Thursday 15 May 2014

Steamboat NATCHEZ

Ice Cream, You Scream, Everybody Loves Ice Cream, Yeah. Rock, Oh Rock My Baby Rolllll!!
- And what better place is there to enjoy a tasty Maple-Pecan ice cream with My Baby like sitting on the foc's'le of the paddle-wheeler and steamboat NATCHEZ while rolling down the mighty Mississippi River. Our mini vacation to New Orleans may have been short but sweet (just like the ice cream), but while in 'The Big Easy' we walked all over the French Quarter, strolled down many of its narrow but picturesque   streets like Bourbon and St. Peter's, and when our legs gave out we rode the well preserved early 20th century trolley cars. The regional cuisine was plentiful and delicious even without having to add extra spices like 'Hot Bitch on the Beach' or my favourite 'Ying Yang Tang' c):-o. And yes we listened to all kinds of dixie, cajun and original New Orleans-style music. It was true Southern Comfort and hospitality at it's best.  
Oh, did I mention I snapped 45 boats (or ships) during our walkabouts along the waterfront or while cruising on the 265' NATCHEZ which was launched in 1976 in Braithwaite, Louisiana.
The NATCHEZ is truly a 'steamboat' and 'paddle wheeler' which is made of white oak and steel. She is the ninth riverboat to bear the name NATCHEZ and whenever she blasted her steam whistle which is located near her tall twin stacks, it reminded me of when I was a kid watching the TV show "Riverboat" which starred Darren McGavin and a very young Burt Reynold. Hear for yourself on this neat youtube clip:  Cool, EH!! Hey if you also recall watching this show in living 'Black & White', then I know your age. HeHee c);-b During our two hour afternoon cruise, we got to see a variety of boats, that I will be featuring in future Carlz Boats like a pair of US Military Sealift Command RO/RO ships, the CAPE KNOX and CAPE KENNEDY (above), all kinds of barges, pushboats and tugs underway or like snapped below, tied off waiting for their next assignment. There were all kinds of salties in anchorage or others actively taking on cargo from barges tied off alongside. Lots of eye-opening boats in action just feet (or metres) away from us as the NATCHEZ sauntered by. c):-))         
Also, with the good, we got to see the bad, and ongoing ugly effects of Hurricane Katrina which made landfall just east of New Orleans in 2005 flooding 80% of the city when the levee system catastrophically failed resulting in floodwaters lingering in some neighbourhoods for weeks. 
On the left side of my snap above, a gentleman relaxes carefree on a levee bench where almost nine years earlier, the Lower 9th Ward, in the very neighbourhood just feet behind him, literally became an urban bayou swamped in floodwater 2 to 3 feet of water high.

Nowhere in New Orleans was the destruction greatest than in the Lower 9th where the storm surge was so great that even the highest portions were flooded. During Hurricane Betsy in 1965, Holy Cross School (right), served as a dry refuge. Meanwhile today the infamous neighbourhood landmark remains scarred and abandoned, a sad reminder of Katrina's devastation. 

As the NATCHEZ rounded Algiers Point, everything looks calm and peaceful as a resident leisurely walks his dog the along the Mississippi shoreline and beyond the high levee wall that fortifies the 15th Ward community. In a few weeks, the setting may look quite different as the river is anticipated to crest near the top of the levee due to the annual spring run off of melting snow and ice from up yonder in the northern states and Great Lakes going with the flow to the Gulf of Mexico. Of course this is also an area of the continent that did receive the worst winter condition in 2O years. YIKES!!
Meanwhile, just off the port bow of the NATCHEZ, a busy commercially active harbour and river re-enters our view as pushboats and their laiden barges pass beyond and beneath the massive span of the Greater New Orleans Bridge, and the sleek cruise ship CARNIVAL ELATION makes ready to get underway. Though our New Awlins (as locals pronounce it) adventure may have ended too soon, the Carlz Boats stories of the 40 some odds boats I snapped down there, has just begun. YES!!
Meanwhile, for anything I may have left out above, check this action packed video of NATCHEZ, or not. c);-b       

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