Nola Diary #7 – A NoLa Secret – Old U.S. Mint free Jazz concerts

Would you like to know about a well kept secret spot on the edge of the French Quarter? Well, I found one: the Old U.S. Mint building near the French Quarter Flea Market is holding regular jazz concerts for free in their new beautiful state of the art performance space on the 3rd floor.

This building’s upkeep is sponsored by the state of Louisiana in conjunction with the National Park Service. Yes, you read that right – the building is a part of our national treasures in the U.S. National Park system. The park is called the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, and it might just be the only national park in the country dedicated to a uniquely American musical art form – and I couldn’t be more thrilled to have stumbled upon it.

Today I saw a one hour jazz piano presentation along with a ragtime and jazz history talk by Steve Pistorius which was a lot of fun. They have other concerts planned with Jim Hession, Phillip Manuel and the park rangers themselves who also play jazz. You can pick up a schedule of performances either at the U.S. Mint building, or at the Jean Lafitte National Park location at 419 Decatur Street.


Steve Pistorious tells us about Ragtime beside the new Baby Grand piano in the beautiful perfomance space on the 3rd floor


Photos: Memories of Mt Rainier National Park

Along the trail - the lush greens of Mt Rainier Natl Park

When I visited Mount Rainier I encountered snow and rain in late May, early June. That didn’t stop me from taking a hike though, and the lush greens of the mosses and pines were enhanced by the weather. This particular tree was had such an interesting root structure, I grabbed a shot.

Snow Bank - Paradise Inn - Mt Rainier - June 2011

Did I mention there was snow at Paradise Inn? Yeah, there was. 25 foot snow drifts edged the parking lot of the famous Mount Rainier lodging. The morning I awoke there, it was snowing lightly. The staff estimated the snow wouldn’t melt until late July.

A Fox in Paradise

It was just me and this beautiful black fox in the Paradise Inn parking lot in Mount Rainier National Park at dusk when I took this photo. The snow banks were too high for him to climb so he did what any sly fox would do – he took a shortcut.

Fallen Giant - Mt Rainer NP

Mount Rainier and the surrounding Wenatchee National Forest are gorgeous areas and fun to explore. I didn’t spend as much time there as I wanted to…but if I go back I’ll have a decision to make – should I go in July and August and see the beautiful Alpine flowers and battle huge crowds of tourists, or will I go in an off-peak time and continue to deal with whatever cards Mother Nature has in the deck?

Photos: Memories of the Grand Canyon

After the storm clears – Grand Canyon

The trip I took to the Grand Canyon in December 2010 was beautiful but the weather didn’t cooperate as much as I would have liked. On the very last day I spent there, the clouds finally broke and showed a bit of sunshine.


Formations in light and shadow

Photos: Memories of Grand Tetons National Park

The majestic Grand Tetons

If you’re ever in Jackson Hole Wyoming, I highly recommend a visit to Grand Tetons National Park.

So what I’m actually saying is, if you are planning a trip to Yellowstone National Park, you should plan to take a full day out of your schedule and see the Grand Tetons. The Tetons abutt Yellowstone, and their jagged cliffs tower over the valley floor. Also, wildlife viewing in the Tetons is as good as Yellowstone too. There are plenty of elk, wolves, bear, moose, deer and other large game.

Miss Moose has a snack

For example, I caught a picture of this moose who wandered up to the edge of a field right next to Jackson Lake Lodge, where I was staying when I visited the area. She calmly walked around to find the tastiest green shoots to eat as a group of us gleefully snapped tons of pictures of her.

Herd of Elk


Photo: Zion Landscape – All the President’s Men



All the President's Men

Zion National Park, Utah is a gem of a National Park. It’s made up of the most amazing striated rock landscapes, including this one, which I caught with the light and shadows illuminating it just wonderfully.



Photo: Pine Tree in the Mist – Mount Rainier National Park

Pine Tree in late May snow storm on Mt Rainier
This is one of my favorite images from my trip to Mount Rainier National Park in late May 2011. I stayed at the Paradise Inn for an evening, and when I woke up the next morning, it was snowing. I threw my window open and leaned out into the snow to capture this image. Within an hour the snow stopped, but at the moment this picture was taken, it was a magical feeling.
The Paradise Ranger Station is the snowiest location in the United States for all 50 states. Yes that also includes Alaska.
The rest of my pictures from my PACIFIC NORTHWEST trip can be found on my Shutterfly site: