Natchez

I was in New Orleans last September for a travel writing workshop with GEP. I’ve been to a few workshops with them, both for writing and for photography. Boston, Chicago, Miami, Korea, Costa Rico, the photography safari last November (wow, a year’s gone by already), and the one in New Orleans. I always have a great time, learn a lot and look forward to the next one. 🙂

During this workshop we were assigned to come up with story ideas, then actually write a story. We had help on making them more interesting and salable. One of the great things about travel writing and photography is that doing it gives you a focus and incentive to get out there and do all kinds of things.

You may not know it, but I’m actually pretty shy. Focusing on a story gives me the courage to talk to people. Without the story, I’d be way too nervous to do more than say ‘hi, how’re you doing’. With a story in mind, I’ll ask them all kinds of questions since now I have an ‘excuse’. 😉

Before I left for the trip to New Orleans, I asked around for some help and the nice people at the CVB sent me on a riverboat cruise. Specifically- a jazz dinner cruise on the historic Steamboat Natchez. I wrote a story about it, and was supposed to have it published on the website of the company that set up the whole deal with the CVB. Sadly, they shut down before my story ever got published and I haven’t been able to find another spot for it yet (tho I am still trying, in between job hunting and all the other things on my plate).

Here’s the first draft, please give it a read and let me know what you think. I could use the critiques. 😉

Steamboat Natchez (www.steamboatnatchez.com) docks where Toulouse Street dead ends at the Mississippi River, in the French Quarter. You walk up the gangway to take a trip back in time as you slowly steam your way down the Great Mississippi River. You’ll be transported back to the 1800’s, when these boats ruled the river. From only 20 in the 1810s, to over 1200 in 1833. They carried passengers and freight from as far away as Pittsburg, Cincinnati, Chicago, Minneapolis, Little Rock, and further out the Missouri, Arkansas and Red Rivers down the Mississippi River to New Orleans.

Steamboats were built of wood, shallow draft (1-5’ loaded), with the main deck close to the water and used for cargo. Wood burning boilers were placed midships, with the engines aft, shafts turning the paddle wheels. Some added 2-3 decks above that for passengers. Most were simple workboats, but some became quite ornate. For those carrying upper class passengers, they were richly decorated: delicate filagreed railings, large mirrors reflecting gilded highlights, coffered ceilings, velvet upholstery, plush carpets. Fine food, liquor and gambling helped pass the time during the voyage of up to 2 weeks.

Though she was built in 1975- the ninth iteration of the series to carry the name, Steamboat Natchez follows in this tradition and offers daily Mississippi River cruises. She’s a 265’ long 46’ wide stern paddle wheeler, with 3 decks. She’s furnished in the manner of a high class passenger vessel of the mid-1800’s. In only a couple of hours, you can soak in the atmosphere and get a taste of what it was like in the heyday of the Mississippi River steamships. You can go for dinner, Sunday brunch, or just a harbor cruise with no meal served.

I went for a dinner jazz cruise with the Dukes of Dixieland aboard. As I stepped aboard from the gangway, the hostess informed me of the procedure for dinner. Since I had chosen the 1st seating, I was led to my reserved table in the dining room. The setting was impressive, a large room running almost the full length of the vessel. It had large picture windows all the way around, decorative moulded ceiling tiles filling the white coffered overheads, wall to wall carpet, and nicely set tables filling the space.

My table was set for 4 (tho I was by myself). There was a salad already dressed (iceberg lettuce, tomatoes, croutons, vinaigrette), along with silverware and plates, but no water. The waiter soon came by to take drink orders. It took him a while since he had at least a dozen full tables. As the room filled up, another couple was seated at my table, but we still had one seat open. Good, since the tables were tightly packed and it was crowded. My neighbor had to get up every time I needed to get out of my seat. The dinner was buffet style, so I did have to get up a few times.

There were two long buffet tables, one on either side of the room. The servers dressed in chef’s whites  stood behind the chafing dishes to answer any questions and help if you needed it. They had classic Southern recipes like red beans & rice, blackened fish, gumbo, greens, and more ‘mainstream’ dinner classics like pork loin and roast beef. It was all made onboard, hot and fresh. It was OK, but nothing spectacular. For a city as famous for its food as New Orleans, I really expected better of them.

The lights were too low to read by but bright enough to see your food. We were able to have a conversation even with the music in the background since we were at the very back of the room.  The band was set up in front. There was another playing jazz and dixieland outside on the upper deck, I spent most of my time up there. I enjoyed watching the scenery go by, being able to smoke, drink, and still listen to the music.

The live jazz band adds to the atmosphere onboard. It was casual and relaxing. I enjoyed having drinks on the deck, watching the river rolling by, snapping photos of the New Orleans skyline and passing ships. It was easy to imagine myself drifting back to an earlier time. There’s a real sense of history aboard.

Steamers have all but disappeared from the worlds waterways, due to many factors. They usually had a short lifetime (there were many boiler explosions), competition with railroads back in action after the Civil War, displaced by competition with diesel tugs and barges.  The Natchez is one of only 2 true steam paddle wheelers left on the Mississippi River today.

Her engines were originally built for the sternwheeler “Clairton” in 1925. They were recovered when the Clairton was retired and placed in the Natchez, where they are still going strong. Anyone interested in how things work will enjoy wandering around the Natchez. You’re free to take a look in the engine room. Check out the engines (with posted explanations) and the boilers “Thelma” and “Louise” next door. The engineers are rightly proud of their gleaming domain.

The entire crew seemed to love their job, their ship and it showed. They did their job well and took pride in that fact. From the Mate who welcomed me aboard, the engineers, the hostess who showed me to my table, the servers at dinner, to the deckhands who secured the ship back to the dock. Everyone was friendly, polite and answered my questions with a smile.

A cruise on the Steamboat Natchez is a New Orleans experience you just can’t get anywhere else. From the magnificently maintained historical vessel, to the lively jazz bands, to the delicious Southern style cooking (don’t miss the white chocolate bread pudding), to the mighty Mississippi itself. It all adds up to a wonderful way to spend a couple of hours next time you visit New Orleans.

PS- This post is for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Letter N. Join in, all it takes is to come up with a post starting with the letter N. 🙂

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CFFC: Letter L

Joining in on another of Cee’s great photo challenges. Here’s what she has to say about this one

This week is Letter L – Needs to start with the letter L and have at least two syllables (lollipop, label, luxury, lighthouse, lumber, letter, lilac, etc.).   Let’s see how creative you can we can be on this challenge.  Have fun with this week’s challenge.

Yep, the point is to have fun. Look through old photos and bring back good memories. Take a look at what everyone else is doing. I think it’s fun so here’s my entry. 🙂

CFFC: Letter K

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge this week is to use the letter K. It can be anywhere in the word.

Here’s my entry…

Knight showing off for the King and queen

The red Knight attacKs the blue Knight as the joust continues…

I took those photos at the Texas Renaissance Festival. It’s still going on, every weekend til the end of November.

I love to go and see all the creative costumes. People really go all out. It’s a long drive for me. This year I splurged. I got a weekend pass and stayed at a hotel nearby so I wouldn’t have to deal with the long drive and the miserable traffic. I’d like to go again, but I’ve got some other things planned and need to be careful of my budget.

PS: Featured image is of fireworKs. 😉

More C’s for Cee

I posted yesterday on Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge (where the post should be about a word starting with C of at least 4 letters). After I finally got it to post (very frustrating internet situation here), I was flipping through some photos and realized just how many I have that fit this particular challenge. So…

Here’s another one, I took these on a recent trip to Africa. I went on a photography safari in Tanzania with GEP. I had a great time tracking down the wildlife with a great group of fellow photographers and our local guides. Some of these photos were with on the safari. Some were afterwards, when I went solo over to Zanzibar.

 

Cooks!

Cats! BIG Cats!

A Cowrie (shell)

A Canoe! Catching Catfish? Or maybe Cobia? On the Coral

#fire at #beach resort on #Zanzibar

A #Catastrophe

Cute Canines

Cattle

I had a good time picking out a few of my photos for this challenge. So much, I might even come back again for more. If you want to join in the fun, just click the link at the top. Be sure to share. 🙂

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: C

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge is to post something using a word that starts with ‘C’ that is at least 4 letters long. My entry is: chameleon.

I’ve always loved watching these little guys creep around. They move with such purpose, their eyes swiveling around in different directions. All the sudden they whip out their long sticky tongue . If they’re lucky, they’ve caught a nice big bug for a snack. Quite the little hunters, these chameleons.

They’re also quite the change artist. The colors they can recreate are amazing. They can match pretty much any color you put them on and they’ll do it quick too. They’re really entertaining little lizards. 🙂

CFFC: Tombstones or Cemeteries

Here’s my entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Tombstones or Cemeteries.

I took these photos (and a lot more) at a meet up for the Brazoria County Models and Photographers group. This one was at the cemetery in honor of Calaveras Day (Day of the Dead).  I haven’t been to many of their meet ups yet, but they seem like a fun group and I’ve enjoyed them so far. I wish they would have more frequent meet ups!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Light Greens

I always love Cee’s photo challenges. She comes up with so many great ideas. She has a couple of challenges going all the time. I joined in last week (purples). Another cool thing she does is ‘feature’ some of her favorite entries. She featured my purples. 🙂

This week’s challenge is ‘light greens‘. Here are some of mine.

A green sea anemone.

A green tree python.

And this little guy- a green chameleon (I love these guys).

Click the link and join the fun!

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Purples New Orleans Style

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to join in on any of Cee’s great challenges. I’ll try to make up with a couple for this week. Here’s my take on her Fun Foto Challenge for this week- purples.

These are all from my trip last week to New Orleans…

purple feathered masque

purple feathered masque

purple eggplant

purple eggplant

purple player

purple player

purple donuts

purple donuts

purple hammocks

purple hammocks

Like it? Feel free to join in, just click the link and see what other things Cee is up to.

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Purples

It’s been a while since I’ve been able to join in on any of Cee’s great challenges. I’ll try to make up with a couple for this week. Here’s my take on her Fun Foto Challenge for this week- purples.

These are from the Houston Museum of Natural Science

purple amethyst crystals

Purple Mexican wrestler dolls

Purple Mexican wrestler dolls

purple paper mache'

purple paper mache’

Like it? Feel free to join in, just click the link and see what other things Cee is up to.

Purple

Here’s an entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Purple

I took this a while back at Clarkes Quay in Singapore. I love Singapore and that area along the riverfront is always a great place to hang out at night. There are all kinds of restaurants and bars, live music and street entertainers. This picture is of a ‘dancing’ fountain where you can play in the water jets, the lights are constantly changing colors. I just happened to catch it when they were purple.

I wanted to pick something other than flowers for this challenge (tho I have a bunch of those too).

Purple

Here’s an entry for Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Purple

I wanted to pick something other than flowers for this challenge (tho I have a bunch of those too).

Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge: Water

I haven’t done much with these photo challenges lately. I do really enjoy them. Looking at what everyone else is doing and trying to come up with something to fit the theme.

This one is from Cee’s Fun Foto Challenge. Here’s the link in case you want to get in on it… http://ceenphotography.com/2014/05/27/cees-fun-foto-challenge-water/

This one is easy for me. Water. It should be easy for me. I have so many photos of water in all its various forms, it’s really hard for me to pick out a few real good ones. 🙂

But, I did manage. Here you go…

out on the water

out on the water

no waves on this beach!

no waves on this beach!

water makes patterns in the sand

water makes patterns in the sand

water sprays in Singapore

water sprays in Singapore

 

 

waterways

beautiful beach Riviera Maya

beautiful beach Riviera Maya

water from the air

water from the air

 

water (vapor-c;louds) in the air

water- 3 kinds- clouds, rainbow, ocean

water- 3 kinds- clouds, rainbow, ocean

Those were a few of my favorites. I hope you like them too. 🙂