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What to do in New Orleans this September

September in New Orleans

by Jerf

Summer is over.  You spent the last month squeezing the blood out of it, trying to make your August count.  Falling in love, swimming in the lake, late night stories by the fire swatting mosquitos, walking outside in your underwear to get the mail….the iconic seasonal past-times.  Maybe you went to the state fair, ate corn dogs and funnel cakes and then later spewed your food selection onto strangers heads below while nervously waiting atop the ferris wheel.  Did the ride break?  Is this normal?  Is the ride attendant drinking and drugging?  …probably so.  Anyway, you spent all year trying to accomplish the summer beach bod that never came to be, and even if it did, the urgent, sun-burn fueled appetite for fun and excess has left a trail of crumbs to the mirror front of which you hunch before, reflecting back a gaze of disappointment.  Summer is a beautiful contradiction.  Its what you look forwards and backwards to…always wishing you would have made more of that allotted time under the sun.

But I have great news for you!  There is another season directly following summer!  A superior season, especially down here in the Southern United States, but especially, especially here in New Orleans.  In fact, we do not care for the season of summer whatsoever… It’s hot, its humid, it’s slow, it’s violent… the drinks refuse to stay cold, and the clothes on your back refuse to stay dry.  In contrast, autumn is the beginning of something magical in this city.  “Down here, it’s our time” ..to quote The Goonies.  Resembling the dynamic of the first snow melt of spring after a long northern winter, the people and dogs of New Orleans find their way out of hiding and back to the streets and swamps of their beloved home place.  Around town, things begin to vibrate again..people gather and joy reenters the paint of old buildings.  Below, a list of a few activities I recommend during September.

Southern Decadence

While the annual LGBTQ celebration in New Orleans technically starts in August,  The Decadence Festival wraps up, in a beautiful display of color, love and acceptance on the 2nd of my favorite month. New Orleans is a city of celebration to say the least.  One of these celebrations began quite inauspiciously in August of 1972, by a group of friends living in a ramshackle cottage house at 2110 Barracks Street in the Treme section of New Orleans, just outside of the French Quarter. It was in desperate need of repair, and the rent was $100 per month.  At any given time the residents numbered anywhere from six to ten, and it was still sometimes difficult to come up with the rent.  The occupants of the house decided to crowd source funding and so, southern decadence was born.  To me, it’s especially beautiful in a state with such a long history of oppression and prejudice towards the fringes and minorities of society, to see such a wonderfully flamboyant celebration of just that.

Kayak tour through the bayou

I’m convinced that the most unique landscape this country has to offer is hiding down here in southeastern Louisiana.  Down here, where the Mississippi runs to the sea, land and water are differently defined, finite and often times amorphous.  This is the land of the Bald Cypress, the cement and life of the delta ecosystem.  Kayaking is becoming the popular mode of exploration through these areas because of its non-motorized faculties.  No motor means no noise to disrupt the wildlife or quiet of the experience.  Alligators, owls, turtles, deer, armadillo, and feral pigs are common sitings in southeastern swamplands.  If you are looking for a peaceful but adventurous ecotour of the Louisiana bayou,  Nola Kayak Tours is the best outfitter and guide service in the country.  The comfortable and sturdy two seater kayaks are the ideal vessel for beginner and novice paddlers alike.

City Park Sculpture Garden

Continuing the outdoor theme, City Park in New Orleans is one of the most impressive urban parks in the states.  Its most imposing and remarkable feature is most certainly the FREE sculpture garden in the heart of the park.  The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden occupies approximately eleven acres in City Park adjacent to the NOCA museum. Atypical of most sculpture gardens, this garden is located within a mature existing landscape of pines, magnolias and live oaks surrounding two lagoons. The garden design creates outdoor viewing spaces within this picturesque landscape. Conceived in 2003, the Besthoff Sculpture Garden doubled in size in 2019 and has grown from its inception to include more than 90 sculptures, most of them donated to NOMA by the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Foundation.  Check it OUT!

I have kept the list short as there are millions of things to do and I dont want to overload your possible selection. It is sometimes best to just go with the flow when you are on vacation. Dont be like my mother.. cramming in activities that nearly overlap, strangling the vacancy out of your free time and not allowing even a thought of freeform, exploratory non-construct. One of my favorite activities…Grab a camera, leave your phone at your hotel or preferred accommodation, and just walk around…notice the colors and patterns of the area… take beautiful pictures. Take a break for a double shot of espresso and then keeeeeeeep walking and looking my friend. You will notice a weightless feeling as you mechanically touch your pocket, caressing for the shape of your familiar phone to find it not there. Where did it go? …ahh I did this on purpose. Life rewards you with the notification “you have spent 2 hours off instagram today” Doesn’t that feel nice? My tip, spend more time on your next vacation exploring and walking and actually looking around instead of feeling the need to capture the moment for an online audience of acquaintances. Dont let your memories go completely digital.

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