Home is Where We Park It: Ponchartrain Landing RV Park and Marina, New Orleans
Date: May 28, 2019
Temperature: 90 degrees
Wind: Southeast 10 to 15 mph
Steamboat Natchez Lunch Cruise
Some Thoughts About Our Time Here
I can’t believe I’m going to say this but I am New Orleans is growing on me and I’m going to miss our time in the Big Easy. There I said it, more about this later.
Today was the day we had been waiting for. We had missed the brunch cruise on the Steamboat Natchez so we booked the next best thing, the lunch cruise on a weekday. Today was the day.
Before we go let me model for you what the well dressed photographer wears when out and about. I always found carting the camera bag along with the lenses to be awkward plus not all places let you bring a bag in. I next tried stuffing everything in my pockets. What a hassle trying to dig things out when I needed them. Then I came up with the ideal solution, a fisherman’s mesh vest! It works like a charm, I can take my camera equipment, my phone and the kitchen sink if I want to. The only problem, I usually can’t remember what pocket I put what in!
Time to go. Once again we took the shuttle in. So convenient, so easy and a bargain at $6.
The drop off was about 100 feet from our destination. This we could walk with no issues. There is the Natchez in the distance peeking through the trees.
We’re now at the loading area and there she is in all her glory.
Some facts about the mighty Natchez
- She’s the ninth steamer to bear the name Natchez
- She is only one of two true steam powered sternwheelers plying the Mississippi
- She was built in 1974 and at that time inherited the four steam engines that were built in 1925 for the U.S. Steel Corporation’s sternwheeler Clairton
- She has a total of 2,000 HP with the four engines
- She also has the steering gear from the Clairton
- She was launched and christened in April of 1975
- In 1976 she competed in her first steamboat race against the Delta Queen as a fund raising event to benefit restoration of St. Louis Cathedral. She easily won the race and earned her Antlers, a traditional trophy of steamboat races since the 1850s. She has never given up her Antlers because she has won every other race since then.
While we were waiting to board we were treated to a calliope concert. The calliope was custom-crafted and molded after the music makers of the Gilded Age (1877-1900). It was absolutely beautiful, what a sound this instrument makes.
Come on, time to go aboard. Up the gangway we go.
Everyone on board and we were off on our two hour lunch cruise. Interesting note, the depth of the water at the dock is 80 feet, out in the middle where we are now headed is the deepest depth in the river, 240 feet.Since we were at the first serving for lunch we went straight to the dining room to be seated. An elegant room that made you feel right at home.Staking our claim at our table.Lunch was severed buffet style and when the serving tables were opened up the line quickly formed.There were several items to select from for lunch – and you were free to go back for seconds. I had a plate of baked chicken, fish, Jambalaya (first time but not the last time!), sausage, bread, and bread pudding for desert. Oh it was delicious! Freshly prepared in the galley on the fist deck and brought up piping hot. Unfortunately, the first plate was more than enough so seconds were out of the question. I know, poor me. This was not only a lunch cruise, but a lunch jazz cruise. Yes, I finally found my Jazz band and I was thrilled! I so enjoyed their music. They played during lunch, and off and on during our cruise.
Lunch finished – food so delicious and service first class, let’s go explore the Natchez a bit. This is the Pilot House. That Captain up there has both a tiller used for steering the vessel and an Engine Order Telegraph.When he moves the tiller up there, down in the engine room a hydraulic ram moves the main tiller (the steel shaft riding on the wheel) which in turn moves the other two tillers which in total moves the three rudders that are in front of the paddle wheel.When the Captain wants to go forward or in reverse, when he wants power to the paddlewheel he communicates with the engineer in the engine room using an Engine Order Telegraph. There are identical telegraphs in the Pilot House and the Engine Room. The Captain turns a knob to the position he wants – it turns a corresponding dial in the Engine room and sounds a bell. The Engineer then moves the knob to the corresponding position which stops the bell, and let’s the Captain know he has received is instructions.Here are Thelma and Louisa, the two boilers that make the steam that powers the Natchez. Thelma & Louise was a 1991 American road film that stars Geena Davis as Thelma and Susan Sarandon as Louise, two friends who embark on a road trip with unforeseen consequences. The movie was a favorite of the original chief engineer and hence the names.
The power comes here, is transferred to these pistons moving back and forth
then goes to the paddlewheel that drives the Natchez.
Time to go out on deck and enjoy the view. No special order to these pictures, just as they come. This is the Intercoastal Waterway that leads up to where our RV park is and ultimately will take you to the west coast of Florida.
A dock damaged by Katrina that was never restored.
The Domino Sugar Plant. It may not look like much, but don’t let appearances fool you. The plant opened its doors in 1909. It is the second largest sugar refinery in the world. More than 7.5 million pounds of sugar is produced a day at the refinery. The business has about 400 employees and processes about 60 percent of the raw sugar produced by Louisiana’s sugar cane farmers.
The old Navy water tower. On Nov. 6, 1901, the U.S. Navy opened a 193-acre installation in Algiers, and thousands of New Orleanians crowded the Mississippi River to greet the arrival of a Navy floating dry dock. As NOLA.com reported in 2011, when the Naval Support Activity in Algiers closed, “Its heyday perhaps was during World War II, when thousands of sailors met their ships here before going to war. In its later years, it was an administrative base, serving as a landlord providing facilities for other military operations.”
There will soon be a new fun road-trip destination in New Orleans, when the massive Riverboat Louis Armstrong opens for business on July 4. The 2,500-passenger vessel, which is four decks high, will be one of the largest riverboats in the region. The third level will feature a room showcasing historic photos and highlights that pay homage to Armstrong’s musical legacy. The Riverboat Louis Armstrong will accommodate both large- and small-scale events, from musical performances and weddings, to conventions. On Sundays, guests can enjoy a lively Louis Armstrong gospel jazz brunch
The sky line of New Orleans viewed from the river.
This is Algiers Point. Algiers is a city that sits across the Mississippi River from New Orleans and is connected to it at Canal Street by a ferry line – one of the nation’s oldest. Part of Orleans Parish since the city annexed it in 1870, Algiers Point still has the feel of a village. The character of this neighborhood has made “The Point” a favorite with musicians and artists.
The mighty Mississippi River Bridge. This is the most heavily trafficked bridge on the lower Mississippi. Because of the way the river twists and turns what is interesting to note is that US 90 Westbound actually heads eastbound and US 90 Eastbound heads westbound.
This is the beginning of Woldenberg Park. It was created in the late 1980s/early 1990s on land that had been occupied by old wharves and warehouses along the Mississippi Riverfront, in the upper French Quarter. It is named after philanthropist Malcolm Woldenberg who helped fund the building of it. It is situated between the river and the streets of the French Quarter. It goes from Canal Street to St. Philip St. Along the river is Moonwalk a paved jogging path where anyone looking to stroll along the river can.
The park is also full of unique statues such as the statue entitled Immigration. It is a marble statue of a female muse her gown, an inspirational and spiritual presence, flows over the figures of four immigrants forming a family nucleus. It is dedicated to all immigrants who left their homeland in search of a better life.
In 1990 John T Scott installed a kinetic sculpture called “Ocean Song.
Back where we started two hours ago. It has been a wonderful two hours on the river aboard a fantastic historical boat. We’re so glad we were able to do this. If you ever come to New Orleans this is not to be missed.
There are so many other pictures, so many other attractions during our cruise but time and space does not permit including them all. But I’ll have them with me on the computer, in my heart and in my mind.
Let me finish with some general observations of our time here in New Orleans. My first trip in and I was not impressed. But then the city just sort of grew on me. I don’t know when it happened or how. I’m sad that we’re leaving so soon.
If you plan on visiting
- you’ll need a small loan to pay for everything. This place is expensive. So be it
- make sure you have a good pair of walking shoes. The only way to really see and experience the Big Easy is to walk, and walk, and walk
- allow adequate time to visit, four days was just not enough for us
- walk along Bourbon Street and Frenchmen Street. The later is where the locals hang out and the best place in the evening for real authentic jazz we were told
- be bold and daring, try the local food. I’ve tried some but not all that I wanted to
- you have to spend a night in one of the Jazz Clubs. We missed this and really regret it
- just have to take a cruise on the steamboat Natchez. Try for Sunday brunch, the best but reserve early. If you can’t make that go for the lunch cruise. Neither will disappoint.
- Visit the WW II museum but realize one day minimum is hardly enough time to do it justice.
- forget driving into the French Quarter unless you like self inflicted pain. Use a cab, or Uber or hopefully the park you stay at will have a shuttle
That’s it for our day on The Road of Retirement. Our time here has been wonderful and we hope some day to return to do more sightseeing. Yes, this city has gotten to me and I want to spend more time visiting it. It has a vibe like no other city and it just grows on you. The people we’ve met along the way have also been so special. Fellow full timers, a couple from Northern Ireland, and so many more. Each person’s path that we crossed has enriched our lives beyond measure.
Thanks for coming along, have a good day. Catch you tomorrow.
These are the voyages of Graybeard and it’s occupants, four paws and two humans. Our continuing mission: to explore as many new states as possible, to seek out new acquaintances and make new friends, to boldly go where we have not been before
See you on down the road