Day One: On the road

— Day One -- Monday, March 20

Michelle Perry, my companion/photographer/sanity, and I arrived safely in New Orleans at 10:45 p.m. CST without complications and only minor delays.

It took no more than two steps off the plane before the air -- as thick as the Louisiana accents -- hit us.

The Louis Armstrong International Airport, once a triage for injured ones, is up and running. One of the men on our plane said it has been functioning on a regular schedule since Thanksgiving. It was a big moment for New Orleans, he said.

Unlike DIA, which is full of sports bars and chain restaurants, the New Orleans airport has jazz lounges and oyster bars. Interesting.

My first surprise greets me as we leave the airport in our rental car, New Orleans has palm trees. I don't know why I didn't expect to see those. It is too dark for us to see anything else.

We are staying with a Hayden contingent from the Hayden Congregational Church, as well as a couple from Missouri, but it's midnight when Michelle and I finally arrive at the St. Matthew United Church of Christ so we go straight to bed on our air mattresses provided. The air conditioning is running on high, and the humming sends me to sleep.

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