New Orleans, you touch my soul. Each night, I go to sleep thinking of what new adventures we will have tomorrow. I can think of nothing better than stepping out the front door and living life in a place I love.
I think it's fair to say that among the top reasons people visit New Orleans, setting aside food, booze and certain anatomical parts of women that also begin with B, is our music. New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and blues, and our heritage as a music city is strong.
And for the first time in my young life, I connected to a place, to a set of smells, sounds and sights that seemed overwhelmingly pleasing and joyful.
Where is the real New Orleans lurking? The one that has inspired artists, poets, and songwriters. The New Orleans that charms with its hospitality, beauty, and world-famous cuisine.
Even in these last few weeks of the summer travel season, we continue to hear summer songs that capture the spirit of the season or stir memories of waterside romance. But how many were inspired by an actual location?
Returning to a place you've already visited can mean more than just seeing the things you missed. For me, it means exploring with 15 more years of life experience, including the ability to see nuance and transformation where I normally would have just been awestruck.
Chasing chickens, dancing on horseback, drinking at five in the morning, boucherie and fais do-do -- it's all part of what folks outside of New Orleans call the real Mardi Gras.
Sure, you could easily fill your trip to the Super Bowl with sporting events and activities all surrounding the Superdome, but the game happens to be in New Orleans. NOLA. The Big Easy.
Funky and fascinating New Orleans has seen its share of hard times. After Katrina's destruction in 2005, may wondered how -- or if -- the city could ever recover. More than seven years later, the city has rebuilt many areas and billions of dollars have been pumped into public works and the levee system.
Oyster tables were turning out freshly shucked oysters and the BBQ table had mac and cheese, roast pork, cornbread, fixins and pig paella. Five or six fires were burning around the space and were set in old sugarcane bowls that were formally used to cook down the cane syrup. We drank and ate our fill and headed back to the cottage for a bit more debauchery.
After a huge culinary bash in New Orleans, I head back to Charleston -- with some stops for great meals along the way, of course.
After a drive through the Deep South, I arrived in New Orleans just in time for Halloween in the French Quarter.
The unbelievably strange and beautiful music box shantytown sits in the historic Bywater section of town.
At a carnival, inside a fun house or around a campfire, the recitation of disturbing information serves to create a certain mood. Basically, New Orleans is an amusement park where you can get killed.
After the hurricane, homes built on a concrete slab left only the slab. Homes built on stilts in anticipation of flooding left absolutely nothing.
The host of young people I met during Alternative Spring Break is evidence enough to believe that this upcoming generation will make our world a better place.