Finally, the last of the New Orleans trip photos. A handful of miscellaneous pics–blackbirds in Arkansas, Jones Park in Gulfport, Abita Springs, driving across Lake Pontchartrain, the giant balcony off our room at our first hotel, French Quarter architecture, our second hotel room, (super foggy) Sunday morning beignets, and then heading north.

Somewhere in Mississippi, we saw a turtle upside down in the middle of the road. We turned around and Nat opened his door and picked it up as we passed and handed it to me, and we realized it was bloody. But alive! So we stopped the car and plopped it down a little ways from the road and it hustled off, with a big hole in its shell that I imagine is from the beak of a bird, and that’s how it got flipped over? I don’t know why I keep letting my impulses rule me when I find turtles in the road. I mean, birds need to eat, too! But the turtle lived to see another day. The Vicksburg grocery store ruins weren’t out of our way so we stopped there for a minute to switch drivers, and we drove by the Onward Store (the birthplace of the teddy bear) but it wasn’t open. I trudged us through a muddy field to get these pictures of cotton plants; a few times while driving I’d see a random plant that looked like a bunch of little sticks with white fluff splattered on them in an otherwise empty field. I’d never seen cotton growing before and it was SUPER neat. Worth the extremely muddy little flats that were not at all up to the job.
Since this is where I’m leaving some notes about the trip I’ll say: when we checked in to our New Orleans hotel Thursday evening, it didn’t seem like it was in a great area (the huge hotel/apartment complex next-door that I heard had been abandoned since Katrina was sort of unsettling) but I didn’t think a whole lot of it. That night, while we were sitting in the first of the conference talks, I got sucked into reading on my phone about how, in the last year, the district we were staying in had the most armed robbery incidents and the street our hotel was on was the scene of more armed robberies than any other street in New Orleans. I always put so much thought and energy into planning trips and I felt like a major dope for totally overlooking the safety of the area we were going to stay in for three nights.

Now (with Memphis, too), I wish I hadn’t let it get to me so much. I struggle with wanting to be open and not wanting to be naive, and I like to be prepared for anything, which can make me paranoid. In the end, it was Nathaniel’s birthday, and a trip we were going on really for me, and I wanted us to have the best time we could have, so I booked us a hotel downtown (a couple blocks from the conference hotel, so that was definitely more convenient than driving and parking). The whole trip, I had to confront a lot of issues and emotions that made me uncomfortable, which is good! Just, also exhausting. I feel like I’ve had a different perspective/been on edge about a lot of things since getting back. But it also feels like stressful things have been happening one after the other since then. So I’m crossing my fingers things calm down a bit over the next few weeks.