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Today was largely a free-day, with the exception of a span of time in the evening during the event Grand Opening when we had to man the booth and start spreading the good word. The Grand Opening was a total zoo, but more about that later.

Today, mostly, I had free rein to roam around the city, which I did with a right good will. In the morning, I mostly meandered around the French Quarter. I don’t know that I saw everything I’m “supposed” to see, but by golly, I saw a lot. Took pictures of a lot of what I saw, too. I think some time I’d like to come here with somebody who lives here, or has lived here before and see the spots they think are the sights to see. I should have consulted with Joel’s mom before I came, because she lived in the Garden District for some five years or so, and she’d definitely have an in on some of the more picturesque and quirky locales.

As I didn’t really have an agenda, I just roamed up and down streets, and went into side streets if I saw something nifty. I tried to get more bike photos, and did, though I didn’t snap any of the cool fixies today, though I saw a few of them in use. Generally speaking, it seems like most of the bikes that get parked on the streets are total junkers, with a few exceptions. Perhaps I will have my camera at ready the next time I see one of those pretty-wheel fixies zooming by. I did see a few pretty cool home-made customs, two of which were delivery bikes for a pizza joint, another of which may have been, or might just have been a customer or employee’s transportation.

I also saw a swing-bike made out of a couple of old junker reproduction Schwinn cruisers. It is apparently fully rideable. While I was snapping pictures of it, its owner, JT hailed me. He joked that he charges $1 per picture, then told me about his bike and the local scene. I told him about the Kansas City Hellkats. A friend of his, a man known as Stix duh Clown, invited me to a gig his band was playing tonight (and Friday) but after a full day of walking, plus an evening of boosterizing, I wasn’t really feeling up to going to a rock show, not even one headlined by a man who used to be a circus clown, and who has clown makeup tattooed to his face.

Roaming around taking pictures was so relaxing. It was great to be able to just walk around at my own pace (fast march, with frequent stops to document cool stuff) and just look around. I met back up with the group at noon, we ate lunch together, then split up again, as they were going to go on the Steamboat Natchez river tour, while I was planning to go over to the Garden District and continue walking around taking pictures. The Steamboat tour sounded like it could be pretty fun, but it cost $20, and my finances on this trip are frighteningly finite, so I opted out. As the case is, I am glad I did, because my continued walking tour was incredibly peaceful and beautiful. I had rather misunderstood the distance of the Garden District from downtown, and therefore overshot considerably—I was out to Audubon Park and walked back to the Garden District, so I did cover some very elegant territory. I’ve got my working schedule planned so that I can go back to the Garden District properly on Friday morning and do a little more sightseeing and picture-taking, but I definitely enjoyed my walk and excursion today. I also got to ride the streetcar. I rode the St. Charles line out to Napoleon St. (as far as it goes right now, though it evidently has gone and will go much further) and then caught the bus the rest of the way out to Audubon. On my way back, I walked from Audubon to 7th St., and then it started getting rather dark and a bit close to the time I was supposed to reconvene with the group to get out to the Grand Opening at the convention center. Since it’s about a 15-20 minute walk from our hotel to the convention center, and I was sweaty and altogether too casually dressed, I figured I should take the streetcar the rest of the way back in and tidy up a little.

The streetcars are darn cool. Very elegant and efficient; they run more frequently than the bus, and you can get a transfer ticket from the driver if you need to catch a bus at the end of the line, so it is very affordable at $1.25/trip. The streetcar has a very unique sound and rhythm to it, as well, and so I shot a bit of video footage of the experience. To think that in the past, pretty much all cities of any size had a streetcar system, and now practically none of them do! Damn General Motors for being so pushy with their buses.


The convention’s big Grand Opening was just an amazing crush of people. There were people charging all over the place, checking out exhibits, getting buffet food or drinks, collecting schwag, greeting people they knew from other cities, and generally just milling about. I’m not really at my best in big, chaotic crowd situations, so I started feeling a bit bug-eyed and dazed as the rushing tide of business-casual flowed around the convention center. That continual, amorphous buzz of a crowd of voices all talking simulataneously is an awfully disorienting sound for me, and I was seriously relieved when 8:00 struck and they abruptly cut the main overhead lights.

I’m now back in my room, drinking tea once again and snacking on some Wheat Thins I broke down and bought. I am glad I did, because they basically didn’t have any vegetarian food at the convention. They had a fruit-and-cheese tray which was mostly gone by the time I got there, so I got a few crackers, a couple of slices of cheese, and a handful of grapes, which is a piss-poor dinner after a full day of walking. I’m not sure what to expect tomorrow in regards to the boxed lunches we’re promised, but I am going to hope that they do a few veggie ones. And if they don’t I will just eat everything but the turkey sandwich (because I can almost guarantee it will be a turkey sandwich) That’s what they had on the plane, too.

I’ve got to do grocery shopping when I get home, and I’m looking forward to a normal, well-balanced meal at my own dining table. New Orleans many wonderful things, but a vegetarian-friendly town, it isn’t. While I’m not super-strict, nor indeed vegan, I’m not a big fish-eater, and draw the line at red-beans-and-rice which appears to be about 60% andouille.

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