One for the Road: Down in New Orleans

Last year during the holidays, I was down in New Orleans with some members of my family, participating in a week-long service trip. We gutted homes, discussed human rights issues, and listened to residents who were willing to share their stories — of hope, anger and frustration. We ended our week by spending New Years Eve downtown, celebrating what is good about the city, and what is surviving, despite all the problems.

A variety of books on post-Katrina New Orleans continue to surface, and I chose this one to mention today, since NOLA has been on my mind. Down in New Orleans: Reflections from a Drowned City is Bill Southern’s story of his own evacuation to Mississippi, and subsequent return to his damaged home. Southern is a lawyer-activist who moved to New Orleans four years before the storm. He “offers a powerful vision of what Katrina has meant to New Orleans and what it still means to the nation at large.”

One thing I learned during my week in “The City that Care Forgot” is that the significance of Katrina should matter to all of us. I find it too hard to summarize my own thoughts on this topic in a short post. So I’ll leave it at this: Just remember. Remember what happened. And keep remembering. Read a book about someone’s perspective on post-Katrina New Orleans. Or go visit for yourself. It’s a city with problems, that’s for sure. But it is still a city, with plenty to do and see, and lots of opportunities for those who want to help.

One for the Road: Ghost Hunter’s Guides

Calling all paranormal adventurers — ready for a Halloween ghost hunt?
Cardiology specialist and ghost hunter Jeff Dwyer’s latest guide reveals details about over 70 haunted hangouts around the Crescent City. The Ghost Hunter’s Guide to New Orleans provides historical background on the spooky stories that have made these locations legendary.

But no fears or frets if NOLA is not on your Halloween travel agenda. Ghost-lovers in Los Angeles and San Francisco can do hunting as well, using Dwyer’s guides to those cities. Folks who might be up for hunting goblins in between sips of chardonnay will want to pick up his Ghost Hunter’s Guide to California’s Wine Country, due out next year. (A guide to haunted locales in Seattle is forthcoming as well.) Whether or not you believe in the paranormal, these guides might be fun to have if you are traveling to these cities this Halloween season, or on any family vacation when you want to spook the heck out of your Aunt Martha.

Bonus for California residents: You can actually join up with Dwyer for ghost hunts taking place on Saturday, Oct. 13 at Acres of Books (1 pm) and Under the Bridge (5 pm). And he’ll be signing books at the Winchester Mystery House in San Jose on Oct. 27 (6 pm). Boo!