Five Must Do Things in New Orleans

New-orleans10As you might guess, there are a lot of enjoyable things to see and do in a city as culturally rich and diverse as New Orleans. The Crescent City has certainly earned its reputation as a party town, but there are other aspects of the thriving port city that aren’t quite as well known. For those whose visit is a short one, we’ve come up with a short list of things to see and do that covers a wide spectrum of the famous town’s personality.

Bourbon Street – Though best known as a late night party spot that goes into hyper mode during Mardis Gras, Bourbon Street also has a kinder gentler personality during the day. If partying isn’t part of a given trip, an afternoon drink in a quiet atmosphere can be enjoyed in the afternoon. It’s always a great place to people watch no matter the time of day.

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Top 9 Places To Live In Louisiana

Thinking about moving to Louisiana? Taking all fifty American states into consideration, Louisiana rivals only Hawaii and Alaska in extraordinary cultural diversity, fascinating history, and a breathtaking wealth of natural landscapes and ecosystems. Louisiana is also rich in excellent places to make a home. Here’s a short-list of the top ten best places to live in Louisiana.

1.New Orleans

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New Orleans will have to top our list. Who hasn’t dreamt of a visit to the Big Easy? This city is the biggest in the state, and surely the most famous. New Orleans is the mecca of multiculturalism. French, Creole, Spanish, Native American, and Caribbean cultures continue to form a part of this city’s vibrant core. Tulane and Loyola Universities provide the academic anchors of a great tradition.

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Twin Span Bridge Brief History

The Twin Span Bridge is probably one of the most well-known bridges in Louisiana. It covers about 6 miles and it consists of two bridges, each running parallel to one another. The bridge runs across the east end of Lake Pontchartrain. You find this bridge in the southern parts of Louisiana.

THE ORIGINAL CONSTRUCTIONThe original bridges opened up, back in 1965. They opened in December, to be exact. There was a short commencement ceremony to initiate the opening. Each bridge was two lanes wide. Most of the bridge had a 8.5 clearance overhead. So what happened? Hurricane Katrina, is what happened.

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New Orleans Must Listen: Bubba Blue’s Starry Skies

This week one of our blog contributors had the chance to interview one of New Orleans own rising jazz musicians, Bubba Blue. You may have seen him ticketing big clubs around town or even for free at an open mic, but now he is about to embark on his first North American tour. Bubba Blue, born and raised in New Orleans, has been a musician since his teenage years and was inspired by jazz music even before that.

Bubba Blue’s new album, Starry Skies, hits stores and is available for download this upcoming Tuesday. He leaves for tour today, but before he left we had a chance to ask him a few quick questions about his new album and passion for all things astronomy.

Question (Q): So, Bubba Blue, first off, where does your stage name originate from?

Bubba Blue (BB): Well, to make a long story short, one of my earliest memories was my brother taking me out to the backyard of our home where I was allowed to touch and look through his telescope for the first time. I cannot begin to explain to you how happy I was to finally get my hands on “blue,” what I creatively named the telescope after its color. He picked me up so I could see through the scope and I remember being astounded for the first time. After my first astronomy session, I ran up to my parents who were looking on and kept repeating “bubba blue, bubba blue” , which I guess was my way of saying brother let me use blue. The name kind of just stuck because every time I wanted to use the telescope I would just say bubba blue.

Q: Fantastic. With a debut album name like Starry Skies, can we assume this blue telescope wasn’t the end of your foray into astronomy?

BB: Your assumption is correct. In fact, I currently own my own telescope now and I write the most songs following an awesome astronomy session. Something about jazz music and stargazing just really go together, I guess. About three quarters of Starry Skies was written after stargazing; but specifically the songs Polaris, Jupiter and Ballad #3 I vividly remember being charged up after a good telescope session.

Q: Are your bringing your telescope on tour with you?

BB: I wouldn’t have it any other way. Man, I’m telling you, it’s like an addiction! I spend a lot of hours each week on astronomy and telescope review sites like telescopeobserver.com, just wasting my time looking for a solid deal on a new telescope. I’ve also carved in some time in my tour schedule to make sure I can do some side trips to some spots I’ve been dying to explore after sunset.

Q: Lucky you! So how exactly does jazz and astronomy fit together in your life?

BB: Well, since I’m from New Orleans, it’s pretty impossible to escape jazz. My parents are both strongly into jazz, as they grew up here as well. It was something that was just naturally passed on to my brother and me. We listened to it when we stargazed and eventually we both decided we wanted to pick it up ourselves and began to learn how to play various instruments. The two of us spent a lot of time making music and looking at the stars. He has inspired me a bunch throughout my life and I have pretty much copied every hobby he has ever had.

And on that heartwarming note, we left Bubba Blue to pack up and get on with his tour. Be sure to visit his website to keep abreast of his tour dates and buy his new album.

Almost Alligator Season!

The United States has one of the world’s largest population of alligators, and southern states like Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Mississippi and Texas are their home. Most of these states allow for hunting of alligators, and you can pencil in the New Orleans area as a new area for alligator hunting in the near future!

Louisiana has plenty of habitat for the large reptiles with its vast wetlands, swamps, lakes, and marshes. Alligators can potentially inhabit any permanent or semi-permanent body of warm water.

The Result of Historical Alligator Hunting

As mentioned before, hunting alligator was not permitted and was even banned in the 1960s, but population numbers for the species has recovered mainly after the control and conservation efforts that began in 1960s. Breeding season for alligators can start in April and end the latter part of May, and in Louisiana the alligator population increased considerably primarily due to the programs established cooperatively by southern states. Many people now consider the population to be sustainable now – and large enough to allow them to be hunted in New Orleans.

The hunting of alligators is strictly monitored particularly because of their past, where they occasionally flirted with complete extinction. Strict quotas, controls and license guidelines can prevent low population number.

Guidelines to American Alligator Hunting

In a press release in 2013 by the Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries Commission, the announcement was made that the ban of all alligator hunting in certain parts of Louisiana had been removed particularly in East and West Zones. Further reports announced that the alligator season would open the last Wednesday in August and lasts for 30 calendar days, strictly for the East Zone in Louisiana; and for the West Zone, it opens first Wednesday of September and lasts for 30 calendar days as well.

These dates and the rules may change from time to time, so be sure to check with the appropriate authorities.

The New Orleans hunting guidelines are strict and outline the property where hunters are allowed to hunt. For non-owners of a wetland habitat, a hunter will need to hunt with a licensed alligator guide with the proper harvest tags. The alligator hunters can apply for tags before the season begins.

Getting Geared Up

If you are a hunter in the New Orleans area, you must be excited about this new opportunity! If reading this has inspired you to try to get into hunting as a hobby, be sure you are geared up properly. My advice is to get ahold of an experienced hunter to get recommendations for guns and other equipment you may need. Also be sure to properly store any new firearms you may buy in a gun safe. It’s not required by law like it is in California, but it’s just plain common sense to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.

I geared up myself to become a hunter a few years ago and found this article on finding a good value for my safe to be very helpful.

Whatever you choose to store your guns in – stay safe and have fun!

Visiting New Orleans for Gumbo

Let's stand back for a moment and consider where we are. It doesn't matter what time it is, what day of the year, New Orleans will always be New Orleans. To the residents of this proud city, that means a lot. However, to those who have never been to the city, New Orleans only means Mardi Gras. Sure, Mardi Gras is a great way to see the city, and an even bigger reason to visit it. This is the one place, and the one activity which defines what a melting pot of culture New Orleans really is.

Mardi Gras is French for Fat Tuesday. In the beginning, it is held on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. New Orleans and Louisiana had its beginnings as a colony of France. As a French colony, it was also Catholic. The French influences live on in Louisiana. Cajun has some pidgin French thrown in, and old-time residents of the city still throw in some French endearments every so often, mon cher.

New Orleans voodoo is a fairly recent French suffused cult or demi-religion. It came to New Orleans via Haiti. It was had its beginnings in a mixing of various African tribal religions, mixed in with some Catholicism.

Nowadays, Mardi Gras as adapted in other countries, is a year-round event. That is, the event is used regardless of Lent, or of the occasion. Do you have a corporate event planned? Sure, use a Mardi Gras theme, and throw beads around. That works.

However, even centuries of an ingrained celebration can take a back seat to modern sensibilities. New Orleans never did recover from Katrina. A lot of people left the city after it got flooded. Empty houses have become dilapidated due to neglect. The city itself has moved on, changes have been included in the infrastructure, but there are still some sad faces among the crowd.

The city itself was never considered as an upscale place to live in. It is good that even cheap vocational or work-related education can now be done online, like the University of Subway. Find out more here. There are even some health and medical associated jobs which can be learned online, including getting a vet tech degree. Click on the link for more information.

Ten years after Katrina, it may sound like the problems it brought are empty echoes, but the city is proud, and would rather aim for the stars and the status of a premier city like Los Angeles, New York, or Chicago. To do that, it needs infrastructure, modern technology, and education even before investors can come in and feel cozy enough to set up shop.

The tourists come for Mardi Gras, and for the French Quarter, they like the neo-Continental and French cuisine. Famed restaurateurs have their own restaurants in the city. The food is fresh, and it is always great. Unfortunately, people associate the city with gumbo, and okra. Most people who don't know how great an okra dish is would rather gloss over the cuisine here. This is the last bastion of old traditional French cooking in the United States, and people would not visit because of okra.

Top 5 Places to Keep Fit in New Orleans

New Orleans is a hotspot of thriving culture and history. They boast wide variety of local cuisine, live music, and year-round events, bringing in tourists from all over the world. Whether only visiting or looking to make a permanent move, its important too know what you are stepping into, particularly when it comes to sticking with your fitness plans. The following are New Orleans’ Top 5 locations for maintaining your fitness lifestyle.

Aubudon Park

New Orleans hosts a number of beautiful parks, however, a residential favorite is Aubudon Park. Located in the Uptown neighborhood, the park is bordered by the Mississippi River and St. Charles Avenue near two Universities. They offer workout stations with various pull up bars and balance beams, as well as running and biking trails around the perimeter. Whether you are running, walking, or any number of exercises, you can take in the historic sights and sounds of the city.

CrossFit NOLA

Voted best of New Orleans in 2014, CrossFit NOLA has all the CrossFit attitude coupled with experience. A New Orleans original, they now have 3 locations across the city with flexible hours and a multitude of classes. Don’t try any type of cross training without the correct gear, check out www.dsstuff.com to find the best value for money CrossFit clothing and shoes.

CrossFit NOLA offer everything from power lifting, endurance training, boxing and even gymnastics. They will set you up with the exercises to wear yourself out. If you are a CrossFit regular or just want to give it a try, there is no better time.

Downtown Fitness Center

The Downtown Fitness Center is a popular gym that caters to New Orleans’ residents, as well as guests to the city. They offer a wide variety group classes including yoga, zumba, barbell press, spin classes, and circuit training at each of their locations around the city. The perks continue with a sauna, laundry service, massage therapy, and tanning. This is exactly what you need to get into your usual groove. If you are looking for a fitness club that has all that you expect and more, Downtown Fitness is the place to find it.

Reyn Studios

Reyn Studios is the top rated yoga studio in New Orleans. They offer a several classes with various instructors, each with their own unique style. The building is often described as stunning, offering a serene environment with an amazing view from the wide windows. Take on the challenge and push yourself to the limits. Afterward, relax with a cool towel  and essential oils during savasana. Yoga  can be the perfect release from the stressors that come with travel. If you are only visiting New Orleans, low cost, one time classes are available to you.

New Orleans Athletic Club

The NOAC, established in 1872, is one of the oldest athletic clubs in America and there is a reason they have had so many years of success. Boasting a “rich tradition of athleticism, camaraderie, and a commitment to excellence,” the club has endless ways to keep yourself fit. From water aerobics to spin classes to fencing to weight lifting, you are bound to find something that works for you.  After your workout, they also offer a bar and a library. Due to the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, the NOAC was rebuilt into the largest state of the art center in the region. $20 per day guest passes are available if you are only staying for a short while.

Visiting a new place can be an amazing experience. There is no reason to put off your regularly scheduled workouts just because you are in an unfamiliar city. Take the time to create a plan and don’t ever be afraid to try something new. New Orleans has so many interesting aspects and such a unique culture.

The Sports Teams of New Orleans

New Orleans is one of the most unique cultural hotbeds in the United States, with a long history spanning from its birth as a French colonial town to its heyday as the home of Mardi Gras and jazz. The city also has a deep love of sports, from football to baseball, basketball, golf, and racing. It is unique in the same way the state of Hawaii is in regards to melding of disparate cultures to form one unique one.

Chief amongst New Orleans’ sports teams is the New Orleans Saints, who play in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and are one of the National Football League’s best teams. The Saints were born in 1967, as local politicians and then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle sought to bring an NFL franchise to the city.

Once the team was approved, the NFL set about announcing their new team on November 1st, during which All Saints’ Day was celebrated and forever connecting the team to its New Orleans roots. Despite this inauspicious beginning, however, the Saints never saw success until 20 years later, and it was only in 2000 that they won their first NFL playoff game. Ten years later, they finally won their first Super Bowl, and brought a feeling of resurgence back to a city recovering from Hurricane Katrina.

Meanwhile, as the Saints began ascend the NFL ladder, a basketball team arrived in New Orleans in 2002. Relocating from Charlotte, the New Orleans Hornets brought with them the typical inconsistency of a young team, before Hurricane Katrina struck and they had to move out of New Orleans. Between 2005 and 2007, the Hornets played most of their games in the Ford Center in Oklahoma City.

Once they had moved back to New Orleans Arena, the Hornets were embraced by their city and found new success, competing with the National Basketball League’s best teams but ultimately falling short of a championship. In 2013, with a new owner, the team underwent a significant rebirth, relinquishing its Hornets title and becoming the New Orleans Pelicans. A year later, the team also found itself playing in the renamed Smoothie King Center. With a new identity befitting its location, the Pelicans hope to surpass the Hornets’ brief glimpses of success.

Despite not having a major league baseball team, New Orleans boasts the Triple-A New Orleans Zephyrs, who play in Metairie, Louisiana’s Zephyr Field. As a franchise, the Zephyrs go back to 1901, when they were founded in Kansas City and quickly found success, winning three championships. In 1955, the Zephyrs were forced to relocate, and moved to Denver with a new name: the Denver Bears. Much like the Zephyrs, the Bears saw success in Denver, playing in the famous Mile High Stadium, one of the largest venues in which minor league baseball has been played.

Then, in 1985, the team was once again renamed, this time back to the Zephyrs. As the Zephyrs, the team continued its winning ways until it was once more forced to relocate in 1992. Arriving in New Orleans, the Zephyrs embraced their new city and would go on to win the Triple-A World Series in 1998, as well as becoming co-champions in 2001. On May 5–6, 2006, the Zephyrs played in a game known as the “Music City Marathon,” which lasted 24 innings over a span of two days. Along with setting 12 franchise records over those two days, the Zephyrs matched the Pacific Coast League’s record for longest game, a remarkable feat considering the record had stood since 1909.

Even though New Orleans’ sports teams are all remarkably different in how they came to be, they all share one thing in common: their city’s cultural heritage has left an indelible mark on them.

Shooting Alligators and Reloading Ammo — the Other New Orleans

I love living in New Orleans. I was born here, and although I have travelled a lot with my job I am always happiest when I am at home. There is something in the air here that I have not been able to find anywhere else in the world.

Lately I have been working too much. I work really long hours at the office and I often bring my work home with me as well. It feels like I am always working and it has taken its toll. I need to take some time off. That is why my two buddies and I have hired a local guide this weekend to explore the swamps. We are going to go alligator hunting. Although we didn’t need them, we brought our guns and plenty of ammo just in case.

I grew up playing in the swamps but I have never killed an alligator. I saw quite a few when I was a kid but I always managed to stay out of their way. I saw one go after a neighbor’s dog once though and I was in awe of the speed they possess on land. Luckily the dog was just a bit faster and he got away.

As we set out on our airboat into the swamps of New Orleans I felt like I had been transported back in time. After we had gone five minutes from the dock all I saw were Cypress trees, birds, turtles, fish jumping and alligators. Oh, and a lot of voracious insects but luckily I had worn bug spray.

The airboat was pretty loud which made talking impossible. We all sat in silence for the first half an hour and watched the sights flash by. When we got to the area we were going to be fishing in the guide killed the engine and we drifted along in silence for a bit.

A huge alligator popped his head up out of the water and drifted beside us for a minute or two. He was huge, at least sixteen feet long. He did one quick roll in the water and with a flick of his tail he went under and we never saw him again.

We decided to set up our lines there in hopes that we would catch the big one. We caught our alligator about an hour later. He was only about twelve feet long but he was the first one that came upon the lines we had set out. It only took about half an hour for him to get hooked. I aimed my gun at the spot they told me would do the least damage to the hide and I took my shot. It was a good shot through and through and he barely struggled at all.

My friends and I have decided to split our trophy three ways. We will each take a portion of the meat, one of my friends wants the head for his games room, and I will split the hide with my other friend. I just might get a pair of boots made. They won’t go with my suit for the office but they will look great when I am drinking a beer on Bourbon Street. We returned home and laughed and drank beer and reloaded our weapons for our next outing.

While New Orleans has a lot of sophisticated places to see—like our beloved Twin Span Bridge—sometimes you just got to really go hillbilly.

The Attributes of Your Quintessential New Orleans Homes

New Orleans is a bastion of historic architecture, finding its roots in a vibrant multicultural heritage that spans over three hundred years. From creole cottages to the fantastic mansions found on St. Charles, New Orleans is unquestionably a sight to behold. But when you ask a local resident what attributes make the typical home, all you’ll get are ums and ahs.

In this editorial, we’re going to turn you from a casual admirer to a connoisseur of New Orleans architecture. Next time someone asks you about the makeup of the city’s architectural history, you’ll be able to bore your audience to sleep without giving it a second thought (not sure if that’s a good thing!).

Townhouse: Greek Influences

Most people assume that just because New Orleans was part of the French dominion in the New World, Napoleon and friends inspired everything. But nothing could be further from the truth.

New Orleans is a melting pot of a wide range of cultures and one of the least recognised is that of Greece. The ancients were going through a massive revival during the renaissance and the influences seeped into every facet of society, from culture to politics to art. And yes, even architecture.

What you’ll find is that many homes will feature a townhouse-style layout with Greek columns acting as the structural support. Porches are wide and spacious. Intriguingly, a good chunk of such homes also make heavy use of board and batten shutters, giving it that rustic look that we’re accustomed to as well as the mixture of styles within one design.

Creole Cottage: Steeply Pitched Roof

The term ‘steeply pitched’ may not mean anything to you as you read it, but once you see a picture of such a design you’ll recognise it at once. This feature is primarily an attribute found in the creole cottage, arguably the symbol of New Orleans architecture.

The main function of the steeply pitched side gabled roof is to protect homes from rainfall. New Orleans is a city known for its heavy downpours, so this design style was the result of practicality over aesthetics. Nevertheless, the look is now deeply engrained in the city’s visual history and it wouldn’t be the same without it.

The Shotgun: Simple and Basic Turns Elegant

The ‘Shotgun’ style home is narrow, usually less than 12 feet in width. Doors are found on either end. This style is thought to have been wholly developed in New Orleans and as such is the most prevalent in the city.

The first Shotgun home (as far as we know) was built as early as 1848, but the style really took off from the 1920s onwards. They were cheap, easy to manufacture, and well equipped to deal with the local weather. Modern Shotgun homes come in several shapes and sizes, including the ‘Double Shotgun’ and ‘Humpback’. The former is essentially a duplex, while the latter has a small second floor at the back of the home.

New Orleans has a strong tradition that still stands despite the devastating effects of nature. Katrina may have damaged the city, but it has not broken it. We’re glad to say that our heritage has been preserved through the valiant efforts of rebuilders, city planners, and local residents. We encourage you to appreciate our history through our inspiring architecture!