Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day 159 - NOLA Day 2

New Orleans is hot. It's also insanely, cruelly humid. Hell's sauna.

After a night full of the Big Fun I was promised by a neon sign yesterday, which will be chronicled tomorrow, or the day after, whenever I get all of the pictures and stories straight, I awoke surprisingly refreshed. Apparently catching up on sleep trumps hangover.

So I geared up and headed out for a longer run, hoping to find something endearing about New Orleans.

While waiting for my watch to sync, I caught up with my new buddy Winston Churchill (pictured right, and maybe above, depending on how wide your window is, and that is not a euphemism).

"Hey Winston, got any advice on where to run around here?"

"Dude... Fudge off.", he said, though he didn't say "fudge".

Never took Winston Churchill as the type of guy who'd say "dude." Or, drop the belligerent F-bomb. Given that he has been standing in the sun in NOLA since 1977, and dead since 1965, it's understandable.

Off I went.

Early on, I ran into this monument to Robert E Lee.

which according to the bolder on the sidewalk is brought to you by...
...the letter "N".

Oh, and apparently...

... the letter "Z".

I climbed to the base of the monument to check out Bob Lee's view.

It was hard to miss the little building there on the corner. Seemed like a bar/restaurant/apartments.

I looked closer and saw it had scars. The paint on the walls and woodwork was flaked and pealed up to a distinct line, half-way up the second story.

Holy. Crap. This place, everything in front of me, was under water. Way under water.

For the rest of the run, the flood from Katrina was on my mind.

I headed for the streetcar rails, which allowed soft turf and limited traffic, aside from, you know, the occasional streetcar.

Along either side many buildings showed similar scars. Some had been repaired and repainted. Some buildings were brand new.

Then I got to the Garden District, with its gorgeous mid-19th century homes.

Above are just two of dozens and dozens of amazing homes, which were surely also underwater. But these folks aren't poor. And they pay a lot of taxes.

At this point, I was sweaty and thirsty and ready to be bathed in air conditioning.

I headed back.

Actually, I headed to the river. The Mississippi river. Figured that running along the river would offer a little breeze and a little relief. And, it should meet up with the river walk right by my hotel.

But this is what I saw where the river was supposed to be...

A very long, almost unbroken wall. I'm assuming this is a new wall, given that it's vertical.

That's when I figured out how to tell what was underwater. If there's a wall now between a place and the river, there was water before.

The wall stretched as far as I could see in both directions.

I had no choice but follow the wall until it ran out, back on high ground, where my hotel was. This stretch was as depressing as it was brutally hot and breezeless. Building after building was empty, or at least showing no signs of life. The sidewalks had tall grass growing in every crack. Cars drove through the area non-stop, meaning both constantly and having no reason to stop. No reason at all.

I knew I'd made it back to civilization.when I reached the convention center, the same convention center on whose floor I'd been standing all day yesterday.

I was thankful for the shade. And I was reminded of those horrible days when this place was filled with displaced people.

And outside one of these doors was where Ethel Freeman's body was left after she died in this place during that time.

I remembered the people being interviewed here as angry, and tired, and thirsty, and scared. But mostly, they were thirsty. I'd thought I was thirsty for most of my run through the oppressive heat. I'd been out in it for less than an hour.

Then a welcome sight...

As I drank my third cup of water, and pledged to say nice things about Office 2010 for providing it, I also wondered what those flood victims would have given for this bottle. Of course, they had nothing to give.

Good running,

Numbers: 5.25 miles mostly on roads and sidewalks.