There was a brief but violent downpour on Wednesday morning, the only time it rained any noticeable volume during our time in New Orleans, but luckily we were in a coffee shop fuelling up when it started and ended.
|The house of Archie Manning, the former NFL quarterback and father of fellow quarterbacks Peyton and Eli.|
Things had cleared up by the time we got on a Gray Line bus to take us to the Garden District, where we began a two-and-a-half-hour walking tour of what was formerly the "American" part of the city in the 1800s. The houses were different, but just as impressive, and embraced more Greek Revival and Italianate stylistic flourishes than the French Quarter. We passed the former and/or current homes of Anne Rice, Trent Reznor, Archie Manning, Nicolas Cage, John Goodman and others, as well as the house where Jefferson Davis died in 1889. We also explored the Lafayette Cemetery and learned about New Orleans burial practices in the above ground cities of the dead.
The guide and the rest of the people on the tour took the Gray Line bus back to our starting point, while mom and I ordered a tasty Po Boy at a nice little restaurant on Magazine Street before catching a city bus to the end of the line at the Audobon Zoo.
It's billed as one of the top five zoos in the United States, and we were definitely impressed by everything it had to offer. We spent the afternoon walking around the different themed areas of the complex, including the Asian domain, the aviary, the South America pampas, the Louisiana swamp, the African savanna, the sea lions and the reptile house. There was an extensive variety of animals, and they seemed to have room to move around in their environments.
|Audobon Zoo alligators|
|Audobon Zoo white tigers|
For our final dinner in New Orleans, we stayed on Chartres in a building from the 1700s that now houses Pierre Maspero's Food and Spirits -- which I found out later has the same ownership as La Bayou, where we dined earlier in the week. The blackened redfish I had the night before was so good that I ordered it again, and was just as pleased. And the Abita Christmas Ale that I had with it kept me festive for later in the evening.
I decided to check out Frenchman Street again, and dropped into a few clubs to see what was happening. I stayed at Apple to see Andre Bouvier and his band play a solid mix of blues, rock and Cajun music. Checkpoint Charlie's (a bar and laundromat combination) was full of local punks and old drinkers and an act from Charleston, S.C. called Megan Jean and The KFB, which played roots music with occasional rockabilly and old jazz influences.
A $5.25 Hurricane got me back to Tropical Isle, where I finished its trifecta of strong cocktails by having a Horny Gator and a Tropical Itch. They also came in novelty glasses like the earlier Hand Grenade, and all three are now sitting in my kitchen window acting as a beacon.