Thursday, November 29, 2007

The Crescent City via Waveland

On Monday morning, Little Abbey woke up crabby and kept crying almost non-stop. We later found out that she wasn't getting enough sleep due to her increased size and smallness of her crib and that was causing her crankiness. I was suffering a second bout of intestinal cramping since my arrival that I later diagnosed as the local water since every time I had bottled water I was fine and both of my parents had suffered from the same thing. With all this going on, I wasn't enthused about going anywhere but being cramped up in a house with an invalid, a crying baby and someone visiting the bathroom at frequent intervals was driving my parents crazy so we made the decision to hit the road.

We drove south to Mobile, Alabama and then wound our way along the coast to Waveland, Mississippi. The reason for this destination was two fold. Waveland was perhaps the worst hit town due to the winds of hurricane Katrina and my parents had done some humanitarian work there and I wanted to give them an update on the progress. So we drove through town, parked on a vacant house lot next to the beach and played in the sand for a while.

Waveland and other towns along the coast have pretty much cleaned themselves up from the destruction. Broken trees have been cut up and burned, broken houses bulldozed down and hauled off, and the major businesses have returned. But signs of the hurricane are everywhere. Seventy-five percent of the lots are vacant, most with For Sale signs stuck in them. Lots of small businesses remain boarded up and many city streets are still nothing more than two track roads in the sandy soil. Although there was some city utility work going on as new lines were buried, there wasn't a lot of construction going on. Those who could rebuilt, and it appears that those who couldn't, never came back. I think I saw one McDonald's, that viral company that invades everything, being built and that was it. Outside of town the signs are still readily available in thousands of acres of shattered trees and barricaded highways that evidently lead to nowhere now.

However, on the beach with your back to the destruction, everything was as it should be. The sun was shining, green foamy waves from the Gulf of Mexico were lapping along the shore and we were soaking it all in. Little Abbey didn't like the sand because she kept sinking in to far for her tastes as she walked. When we brought her down to the firmer sand next to the water, she didn't like the waves and always kept one of us between her and them as we combed the beach for a few shells to keep as souvenirs. Had the temperatures been higher than the mid-fifties, I may have kicked off my shoes and waded around for awhile but the thought of all the sharp objects washed out of Waveland several years ago and buried in the surf kept me out as well.

We drove on to New Orleans having passed across two major bridge structures, the one across St. Louis Bay before Waveland, Mississippi that had been widely shown on the evening news after it collapsed from the hurricane and which now had been completely rebuilt, and the bridge across Lake Pontchartrain which seems to be getting another bridge built next to the two already there in use. Just as we reached the outskirts of the Crescent City, the last of the sun slipped below the horizon.

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