THE FIRST DAY OF SPRING, BLUE SKIES AND SUNSHINE. WHAT COULD BE BETTER? Well, spending it in New Orleans is pretty good. Last night it rained and today is beautiful, just a little cool and very breezy. We have not been here since January 2005 so it will be interesting to see what has changed since Katrina.

Yesterday after leaving Mobile, Alabama we went south to Dauphin Island, a tiny, sandy, dot in the Gulf of Mexico. A long, thin strand of highway bridges the gulf between mainland and the island. The main portion of the island is not more than a mile or more across, while the west end is about a 3 mile long, narrow spit of sand, maybe a quarter of a mile wide. I understand the attraction to beaches and wanting a place at the beach, but out here with exposure to hurricanes, this is crazy.

There were a couple hundred or so of these houses. My favorite one is below. The sand is very white and not a lot of dune grass to hold it in place.

At the east end of the island is Fort Gaines, established in 1821 for the defense of Mobile Bay. I found this Tradescantia (hirsutiflora, I think) growing in the sand. I have two varieties of tradescantia growing in my garden. It is a slow spreader.

After our return to the mainland, we drove west to New Orleans arriving about 4:30. Checked into our favorite, The Hotel Richelieu. We have been staying here since our first trip in 1990. And dinner at Coop’s Place for gumbo and rabbit and sausage Jambalaya.

Looking west from the balcony of the Richelieu

Tomorrow  Tom’s conference begins and I am on my own. New Orleans is the one place where I actually like to shop and window shop. There has always been such a variety of shops and merchandise to look at, from antiques and fancy silver ware to cool and quirky art and jewelry.  Not to mention the flea market at the French Market, a collection of STUFF of all kinds: souvenirs, crappy jewelry, knock-off  bags, mardi gras junk and more junk. Pictures to follow tomorrow.

One of the biggest decisions each day is where to eat. There are so many great restaurants here,  from cheap to expense account joints.