salaried zombie, and my job went from “Sell in May and go away” to “Don’t sell. Ever.” I was sick of seeing wifey dragging ass every night and sleeping by the time I got home…so something needed to be done!

AAdvantage Miles have to be good for something, and cheap hotel rooms are at arm’s reach. I was cryptic about where I was going, telling the kids that we’d be three hours away and we’d been there before. And that’s all I told wifey, LOL!

I had settled on Atlanta, Buckhead/Lenox Square/Fogo do Chao/etc. Kids had been there lotsa times–but then AA ran out of seats! A month away and I was tearin’ my hair out…I wanted it to be South, a big city and with a JW Marriott (I’d never been in one, and Bethie wasn’t impressed with the Ritz-Carlton in St. Louis.) Nawlins had plenty of hotel rooms left, same for AA flights. New Orleans had never crossed my mind, but since I’m not one to ask ‘why?’, rather ‘why not?’, I bit the bullet and rationalized that we’d planned on taking the kids back to the gulf some year!

Regular airline miles translate to either the first or last flight of the day, and I didn’t want to deal. So I upgraded to First Class (which means unlimited Diet Coke in our case.)

Thursday morning, wifey had no idea. She thought we were going to Kansas City until I drove to the airport, then she thought STL or Chicago once we got to Eppley. The ticket agent said “New Orleans” and she about freaked. God, I live for moments like that! We called the kids from DFW and they were pist!

Landed at MSY about an hour after this.

New Orleans has a strange airport, decor straight outta the 70’s, Omaha has more amenities besides having a smaller metro area. I expected to see Convair CV-880s and Lockheed L-1011s!

After a few laps of downtown (Hertz said we were getting a Camry, wound up with a Mazda6), we checked into the JW. Nice view of Brand X!

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Looking down on Canal Street, main drag for tourists and assorted freaks. Like I’ve said in conversation since, I’m just a simple Courtyard-at-the-airport kinda guy, but this was special and I glad I splurged once. Nice room, great bed and bathroom, but the view left a lot to be desired. Wanted to go somewhere iconic for dinner such as Emeril’s or Pat O’Brien’s, but wife thought she’s feel self-conscious watching me watch her eat so we went to Landry’s!

Friday, we headed East along I-10 and US-90 with an eye toward Gulfport or Mobile or…wherever. Eastern part of NO looks like Chernobyl. Miles of boarded up houses, entire apartment complexes abandoned, highway interchanges with nothing open…no critical mass left for an infrastructure to support anymore. No pictures, would have seemed rude…

No map (I’m on vacation…) so I missed exits from I-10 to get to the coast. Finally turned on county roads and wound up in Pass Christian. This was a boardwalk that has seen better days and will again.

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Ninety degrees and eighty degree water–yum!

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Between Gulfport and Biloxi, hundreds of abandoned houses and wide-open stores. As depressing as the destroyed buildings are, even more so are the structures that show evidence of some cleanup and reconstruction, only to be given up on in the last two years.

Stayed Friday night in Hattiesburg–Courtyard, Outback and Baskin-Robbins. Neat town. Like Lincoln but greener.

Saturday, back to NO via the Lake Pontchartrain Causeway. Twenty-four miles. An expansion joint every 200 feet, so there are the best pictures I got!

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Obligatory French Quarter photo. Bethie got her beads the old-school way (she bought them, dammit…)

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I think this is Elvis. Too many peanut-butter-nana sammiches.

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Out of MSY at 630 PM, in DFW at 800. Still was trying to get Bethie to Fogo do Chao or Texas de Brazil, but wound up at the Steak ‘n Shake in Addison instead. Next trip…

Had a Dodge Nitro (was told I’d get a Camry. I’ve been promised one three different times but never driven one–don’t know whether to thank Hertz or not!) Then back to Omaha Sunday.

This was fun. Two years later and I’m still patting myself on the back. Looking forward to going back some day.

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Author: Damon Hynes

Used to chase tornadoes, until Ma Nature ran out of them...

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