Vacation ’12, part 2C: New Orleans, concluded.

And now for the last few good pictures I took in New Orleans.

The next morning we went to the National World War II Museum. This museum is in New Orleans because of one Andrew Jackson Higgins, whose company designed and built an overwhelming majority of naval craft in World War II, most of which were the large landing craft pictured below.

An M1 Howizter, 75 mm:

A .30-caliber water-cooled Browning:

An M3 Half-Track. Wheels in the front, treads in the back:

An M3A1 “Stuart” light tank:

An M4A3E9 medium tank… the “Sherman”:

And hanging from the ceilings were three planes that saw real-life action in World War II. In the corner of the ceiling nearest the entrance, presumably on loan from the RAF, was a Spitfire. These were the planes that flew against the Luftwaffe in the Battle of Britain.

A Douglas C-47 “Skytrain” was suspended from the center of the ceiling. This particular plane saw action in the war, then bounced around from country to country and company to company before finding a home at this museum.

And in the corner opposite the entrance was a dive bomber, an SBD Dauntless also made by Douglas. According to the volunteers at the museum, this particular plane had spent some time in Lake Michigan, in the sense that it had to be fished out at one point. The volunteer said there were something like 100 planes still in the lake from wartime training accidents.

And here’s my attempt at getting all three in the same shot, if not all in frame:

Some wartime posters in one of the upstairs exhibits:

Outside are a few relics of the Nazi defense: a single-person bomb shelter and a piece of the Atlantic Wall. The shelter is a tight fit, and has a small horizontal slit on the far side for looking at whatever’s coming.

After lunch at a soda shop (huge sandwiches), we headed to the nearby Confederate Museum where, sadly, photography was not permitted. There was plenty of neat stuff in there, but what stood out most were the field medical kits. The dental kit didn’t look too much different from the ocular surgery kit, and they both looked like miniaturized versions of the amputation kit. There was also a beautiful hand-carved set of wooden chess pieces; I wish a replica set had been available for sale. Oh well.

Actually, what struck me most was how small the uniforms were. You humans must’ve gotten a lot bigger in the last 150 years or so.

Got back to the hotel. Looked out the window, and either God finally erased New Orleans, or there was an anomalous static warp bubble experiment, or there was a really, really bad storm.

On the last day of the trip, we visited a War of 1812 battlefield. There wasn’t much there, frankly: a levee, a plantation field, a hollowed out mansion, and a memorial that resembled the Washington Monument.

Apparently the monument was designed to be another fifty feet taller, but the ground is soft enough that such a tall, narrow building would’ve sunk. They capped it at around one hundred feet.

The best thing to come of the visit to the battlefield was a brief bus tour, during which the guide gave a bit of useful knowledge about the Battle of New Orleans. The battle took place weeks after the Treaty of Ghent was signed, the Treaty called for a return to the status quo ante bellum (i.e., return of all captured territories), and so most history texts claim that the Battle wouldn’t have affected the outcome of the War of 1812. I always thought that was nonsense– there was no way the Brits would give back New Orleans once they’d taken it, treaty or not. Well, sure enough, the tour guide pointed out that the Treaty explicitly permitted hostilities up through ratification, so if the Brits had taken New Orleans, they simply wouldn’t ratify the Treaty of Ghent, and thus wouldn’t be bound to return anything to the US. Since they lost the Battle, they were more than happy to ratify the Treaty. That makes the Battle of New Orleans a lot more important than some texts suggest.

So I learned that.

The last stop before heading home was some plantation; the name escapes me. The weather was miserable, the lighting was poor, I got no good pictures, the tour guide was obnoxious, and the stories were forgettable.

There was plenty more to be seen in this little berg, but time had run out on this trip. We got in one last terrible dinner at some seafood place and then hopped on the bus for the 11-hour ride back.

New Orleans struck me as one of those towns that’d be pleasant in the winter, like a Charleston or a Savannah. Not as many tourists, not as many bugs, not as much humidity, not too hot, not too cold. All in all, twas a nice getaway.

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