A Lovely Saturday Morning in Almería

I slept the sleep of the dead (my room is pitch black and dead quiet if the wind isn’t blowing!), waking up at just shy of 10 this morning. Well, there went my plans to get on an “early” (9:30) bus to town! But, hey, this is Spain and things move slowly and I wasn’t going to let myself be rushed by this change of plans. 🙂 I made the 10:30(ish) bus with the plan to get partway to town and then walk along the Malecón.

I keep forgetting to mention that I live near the university, with the presence of a university being another reason I like Almería as a potential Spanish home should I move here.

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I got off at the senior citizens home, which, like in French, is called a “home for those of the third age.”

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It was supposed to be sunny today and good Malecón walking weather. At least, it wasn’t windy and the temperature was comfortable!

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First stop was a shop to see if they had boots and a coat. Yes, but nothing I wanted. I need to shop in earnest for these items before I leave for Amsterdam as they will be much less expensive here, plus I’d rather land there with season appropriate clothes, never mind that I can actually describe to shopkeepers here what I want! There are a few used clothing stores that I am going to make a point to visit for the coat. And, yes, I should have no problem finding what I want here. I’m going to temps hovering above freezing so I’m not even looking for lined boots, just something leather that I can waterproof.

I had had only coffee at home and my tummy was growling when I came out of the store, so I went to the café right next door for sustenance. No complaints about breakfast in this part of Spain! 🙂 It was only 1.90 euros!

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View from breakfast.

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And then off I went towards downtown Almería.

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Here’s an example of how you can make an area look better than it is if you select the right camera angle. So rather ugly with those light posts:

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And rather paradisal without!

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Interesting apartment building.

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This “Indian” restaurant had a really varied menu! They do have Indian (Hindu) food on the right-most part of the menu, but they also have pasta, falafel, pizza, and chicken fingers.

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Love the name of this ice cream parlour/café.

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Looking back the way I came.

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The water was so clear!

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Can you see the lighthouse in the distance?

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How about now?

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Nearly there, I found some lovely flowers.

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At the “nautical club,” I found this interesting subterranean entrance.

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There’s another one.

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And another!

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This bridge leads to the “English Cable” (ore dock).

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On the yellow entrance, I got some answers! They are entrances to parking garages. Quite a lot of instructions for getting to your car between midnight and 7AM. You can only enter at that time through the blue and green entrances.

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I really like that brick bridge.

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Rather sudden stop for the railway line!

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Saddest forest I’ve ever seen… 🙂

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The English Cable from beneath it.

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Here’s the defunct Gran Hotel Almería.

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The name of it tickles my fancy since I’m a fan of the Spanish show “Gran Hotel” and have been frustrated to not find the last season with (Spanish) subtitles. I got through the first two seasons without any issue, but I’m still not at the point where I can handle Spanish-language audio without the aid of subtitles, which can be in Spanish. I’m just more of a visual person. Anyway, this was a reminder to go search again as I was left on a cliff hanger!

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The city was starting to be decorated for the holiday season.

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The art museum was open and I had time to visit the exhibit about fashion at the time of Queen Isabel I (late 15th, early 16th century — the time of Christopher Columbus). Entry was 3 euros.

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Can you believe this was a mere lady-in-waiting’s outfit?

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All the informational placards were in Spanish only and I learned a lot of new vocabulary! My dictionary app got quite a workout. Most of the clothes in the exhibit were made of silk and/or cotton.

This dress belonging to a sultana was my favourite of the entire exhibit. Just love the teal with the purple and lime green (same colour scheme as my Isla casita my last winter there!).

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More Moorish outfits.

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Armour with a magnificent cloak.

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More armour.

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I saw some original 16th century documents signed by Carlos I himself regarding repairs to the fortress of Alcazaba after the earthquake of 1522. And other document that let me see the signatures of the “Catholic kings.”

The next room in the exhibit had clothes related to the court of Isabel I.

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Why don’t we dress so beautifully anymore?!

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I could see myself in this “simple” lady-in-waiting’s dress.

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Queen Isabel’s coronation gown.

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I learned that Queen Isabel like bright colours, stiff fabrics like taffeta, and also favoured brocades.

The final room was about the world of Isabel.

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Love these knitted leggings. They seem to be in what I know as “point de sillon,” which is knit two, purl one.

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Isabel’s mourning (luto) gown.

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The dress she wore for her wedding to Ferdinand of Aragon.

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Her books of prayers (rezos — told you I was learning a lot!).

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I learned that the Catholic kings got control of Almería and forced out Muslims who would not convert.

Here’s Queen Isabel. Rather a shame they didn’t have a portrait of her in one of the dresses on display.

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Queen Isabel was very interesting! She was a woman ahead of her time who put forth the interests of women in a world governed by men. She introduced Spain to the Renaissance and to the spread of Christianity through art, politics, and fashion. The sign I’m translating from also says she was the first queen in history to be queen in her own right and not a consort, with all the powers of a male sovereign, but surely they mean that for Spain only.

There were many signs that claimed that she was all for the rights of Native Americans and prevented them from being treated like slaves, proclaiming them humans equal to Europeans, but I took that with a grain of salt…

Familiar looking armour:

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Spain was unified through the wedding of Isabel and Ferdinand, creating the strongest state in Europe at the time and the Spanish hegemony.

And here is Queen Isabel’s will… which spells out her defence of Native Americans. Wow!

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Incredible inventions of the 14th century included the compass (brújula) and the astrolabe.

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Finally in this museum, I saw a painting that made me think of early fall in Quebec when folks go apple picking (“aller aux pommes.”)

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Here’s the coronation gown in the context of the museum. Well placed! I also loved the period appropriate music that played softly.

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Exterior of the museum:

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I next head towards the central market to pick up some produce when I came across this wonderful little street market! It’s that time of year. There were so many lovely things for sale and prices were very reasonable.

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I saw these earrings marked just 2 euro and had to have them! The seller and I chatted for a bit since he was curious to know where I was from because he rarely sees non-Spanish tourists, especially in the off season. When I went to pay, he would only accept 1 euro!

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Since I had dinner out last night, I didn’t need lunch out and so decided to get an ice cream. I went with cappuccino flavour, which, as expected, tasted very similar to a Tim Hortons iced capp.

I continued on to the central market and it was much busier than last time! I wanted a few things to turn a chicken carcass into broth and looked for someone who would sell me only two stalks of celery.

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That was easily done and I also got a few other things from him since he had really nice produce, including grapes. My total was almost 5.50 euros and he would only accent 5, even with my having exact change! Have I mentioned recently just how lovely Almeríans are?!

I walked around a bit and saw something I haven’t seen in a very long time, romanesco, which I had discovered in Yukon of all places.

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I felt a little silly walking around with the end of my celery sticking out of my bag. The seller had offered to cut it off, but it adds so much flavour to broth that I declined. He thought I hadn’t understood him and had held up a knife to mimic doing it. So I told him my plan (yay for knowing “caldo de pollo”) and he went, “Ah! Of course!” But I took him up on his offer to cut the greens off the carrots.

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I popped into the Carrefour Market to get some soup noodles of some sort and stored my purchases in one of their little lockers (1 euro deposit).

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As it turns out, the edible polystyrene is called “prawn bread.” I picked up some Chinese noodles on the same shelf.

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I examined a full wall of “turrón,” which my dictionary informed me is nougat. Hard to resist!

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Especially the marzipan!

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My purchases were a bit heavy (I hadn’t brought the cart) and it was getting close to two, when everything closes, so I headed to a bus stop, where I had to wait 15 minutes. I made the mistake of riding home on a seat facing the wrong direction and got in feeling quite nauseated!

Here’s a map of my route today:

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I couldn’t have asked for a more enjoyable Saturday morning off! Back to the grindstone tomorrow. 🙂

El Faro de Mazatlán (the Lighthouse)

Well, I got my exercise in today. Here’s a rough overview of the bit of walking I did, which does not highlight the fact that the trip included climbing 150m (492 feet), including 339 steps.

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Dale and I had wanted to climb El Faro (the lighthouse) since we first heard about it. She did it with a group of friends recently and was keen to show me how to get there. We waited this long to make sure we were in decent enough shape as it’s quite a hike up, never mind actually walking to the start of the trek and then back again. I’ve been walking the beach daily for weeks and have start running again, just two or three kilometres three times a week. So that in combination with how well I did hiking in Utah, I knew the Faro wasn’t going to be that much of a challenge.

I met Dale on the beach at 8:00 this morning and we walked to the beach panga. I only paid one way since I had errands to run downtown that would bring me closer to the village panga for the trip home.

Goat Island and the Lighthouse.

Goat Island and the Lighthouse.

Doesn't the lighthouse look imposing?

Doesn’t the lighthouse look imposing?

From the Maz side, it was a pretty quick walk by the docks to get to the start of the lighthouse trail. The streets were very busy and there weren’t really any sidewalks, so we had to watch where we were going. I found the start of the bus route that terminates in the Golden Zone.

Ah, this is where the Titanik boat I saw the other week docks. What a name for a boat!

Ah, this is where the Titanik boat I saw the other week docks. What a name for a boat!

Restaurant atop Paseo del Centenario. You'd work up quite an appetite climbing those steps!

Restaurant atop Paseo del Centenario. You’d work up quite an appetite climbing those steps!

The lighthouse trail starts of gently with an ascent along a rutty path. It then becomes challenging when you reach the first of the 339 steps. This is the only way to get to the Faro, on foot. It’s an incredible amount of work to get there if the point isn’t to get exercise. On the way down, we passed painters going up and they looked in pain, one carrying a huge bucket of paint, another the ladder, another the miscellaneous equipment!

Access to the Faro. Don't let it fool you, pedestrians only!

Access to the Faro. Don’t let the entrance fool you, pedestrians only!

The path gets rough very fast.

The path gets rough very fast.

I was in fine shape for the climb, but stairs are worse than slopes and my knee was not happy, creaking and shifting and swelling the more I progressed. I made sure to only step up with the left knee.

We paused periodically to take in the amazing view and take pictures, so we got to the top in about 20 minutes. There, you can compare your time to statistics to see if you are an elite, expert, sportive, excursionist, or recreational user of the trail. Even if we had done it without pauses, I’m pretty sure we could not have done better than the excursionist rating (11 to 20 mins)! The elites are the ones who run the trail.

Starting to climb, but still fairly level with the higher parts of Maz.

Starting to climb, but still fairly level with the higher parts of Maz.

Dale thinks this is a sewage plant, but I'm not sure as it's attached to the university.

Dale thinks this is a sewage plant, but I’m not sure as it’s attached to the university.

Looking out to Isla.

Looking out to Isla.

Goat Island.

Goat Island.

Funny cactus.

Funny cactus.

View of the docks.

View of the docks.

Starting the stairs.

Starting the stairs.

Goat Island again, starting to look tiny!

Goat Island again, starting to look tiny!

This one shows how much manoeuvring the cruise ships have to do to enter the port of Maz.

This one shows how much manoeuvring the cruise ships have to do to enter the port of Maz.

150 steps done!

150 steps done!

Lots more steps to go...

Lots more steps to go…

Lots of garbage cans along the way. I liked the Comic font. :)

Lots of garbage cans along the way. I liked the Comic font. 🙂

We made it!

We made it!

The view from the top of the world’s tallest natural lighthouse was amazing! I could see all of Maz and beyond laid out below me. It was a fantastic way to really get a lay of the land. Dale and I couldn’t stop pointing out landmarks, from the hotels on Isla to the cathedral to the resorts in the Golden Zone. She was amused that the first thing I spotted was the Pacifico Brewery. 🙂

Looks like the Isla police station!

Looks like the Isla police station!

Stats about the climb and a way to evaluate your fitness level.

Stats about the climb and a way to evaluate your fitness level.

I was there!

I was there!

Really, I was there! :)

Really, I was there! 🙂

Goat Island looked so insignificant from up there!

Goat Island looked so insignificant from up there!

All of Maz laid out below us.

All of Maz laid out below us.

The cathedral is right smack in the centre of this one.

The cathedral is right smack in the centre of this one.

You can really see the Pacific Brewery in this one; just look in the upper third to the left.

You can really see the Pacific Brewery in this one; just look in the upper third right in the middle.

Looking towards the Golden Zone.

Looking towards the Golden Zone.

Modern electrical lighthouse with Fresnel lenses.

Modern electrical lighthouse with Fresnel lenses.

Some people use these shortcuts that requiring clambering. Looked like fun, but I was dressed for that.

Some people use these shortcuts that requiring clambering. Looked like fun, but I wasn’t dressed for that.

We eventually headed down and walked to Paseo del Centenario, which took us to Olas Altas, because Dale had finally found the Looney Bean coffee house and wanted to show it to me since I’m almost out of coffee. I can now say I’ve walked just about the entire Malecón!

First time I've seen anyone lock up a bike, much less of the motor variety, here.

First time I’ve seen anyone lock up a bike, much less of the motor variety, here.

Heading towards Olas Altas.

Heading towards Olas Altas.

I love sidewalks in Mexico. Notice the pole right in the middle of it?

I love sidewalks in Mexico. Notice the pole right in the middle of it?

Looking back at the lighthouse.

Looking back at the lighthouse.

Clean bathrooms for 5 pesos.

Clean bathrooms for 5 pesos.

Castle on a hill.

Castle on a hill.

Can you imagine having a front door and garage right onto a busy road with blind curves?!

Can you imagine having a front door and garage right onto a busy road with blind curves?!

Crashing waves.

Crashing waves.

I liked the look of this building.

I liked the look of this building.

Sweet viewing platform.

Sweet viewing platform.

More waves.

More waves.

Gorgeous tile work.

Gorgeous tile work.

Gorgeous brickwork.

Gorgeous brickwork.

Their address plaque says 'No number.'

Their address plaque says ‘No number.’

Icebox Hill.

Icebox Hill.

That is a PERSON floating in the water. He was very much alive and did not appear to be in distress, just happily bobbing along in the water. HUH?!

That is a PERSON floating in the water. He was very much alive and did not appear to be in distress, just happily bobbing along in the water. HUH?!

The first bronze statue on this end of the Malecón.

The first bronze statue on this end of the Malecón.

Official start of the Malecón at this end.

Official start of the Malecón at this end.

I've now seen and photographed all the statues along the Malecón.

I’ve now seen and photographed all the statues along the Malecón.

When we got to the Looney Bean, much forehead smacking occurred. I’ve been by it dozens of time, but when it’s been closed! You can’t see the sign unless you are on the Malecón.

The Looney Bean at last!

The Looney Bean at last!

My hope was that the Looney Bean would have coffee beans as it is a much more convenient location than Rico’s. They do! They don’t have nearly the choice (only ‘house blend’ and Chiapas) and they are more expensive, but since I save the 20-peso round trip bus ride, it’s a better deal.

One pound of Chiapas, their strongest coffee, was 120 pesos. I bought a half pound and the cost was 70 pesos. So a pound is a better deal. It takes me about three weeks to get through half a pound, so I prefer to pay a bit more and have fresh coffee. I had them coarse grind it for me. The grinds smell divine, so I’m optimistic I will like it as much as I did the Veracruz!

Because we were so hot and sticky, neither one of us was in the mood for having a coffee there (!). I suggested we head to Panamá’s bakery because I honestly thought I was going to faint from low blood sugar (yes, I had breakfast before the climb. I’ll have more about that in a later post). There, I got one of their ham, cheese, and jalapeño sandwiches and a pineapple strudel thing for 24 pesos total, a cheap and yummy lunch!

After, Dale went to the HSBC bank. We then agreed to split up as she was ready to go home and wanted to take the beach panga while I wanted to go to Waldo’s and possibly Ley’s, which put me at the village panga.

I wasn’t 100% sure where Waldo’s was from the HSBC, but I knew the general direction and got there without any detours whatsoever. I’ve definitely got the lay of the land! Waldo’s had what I wanted, inexpensive laundry detergent, so I was good to go. I was not tempted to buy any groceries (future post again), so I began the long schlep down (and up and down and up and down) Leandro Valle to Emilio Barragán to the panga to Isla to home. I was exhausted when I got home, much more so than I would have normally been after such an excurison (future post again).

Dale is leaving Isla next week and moving to the Golden Zone. I will miss my friend. I know I will still go out and do things and it’s not like we won’t meet up again, but it’s not the same. For one thing, going out in the evenings will be more expensive since I’ll have to pay for the entire pulmonía rides. But her new RV park is right on the bus line, so I know I can go visit cheaply. And, best of all, she’s thinking of going to Montana this summer and so is seriously considering a stay at RV Park Chez Rae!

I’m so glad we had a chance to do the Faro together. I don’t think it’ll be my only time making that climb!

City Tour of New Orleans

When I come to a big city, I like to take a city tour to get my bearings. I had pamphlets for a bunch of them here in New Orleans and picked the one that seemed to offer the best value, then I searched for online reviews to solidify my choice. I went with the Louisiana Tour Company, offering a three-hour tour for $44 (plus a $5 tip to the driver).

This tour is really a full three hours. They do not count the time it takes to pick up everyone at their hotels and drop them off again as being part of the tour. I was picked up in Gretna on the Westbank at about 1:20 for the 1:30 tour. By the time we’d picked up everybody and payment had been taken, it was well past 2:00. We finished the tour past 5:00 and I didn’t get back to my car in Gretna until 6:30.

The tour offers a general overview of the main areas of the city that are of interest to tourists, including the Central Business District; the French Quarter; and the Lower 9th Ward, the area most devastated by Hurricane Katrina. We also got out of the bus to explore a Catholic Cemetery and took a break for beignets in City Park.

Our tour guide, Eugene, is a New Orleans native whose love and knowledge of his city was obvious. I couldn’t even begin to get into all the information he gave us, from talking about famous landmarks to pointing out little architectural details I would never have otherwise noticed. He was very friendly, professional, and spun a good yarn without sounding like he was full of bull. I’ve been on city tours where the drivers liked to feed cockamamie stories to gullible tourists and this was not the case here.

The best part of the tour was definitely the visit to the Lower 9th Ward where Eugene gave us the scoop on what really happened down there by sharing the story of a man who chose to ride out the storm with his family. This man has returned to his neighborhood and lives in one of the Brad Pitt foundation homes.

The Lower 9th Ward, being the poorest area of the city, is the slowest to come back to life and is still full of blighted homes. But the community that is rising from the ruins appears to be full of promise. The tour companies are not allowed to actually go into the community, as per a federal decree, but apparently the residents liked having the tour groups go through as they made money selling lemonade, cookies, and pralines to the tourists.

We covered a lot of ground today, but I am now well prepared to explore the French Quarter (possibly tomorrow) having seen where the Algier Ferry docks (right in front of Harrah’s) and being armed with a list of good restaurants that won’t break the bank.

Eugene and I had a nice chat about my RVing life on the way back to Gretna and he pointed out a few restaurants I could try, but admitted that he drives into the city to eat as the Westbank options are uninspiring.

I’m really glad I did the city tour offered by the Louisiana Tour Company!

The following pictures are the best I was able to take on a moving bus through glass! I really wish I had been able to get a few good ones of the ginormous magnificent homes along St. Charles Avenue.

The architecture feels very French.

The architecture feels very French.

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I like the mix of old and new architecture.

I like the mix of old and new architecture.

This 50-story tall building used to be Shell Headquarters, which have now moved to Houston, Texas.

This 50-story tall building used to be Shell Headquarters, which have now moved to Houston, Texas.

These bleachers are for the Mardi Gras parades.

These bleachers are for the Mardi Gras parades.

Robert E Lee

Robert E Lee

One of Emeril Lagasse's restaurants.

One of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants.

The streetcars are good value for getting to some parts of the city. I witnessed a ton of construction going on to prolong this line.

The streetcars are good value for getting to some parts of the city. I witnessed a ton of construction going on to prolong this line.

There were Mardi Gras beads hanging from the trees on St. Charles Avenue. I couldn't believe that nearly eight years ago, St. Charles Avenue was under 16 feet of water.

There were Mardi Gras beads hanging from the trees on St. Charles Avenue. I couldn’t believe that nearly eight years ago, St. Charles Avenue was under 16 feet of water.

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The owner of this house dresses up his stone pigs for every possible occasion.

The owner of this house dresses up his stone pigs for every possible occasion.

A lemon tree!!!

A lemon tree!!!

This house that looks like it was cut in half was built on a property line.

This house that looks like it was cut in half was built on a property line.

This building with a lighthouse sticking out of it is for sale.

This building with a lighthouse sticking out of it is for sale.

US. Marshal parking only!

US. Marshal parking only!

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The Harrah's casino. Gambling is illegal in the area, so there is no gambling in the casino, only gaming. :)

The Harrah’s casino. Gambling is illegal in the area, so there is no gambling in the casino, only gaming. 🙂

The Riverwalk shopping centre.

The Riverwalk shopping centre.

Driving down Decatur Street in the French Quarter.

Driving down Decatur Street in the French Quarter.

You can rent these hilarious little cars.

You can rent these hilarious little cars.

These are mules, which are hardier than horses.

These are mules, which are hardier than horses.

The Central Grocery, home of the Muffuleta sandwich.

The Central Grocery, home of the Muffuleta sandwich.

A statue of Joan of Arc.

A statue of Joan of Arc.

One of the many beautiful statues in a Catholic cemetery.

One of the many beautiful statues in a Catholic cemetery.

Everyone is buried above ground in New Orleans.

Everyone is buried above ground in New Orleans.

Perpetual care means that extra money was paid in the 18th century for the church diocese to maintain the tombs forever!

Perpetual care means that extra money was paid in the 18th century for the church diocese to maintain the tombs forever!

This new tomb is a monstrosity, methinks. Some people have more money than sense.

This new tomb is a monstrosity, methinks. Some people have more money than sense.

Masons sneaked into this cemetery and built a tomb, but only one person was ever allowed to be interred here.

Masons sneaked into this cemetery and built a tomb, but only one person was ever allowed to be interred here.

This tomb is getting a new door.

This tomb is getting a new door.

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City Park

City Park

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This little boy was catching small flat silver fishes.

This little boy was catching small flat silver fishes.

We stopped at the Morning Call café for refreshments, including beignets and café au lait. I was unable to get service and didn't really want to eat there anyway since the place did not feel clean.

We stopped at the Morning Call café for refreshments, including beignets and café au lait. I was unable to get service and didn’t really want to eat there anyway since the place did not feel clean.

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The New Orleans Museum of Art.

The New Orleans Museum of Art.

Statue of Beauregard, the guy who fired the first shot of the US Civil War.

Statue of Beauregard, the guy who fired the first shot of the US Civil War.

The rich parts of New Orleans look like nothing happened. But when you reach the 9th Ward, you see many houses that need repair or to simply be bulldozed.

The rich parts of New Orleans look like nothing happened. But when you reach the 9th Ward, you see many houses that need repair or to simply be bulldozed.

This is where the levee broke that flooded the Lower 9th Ward.

This is where the levee broke that flooded the Lower 9th Ward.

All those colourful houses were built by the Brad Pitt Foundation. He promised to build 150 homes and 90 have been built so far. To qualify for a home, you had to have a home in the Lower 9th Ward with a clear title. The homes cost $125,000 and up and the residents have a 10-year interest free loan on them, which is about $700 a month in payments. They all have solar panels to reduce the monthly power bills.

All those colourful houses were built by the Brad Pitt Foundation. He promised to build 150 homes and 90 have been built so far. To qualify for a home, you had to have a home in the Lower 9th Ward with a clear title. The homes cost $125,000 and up and the residents have a 10-year interest free loan on them, which is about $700 a month in payments. They all have solar panels to reduce the monthly power bills.

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The water levels in the Lower 9th Ward rose to over 25' feet, then settled at 16', which is the top of the tallest blue post.

The water levels in the Lower 9th Ward rose to over 25′ feet, then settled at 16′, which is the top of the tallest blue post.

North Along the Oregon Coast From Florence

I still have some photos of Eugene to share, but after a total of three hours over as many days, I finally have all the pictures about my Monday in Florence uploaded, so I’m giving this post top priority! I had wanted to integrate pictures into the post, but do not want to push my luck with the connection dropping out as it does, so please scroll down after all the bla bla bla for the illustrations.

The Oregon coast wasn’t on my bucket list. To put things into perspective, remember that I have seen the Pacific Ocean from Baja to San Francisco, Bellingham to Skagway. I’ve tasted the Arctic Ocean and traveled the Atlantic from Gaspé to Jacksonville. I’ve been around the whole of the Scottish coast, splashed around in the Hebrides, and the Orkneys, and have very nearly been sea sick on a choppy North Sea crossing. In short, I’ve seen more ocean than many people see in a lifetime.

I think that the niggle that I just had to see the Oregon coast started with Croft. Then just about every person I spoke to since I got to Oregon told me to make a detour to the coast. The guy at the Eugene Starbucks told me it would break his heart for me to miss the coast when I was so close. I decided that coming out to Florence with Miranda, two hundred kilometres round trip, could be fit into the budget since I’d have a free place to stay.

Florence is almost right in the middle of the Oregon coast. Once here, and settled, it was time to decide which way I’d explore on Monday, north or south? I did a bit of research and decided that north had more things I was interested in than south. I’d been given a list of suggestions for things to do in far flung corners of the state, like Tillamook, but I decided to set my limit at no more than about one hundred kilometres, the town of Newport, so as to give me a full day, yes, but also plenty of time to savour the sights along the way.

I quickly learned just what it is that makes the Oregon coast so special. Most of it is still truly wild since the government had the foresight to reserve most of it for park land. I have never seen coast like this before! It just goes to show how there is always something to astound the most jaded traveler.

First stop of the day was the Heceta Point lighthouse. It’s quite a hike to the top!

Next stop was Cape Perpetua. I did a lot of hiking here, but did not take too many pictures since I was in rain forest like any other and also because I’d forgotten to charge my camera the night before. Better save it for more memorable shots.

Newport was anti-climatic. They’re doing major roadwork and my GPS couldn’t keep up, taking me down dead end streets and through constructions before leading me to The Steepest Hill in the Universe. Seriously, do not wander around Newport in an RV without a topographic map! Newport also has the most randomly placed dump site I’ve ever seen. Anyway, I had a full morning of hiking behind me and was ravenous, so lunch was foremost on my mind. I wound up having truly forgettable teriyaki at the Yummy Noodle. I knew what to expect–very North Americanized ‘Chinese and Japanese’ cuisine, and I was right. There was nothing wrong with the food; I just don’t think it’s necessary to deep fry everything or add a ton of sugar to it.

Newport has an aquarium with a $16 admission cost. Research on it told me that it was a mid-range aquarium, the kind that is good value to those who have never been to that sort of establishment and over priced for those who have seen larger facilities. I passed.

Coming home, I stopped at a number of turnouts to get some photos, most notably of Cook’s Chasm bridge and Devil’s Churn. The latter particularly impressed me! I also talked myself out of going into a fudge place, with my will power astounding me.

The final stop of the day was the Sea Lion Caves. I was really apprehensive about this. A fellow on the sea lion dock in San Francisco had told me back in ’07 to add the Sea Lion Caves to my bucket list, but hadn’t really recorded that memory. I’d seen a few reviews and they varied too much for me to be able to determine if they are a tourist trap or not. I decided to let the admission price decide for me if I was going or not. $15 or less, go, $16 or more, pass. Admission was $12.

You have to go down two flights of stairs then down a long exterior concrete pathway to reach the Elevator that will whisk you down the equivalent of twenty stories in just fifty seconds! When the doors opened in the cave, my first thought was ‘tourist trap’: I was looking at a very dark cave with a few exhibits and the walls seemed to be made of paper maché. But the strong animal smell boosted my confidence a little and I followed the sound of non-human chatter to a platform that looked out onto one of the most amazing vistas I have ever seen…

There had to be hundreds of sea lions below me on the rocks and dozens playing in the water. The cave itself was immense. I stood there for a full half hour entranced, listening to the sea lions chattering and watching the waves come crashing in. The two dozen or so human observers were deathly quiet, all entranced. A young girl next to me could not be convinced to leave. If the sea lions noticed their audience, they did not let on, remaining very dignified in their poses, occasionally scratching an itch or body surfing the waves.

From the cave, it’s possible to climb up a staircase to a viewpoint for the Heceta Lighhouse. From there, I could see more sea lions, and whales, playing in the surf, enjoying the rare sun.

The Sea Lion Caves are completely worth a visit. Just be sure to do so when the sea lions are in. Summer is not the best time to go. Late winter, early spring, and the fall are perfect.

After all the hiking and climbing I’d done today getting back to the entrance in the gift shop was a lot of work. I was headed for the door when I heard the most damnable words in the English language: “Would you like to try our fudge?” Oh, what the heck. I had a bite of savoury chocolate and pecan and the burst of sugar and protein was most welcome. Unlike a lot of fudge places that sell pieces that are too big for a single person, this one was okay with my buying just a small chunk for a treat. It was a nice dessert that night!

The camera was out of juice by then, but still managed to get two final pictures.

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

from the parking lot of Heceta Lighthouse

Heceta Lighthouse

Heceta Lighthouse

hiking up to the Heceta Lighthouse

hiking up to the Heceta Lighthouse

the windows were plastered over to protect against vandals

the windows were plastered over to protect against vandals

"the entertainment centre"

“the entertainment centre”

spiral staircase to the top

spiral staircase to the top

IMGP1468

this 200lb weight used to control the speed at which the light would rotate

this 200lb weight used to control the speed at which the light would rotate

window wells are still thick here but would get thinner as the lighthouse closed in on itself near the top, for stability

window wells are still thick here but would get thinner as the lighthouse closed in on itself near the top, for stability

staircase getting narrower

staircase getting narrower

modern-day mechanism

modern-day mechanism

first degree Fresnel lens

first degree Fresnel lens

looking down towards the parking lot

looking down towards the parking lot

looking up at the window from that last shot

looking up at the window from that last shot

from the base of the Heceta Lighthouse

from the base of the Heceta Lighthouse

former lightkeeper's residence, now a luxury B&B

former lightkeeper’s residence, now a luxury B&B

interesting plant at Perpetua Point (I think Joan said it's skunk cabbage)

interesting plant at Perpetua Point (I think Joan said it’s skunk cabbage)

interesting plant at Perpetua Point (I think Joan said it's skunk cabbage)

interesting plant at Perpetua Point (I think Joan said it’s skunk cabbage)

Perpetua Point

Perpetua Point

Perpetua Point

Perpetua Point

Perpetua Point

Perpetua Point

Perpetua Point

Perpetua Point

a randomly located dump station in Newport

a randomly located dump station in Newport

bridge in Newport

bridge in Newport

Devil's Churn

Devil’s Churn

Devil's Churn

Devil’s Churn

Devil's Churn

Devil’s Churn

Devil's Churn

Devil’s Churn

Devil's Churn

Devil’s Churn

Devil's Churn

Devil’s Churn

Devil's Churn

Devil’s Churn

Devil's Churn

Devil’s Churn

along 101 going south

along 101 going south

along 101 going south

along 101 going south

Cook's Chasm bridge plaque

Cook’s Chasm bridge plaque

Cook's Chasm bridge

Cook’s Chasm bridge

Cook's Chasm

Cook’s Chasm

info about Cook's Chasm Bridge

info about Cook’s Chasm Bridge

Bray's Point

Bray’s Point

Bray's Point

Bray’s Point

Bray's Point

Bray’s Point

Bray's Point

Bray’s Point

Bray's Point

Bray’s Point

Bray's Point

Bray’s Point

Bray's Point

Bray’s Point

this San Francisco Chronicle about the missing Sea Lions is dated summer 2010

this San Francisco Chronicle about the missing Sea Lions is dated summer 2010

this San Francisco Chronicle about the missing Sea Lions is dated summer 2010

this San Francisco Chronicle about the missing Sea Lions is dated summer 2010

this San Francisco Chronicle about the missing Sea Lions is dated summer 2010

this San Francisco Chronicle about the missing Sea Lions is dated summer 2010

this San Francisco Chronicle about the missing Sea Lions is dated summer 2010

this San Francisco Chronicle about the missing Sea Lions is dated summer 2010

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

looking towards Heceta Lighthouse at Sea Lion Caves

looking towards Heceta Lighthouse at Sea Lion Caves

looking towards Heceta Lighthouse at Sea Lion Caves

looking towards Heceta Lighthouse at Sea Lion Caves

looking towards Heceta Lighthouse at Sea Lion Caves

looking towards Heceta Lighthouse at Sea Lion Caves

looking towards Heceta Lighthouse at Sea Lion Caves

looking towards Heceta Lighthouse at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

at Sea Lion Caves

original staircase shaft into the cave

original staircase shaft into the cave

information about the building of the Sea Lion elevator

information about the building of the Sea Lion elevator

pull out on highway 101 looking south

pull out on highway 101 looking south

second to last shot of the day just outside Florence

second to last shot of the day just outside Florence

final shot of the day, the battery was out of juice; not a bad way to end!

final shot of the day, the battery was out of juice; not a bad way to end!