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New Orleans, day 3

I'm writing this at 7pm. There may or may not be a further night post.

Got up and out earlier, had seen on Google Maps an interesting food possibility nearby, but scouted the warehouse district first. Julia has art galleries, St. Charles has a streetcar, Poydras is a business street. Between them I'd think there'd be a lot of food possibilities. There were some, but they streets felt deader than felt proper, and there wasn't anything I wanted.

(Side note: it's good for the residents to have lots of variety, like Chinese and Thai and Italian. But I don't go to New Orleans to eat Thai food.)

So I ended up having circled back to the Google place, Mother's, at Poydras and Tchoupitoulas, on which latter street I am staying. The menu looked promising -- lots of Cajun/Creole foods, for decent prices (10-12, vs. 18-22), also lots of people at 12:15. For once I stood in line, and ordered Mae's Filé gumbo, with chicken and andouille sausage, and it was good. So was the bread and butter, the latter served as a slab of soft butter on the plate, not wrapped in tinfoil. I decided I very well might eat all of my meals there.

After that it was a tossup between exploration and museums, but the aquarium here was said to be really good, so I went to the Aquarium of the Americas, buying a combo ticket for the Insectarium, but leaving aside IMAX or the Audubon Zoo. And yes, I'd say it's petty good. Highlights outline: coral reef you walk through/under; Amazon river 'walkthrough' with macaws and canopy-high trees (and skylights, so I didn't miss being outside; penguins (not that unusual, also not present until December due to renovation); sea otters, including one who opens an ice treat by banging it against the window that holds all the water in; bunch of sea horses; Mississippi river walkthrough with a white alligator (leucistic instead of albino) and chained (injured?) red-tail hawk and owl; scaled down but still large oil platform structure with lots of big fish and turtles swimming around it.

I also liked a small exhibit with three spiny lobsters and a moray eel. Active crustaceans are a lot more interesting to watch than fish, as they have more and more relatable behaviors. And spiny lobsters have so many sensory extrusions you get to wonder what will happen when they bump into each other.

A sign noted how weird seahorses are. Head of a horse, tale of monkey, armor of an insect (stretching it), pouch of a marsupial (but on the male!), males give birth, color changing of a chameleon...

Electric eels give themselves cataracts from the shocks they use.

You can touch stingrays (stings removed) at one exhibit. They're slimy.

3/4 of all Louisiana fishing is centered around oil platforms. There was a model of an Atmospheric Diving Suit that can go down to 610 meters without compression or saturation diving.

Odd thing: no octopuses or relatives.

Good old anabeps, the four-eyed fish.

One drawback: fish tanks weren't always well labeled with the fish in them. So you'd see something and continue wondering what it was.

***

I staggered out, my legs falling off, around 4. I thought about a dinner river cruise, 8-10, but it's $40 for the boat and $66 for the boat+dinner. I waited for the Canal streetcar again, then gave up again and walked, hoping a fast walk would feel better than the slow roll you do in a museum. And at 1643 my head swung and saw the words "OBAMA TRIUMPH" on what turned out to be USA Today, so that's how long my ignorance lasted.

Canal Street is full of businesses until somewhat beyond Rampart (border of the French Quarter) but they mostly felt like Shops and uninteresting to me. The street is lined with many tall palm trees, cue that LA feeling again for me. I was pacing a car with loud musing for several blocks, until it got fed up and turned around; traffic away from the river was literally at a walking pace. I thought the streetcar shuttle was running over the tracks, but at some point the tracks were being worked on heavily so it must go into traffic; that would have been fun.

***

So, I'd mentioned overly exposed strip clubs on Bourbon. By that I meant, in one case I could look from the street through the door and see a girl with a bikini bottom half *off* her butt. I've also seen Asian foot massage places which are equally transparent in their way: you can look through the window and see clients getting foot massages, so I assume for once it's an Asian massage place that isn't risque. Both kinds of place could be considered transparent.

On Canal I passed a place saying FOOT MASSAGE and REFLEXOLOGY, which sound above board and clinical, but with the blacked out windows and neon signage of strip clubs. I consider this sending mixed signals. Likewise a nearby VIP Spa, advertising Exercise, Jacuzzi, Steam Bath and Body Rub, likewise with blackout. I guess all of those could be risque, except, Exercise? I did not investigate.

***

At Treme I found the actual streetcars, but Canal was looking boring, and I turned back into the French Quarter, finding Remoulade at Bourbon and Bienville. I had natchitoches meat pies and cheese fries. The stuff was good, the pastry shell was meh, I feel like I should have gone all the way back to Mother's, but ow, my feet. (The legitimate foot massage places are actually tempting.)

***

At full normal non-exploratory pace, only 15 minutes from there to the door of my hotel room, big cut down from Monday's 30 minutes. Going to Frenchman Street -- or coming back -- seems more feasible. One future is I take a nap and do so. Another future is I stay in investigating election results.

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Damien Sullivan
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