Saturday, January 29, 2011

Huntsville, Texas

Until yesterday all we knew about Huntsville is that it had a 67 foot replica of Sam Houston visible from I-45 northbound for 6.5 miles. Huntsville is about 50 miles from where we are parked and if it were not for the fact that we were in search of a theater to see The King's Speech, we maybe would not have toured the Sam Houston Memorial Museum,  located in Huntsville.  After first stopping at Sam Houston's burial site, we drove to the museum, which is part of Sam Houston State University.  Until yesterday I had only a vague idea who Houston was as a statesman of our country. His museum in Huntsville does a wonderful and very complete job of presenting his life and accomplishments. Sam Houston was not only once governor of Texas and senator, but also governor and congressman of Tennessee. He initially, as a young man, won the admiration and respect of Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans ( which took place1815). As a side note here, it was around this time of his life that Houston got into a brawl with another man, wounding him. The lawyer who defended him was Francis Scott Keys, writer of our national anthem.
 We could not have ordered a better day for seeing the museum as well as for touring the grounds of what was once Houston's home and farm. Above is a picture of Houston's law office, which is near the Woodland home where he lived with his wife and eight children. The house where Houston died was moved to be near the Woodland home and his law office. The last years of his life were sad ones for Houston. In 1850, as Senator of Texas, he voted for the Compromise Act of 1850 and against the Missouri Kansas Act of 1854, rather treasonous acts by someone from a southern state. History has since looked more kindly on Sam Houston, he is now called a "Defender of the Union". Ironically he died in a house which was once called the joke of the community. The builder of the home gave it as a gift to his son who refused to live in it. Houston came to live there after resigning his governorship (he refused to sign a oath of loyalty to the confederacy) in 1861. He died in the Steamboat House in 1863. Before leaving Huntsville we did see the movie The King's Speech, quite an awesome movie. History can be very fascinating.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bayou Bend Collections and Gardens

This home and fourteen acres of gardens is located in the heart of Houston's historic River Oaks neighborhood. It was built in 1927 by Ima Hogg and two of her brothers. Their dad was the first native- born governor of Texas. I think that first off I need to explain Ima's name.  Her dad, James Hogg, named her for the heroine in an epic poem written by her uncle. I guess that he just did not think that pairing Ima with Hogg was an issue at all! We toured the house, which has a collection of rare and important early American paintings as well as furniture, ceramics, silver and glass dating from 1620 to 1876. James Hogg, after serving as governor, retired to his farm where oil was discovered. His heirs became quite wealthy and his daughter Ima participated in a wide range of philanthropic and civic projects, but (according to a museum brochure) the collection in her home of Americana art for the people of Texas was a personal activity for her which was closest to to her heart.
 There are eight gardens surrounding the Bayou Bend home. John took the above picture in the Diana Garden. That is a statue of Diana, goddess of the hunt, in the background. It was enjoyable wandering through the gardens even though this is not the time of year to enjoy their full beauty. In February and March the majority of azaleas should be in bloom. There are presently a few of them with flowers and the camellias are at the end of their blooming period.  A woodland area on the grounds is covered with towering trees as pines, elms and oaks. The Buffalo Bayou borders the grounds on two sides. The White Garden is located deep within the woods and is surrounded by ravines. It all is very much an urban oasis. And I have one picture left for you winter-weary northern souls out there. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

Livingston State Park

We had one warm sunny day this week, between the rainy days and before the latest cold front came through. We chose that day to hike out in Livingston State Park. The park is about one mile southwest of Livingston and is the location where the Trinity River meets Lake Livingston.
 While hiking around the lake we were surprised to see about a dozen cormorants hanging out on trees in the lake. We immediately identified them as cormorants because of their manner of opening their wings to dry them out. I did show, in another posting, a picture of an anhinga doing that with its wings. Cormorants can be differentiated from anhingas, however, because of their curved beaks. Also, anhingas have long slim necks, which cormorants don't have.
We were also fascinated by a mallard duck and a domesticated white duck who seemed to be enjoying a swim together across the lake, softly quacking to each other. Then suddenly the mallard hopped on the back of the other duck. I will leave the rest to your imagination. I am not sure if they can crossbreed, but I am sure that those kind of details are not a concern with those two lovers!
Texas this time of the year reminds me of Missouri in the fall. The leaves of the water oaks have turned brown and are falling from the trees. Lobloly pines are also present in the park. It was a very pleasant hike, and it was not long before we were ready to peel off our coats.
When inclement weather keeps us inside we hang out in the clubhouse of our rv park. Some sort of social activity usually is going on there, and it does have a fireplace where a fire is sometimes burning on chilly days. Several times a week meals are served there. Tonight we are going into town where the local Episcopal church is serving a spaghetti dinner. I have done very little in the way of cooking this week!  Tomorrow we are driving into the city of Houston to spend a couple of days there with a friend of ours.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Martin Luther King Celebration in Livingston

We are now parked in eastern Texas, about seventy miles north of Houston. The past few days have been rainy and damp, with heavy fog in the mornings. Temperatures in the high fifties, to low sixties. I spent much of my childhood years in Texas, and one memory I have is that of the winters being quite rainy. I also remember the summers being very dry and hot. It was not unusual then to see the ground split wide open from all the dryness, so I do not imagine that residents of this area mind the current cool and damp weather at all. The town of Livingston has a population of about 6,000 people. When we saw the signs around town advertising a MLK celebration for Monday (yesterday) we did not seriously consider attending, thinking it would just be a small town affair. However, people at the rv park here encouraged us to go. We did attend and had a great time. It was a good opportunity to see a microcosm of the community around us. About sixteen miles out of town is the Alabama Conshatta Indian Reservation and those residents were in attendance.. The MLK celebration was advertised as a "Multicultural Festival".  After eating a delicious free meal of fried fish in the local high school cafeteria we were treated to quite a variety of entertainment. Cody Littlehawk was one of the first performers on stage in the high school's auditorium, playing his wooden flutes.
  Native American dancers from the reservation also performed several dances. Their costumes were quite beautiful. They did a beautiful Native American chant with a drum in memory of those who died in the Arizonza shootings which happened a couple weeks ago.

 An inspirational message was delivered by Dr. Guylene Robertson, Superintendent of Goodrich Schools. In her tribute to Dr.Martin Luther King  Dr. Robertson spoke on how Dr. King lived and exemplified the Robert Frost poem The Road Not Taken. The musical entertainment lasted for close to three hours and included everything from( beside Native American dances), Hawaiian dancing to Hip Hop street dancing.The audience was also encouraged to participate with the Hawaiian dancers. Even a local Baptist minister made an attempt at the Polynesian dancing.
 There were also country and gospel music singers, as well as choral and band groups from local high schools. As everyone was leaving the auditorium a local musician played Jambalya on his fiddle. We were thrilled to again hear some Cajun music. Polk County could be proud of  their MLK celebration, in fact it was their 1lth annual festival. As John commented: "not bad for a free evening".

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Vermillionville, Louisiana

The town of Lafayette was once called Vermillionville after the Vermillion River. What is Vermillionville today is a folk art and cultural center of the Cajun and Creole people. It recreates what life use to be for those people between 1765 and 1890. On the grounds there are 19 buildings including 6 restored original homes which are filled with artifacts and living history. At La Maison des Culture, an Acadian home built in the 1840s, we were able to look at an exposed wall on the porch which has the bousillage which I mentioned in a posting of two days ago. It was interesting to actually see the mud and Spanish moss bricks.
At the Beau Bassin House, circa 1840, we were able to watch cotton being carded and then spun into thread. In Canada Acadian women wove wool and flax, in Louisiana they learned to weave cotton. It was interesting to see a wad of cotton being spun into thread, it looked so easy!
At the L'Ecole, or school, we heard a man, D'Jalma, playing Creole music on his fiddle. He discussed with us, in much detail, the difference between Creole, Cajun and Zydeco music. He grew up in New Orleans in a family of jazz musicians and started learning to play the fiddle at the age of five years. Currently he plays for a couple of Creole bands, besides working at Vermillionville.
The last sentence on the blackboard was the punishment for children who spoke the principle language of southwestern Louisiana during the early years of the twentieth century. They had to write 100 times that they will not speak French.. One of the last homes on our tour of Vermillionville was the home of Armand Brossard, built around 1790. This is the oldest and largest of all the homes in the village. Armand Brossard had fourteen children. It is a French-Creole house which borrows from Anglo-American architecture. This is our last posting for Louisiana, Friday we are moving to Texas.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Shadows on-the-Teche

It was my New Year's resolution to decrease my postings this year. In keeping that resolution I was not going to write about a little trip we took yesterday to New Iberia. However, our tour guide (Elaine) for the house by the Bayou Teche made us promise that we would tell others about the house and encourage them to visit the place. The house had been in the ownership of one family for 125 years, four generations lived there. Just before his death the last living member of the David Weeks family,William Weeks Hall, turned the home over to the care of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. As he once said: "Fine things are without value".  Over the years many of the documents of the family, including family letters, were stored in trunks in the attic. Not only important family papers, but also linens, furnishings for the home, and clothes for the family were kept in those trunks. The house  was, without a doubt, an historical gem to be preserved. Trust restoration cost $169,519.33, more than 16 times the home's value in 1846.  The house today, and its furnishings, does very well reflect back to its state in the nineteenth century. Below is a picture of the house. When we noticed the shadows which flickered over the home ( created by the sun filtering its rays through the branches of the large live oaks on the grounds) we did not puzzle any longer as to how the home received such a mysterious grand name.
 On our return home we stopped in the town of Breaux Bridge where there is a snake sculpture. The Bayou Teche got its name from an old Chitimacha Indian legend. According to that tale, there once was a very large snake who roamed the area and terrified many people. He was finally slayed and as his body collapsed into the earth, it carved out the bayou into the shape of a snake.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Longfellow Evangeline State Historic Site

This state park is the site of the Maison Olivier plantation house. It was built by a Creole man, even though at the time this was mostly Cajun territory. We learned a few interesting things there, both at the house and in the museum. First thing we learned is that Evangeline was not a true story. We also gained information about Spanish moss we had had not heard before. Until today we were primarily told that it is not to be picked and has chiggers in it. Henry Ford stuffed the seats of his first cars with it. This was the first time that we heard that it use to be an important commodity.  In the museum of this state park there is a bale of Spanish moss, called "bousillage". In the nineteenth century this was used in building homes. It had to be dried out first. Once dried out it is a tough wiry material which, after some mud is added to it, was stuffed between the beams of buildings. Below is a picture of a bale of Spanish moss.
 We had a guided tour of the plantation home. In one of the bedrooms we saw a rolling pin bed. At the head of the bed was a rolling pin which the slaves would use to smooth out the bed. The bed pictured below was made in 1803 in New Orleans.
 Another interesting feature of the home was a fan placed above the dining room table. A young slave child would sit nearby while the family was eating and pull on a rope which kept the fan moving. The fan provided a cool breeze as well as it kept flies off the food. That was something we had never seen before in the many homes we have toured.
 I will conclude this posting with a picture of an ardisia bush. At this time of the year it grows beautiful red berries which reminds me of the holly berry bush, however, its leaves are quite different.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

St. Martinville, Louisiana

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described this area of Acadiana as having a "perpetual summer". That may have been true back in the 1800s, but presently we are very much having winter here.  Back to Longfellow- in this part of Louisiana there are streets, businesses, and even a parish named after the heroine of his poem Evangeline. Supposedly in the town of St. Martinville the real life Evangeline came in search of her lover Gabriel. There is a statue of this woman, Emmeline Labiche, in the church yard of the St.Martin de Tours Catholic Church. In actuality the statue was Dolores del Rio, an actress who played Evangeline in the silent movie of the same name in 1929. If nothing else, the poem and the movie drew national recognition to the Acadian heritage. I am glad too that the legend caught my curiosity enough for me to read Evangeline again. It is a beautiful hauntingly sad romance story.
I mentioned in a previous posting of the diaspora of the Acadians out of Canada. In the museums we toured today we learned more about the kind of hardships which those people endured in 1755. Families were separated, some sent back to France ( those people did return to America), and the others traveled in boats down the east coast. The latter refugees were placed in prisons or turned out to beg in the streets of the cities of colonial America. Many died during their travels. Over roughly 10-20 years later, 3,000 Acadia refugees ended up reuniting and settling in Louisiana. There is an Acadian memorial in St. Martinville documenting their arrival in  Louisiana. Acadian family names are displayed there on bronze plaques, and a large mural depicts ancestors of area Cajuns. Outside of the building, by the Bayou Teche, there is a Deportation Cross, similar to the one erected in Canada, which notes the year of their expulsion from Canada. In the meditation garden there is also an eternal flame in memory of the Acadians who lost their lives in the diaspora, as well as mosaics of Acadian Coats of Arms.. That was an important piece of our United States history, not well known, but which at least Longfellow drew attention to it by writing Evangeline.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Avery Island and New Iberia, Louisiana

 In 1865 Edmund McIlhenny received pepper plants from Central America which, over time, he grew on 700 acres of the island. He figured out that by mashing the plants, adding salt, fermenting the mash for three years and then adding vinegar made for some mighty fine hot pepper sauce. As we drove up to the Tabasco factory the pungent smell of vinegar greeted us. We were given a tour of the factory where we saw one big vat of the mash and vinegar being stirred (that mixture needs to be stirred for 28 days), and we also were able to observe the sauce being bottled to be sent around the world. Avery island, location of the Tabasco factory, sits on a salt dome, the largest of five salt domes in Louisiana. Recently oil and gas has been found adjacent to the salt dome on Avery Island. Pipelines were laid carefully out, by-passing the live oaks. A wildlife refuge, Jungle Gardens, is also a part of the island. Below is a picture of the lagoon in the Chinese Garden there.
The gardens are quite beautiful even at this time of the year. There is a grove of camellia bushes in the park which are blooming presently. I found the white camellia flowers especially very striking as they peek out from among the Spanish moss hanging from a live oak tree.
In New Iberia, a town located about ten miles from the island, we toured the oldest rice mill in the United States. There we were able to sample one of their products, wild pecan rice. At least that tasted a bit better than the tabasco ice cream which we had tried earlier in the day!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Acadiana Louisiana

Driving over to this area, which is in south central Louisiana, we went past many marshes and bayous. Initially on the drive we saw only sugarcane farms, but as the land became more noticeably wetter we then started seeing rice fields. Harvest is over now for that crop, and many egrets and crows could be seen feeding in the fields. I imagine what they are dining on is left over grain as well as crustaceans. We are now in the heart of Acadiana Louisiana. It may as well be a foreign country, as there are times when we find ourselves surrounded by people chatting in Cajun. The weather forecast this morning on a local television station was spoken in French as well as English. Most of the French language spoken here is Cajun French which has numerous local variants. Its roots, however, are from the peasant French language which was spoken in sixteenth century France. In the eighteenth century, after the Seven Years War, the French settlers were expelled by the British from the Canadian Maritime Provinces. As they were not accepted in towns along our eastern coast, they eventually settled in what is now Louisiana. Yesterday we visited the town of  Eunice, which is the home of great Cajun music. Most fortunately, at the time we were visiting the Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve Acadian Culture Center, a Cajun music show was just beginning. That is sure some toe-tapping music! The words to the music are in Cajun so we had no idea what was being sung.  One song was called the "Convict's Waltz" ( they did give the titles in English), the words to the song had a lot of wailing in it and we were encouraged to participate in that part of the singing.
Every Saturday evening the local radio station broadcasts live in the Liberty Theater the Rendevous-des-Cajuns music show. The evening we were there the show held a tribute for Hank Williams. Part of the reason he is well liked here is because of his song "Jambalaya( On the Bayou)". I did not think that I liked country music but somehow I was familiar with most of the songs sung last night. Guess I must have listened to a lot to Hank Williams in my younger years!  It was a good show. As in the earlier show, which we had heard that day, the fiddle music was quite awesome with an infectious beat and a smooth style.

Friday, January 7, 2011

New Orleans

We are leaving this fair city today,  but I have a few final items to share with you before we move on to another town. The above picture is so New Orleans. The sculpture is called "Second Line Sashay". It seems to depict the carefree happy attitude of the city. In the background notice the buildings which show a bit of age. That too is so much of the charm of this city. The picture below was taken in Jackson Square, the Quarters "unofficial Left Bank" according to the AAA Tour Book. In the square can be found palm readers, artists and street performers.
New Orleans also has its share of streets with interesting names. Our motor home has been parked on Chef Menteur Highway. What a surprise to find out that in Choctaw that means "chief liar". Apparently that is the name the Native Indians gave to the colonial French Governor Kerlerec after he reneged on a treaty. We also found out the origin of the word "Dixie". In the 1800s Citizens State Bank in New Orleans printed a ten dollar bank note. Ten in French is Dix. People soon referred to the bank note's place of origin as the "land of the Dixie", eventually that was known as "Dixieland", synonymous with the America's Southland.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Le Monde Creole Tour

Yesterday we did a walking tour of the French Quarters and thought that we were done with the city. But upon returning home, however, we discovered that we could learn more about the Duparc-Locoul family by taking the Le Monde Creole Tour in the old French Quarter.We returned to that area of the city today and learned a great deal more about the Creole history of New Orleans. I am afraid that in my last posting I presented a rather simplistic view of who the Creole is. Our tour guide today put it rather succinctly when he said that they were native born people but of foreign parentage. The French who came to this country intermingled with the native Americans, West Africans, and Latin Americans. Laura Locoul was the fourth generation of her family who came from France, and was a Creole. Her family's plantation afforded the family a great deal of wealth. It was a working sugarcane plantation nine months out of the year. From December to March the family lived in New Orleans in the homes they owned there. On our tour we saw a couple of the homes, one of which is now the Oliver House Hotel.  Elizabeth Duparc, Laura's grandmother, spent her retirement years in that building, pictured below.
 In St.Louis Cemetery Number One our guide showed us the burial tomb of the Duprec-Locoul family. However, Laura Locoul was buried in St.Louis, next to her husband at the Gore grave site in Bellefontaine Cemetery. There was also another fascinating tomb which our guide showed us, the grave site of Voodoo Queen-Marie Laveau. After Elvis Presley she has the most visited tomb in the nation, as well as the most gifted. At her grave site is the best gifts which can be given to a voodoo queen; money,tobacco and alcohol. A couple of days ago there was also a dead snake there, according to our guide.
 What was also great about this tour was that we got a peek into some private courtyards. The one pictured below is my favorite.
We thoroughly enjoyed the tour. By getting a glimpse into the lives of five generations of Laura's family we got a good picture of the history of New Orleans, from the years of the wealthy sugar planters and slave owners, to that of the Civil War Confederates, to the first Jazz musicians. We even visited a 19th century pharmacy which still has on its shelves voodoo potions.

Monday, January 3, 2011

A Creole Plantation

Along Louisiana's Great River Road is the location of about six restored plantation homes. Over two hundred years have passed since the time when those plantations were symbols of wealth and culture. The one we toured today, Laura Plantation, was a plantation where the family living there chose to live apart from mainstream America and keep their cultural identity. The Duparac-Locoul family, owners of the plantation, were wholly of French and French-Canadian blood but shared a history and culture more closely in line with the slaves and tenant farmers of the plantation than with their Anglo neighbors of the same upper class ( this is one explanation of Creole noted in a commentary by Norman and Sand Marmillion in the book Memories of the Old Plantation Home). The plantation home built by the Duparc family in 1804, by its style and colorful paint, can clearly be labeled as a Creole home. It stands on brick pillars.
The last owner of the plantation, Laura Locoul Gore, was the first in her family to break from the Creole tradition and at an early age desired to learn to speak English as well as find her own self fulfillment as an American. At the age of 29 years, in 1891, Laura sold the sugarcane plantation and married Charles Gore from St.Louis Missouri. St.Louis was to become her home for the rest of her life. The old plantation today still has some of the slave cabins, which are about 160 years old. In 1860 the plantation had 183 slaves living in 69 cabins, two of which are pictured below. There are only two rooms in each cabin, for two families.
It was in the slave quarters on this plantation that Alcee Fortier recorded African folktales of the miscreant Br'er Rabbit in the 1870s. Fortier listened in when former slaves told the tales to their children in French. The rabbit was originally called Compair Lapin, a French term meaning clever rabbit.

Alligator Ranch

Before  heading to the alligator ranch, John and I attended services at Grace Lutheran, a church located near the area where we are parked. It is in a neighborhood which sustained major damage during Hurricane Katrina. The church was heavily impaired and many of its members left. The restored church we saw today is quite beautiful, and the worship service seemed to have a goodly number of people in attendance.After the service several members were eager to talk with us about the damage and its effects on the church and their lives. The church has been quite involved as a community liaison for work crews that come from all over the nation to help rebuild New Orleans. I am familiar with one group, Youth Works, which the church hosts during the summer months.
The gulf oil spill this past year has also created more national attention on New Orleans. I am bringing this up because the alligator ranch (Insta-Gator Ranch) we toured today has experienced a sharp decrease in alligator eggs this year.The marsh near the ranch was flooded with water from the Mississippi River (government officials lifted the flood gates of the river to flush out the harmful effects of the oil spill). Usually the ranch harvests 1500-2000 eggs per year, this year it was only 200. Mama alligators could not find dry land to lay their eggs so their bodies reabsorbed the eggs. The ranch differs from an alligator farm, because the eggs which the ranch incubates do not come from alligators on the ranch, but from a marsh nearby. When the alligators are at sexual maturity they are returned to the marsh. The ranch also keeps many of them for their commercial production of alligator leather products ( a by-product of that industry is alligator meat which is sold for human consumption). The alligators that are returned to the marsh are those with scars on their skin, which can happen when other alligators scratch them. The one we were shown has skin with no blemishes on his underside. He is about at the size and age when the ranch kills the alligators for their skin. That does sound cruel, but, as our guide reminded us,  it is all about capitalism and a market for their product.  A close watch is kept on the number of alligators out in the wild, I must add to their defense.
 We were shown by our tour guide what an alligator nest looks like.
 When the eggs are retrieved they have to be marked to make sure that they are not inadvertently flipped over, which would suffocate the baby alligator. He is connected by a cord to the wall of his shell so it is important that his position is not disrupted. The ranch found it necessary to harvest the eggs because not many of the babies survive while in the egg.  One factor which usually causes their demise is that after a predator  damages the nest, mama alligator will instinctively try to repair it, and in that process smashes the eggs. Below is a picture of one of the babies, we were told that they emerge from their eggs snapping their jaws!
It was interesting to hear the soft chirping noises that the little alligator made. Another sound which alligators make is an angry hissing noise, which we heard from the older alligator when he was being handled. Their claws are not sharp because it is their jaws which they use for protection. And it is true that alligators can become limp and fall asleep ( not by hypnotism which is a myth),  but by turning them upside down. It is all in how their body is wired!  I must say that the alligator is a very unique and fascinating creature.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

New Years Eve in New Orleans

Our home is now parked in New Orleans. It is a very small rv park which sits in a industrial section of town. Not far from this part of the city is a residential area, where there quite a few new homes. There are many damaged and abandoned buildings, however, still standing in mute testimony to the horrific consequences of Hurricane Katrina. We were not sure yesterday how far to venture out because of overcast skies. Not far from where we are located is Chalmette Battlefield, where the Battle of New Orleans took place.
 On January 8,1915 General Andrew Jackson had a stunning victory over British troops on this battlefield. It was the greatest land victory of the War of 1812. After touring the battlefield John and I decided to chance the high prediction for rain and drive to the French Quarters of New Orleans for the last hours of 2010. We had no idea what to expect and, surprisingly we had a wonderful evening in the French Quarters. The weather stayed warm and we only had to contend with an occasional drizzle of rain. The streets were quite crowded, Bourbon Street was closed to traffic. While wandering the streets we were able to grab handfuls of beads thrown down by people who were hanging out from the balconies above the streets. Live music was blaring everywhere from street musicians and also from live bands which were playing in bars with opened doors and windows. It was one big party scene, and we ran into many strange people.
We also were entertained by performance art, people in costume who would stand motionless in a particular pose. It was hard to believe they were real people and not statues! Check out this scary dude with a gun!
 I never would have thought that we could hang around the French Quarter as long as we did, about six hours. We spent some time at Cafe Du Monde for hot drinks and beignets. We also killed time listening to a live concert of Cajun music in Jackson Square. At midnight the fleur de lis, which hangs above Jax Brewery, was lit up by fireworks and a shower of additional fireworks filled the sky above the Mississippi River. It was an impressive fireworks display. We thought there would be a major traffic jam after the fireworks, but the only problem we had in getting out of the French Quarters was with the pedestrians who thronged the streets and ignored traffic signals. There are many hotels in the historic district, perhaps that was why no traffic jams held us up getting home. I think there were more tourists than locals in New Orleans last evening!