|Having been told it wasn't safe to stay in RV Parks in New Orleans, we chose to stay on the northeast side of Lake Pontchartrain and take the 24 mile causeway into the city. The lake is the second largest salt water lake in the U.S. and only a maximum of 20 feet deep. However it is not a true lake but an estuary connecting to the Gulf of Mexico. The causeway is reportedly the longest bridge over a body of water in the world. We have been told that it was developed for shipping purposes in the 50's and 60's but has never been used for that purpose! One of those "earmarks" we hear so much about??????? It was fun to walk around the French Quarter, watching and listening to the tourists, musicians, marveling at the architecture and shopkeepers hark their wares. And to sit at the Cafe du Monde and eat piping hot beignets and cafe au lait, watch the barges and ships travel the mighty Mississippi. Even a stroll down the famous Bourbon Street was a sight to see...bar after bar, one right next to the other with different blues and jazz wafting out every door and window. Then a drive through the Garden District of grand, old historic and Victorian homes worth millions of dollars. A stroll through the Saint Louis Cemetery #1 in the heart of the city listening to Walter, our guide tell us unique stories about those buried there. It is the oldest and most famous of the cemeteries in New Orleans and was started in 1789 where all the graves are vaults totally above ground. According to Walter they all have a huge hole that goes below ground that is lined with cement. One vault about 8 feet high will hold 175 bodies. The walls of the cemetery also serve as vaults to save space. Walter told us that no vault can be opened for 1 year and 1 day after it is sealed because it takes that long for the body to decompose. If a family member dies before the year is up, they are kept in "rented condos" in the cemetery until the year has passed. He told us that the bodies are wrapped in thin cotton fabric and laid on a cotton hammock that is sealed in the vault. There is no cremation in New Orleans as the vaults reach over 350 degrees and cremation takes place naturally over the one year period. While it is true that most people are buried in vaults due to the high water table, it is also a French and Spanish tradition. It is our understanding there was no hurricane damage in the French Quarter or Garden District and only about 4 inches of water in the cemetery. Many of the vaults are kept up because the families have set up trusts with the church to take care of them. However there many in decay. More pictures will be posted on my Facebook page of downtown New Orleans.