NOLA/ALA Overview, part 1.

I toured, I tweeted, I learned, I networked, I got autographs, I worked on a Katrina victim’s house…all in a week. ALA Annual Conference in New Orleans was a wonderful learning experience (i.e. I can eat 3,000 calories a day for a week and not have a heart-attack) that has re-energized me for my work in libraries and specifically with young adults.

First, the tourist side. Shane and I landed Tuesday morning and toured my old hometown (Slidell) before doing the obligatory first-night-in-NOLA-Bourboun-Street-tour. To be honest, I was less than impressed. If I never return to Bourbon Street, it will be too soon.
Day two was the Audubon Zoo. In all the zoos I’ve been to (including my personal favorite, the Cleveland Zoo), I have never seen a baby flamingo…until now!! Seriously, how precious is he! He kept stumbling over his big feet, too. I could’ve watched him all day.

That same night Katie arrive and we experienced the corn bread muffins, alligator cheesecake, coconut bread pudding, and locally-brewed Abita Beer. We took the St. Charles Streetcar back to the French Quarter, danced in the rain as we ran to our hotel, and called it a night.

The next day was action-packed with a visit to the National WWII Museum and a ride on the Steamboat Natchez. If you are ever in New Orleans, you must do both. The museum boasts the incredible Tom Hanks-produced and narrated film Beyond All Boundaries which was an overview of the war from the late 1930s to Japan’s surrender. It is 4D and includes fog, music, props, and spot-on narration from famous actors like Gary Sinese and Blythe Danner. To be honest, the 40-minute movie brought me to tears (not like it takes much to make me cry…). The producers left out quite a bit of pertinent information, but I suppose I can forgive them because it’s impossible to cram an entire war into 40 minutes. Also, the museum itself filled in the blanks, so I got all the information, just through two different mediums.

Up next was a 2-hour ride along the Mississippi River on the Steamboat Natchez. It was a history lesson (from the boat we could see the last standing plantation home in New Orleans and we saw where the levees breeched in 2005) and a scenic tour, as we got to see a thunderstorm roll into the city. Afterwards, Shane was accosted by a homeless man claiming he could shine his tennis shoes, which he tried to do with what we *hope* was a squirt of lotion. Shane is still mad. That night we stood in line for about 40 minutes to gain entry to the acclaimed Acme Oyster House. Holy wow are we glad we did, because the char-grilled oysters, boiled crawfish, hush puppies, and pecan cobbler were so worth it! Our esteemed bartender Pamela kept us entertained and satisfied for nearly 2 hours, and we once again had to roll ourselves home.

The next morning Shane left for Virginia and Katie and I kicked-off the library side of our trip.

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