Gustav – Hit or a miss?

Gustav hit, it just didn’t hit New Orleans.  This time Baton Rouge got most of the damage.  People evacuated New Orleans this time, but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t in trouble.  Ponder these questions:

Where would you go if you had to evacuate, pack up and leave your home?

Would you be able to afford the travel, housing and food costs associated with having to leave home for more than a week?

To be honest, I never really thought about these questions until I spoke with someone from Baton Rouge (hopefully she’ll be blogging about Gustav this week; her Internet service hasn’t been that reliable) and later got an update from someone in New Orleans who pointed me to this article (hopefully she’ll be blogging when she returns home)  — HERE

Just because Gustav wasn’t as devastating to as many people as Katrina was doesn’t mean it wasn’t devastating to those it did affect, including those in the Caribbean.  Let’s do what we can to help.

NOTE: Romance Pioneers will continue on Friday.

Convention Time: San Antonio

I spent the days leading up to the Fourth in San Antonio, TX for a day-job-related convention. I found pictures of a few of the sites we saw (between conference sessions) in Wikimedia Commons so I thought I’d share them you.

The River Walk

San Antonio is a lovely old city. The thriving River Walk is a major tourist attraction. I’m sure the only locals down there were working. Anyway, from the picture you can see that the River Walk is a below street level, open-air area littered with shops and restaurants. What you can’t see is that it’s about 21 blocks around and is shaped like a horseshoe with a "T" on top.

You can take a barge tour, which we didn’t do, and ride the entire distance. We walked it instead, getting lost a couple of times in the process. You can see more pictures here or read more about the history here .

Tower of the Americas

I guess every major city in the world has something similar to San Antonio’s Tower of the Americas . For about $10/person, you get to see a 4D theatre presentation on the history of San Antonio (3D/4D glasses and

all) and a 750 ft. ride up the elevator to the Observation Deck . For some extra cash, to the tune of about $40/person, you can eat at the Chart House Restaurant a level below the Observation Deck. The Chart House has a revolving floor, so you slowly go around the Tower as you eat. If you want to keep your money in your pocket, you can grab a snack at the snack shop on the Observation Deck or get something light at another snack shop on the ground floor. We tried the one on the lower level and tasted (but chose not to buy) "Dippin’ Dots ," which was called the "ice cream of the future."

Though the trip to San Antonio was more work than play, I did enjoy myself. I’d been there a few times before but never stayed on the River Walk as I did this time. That made the biggest difference since I was able to step out of my hotel and right onto the River Walk and everything that it accesses, including the Convention Center.

New Orleans, three years after Katrina

I was in New Orleans with a friend a couple of days before the Essence festival. Alas, we didn’t attend the Festival. While there, we decided to drive around New Orleans rather than take one of the advertised tours to see the remaining results of Hurricane Katrina.

After we finally found the Ninth Ward, we were sad to see how much devastation remains. It’s one thing to look at the bushes that have overtaken the streets and the homes and think storm; quite another to think that we were seeing the end of people’s dreams.

I could imagine people working everyday, raising their kids, enjoying their homes and their neighbords. Those days are gone. I hope that many of them are off to better situations in new towns, yet I feel a bit sorry for those who have returned. We saw streets with maybe five or six rehabbed houses and then twelve or eighteen that look like the hurricane happened last week. But what got me the most were the streets themselves. Grass/weeds were growing in the streets (the roads), bushes along the sides of the streets were so tall you couldn’t see around corners.

On a bright spot, we drove around Muscian’s Village, the joint venture between Habitat for Humanity and local musicians. I LOVED the colors of the houses.

So what does it all mean? Well, there seems to be a lot of work being done to rebuild New Orleans but I can’t help but wonder why it’s taking so long. Maybe you all can help me understand.

NOTE: I found the pictures of the Village and the ones of the devastation in Wikimedia Commons , where they have a lot of photos that you can use without paying.

Back from England!

No, I didn’t tell you that I was going, but I spent the last couple of weeks in England. Actually, I left a couple of days after my last post. It was an extended work trip that allowed me to get in a bit of sightseeing, but nowhere near as much as I wanted. I’ll post more later. Just wanted to let you know I was back.