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Report 2041: Driving the Great Mississippi River Road

By BJinNM from New Mexico, Fall 2012

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Page 30 of 33: Day 30-Cruising the Quarter and Cats and Beignets at Last

photo by BJ Firestone

New Orleans street scene

Today we did something we rarely do on a trip to New Orleans. We went down to the French Quarter and wandered around for hours. After the usual great breakfast prepared by Michael and Patricia at the B&B, we left and went downtown to a parking lot we know on Decatur Street. The first thing we did was walk the short distance from the parking lot to the Moon Walk. The Moon Walk is a Mississippi Riverside Walk and Park first put into place during the term of Moon Landrieu as Mayor of New Orleans, and thus the name. (At least that's how I remember it so don't all you New Orleanians attack me if I am wrong). Before it was there, I remember crossing the railroad tracks and sitting on shells on the levee watching the boats go by.

One of the main reasons we wanted to go to the Quarter was to look for a picture that Ethan and Erica wanted to buy 2+ years ago but couldn't find the artist when they went back to get it. We walked down to Jackson Square and went to where they had remembered he was set up and there he was! We were so excited. Erica and Ethan and Alan and I have been to look for him several times over the past few years so finding him was quite a success story. He had three pictures of a black cat eating a beignet, each slightly difference so we asked permission to photograph them all, sent these pictures by instant message to E and E and found out which one they wanted. While we waited for their response, we found, what else, a used book store. This one was on Chartres Street and was so much fun, musty, overcrowded, everything you would want in a used book store. Alan was looking for old sheet music and this owner referred us to another used bookstore which we will describe later. While there, E and E called, told us which picture they wanted and so we went back to get it. The artist was delighted by their continuous interest and was more than glad to pose for a picture after he had sold the painting to us. Can't wait to see it in E and E's home!

We wanted to go down to the old US Mint, which has been turned into a museum, so we started down Chartres Street. It was about 10 blocks down and it was already in the 80s temperature wise but it gave us a chance to take several pictures of the architecture in the Quarter.

We arrived at the Mint and they told us that one of the Rangers was about to have a "concert" singing songs about the Mississippi River. I have to say that this fit right into our road trip so, of course, we went to hear him. He was a voice major at the University of New Orleans and his partner in music was another park ranger who played a wicked slide guitar on a steel guitar. Afterwards we walked through the special exhibit commemorating the 50th anniversary of Preservation Hall.

We went through the old mint part of the museum also and then walked back down Chartres to Dumaine where the State of Louisiana also runs a small museum in Madame John's Legacy, one of the oldest original homes in the French Quarter. The exhibit that is currently there was Newcomb Pottery and I really wanted to see it. Seeing the inside of Madame John's Legacy was lagnaippe.

We finally at 2:30 decided to stop for lunch knowing that we were not eating tonight until 8:30. We went to the Gumbo Shop which used to be a small, one room restaurant and now is quite a operation. It was excellent though and a nice break as we sat out in the patio cooled by fans instead of air conditioning!

Having filled our stomachs, we set out for the second used bookstore. This one was in the 200 block of Decatur, again about ten blocks away. This one was such a find. It is beyond musty and crowded, books everywhere, the mandatory older gentlemen sitting drinking coffee going through the new acquisitions, definitely a place to return to. Alan did find some sheet music, Bach 2 Part Inventions, so all was right with the world. We left the French Quarter at four and got caught in some pretty bad traffic but got back to the B&B in time for Alan to nap and me to play with the pictures we took.

Tonight we are meeting my cousin Rick for supper.

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