Healthy Soul

New Orleans – The Big Easy, Crescent City, Nawlins

My friend Valarie and I are on our own Black History tour aboard Amtrak, visiting heritage sites pertaining to African American history in Chicago, Memphis, Jackson, New Orleans, Birmingham, and Washington,DC. We began on Tuesday, June 28, 2011. Here is what we did on Day 7, traveling from Jackson, MS to New Orleans.

Bobby Brooks, a Citi Cab driver, took us back to the train station in Jackson. He was the same person who drove us from the train station to the VA Hospital where Dawna worked when we arrived in Jackson on Friday. He told us that the area around transportation center where Amtrak, Greyhound and the local buses stopped had been dying for more than 15 years.

Ace Records, West Capital Street, Jackson, MS.

The Hilton Garden Hotel was directly across from the transportation center, with a Seattle’s Best Coffee shop. We stopped in to get a breakfast sandwich only to learn that the microwave was not working. The young lady working there was very helpful, suggesting another breakfast place close by but she wasn’t sure if it would be open on the holiday. It was not opened, but in walking to it we came across a marker for the Ace Record Company, which was part of the once-booming downtown Jackson.

Finally we go to the diner in the Amtrak station to get something to eat. That decision turned out to be a wise one as the air conditioning in the dining car on the train was not working. You were still able to purchase meals, but for takeout only. This leg of the trip took us past three colleges: Copiah-Lincoln Community College near Brookhaven, MS, Mississippi State University in Starkville, MS, and Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA. We saw the Camp Moore Confederate Museum and Cemetery near the Mississippi-Louisiana border.

Landscapes have changed drastically during our trip. Since we started trip, we have gone through mountains, dense vegetation and along rivers. As we approached New Orleans, the train rails were in Pass Manchac, which connected the smaller Lake Maurepas to the 630-square mile Lake Pontchartrain, which in turn was connected to the Gulf of Mexico. We were traveling parallel to the 24-mile long Lake Pontchartrain Causeway, the second longest bridge in the world.

Swamps at Pass Manchac, which connected Lake Maurepas to Lake Pontchartrain.

The change from Jackson to New Orleans was stark. We were staying at the Hotel New Orleans directly across from the Convention Center and in walking distance to the French Quarter. Recommended by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, we were offered the media rate of $69 per night. Michelle at the front desk was extremely helpful, offering directions to different places, maps and cab numbers. In spite of her excellent customer-service skills, the hotel services were somewhat lacking: Vending machines were sold out of bottled water, the air conditioning was extremely loud, and the hot-water spigot in the sink in our room leaked.

Dinner at the French Market – blackened redfish with crabmeat for me and jambalaya for Valarie – had us cleaning everything off our plates. Valarie also enjoyed the Louisiana lemonade, low in alcohol and very refreshing, she reported. This full day came to a close with the Fourth of July fireworks on the Mississippi River, visible to thousands of spectators on the West Bank in Algiers as well as those of us on the East Bank in New Orleans.

Fourth of July fireworks, Vieux Carre Park, New Orleans.

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Click here to read the other posts from Jennifer’s Black History Tour.



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