Even though I grew up in Eastern Arkansas, I had never made a trip to New Orleans, or even Louisiana for that matter. This month that changed with an opportunity to visit the Big Easy for the AgVocacy Forum hosted by Bayer. The city is big, loud and has an active nightlife with unique personality…. Is that a nice way to put it?
First thing you notice landing at the (relatively small) airport is all the water. I know Louisiana is wet, but flying from the desert that is Helena, Montana, it looks especially damp. I met a couple of blogging friends first thing at the airport and we rode together into town. Our driver gave us a great tour of the area and pointed out landmarks that we had seen during news coverage of the floods following Hurricane Katrina. It’s amazing to imagine how much water must have filled that town.
The city is below sea level with a levy and pump system guarding it from floods. Canals are used in a much different manner than those used here in Montana for irrigation purposes. The city is full of character and the style is definitely reflective of its early European roots. Buildings are close together and a unique personality pops out at ya right from the start. Wasn’t a bad view from our hotel either!
And talk about humidity! I had a chance between arriving at the hotel and our meetings that evening to get a run in at the hotel gym. After only a few miles on the treadmill, I was SOAKED with sweat. I know I grew up in the river delta, but humidity is certainly something I do not miss about the South.
Of course, what’s a visit without visiting with some great friends, like my partner in crime, Carrie Mess (a.k.a. Dairy Carrie) from Wisconsin! We had a great group of bloggers in town from across the country. This year I’m participating in the Bayer Blogger program to highlight some innovate things coming to our industry. Carrie and I are glad to bring some livestock perspectives to the group. Keep an eye out for those in the future!
And what’s a visit to a new town without sampling some of the local fare? I love and miss some great cajun foods, so there wasn’t a chance I was about to miss out on exploring some foods in New Orleans. Right across the street from our meeting hotel was the Creole House Restaurant and Oyster Bar. I had this shrimp po boy that was well worth a quick lunch trip between presenters. Definitely worth a try!
An even better taste of the local scene though was a trip to Antoine’s Restaurant in the French Quarter. Established in 1840, this place claims to be the oldest restaurant in America owned by the same family. It’s worth a visit just to explore the history on the walls of this place. It’s survived a few wars, had visits from great dignitaries, including a few Presidents, and they even invite you to explore the MANY rooms in this place. It’s huge – room for 700+ guests. Read up on the history of the place on their website. Be sure to give this place a try. The portions aren’t huge, but the food is good. Make reservations just in case. And, yes, there is good beef.
My overall impression of New Orleans? It’s a fun place I want to visit again soon and leave time for more exploration. Bourbon Street is a little too lively for this introvert, but I’ll try anything once. I mean, why miss a good celebration with random bands parading down the street? But I will say, it’s probably a good thing I missed Mardi Gras by a few weeks.
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