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New Orleans

New Orleans, LA
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

Some 20 years ago, we spent a long weekend in New Orleans.  We stayed across Canal Street and spent a fair amount of time wandering around the French Quarter. I fell in love with the food, feasting on Crawfish Etouffe, Jambalaya, Gumbo, and red beans and rice.  At some point I wandered into one of the small groceries and asked someone what spices the locals used to with their roux bases.  He pointed to the counter and said “Zatarain’s. I thought he was kidding, because this stuff was freely available in our Saginaw, Michigan grocery chains. But he was serious.  Signs often attract my photographic image, and this one says NOLA to me.

Superdome; NOLA
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

This fall was an unusual period for me. I almost always plan a dedicated trip based around fall foliage somewhere. The last couple years have been a bit unsettled, as – for whatever reason – we have had trips planned that involved groups and were more about the social aspect than dedicated photography. Last year we spend almost 2 weeks in the Greek Isles and the Mediterranean and took a late October trip to Las Vegas. This year, work and personal scheduling kept me away much of September and October, with just one very short, 3 day weekend photo trip.  Late October, again, involved a trip, this time for just a couple days, to New Orleans.

Bourbon Street; NOLA
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

Both of these late October trips were social in nature, with a group of 5 couples. There was not much time for dedicated photography and I didn’t even really try in either instance. There were people I should have connected with in both places, but the schedule just didn’t allow for either. I still hope to return someday with just my camera, no itinerary, and a visit to my friend there who I know can show me the real, New Orleans.

Mississippi River; NOLA
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

But that doesn’t mean I didn’t carry my camera. Very much like my cruises, the shooting became a shoot-when-you-can, point and shoot, street shot exercise. I carried the small camera, as always.  And I shot.  One of the things I would like to do someday is walk around a couple of the cemeteries. I am told that most of them are private and charge an admission. I also am told that the one I got the fleeting “drive-by” shot of – St. Louis Cemetary No. 1 – requires a guide (as Ray notes, sadly, the reason for this is because of vandalism -we have become such a destructive society; both physically and emotionally). A guide is fine, as long as I can take my time, look for, and make some shots. There is one, in the Garden District, I believe, that is public.

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

We stayed in the French Quarter. And, for the most part, we literally stayed in the French Quarter, except to venture out to a couple restaurants, a “Hop On / Hop Off” bus tour, and the World War II Museum.  We spend a full day in this museum and still did not see everything.  There is a small, adjacent Civil War Museum that I would also like to visit.  It was a pretty intense day.  I was born at the very end of the Viet Nam war, and had a very high draft number.  I never saw military service, but have family members and close friends who did.  I have always been thankful their sacrifices for me freedom.  But I am not sure I truly appreciate it.  This was an experience that reminded me.  Thank you, to all of you who have served.

National WW II Museum
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

NOLA has rich, mixed cultural tradition, and appears readily accepting of people, cultures, ideas and freedom.  And often, in its acceptance, its humor.  I liked the humor in the “One Way” sign.

Bourbon Street; NOLA
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

There is a mix of architectural and artistic style in French Quarter.  And while Bourbon Street is perhaps the most well know by outsiders, the many streets that weave across the quarter have a great deal of unique charm and beauty.

Royal Street
French Quarter; NOLA
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

French Quarter
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

New Orleans is also known for its music. Jazz and Blues are what I mainly conjure when I think of NOLA and I was disappointed to find that 20 years after my first visit, most of the music in the bars and restaurants in the French Quarter were performing modern rock music.  I guess the shopkeepers have to stay open and in order to do so, must cater to what attracts today’s visitor.  But I would have liked to have seen more Jazz and Blues.  I can find modern rock music in almost any other venue.  The street musicians were a little more likely to be playing jazz/blues music.

Street Musicians
French Quarter
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

And of course, the occasional “second line” parade sported jazz (although I think these are more commonly seen in some of the wards outside of the French Quarter).  This was a small one that happened by us and was over very quickly.

Second Line Parade
French Quarter
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

There was art and architecture everywhere we looked.

Piano in the Window; French Quarter
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

French Quarter
NOLA
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

Architectural Detail
French Quarter
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

I just finished the latest John Grisham novel, which was set in the 1940’s.  Mostly in his home stomping grounds of Mississippi, NOLA played a substantial part, and there was mention of the Hotel Monteleone.  We did not make it, but I am told that a Martini in the bar is an experience that we should not have missed.  I shot this from a balcony bar on Halloween night.

Hotel Monteleone at night
French Quarter; NOLA
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

As seems to be a common refrain from me, this is a city I need to visit again, and spend more time when I do :-).

St. Louis Cathedral
NOLA
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

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Photographing the Michigan U.P.; Update – Iron Mountain Area

Fumee Falls
Iron Mountain, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

As I noted in my recent blog about my quick U.P. trip this fall, I did have an opportunity to scout two new areas.  The first was the Escanaba Area, and particularly, the Garden and Stonington Peninsulas, which I covered in the previous blog.  My plan was to to shoot as much as possible around the good light, but if the weather was uncooperative, to make the approximately 1 hour drive to Iron Mountain, Michigan.  Perhaps unfortunately, the weather was not very cooperative all weekend.

Fumee Falls
Iron Mountain, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

Perhaps best known these days for its provenance for nationally noted sports coaches, Iron Mountain’s welcome sign boasts of being “the “proud hometown of Tom Izzo and Steve Mariucci.” But it certainly is also world-renowned for its namesake.  At one time, Iron Mountain held one of the largest iron ore producing and processing resources in the world.  There is still a mine there, which can be toured.  While I am not sure I would consider the area a photographer’s destination, a day trip would probably be filled with opportunities.  The color in Iron Mountain was still nice, but well past “peak” when I was there in the second week of October. Escanaba is approximately 50 miles further west (from Escanaba) on U.S. 2. Being inland and at a higher elevation, this area’s probable normal “peak” is late September to early October.

Fumee Falls
Iron Mountain, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

The area is blessed with some nice natural phenomena, including rivers, waterfalls, rocky foothills, and lakes.  Just east, and outside of town, there is a roadside stop for Fumee Falls.  Fumee is perhaps the most accessible of the numerous waterfalls in the Michigan U.P.  This was my first trip to these falls.  There are two drops visible from the roadside, with a small, photogenic footbridge across the stream at the bottom of the second and larger drop.  Many years of visitor traffic has resulted in significant erosion of the original falls area, and today, viewing is restricted to the boardwalks which border the falls.  While this perhaps limits the photographer’s access, it hopefully preserves the falls for the future.  Although the light was terrible, I was able to make a couple “record images.”

Lake Antoine
Iron Mountain, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

Just to the Northeast of the downtown area, is a nice small lake, Lake Antoine.  The northern 1/2 of the city of Iron Mountain borders the west endo of the lake. There is a significant residential presence around the west side of the lake.  On the east end, is Antoine Park, a public beach, picnic and boat launch.  I found a small memorial park with a fishing pier on the way to the lake, and make a couple images.    Antione Lake Road loops around the lake and crosses U.S. 2 both to the east of and to the north of town.

Understory; Fumee Recreation Area
Iron Mountain, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

About 4 miiles east of downtown is the small community of Quinnesec.  In about 2 1/4 miles, you will come to County Road 10 (a/k/a “Upper Pine Creek Road), which goes north, to The Fumee Recreation Area. The entrance is marked, but it is a rustic sign, about 1 mile north of U.S. 2.  There is a parking lot and no motorized travel is allowed beyond. There are two lakes, “Little Fumee Lake,” and “Big Fumee Lake.”  The recreation area has several trails around both lakes, with a total of about 8 miles of trails, which are used by walkers, runners, bicyclists and horseback riders.  I walked the short trail around “Little Fumee.”  Again, the light was awful, but I could see the possibility of some nice imagery.

Fumee Recreation Area
Iron Mountain, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2018

On the county road in to the recreation area, I also found some nice farm scenery.  The shot here is on what appears to be a private road, called “Baclack Road.”

Farm near Iron Mountain, MI
Copyright Andy Richards 2018