NOLA Day #5: And then there was one…really great day

Final day in New Orleans – about 3 hours of sleep overnight – and I realized there would be a little change of plans. Well, not really because my plan on day five was to go to the National WWII Museum, and then just to possibly buy a Mardi Gras mask and entertain myself without a plan. The little change of plans was an alarm tone in which I realized I still had Chelsea’s (see my previous post) phone. It was locked, though; Getting the phone back to her before I left was obviously the reasonable thing to do, but I struggled to figure out what to do. Eventually, I found her on Facebook and sent a message that I, in fact, had her phone and would take it with me throughout my day. We’d figure out a mutual time to do the handoff before I left the next morning.

Right about that time, I scrolled through my twitter feed and saw that a really high-quality pub in town had posted during the night that they had several beers on tap which I wanted to try. I had forgotten about this pub, but I guess it was smart I followed them on twitter earlier in my trip. The beers they put on tap this morning were literally bucket list beers and the exact beers at the top of my “beers I would love to find” list. They are absolutely nowhere to be found in the Pacific Northwest and probably much of the country, in general. So I began my journey – walking to the French Quarter, across the French Quarter, and to where the streetcar line goes up St. Claude Ave.

Sandwich board outside a coffee shop

Sandwich board outside a coffee shop

Monday morning must be the wrong time if you need to get on the streetcar going uptown because I walked well over a mile and a streetcar never passed me. The weather was still beautiful so my plan was that I would keep walking toward the pub rather than standing and waiting in the sun for the next streetcar. If one happened to come along as I was walking, I’d jump on. I really did want to take the streetcar. According to my phone’s walklogger, I walked/ran something like 34,000 steps yesterday. I arrived at the pub, went in, and it almost looked closed – very empty, dark. I sat at the bar and at 11am, there were two other people drinking and one was soon to arrive. I think the bartender assumed we were all there for this special delivery and gave us the menu. I’ll withold comments on the specific beers because that’s not really important here. I did order food as well because I knew the beers were high in alcohol and I hadn’t had breakfast or any snacks since dinner last night. Oddly, I was told to walk about 10 feet over to the other side of the bar to order food from the chef who was standing there; I’m not sure why one can’t order food at the bar considering it was delivered to me at the bar.

In any case, I eventually left – it was a pretty quick visit – and began walking back. Again, I made it all the way back to the end of the streetcar line without one passing me. I was at the National World War II Museum. It’s about $23 admission plus a bunch of optional extras. That’s much more expensive than other tourist draws in the city but it is the national museum, one of the few outside Washington D.C.

The leaders

The leaders

I thought the movie was really well done, though honestly I went through quicker than I usually go through museums. As much as I like museums, I wasn’t really in the mood. I just did it because I hadn’t done it yet and it seemed like something I should do. In terms of museums, though, I liked it. I didn’t see much really interactive, but I guess it’s a history museum, so that’s OK. Lots of exhibits – scenes, rather, with actual gear, informational signs, video screens. I like those areas best through many people look forward to the gallery where actual tanks and planes are in view. In summary, I’m really not sure that I actually learned a single new piece of information, but since I’m very interested in the topic, the visit was well worth it.

Tanks and planes

Tanks and planes

As I was leaving, I noticed Chelsea had responded to my SOS, so to speak, and since I was right by a taxi stand, we agreed the best option was for me to drop the phone off at her place. Throughout the trip, I’ve taken taxis multiple times and have stuck to a company called United Taxi. Incidentally, Chelsea told me that is the company to choose because they are local and…I think there was another reason I forget. Anyway, this company’s cabs were not coming by the taxi stand. I’m all for brand loyalty so I kept waiting maybe ten minutes and then called the company for a pickup. It’s not like there was a continuous backlog of taxis waiting at the stand, but one would come by maybe every 5 minutes. I could have easily picked one up right away, but I waited for United. After 30 minutes, I called again. It’s obviously ridiculous to wait so long for a cab in front of a major museum but I waited 15 more minutes and then, since there were no cabs of any type around, I started walking in the right direction. I wasn’t actually planning to walk the whole way but I figured I’d flag down a taxi pretty quickly. Well, I got to one of the main streets near the French Quarter with no luck and was getting frustrated so I asked a bellman where I could easily get a taxi, not being a hotel guest. He pointed to the fancy hotel across the street and pointed out that there was a taxi stand next to it. I thanked him, walked right over, and there was a line of cabs. Not United, and truthfully I didn’t like the experience as much, the driver’s license looked to be expired, but it got me where I needed to be.

It was about 5pm when I arrived, reconnected with my tour guide soon after, gave her the phone, and she suggested we get dinner. Great idea. We headed out toward the tourist center, basically back toward the area where I was staying and the area I had come from. I think it was less than a mile to get to some dining options, but first she took me to a local park. It was pretty fascinating because as we entered there were some people in a circle practicing some songs. Without being disrespectful, I can’t say if they were witches, if it was some kind of magic, I don’t think it was voodoo… but we headed to some benches and a tree swing at the back of this (maybe one acre) park and chatted and relaxed. One of the topics was that chanting group. The conversation wasn’t especially detailed – if that’s not your religion you wouldn’t know the details – but the topic was more about the prevalence of various faiths and practices, not just in New Orleans but especially in this particular neighborhood. She suggested I go talk to them, personally, to have my questions answered, but it made me a little uncomfortable because I wasn’t entirely sure I wouldn’t be interrupting them. So, we relaxed back there until it got dark and when the mosquitoes decided I was tasty, we left for food.

the park. pre-sunset

the park. pre-sunset

We walked, chatting, and actually got back to the French Quarter with some food ideas in mind. We got a little distracted talking to some street performers/acquaintances of hers, listening to music, etc., and being a little indecisive about food options to the point where the restaurants she wanted me to try for the full NOLA dining experience were closing, even for takeout. So, we walked back in the direction we had come from to a great choice called the Franklin Lounge. It’s an establishment that is unassuming¬†from the outside but really nice, again I’m going to use “Portlandy” on the inside. Beautiful colors, a nice drink menu, and a farm-to-table approach. We got some kind of salad, a fresh toro (tuna belly) dish, some great drinks, and it was just a really enjoyable end to my trip. We walked back to her residence complex, and I was honored to get a tour of Josh Hainey’s studio, the artist of the print I purchased yesterday; he lives/works in the same complex. Ultimately the two of us chatted a little while longer, it’s so touching to hear her perspective on the city she loves, but this conversation involved the negative aspects. Almost on cue, we heard a series of gunshots in the distance, and it was time for her to call me a cab. We said our goodbyes and I returned back to my lodging just after midnight, prepared to stay up the remaining hours for my taxi ride to the airport at 4:30am. I sat around thinking, reflecting, writing, processing until I knew I needed to pack my bags. At 4am!

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