Monday, June 30, 2008

An early evening adventure

My carpool buddy was chatting with his brother on the cell phone and I was sufficiently distracted to head down one path toward the apartment this evening after work instead of the one I intended. So I decided to shift over to the desired route via a street I had not traveled before.

This involved what I call a "New Orleans left turn" - turning right onto a divided street, proceeding for half a block, and using a turnaround (someone told me they are called "free zones" but we have not confirmed that) to make a U-turn and head in the direction one originally intended. All this because most intersections in this city have No Left Turn signs on them.

I assumed I would come to the desired parallel street.

Then I began to doubt.

We had driven a bit farther than I expected. Did we cross it on that overpass? (Yes.)

And so we found ourselves in a neighborhood hitherto unknown to either of us. We drove through lovely tree-lined streets with stately homes and others more modest but still quite nice. And we drove. And drove. We were lost, yet not really. Eventually we came back to the street we wanted, from the other side, and were back on track.

We had one of those unplanned mini-adventures and it was fun and interesting. Had I been the passenger instead of the driver, I would have been pleading for my buddy to stop so I could snap photos.

Because I always have my New Orleans street map in my briefcase and my briefcase with me, I don't worry about getting lost. Just don't ever put me in a strange city without a good map; my navigational anxiety can mount with lightning speed.

Even among these very nice homes - some of them mini-mansions, or not so mini - one could see the signs of damage and rebuilding. Nature is indifferent to our status in human society (though our status can ameliorate or exacerbate the consequences of nature's indifference).

It has been an emotionally difficult day (as the update below indicates) but it had a very nice surprise on the way home.
--the BB


Grandmère Mimi said...

I never heard the term "free zones", but I've lived away for many years. All zones are free zones for some New Orleanians, as they drive wherever the hell they want.

Where were you lost? Do you know?

Paul said...

South Broad, Fontainebleau, etc. It was fun.

Grandmère Mimi said...

OK, now I have you situated.

BooCat said...

I have tried to explain the New Orleans left turn to folk in other regions for years. It makes perfect sense to me and helped traffic flow greatly. It is so "Latin" somehow, like a lot of other things NOLA, such as the glorietta, or traffic circle. There is actually an elevated one of those where Airline Highway intersects Causeway Boulevard.

Paul said...

Ah yes, Boocat, I remember the elevated glorietta when Mimi and Grandpère and I were on our way to dinner early in May.

As someone who is loathe to hold up traffic, I have had no emotional problem with the "no left turn" approach, though until I figured out the solution provided I was logistically challenged by it. For the first few days I was just making lots of right turns and, with all the one-way streets downtown, driving about 8 blocks for every one I wanted to drive. I now get around rather efficiently but it took lots of trial and error.

Grandmère Mimi said...

It's always a challenge to me to find the proper exit ramp from the glorietta at Causeway and Airline. New Orleans is where I learned to drive, so when I'm on the regular streets and not on the Interstate, I'm usually OK.