In Search Of Orangutans

About 18 years ago, Amy started attending Tulane University. In the process, she brought her newly wedded husband (me) down to Louisiana for a few years while she earned her masters in social work. A midwesterner through and through, there were parts of my stay in Metairie that depressed me. What made it bearable—and eventually endearing—was a combination of Amy, WWOZ, Xavier, food, and the Audobon Zoo.

On our anniversary, we would walk past the strip club to Crazy Johnnies, where they don’t ask you what you want but how you want the steak cooked. We would also frequent the primate area at the Zoo and watch the orangutans play. Without kids or dogs at the time, the animals (particularly those orangutans) were our adopted family. Returning to New Orleans as vegetarians rules out Crazy Johnnies, but we make a point of looking up our charges at the zoo.

Unfortunately, due to a number of factors, we’ve missed the orangutans on the past few visits. It took two tries this trip, but we did manage to find a few to watch. The actual children we have created since we moved away made it impossible to spend too much time with the primates, but it felt good to get that chance to reconnect with that part of our past.

With our family grown to five, there is a new context for exploring the city. The boys and I bonded over the heat, marveling how Amy can love it so much, let alone run in it. We enjoyed our daily walks across the street to City Park to count ducks and slide down the playground equipment. The family took a couple passes through NOMA’s sculpture garden, the second time with the boys as tour guides. Carter fell in love with the music and the art of New Orleans, and all the kids made good use of Monkey Hill. We rode the streetcars and walked another 40 minutes to get to Louisiana Pizza Kitchen for some oven-baked pizza and a chance to browse the French Market. All the while, Matilda waved to everyone.

I forgot batteries for my real camera, which left me at the mercy of my 3G iPhone. The orangutan pix didn’t really turn out, but there are a few others that sum up my brief stay down here in the Big Easy.

Re-visiting New Orleans

A big thanks to Laura and Jeff Dedelow for putting up with our brood this week, as well as our friend Jamie and her family for successfully introducing our kids to Chinese food.