This picture was taken a few days after Christmas a couple of years ago. The site is Big Lake, the path that encircles the pond, not really a lake, adjacent and to the left of the New Orleans Museum of Art.

Once, the pond was part of what was the park’s old South golf course; however, under the post-Hurricane Katrina remodeling, and according to the designs of the park’s Master Plan, Big Lake’s borders have been turned into a recreation area. People walk, jog, skate and, in rare cases, drive miniature police cars throughout the day.

My own routine is to park at the boathouse area across from Christian Brothers School. From there I walk the lake’s path, which is three-quarters of a mile long. Along the way there are gradual variations in elevation and lots of visual varieties including native plants, frequently a flock of Canada Geese and occasional pelicans diving into the lake. Near the museum is a bridge, which is good for turtle-spotting by looking near where the tree roots reach the water.

If you want to stretch the trek to a mile, once you get to the bridge go around the lagoon next to it, making the circle past the Girl Scout cabin and then alongside the museum and back to the Big Lake path.

(For some reason, I always go clockwise around the lake, though I’m usually the only one. Big Lakers are a counter-clockwise crowd.)

On some days the fleet of pedal boats at the boathouse is out in force, but no ship at sea is more striking that the Venetian gondola that’s hired, usually later in the afternoon, mostly for special occasions. I have been known to stand on one of the bridges, watch the gondola glide slowly under it and tell the passengers on board that Venice is over there, pointing to the east. It turns out they already knew that.

If you haven’t tried Big Lake you should. It is a special place. Just watch out for the police. They come in different sizes.

Hyatt French Quarter Opens
After $20 Million Update
800 Iberville St., 586-0800,

Few can deny that $20 million hotel renovations are a sign of city resurgence. So we’re glad to tell you about the reincarnation of the old D. H. Holmes Department store on Canal Street. A few months ago it reopened as the Hyatt French Quarter. A city block from Bourbon Street, it offers all the conveniences of a modern hotel, such as MP3 players in every room. Its décor is traditional New Orleans style delivered in a contemporary way. The same is true of the restaurant Powdered Sugar Market and the bar Batch where handcrafted cocktails will be enjoyed.

– Mirella cameran


First-Class Neurological Care in the Gulf South
The Advanced Neurodiagnostic Center in New Orleans 2905 Kingman St., Metairie, (866)820-0780,

Suffering from headaches, back pain, or memory problems? You might want to consider The Advanced Neurodiagnostic Center in New Orleans, a one-stop shop for expertise in neurological and neuromusculoskeletal conditions. It offers comprehensive neurodiagnostic testing for patients, which detects conditions based in the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord). Both types of neurodiagnostic testing: imaging and scans (e.g. x-ray, CT, MRI, PET scans) and electrical impulse testing detection (e.g. EEG, EMG) are conducted. Board-certified physicians diagnose and treat a range of issues. The Advanced Sleep Center can help with all sleep problems from insomnia to Restless Leg Syndrome.

– Mirella cameran