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New Orleans, day 4

My phone confuses me. One time being left on 3G tether drained it, but other times it actually charges.

Getting way more sleep than usual but still tired.

For, uh, brunch I headed straight to Mother's. Not early enough to beat the line. Had jambalaya (yum!), grits (bland) and turnip greens (okay.) Then went to cash in my ticket for the Insectarium, the US's largest insect museum and located in a courthouse. Security wasn't obnoxious, just a bag X-ray and a metal detector. Short version: I liked the museum.

Not a place to go if you're phobic, though. The first hallway has multiple human-sized models of insects on the walls. Freaked out by a grasshopper bigger than you are? Avoid. It also has lots and lots of live insects, in terrariums of course. Also a model kitchen exhibit with LOTS of roaches in it. I've seen one of those before, I want to say in London, but I have no log of it.

Random notes:
I did not see the word 'evolution' once. I did see 'evolved'. 'Adapted' was more common. No reticens about referring to fossils and extinction and hundreds of millions of years.
Mass extinctions apparently tend to pass over insects, at least at the higher taxonomic levels. One order? paleodictyoperans, died in the Permian.
Red swamp crayfish are sometimes blue. Rare in the wild, can be made pretty easily in the lab, but they don't know *why*.
Snail habitats are really diverse. Mountain, desert, rivers, oceans... pretty good for such a slow beast.
Centipedes are fast venomous hunters, millipedes are plant scavengers. The giant centipede they had possessed rather freaky legs.

There's a little session on insect cooking and eating, with a photo in the room of a girl and her cooked tarantulas that I'd swear is from Man Eating Bugs. We're told insects have a good ratio of protein to carbs to fat; land animals and fish aren't known for any carbs. I had some mealworms and crickets.

Union occupation and public works projects cut yellow fever in New Orleans, followed by a quote from a local doctor grudgingly granting that the 'tyrant' had brought marvelous benefits.

Love bugs have acidic bodies; wash them off your car fast.

Black widows are smaller than I thought; I'd also pictured them as tarantula size.
Fireflies bleed a toxin if caught. 3 million Japanese raise beetles; konchu shounen if they're boys.

Star exhibit is a butterfly garden room that's modeled on Asian gardens. It's nice even as an indoor garden, with plants and koi and blue roof with painted clouds, and lots of fearless butterflies, plus some caged Lady Gouldian finches and uncaged zebra finches. I told the guard he has the nicest museum guard job ever, he said they're rotated through in hour shifts. Also that it's not so nice when kids come in and have to be kept from touching the butterflies.


I was going to take my chances with the St. Charles streetcar/bus, but an 11 Magazine bus was *right* *there*. I hopped on, and got a ride through the shopping area of the Garden District, and on to the Audubon Zoo, while getting an impromptu tour guide from a drunk woman next to me who'd seemed to invite conversation by calling herself textlexic. Claimed to be a noir crime novel author struggling with her publisher; how New Orleansy. Can you walk across the giant bridge over the river? Hell no, I'm told. No walk, just a shoulder, and long long bridge.

I wasn't actually going to the Zoo at 4pm, but it's in Audubon Park, which I wanted to check out. It's okay. Big, maybe a 15 minute walk back up to St. Charles, but basically a walk/bike trail around a golf course and waterfowl pond. The course had a sign warning "you may be hit on the head by golf balls and die". The pond has a nursery island and a sign saying it was rare to be so close to a nursery, so that might be of interest.

North of the park are Tulane and Loyola Universities, apparently right next to each other. I think I was in Loyola. Architectures combines ornate fanciness with a brickiness that reminds me of Chicago public schools.

This time I caught the streetcar for real, and rode it to its construction imposed limits at Louisiana St., which happens to be the far-from-downtown edge of the official Garden District. Passed lots of nice houses and not many businesses. I'd guess the car has about 44 seats, as long as no one's too fat; seats are shorter than the usual two-seater. Getting off, I soon ran into Fresh Market, sort of an independent Whole Foods type place. There's an actual Whole Foods we passed on Magazine earlier. I have not encountered any normal supermarket chains, though I did find a decent market in the French Quarter the first night, plus various corner stores.

Hmm, according to one my maps, there's a Border's Book Store where Fresh Market was.

St. Charles continued to have nice houses and not much else, Prytania ditto, and I made my way down to Magazine and Washington, and turned toward Canal. I think the businesses were the other way. The bus had passed lots of shops in what I thought was the Garden District but I'm not sure where; I ran into more past Jackson, the near edge. Eventually I went back to St. Charles to catch the streetcar shuttle, which came in more than the 8 minutes it's supposed to; the Magazine bus runs every 30 so it had seemed a poor bet despite the long walk to St. Charles.

Dinner at Mother's again, crawfish etoufee with red beans and rice and potato salad. I prefer the gumbo and jambalaya. The place seems famous for its ham, debris (roast beef bits that fall in gravy) and sausage, so I ordered some sausage to go. This turned out to be several half-links, more than I expected. Figure I'll have a ham and debris po'boy tomorrow.

Again avoiding nightlife due to being tired myself, legs being tired, and my almost never doing nightlife on my own anyway. Still, I've had fun, despite all the ragging on the transit system I've done or could do. There's more museums or (with planning and patience) urban exploration I could do, but I think it's been a good visit; I'll leave kind of wanting more, rather than hating the place.

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Damien Sullivan

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