Thursday, November 22, 2018

Solo Time in New Orleans Part One - Tragedy and War

 November 7-10, 2018
New Orleans, Louisiana

Happy Thanksgiving everybody! There is so very much to be grateful for.

When our dear friend Coy passed away a few weeks ago we knew that one of us needed to be there for his celebration of life. Although Coy and I were great friends when I was in high school, and have had wonderful times in the last many years, he and Bill got really close in recent visits, and I agree it's best that he be the one to go. 

So I looked at our planned route to decide where I'd like to spend five days on my own - where there were things I wanted to do that Bill wasn't interested in.

New Orleans checks the most boxes, including having cheaper flights to Los Angeles than some of the other options. It means speeding up our travels through the southeast, but with the heat and humidity we figured that was just fine!

Wednesday morning we're still under cloudy skies when we pull out of Bay St Louis. It's an easy 100 mile drive on I-10 (so weird to think we could just keep driving on this highway and end up on the Pacific coast!). 

I'm going to be on my own in a city with a less-than-stellar reputation so I choose not to stay in the parks in the middle of the city. As we get off the highway and navigate through the horrible potholes, alongside the railroad tracks, and past the dilapidated warehouses, I'm wondering what I've set myself up for! I already know I'm not going out after dark :-)

What could go wrong?

A large industrial area with a very active train yard.

Inside the park is much nicer!

This beauty across from the park makes it feel much more New Orleans!
After dropping Bill off at the airport in the late morning, Tessa and I head into town to do a little shopping. And I get a really horrible phone call. 

Unbelievably, Coy's youngest sister has had a heart attack! Their brother Jimmy calls to tell me she's unconscious, and it doesn't look good. What? He also contacts Bill who hasn't boarded yet. I spend all day trying to wrap my head around this wonderful family facing so much tragedy. 

Coy and Darla - RIP my dear friends.
It turns out that Jimmy and sister Polly are forced to say good-bye to their younger sister the night before the memorial for their older brother on Saturday. I stay in contact with Bill and others over the weekend - so much grief and reminiscing. 

I check out a bit of the city before heading home. Thursday night my Steelers have an outstanding game that cheers me up a bit. 

I love the character and color of the homes.
After I pick Tessa up from her early grooming appointment on Friday, I find a parking place for the National WWII Museum. I've heard mixed reviews and am looking forward to seeing it for myself. With rain expected, it seems like the perfect day to check it out.

Originally the D-Day Museum, opened here because the Higgins Boats that landed at Normandy were built in New Orleans. (thanks Jim!)
After 30 minutes in line (where I swear Tessa is petted by every person), I spend nearly five hours exploring the history of the "great war". The visuals, interactive exhibits, electronic maps, immersive environments, artifacts, videos, photos and personal stories are extremely well done. Even with the crowds I'm able to experience the majority of it. 

One of two entrances, this is a popular place. Note the Higgins in the back.
The exhibit hall with the planes and trucks is closed for the day, and I opt out of the submarine. Since my dad was a submariner during the war I probably should have chanced the claustrophobia. Still, it's a very full day of learning.

A large exhibit on Bob Hope and the USO - what an impact they had!

Visual propaganda was prolific in the US.
I found the maps most helpful in understanding what was happening where and when.
The jungle environment is very dramatic with films projected on large canvas tarps strung between the trees.

I found the internal debate within the United States very interesting. Would an earlier entry into the war have saved lives in Asia and Europe? Would there have been no attack on Pearl Harbor? Would it have escalated the battles and meant the loss of more lives? We'll never know.
Artifacts from multiple battles.
Limited staples available in US kitchens.
While there are numerous exhibits on the bombing of entire cities, the gruesome torture of European and Asian citizens, and the destruction of cultural and historical treasures in numerous countries - the hardships in the United States are stories of women having to work, and families learning to cook around rations. Of course the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and Axis ships off both coasts, kept Americans fearful that we would be attacked at any time. The loss of American lives in battle was horrendous. Still, our war experience was so much different than the rest of the world.

Newsreel footage among the "ruins" of Anzio.

Finalizing the Japanese surrender.

There are a lot of images that bring me to tears. The reality of the horrors humans inflicted on other humans is overwhelming. This flag made by hand by French teenagers, and given to the American troops who liberated their town, is very moving.
I enjoyed my visit, but found it challenging to "follow". The maps helped with chronology, but the exhibits were disjointed. The "dog tag" that I waited in line for added nothing to the experience. I never did see anything about what I know were joyful celebrations at the end of the war. Still, I highly recommend the museum.

It's exhausting being adored all day.
Saturday is cloudy and cold, not a good day for exploring the city. Instead I clean house and do a cupboard and bin purge. If we haven't used it in a year we don't need it! I bundle up, and Tessa and I walk around the park a couple times. 

In California Bill and our friends gather to celebrate Coy's life and reminisce about all the crazy antics shared over the years.

Nearly 200 people show up to say good-bye in the middle of the desert.

It's always good to see old friends - Mike, Patty, Rita and Stacy with Bill.
"Dude!" Bill's friends having fun with him. It's a long story.....
Tessa and I have a few more days before Bill returns. Is it really safe to be solo in New Orleans?


  1. Thanksgiving is a time for family and friends - reunions ... not remembrances. It's good that Bill was able to represent the two of you. I'm sure Bill has returned with lots of stories and memories to share with you.
    Happy Thanksgiving!

  2. Happy Thanksgiving! I'm sorry for your loss of two special friends :-( My neighbor loved everything about WWII. I'm sure he would've enjoyed visiting the museum. Sadly he died several years ago. Yes, Tessa has a ruff life :-))

    1. WWII veterans can get in free but I'm not sure there are many left. Anyone who studies this war will really enjoy the work they've done on this museum.

  3. I feel so sorry for that poor family to lose two within weeks of each other. They do not seem old enough to be dying. I thought 60 was the new 40. Or so they say. Glad you found interesting things to keep you busy. I think inside the RV park you'll be fine alone and in the city in the day time. Thanks for showing the Museum. That was a war worth fighting and we were all on the same side once we decided we really had no choice but to get involved. And imagine the world today if we had not.

    1. A war worth fighting is a good way to put it - those maps tell a very real and frightening story about what the world would look like today had the Allies not won! Our friends were young - Darla younger than the two of us - so it is especially tragic.

  4. I second what Sherry said about WWII being a war worth fighting. And I too think you will be fine in New Orleans in the day time but I sure wouldn't be out at night alone. So sorry to hear about your friends--gone too soon and too young.

    1. It was definitely a great city to spend solo time in!

  5. So sorry to hear about Coy and Darla. What a difficult time for this poor family. Glad Bill was able to make the trip west. Sounds like "girl time" is going well. Personally I wouldn't stay alone in NO, but then, I wouldn't stay alone anywhere! Glad you got to the museum. I do agree with it being a little confusing. Thank goodness I had the walking historian with me:) I really don't enjoy history museum, but this museum was wonderful. I really enjoyed how it was done.

    1. I remembered how much you enjoyed the museum - it would be even better with John along! I did a lot of solo trips for about 10 years so I was pretty sure I'd feel okay in New Orleans.

  6. OMG, Jodee...we saw that photo of Darla with Coy of FB, but we missed that she had passed! That is so sad.

    Glad you had a good experience at the WWII museum. War is an extremely difficult subject to build a museum around. I much prefer to stand in silence on a battlefield and feel the presence of the people who fought there.

    1. Yeah, it's sad to lose both of them.

      I definitely prefer that experience as well, and while I'd go back to the fort or battlefield, I don't need to do the museum again.

  7. Oh Jodee, I am so sorry.

    I think you brave to face a city with only Tessa as company. Although it looks like she got a lot out of the War Museum.

    1. That girl makes every visit a better one :-) It turned out to be such a wonderful place to see.

  8. So sorry for the losses of your friends and their family. We loved the WWII Museum. The pastel colors and architecture of the city are so beautiful.

    1. I really enjoyed the museum. I'm not sure if I learned stuff I never knew, or I just didn't retain it from school :-)))

  9. Oh, Jodee, I'm so deeply sorry to hear of the loss of your dear friends. I'm just now catching up on posts after time without internet. Life is so precious, and it's a gift that you make the effort to spend time with your friends in your travels.
    We found the WWII museum absolutely worth the investment of time and emotion. Glad you were able to visit.

    1. The loss makes the reunions we enjoy every year even more precious. We're blessed to have life long friends.