New Orleans

I've always thought that the nicest time to spend in the French Quarter is a weekday morning. The craziness of the night is (mostly) gone, there are far fewer tourists or people in general on the streets, and the morning sun highlights the area in a way that you don't see later in the day. Mornings make the Quarter feel like a real neighborhood with a history that you can almost taste. I was in New Orleans for a job a couple weeks ago, over a weekend. My flight on Monday wasn't until the afternoon so I was able to spend the morning just wandering about.

9/11 Memorial

I spent this past week working in New York and was lucky enough to have some time off to do some exploring. After a freak October snow the previous weekend, the weather had gone back to traditional fall: sunny with highs in the mid- to upper-50's. In other words, perfect weather for extended walking. Three things were on the To Do list (besides just general walking around): See the 9/11 Memorial, Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. I'd never spent much of any time in lower Manhattan so this was all new territory.

For those who don't know, the 9/11 Memorial sits (as expected) right on the site of the twin towers. The central features of the Memorial are two fountains that roughly cover the footprint of the two buildings and are surrounded by a park. And while the fountains and park are fully constructed and operating, all around the Memorial are construction projects: a museum, new office buildings, a new train station. It's somewhat surreal inside the park as it's relatively quiet, much of the outside noise muffled by the white-noise sound of the fountains, while all around are bulldozers and crains and jackhammers and construction workers. Somehow, at least aurally, the city disappears. Here's what the fountains sound like:

9-11Memorial Fountain by BobRansom

Getting in to the Memorial takes a bit of pre-planning. Tickets are free but you must register for them in advance online. HINT: If you go, book early as the tickets go fast. The soonest we could get in was 5 hours later in the day (and this was on a Wednesday in October). Once you're secured your entrance time and have a print-out from the web site, you proceed to to the ticket office to print your actual ticket. From there, you walk roughly five blocks (past the Occupy Wall Street protest at Zuccatti Park and down an alley) to the entrance.

Security at the site is, as you'd expect, seriously high. We passed through at least six checkpoints, including a full airport-style metal detector/x-ray machine, as we wound our way through the turnstiles and then out and down a closed street with construction on either side. As I mentioned before, once you're inside it's a completely different experience and worth the hassle to get there.

Brick & Glass

brick_glass.jpg The building is a local YMCA which can look nice depending on time of day and lighting. The original of this was pretty mundane. The lighting wasn't quite what it should have been, and I would have had to come back at dawn to catch what I wanted. Instead, being a firm believer in not getting up too early, I messed with it in Photoshop.