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Close Encounters of the Animal Kind

What’s a trip to Australia without seeing a koala or a trek in Peru without a llama? Sure, there are zoos and animal parks that bring giraffes to the Bronx and hippos to Cleveland, but, to me, there’s nothing like seeing animals in their natural habitats.

Like a lot of people in the Bay Area, I’ve been following the story of the humpback whales that have lost their way out of their natural habitat and into the waters near Sacramento. Everyone I know is really rooting for them to make their way back through the Golden Gate and to the ocean. To have whales come in such close proximity to the Governator’s office is a novelty, and the rescue effort is drawing large crowds of both locals and tourists alike.

Doing Good While Traveling: This Week In New Orleans

This weekend I was in New Orleans for Jazz Fest – it was awesome. And New Orleans is definitely able to show tourists a grand ole time – just like before. Only, well, a little different. Katrina changed the people of New Orleans as much as it changed the foundation of the land. When everyone talks about the culture of New Orleans – the music and the food and the history – this storm is now a part of all of that. Everyone you talk to has a story.

It was my first trip back post Katrina. And I wanted to learn as much as I could about how things were now. I have to say that everything I’ve read and heard about New Orleans is true. New Orleans is very much ready for tourists to return. I stayed in the W on Poydras Street – just outside of the quarter. It was vandalized and set on fire after the storm. You’d never know. I walked along the warehouse district and Magazine street is thriving. The nearby Garden District’s gorgeous homes are still standing proudly. And of course the French Quarter buzzes around the clock. Bourbon Street shows no signs of Katrina whatsoever. And yet, the city still needs help.

New Orleans Jazz Festival

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival began this past Friday and I’m completely jealous of everyone who will be able to attend. The line-up includes the likes of Ludacris, Gillian Welch, and Harry Connick Jr., plus local favorites like Rebirth Brass Band, Galactic, and the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars (regarding the latter, I can say from experience: you’ve got to see it to believe). Also, Joss Stone plays, hosts a private event, and volunteers to build homes for musicians uprooted by hurricanes Katrina and Rita.