New Orleans is known for many things: jazz, Mardi Gras, the Saints, the French Quarter, creole food, and Hurricane Katrina. One thing the city isn’t well-known for is tornadoes — until recently.
On a cloudy, windy, rainy evening at a state campground outside the city, Bob cooked a nice gumbo to warm our insides. Just before we were about to sit down and partake, our phones alerted us to a tornado warning.
Unlike the last time we experienced such an alarm while in Michigan at my cousin’s farm, we were on our own. Bob turned off the stove, and we scurried about the trailer to gather a few things. Then, we loaded into the truck, knowing it would be safer in swirling, high-speed winds than our fifth wheel, which could disintegrate in an instant.
Gulliver navigated us to a vacant parking lot, away from potential debris, to ride out the storm. As we watched angry clouds hurry by, dropping rain as they passed, we breathed a little easier at the blue sky trying to peer through directly overhead.
After about 20 minutes, the Weather Channel app on Bob’s phone confirmed the worst of the storm cell had moved on. We returned home to our intact trailer and warm dinner, thankful for our safety.
An F-3 tornado did touch down in the New Orleans area that night, about 20 miles from our location. We saw some of the damage from it while celebrating my birthday on a river cruise a couple of nights later: a building with a missing roof.
A River Sailing
It’s no secret that we enjoy cruising. We’ve sailed eight ocean cruises and have our next one planned. But we had never experienced a river cruise. New Orleans’ location on the Mississippi River presented an opportunity for us to do so — on an authentic paddlewheel steamboat.
We boarded the four-deck vessel for a sunset dinner cruise and perched on outdoor seats on deck 4. A live jazz trio serenaded us while a narrator shared interesting facts about the mighty Mississippi and New Orleans.
After the sun set and the temperature dipped, we descended to the galley on deck 2 for our turn at cajun fare: chicken and sausage gumbo, baked chicken, bayou seafood pasta, fingerling potatoes, and green beans almondine. Bread pudding and bananas foster over ice cream with coffee finished the meal as we pulled back into port.
A National Treasure
Food is one of the big attractions of New Orleans. Another, and what drew us there, is the National WWII Museum.
One day is not enough to take in all this 6-acre, five-pavillion facility has to offer. From D-Day to the European and Pacific Theaters — including the Road to Berlin and the Road to Tokyo — the organizers did an excellent job capturing all the important aspects of the war and telling them in a detailed, immersive story.
The experience is interactive too. At the start of our journey, we each got a dog tag that represented a real person who played a role in the war. At different stations throughout the museum, we scanned our dog tags to learn more about each person’s involvement and contributions.
In addition to the rooms showcasing the detailed war history, the museum houses a separate wing. The Boeing Center displays a handful of aircraft that were pivotal to the war: a B-17E Flying Fortress, a B-25J Mitchell, a P-51 Mustang, an F4 Corsair, an SBD Dauntless, and a TBM Avenger.
Heavy-duty cables suspend these warbirds in the exhibit, and visitors can go up two and three levels to view the planes up close and personal — at eye level and from above — from catwalks.
Our visit to New Orleans left us more appreciative than before for all those who sacrificed and gave their lives for our freedom.
This is the travel blog of Bob and Lana Gates and our truck, Gulliver, and fifth wheel, Tagalong. We live on the road full time, enjoying all the adventures that come our way.