Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Welcome to countdown to Ironman Florida 07 by Melanie

On Oct 30, 07 we arrived in New Orleans, Louisiana. Coming from Calgary, I immediately enjoyed the warm humid air. Everything is green, water is everywhere, and there are more bridges than I can count. Oh, and sea food restaurants galore. I just might get sick of shrimp!

It was my birthday, and some unexpected presents were...getting an upgrade on my second to economy plus ...lots of room, and we even had a seat in between so I could stretch out my legs on occasion. When we got to our hotel, we chose the restaurant next door which was a cool Japanese place where they cook did his art in front of us with his knife and spatula. The place was called Osaka. I had shrimp and scallops, Richard had steak of course. It was very nummy, filling, and fun.

We rented a car that make our Saturn feel like a go cart. It is a fire red Impala with a sun roof, and it doesn't even sound like a twin engine Cessna.

Today (Oct 31) we did a tour of the Stennis Space Centre where NASA tests all their rocket engines. It was extremely interesting.

I had a brief chat with the lady who gave us our bus tour and she told us about her experience having her home flooded by eight feet of water from the Hurricane and the process she went through evacuating her home, returning, and rebuilding. Her story didn't sound very pleasant and I get the impression she was one of the more fortunate victims. There is still a lot of damage in the area, bridges being rebuilt. When we went to the space center we saw before and after aerial photos of the areas hardest hit by Katrina and it was incredible to see the devastation. Glad I did not have to live through that. Yet, there are parts of the area that look like nothing happened. Today, life from a tourist looks very normal. However, was reading a local newspaper that reported the fact that insurance premiums have quadrupled since the Hurricane. Thus, a 1400 sq foot home that used to cost 1,200 a year to insure now costs about 4,200. Could you imagine.
People are all very friendly here. They use the phrases, Yes Ma'am and Sir frequently. Lots of nice white sand on all the beaches. Even got a picture of a Jelly. Now we are at Panama City Beach. It is very quiet as it is off season, but very beautiful.