Exploring New Orlean’s French Quarter

I left home around 9 this morning to go explore New Orleans’ French Quarter. I decided to take the Algiers Ferry to get there. It’s a good thing that the RV park gave okay directions to get there because there is no signage whatsoever and you would think you were driving through slums a tourist has no business being in (sorry Algiers Point).

The ferry is free for pedestrians, but, SURPRISE!, you have to pay $10 to park for the day.

I made the 9:30 ferry and was across the river in less than 15 minutes.

Arrival on Canal Street is a little brutal as the ferry building is DISGUSTING. OMG. The place reeks of urine and the puddles are obviously not water. And you have to go through quite a bit of it to get to the street. I wasn’t the only tourist trying to find the exit as fast as possible.

On the street, you find yourself in the heart of touristy NOLA, with the Imax and Aquarium on your right, the Harrah’s casino directly ahead, the French Quarter a few blocks ahead to the right, and the Riverwalk behind you to the left. Canal Street is lined with palm trees. The day I become blasé about palm trees is the day I hang up my traveling shoes!

I walked quickly down Canal to Decatur, ignoring the panhandlers, and then headed into the French Quarter.

I didn’t want to do any museums today, but rather just walk the streets and soak in the ambiance. So I began to stroll fairly aimlessly, occasionally referring to my map to make sure I stayed within the confines of the tourist section. Its limits are actually quite obvious.

My favourite part of the area is the architecture. The 18th-century buildings have survived to this day because they are built of cypress, a rot-resistant wood that termites don’t like.

The French Market held my attention for a bit and I spent some time eying the wares, everything from jewelry to really tacky coasters. There were also some food vendors. But the market was just opening up, so I decided to return after lunch and continued my wanderings.

I found a gelataria on a side street where I was able to get some chocolate gelato, a delicious treat that was perfect for the muggy temperatures.

The weather wound up being quite good even though the sky threatened to rip open as it was very dark and grey. I felt extremely under dressed, which was hilarious since the feeling was purely psychological. I’m just so used to wind + grey sky + spitting rain = being frozen solid. In fact, my capris and tee-shirt were perfect and a nice breeze made the humidity tolerable.

Lunch was had at Café Maspero’s, recommended by Eugene yesterday. I figured that I had to eat a mountain of fried seafood once this winter and this was going to be it! $21 including the tip and tax got me a humongous strawberry daiquiri (I doubt there was alcohol in it) for $3 and a ginormous ‘seafood platter’ for about $14. It had catfish, oysters, shrimp, and calamari. I had never eaten oysters before (!) and I think I might like them. 🙂 For fried seafood, this was very good and I do not regret my lunch location choice!

I walked around some more after lunch, then headed out of the French Quarter to check out the Riverwalk shopping centre. I was sad to learn that all the local vendors, many of whom had shops with interesting products, not just touristy crap, are being forced out to make way for the Riverwalk to become an outlet mall.

Downtown New Orleans seen from Algiers Point (still part of NOLA).

Downtown New Orleans seen from Algiers Point (still part of NOLA).

Downtown New Orleans seen from Algiers Point (still part of NOLA).

Downtown New Orleans seen from Algiers Point (still part of NOLA).

The Algiers Ferry car level.

The Algiers Ferry car level.

The owners of Nugget City were leaving on a cruise this morning. Could this be one of their ships?!

The owners of Nugget City were leaving on a cruise this morning. Could this be one of their ships?!

Downtown New Orleans seen from Algiers Point (still part of NOLA).

Downtown New Orleans seen from Algiers Point (still part of NOLA).

The passenger area of the ferry seen from the lower level.

The passenger area of the ferry seen from the lower level.

The seats were hard, but it's barely 10 minutes across the Mississippi.

The seats were hard, but it’s barely 10 minutes across the Mississippi.

Tugboat pushing a barge.

Tugboat pushing a barge.

These birds are obviously used to the ferry.

These birds are obviously used to the ferry.

This guy was utterly unflappable and had to be shooed away!

This guy was utterly unflappable and had to be shooed away!

Canal Street near Harrah's.

Canal Street near Harrah’s.

Intersection of Canal and Decatur. Canal is so named because there was supposed to be a canal built in its location.

Intersection of Canal and Decatur. Canal is so named because there was supposed to be a canal built in its location.

Courtyard of the Jean Lafitte national park visitor's centre.

Courtyard of the Jean Lafitte national park visitor’s centre.

There's a Bubba Gump place on Chicago's Navy Pier, so can we say tourist trap?

There’s a Bubba Gump place on Chicago’s Navy Pier, so can we say tourist trap?

Typical side street of the French Quarter.

Typical side street of the French Quarter.

Many streets in the French Quarter have signs showing the original name of the street from when the Spaniards owned NOLA.

Many streets in the French Quarter have signs showing the original name of the street from when the Spaniards owned NOLA.

Entrance to the French Market, where you can find all sorts of treasures.

Entrance to the French Market, where you can find all sorts of treasures.

I love all the unexpected bits of French all over the place.

I love all the unexpected bits of French all over the place.

This sort of balcony screams 'New Orleans French Quarter' to me.

This sort of balcony screams ‘New Orleans French Quarter’ to me.

This sort of balcony screams 'New Orleans French Quarter' to me.

This sort of balcony screams ‘New Orleans French Quarter’ to me.

The streets are really close together, so it's nice to get a breath of air when they open up like this.

The streets are really close together, so it’s nice to get a breath of air when they open up like this.

Narrow alley.

Narrow alley.

The Sweet Palate. I was looking for ice cream and scored when I stumbled on this place that sells gelato!

The Sweet Palate. I was looking for ice cream and scored when I stumbled on this place that sells gelato!

A small cup of their divine chocolate gelato. Mmm!

A small cup of their divine chocolate gelato. Mmm!

Impressive!

Impressive!

Bourbon Street! It wasn't raining, but threatening to. The sky was spitting.

Bourbon Street! It wasn’t raining, but threatening to. The sky was spitting.

Bourbon Street was pretty quiet at 10AM, but there was some music to be heard.

Bourbon Street was pretty quiet at 10AM, but there was some music to be heard.

Huge Ass Beers and Huge Ass Burgers.

Huge Ass Beers and Huge Ass Burgers.

Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo.

Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo.

Café Lafitte In Exile

Café Lafitte In Exile

Moon Wok Restaurant

Moon Wok Restaurant

One of the many buildings that looks like how the French Quarter felt: very dank. Not humid, but dank, like a mouldy basement. I wonder if it was like this before Katrina.

One of the many buildings that looks like how the French Quarter felt: very dank. Not humid, but dank, like a mouldy basement. I wonder if it was like this before Katrina.

Horse-shaped hitching post.

Horse-shaped hitching post.

More balconies.

More balconies.

An unfortunately named restaurant. Vacherie means something like a backstabbing act or a bad joke.

An unfortunately named restaurant. Vacherie means something like a backstabbing act or a bad joke.

Tropical Isle, home of the hand grenade, the most potent NOLA drink.

Tropical Isle, home of the hand grenade, the most potent NOLA drink.

Legal notice to stop renovations. Tourists know this area as the 'French Quarter' but it is officially the 'Vieux Carré' (old square).

Legal notice to stop renovations. Tourists know this area as the ‘French Quarter’ but it is officially the ‘Vieux Carré’ (old square).

Perfect parking spot for a Vespa!

Perfect parking spot for a Vespa!

The pharmacy museum.

The pharmacy museum.

The guide recommended Café Maspero's as a good place to get cheap fried seafood platters. I looked at other menus in the area and saw that most restaurants offered variations on the same theme for about the same price (NOLA is VERY affordable, to my surprise). I decided to take the guide's advice as the restaurant had windows open all around and promised a nice breeze.

The guide recommended Café Maspero’s as a good place to get cheap fried seafood platters. I looked at other menus in the area and saw that most restaurants offered variations on the same theme for about the same price (NOLA is VERY affordable, to my surprise). I decided to take the guide’s advice as the restaurant had windows open all around and promised a nice breeze.

Cover the Café Maspero's menu.

Cover the Café Maspero’s menu.

I ordered a giant strawberry daiquiri for $3. I don't think there was any alcohol in it. It was very refreshing! The meal came with a salad. Yeah for veggies!

I ordered a giant strawberry daiquiri for $3. I don’t think there was any alcohol in it. It was very refreshing! The meal came with a salad. Yay for veggies!

My giant mound of fried stuff. The fries were dismal, but the seafood was GREAT. The batter was light and crispy and I could actually identify what I was eating: catfish, oysters (my first time trying them!!!), shrimp, and my favourite, calamari, which were melt-in-your-mouth tender. I'm not that found of deep friend seafood, but this passed muster with me!

My giant mound of fried stuff. The fries were dismal, but the seafood was GREAT. The batter was light and crispy and I could actually identify what I was eating: catfish, oysters (my first time trying them!!!), shrimp, and my favourite, calamari, which were melt-in-your-mouth tender. I’m not that found of deep friend seafood, but this passed muster with me!

The meal came with horseradish and tartar sauce, and there were other sauces on the table. It also came with one wedge of lemon, which is what I like on my fried seafood. I asked for, and got, a few more wedges.

The meal came with horseradish and tartar sauce, and there were other sauces on the table. It also came with one wedge of lemon, which is what I like on my fried seafood. I asked for, and got, a few more wedges.

There were two slices of bread hiding under my seafood! To absorb the grease, perhaps?

There were two slices of bread hiding under my seafood! To absorb the grease, perhaps?

I got a lid with my bill!

I got a lid with my bill!

The biggest tourist trap in the area, the Café du Monde, offering café au lait and beignets. After reading up on it, I knew better than to waste an HOUR waiting in line!

The biggest tourist trap in the area, the Café du Monde, offering café au lait and beignets. After reading up on it, I knew better than to waste an HOUR waiting in line!

There were a few gator offerings, but I'd done my research and knew that it's not local food and that NOLA is not the best place to try it. Boudin is blood sausage.

There were a few gator offerings, but I’d done my research and knew that it’s not local food and that NOLA is not the best place to try it. Boudin is blood sausage.

Whit's last fling before the ring!

Whit’s last fling before the ring!

The LaLaurie House is considered to be one of the most haunted houses in NOLA. A 19th-century owner tortured her slaves here.

The LaLaurie House is considered to be one of the most haunted houses in NOLA. A 19th-century owner tortured her slaves here.

Info on the walking tour pamphlet about the LaLaurie house where Delphine LaLaurie was discovered to be treating her slaves badly.

Info on the walking tour pamphlet about the LaLaurie house where Delphine LaLaurie was discovered to be treating her slaves badly.

More balconies.

More balconies.

Recipe for a 'Katrina Martini.' It sounds vile!

Recipe for a ‘Katrina Martini.’ It sounds vile!

This little fellow was sleeping in the window of the French Quarter vet,

This little fellow was sleeping in the window of the French Quarter vet,

Info about the kitty. He sounds like quite the character!

Info about the kitty. He sounds like quite the character!

You can reserve parking to visit the French Quarter vet.

You can reserve parking to visit the French Quarter vet.

Just one of a kazillion magnificent homes in NOLA.

Just one of a kazillion magnificent homes in NOLA.

Grumpy Cat, of the internet meme fame.

Grumpy Cat, of the internet meme fame.

Pirates Alley sign with Mardi Gras decorations above.

Pirates Alley sign with Mardi Gras decorations above.

Pirates Alley.

Pirates Alley.

I would know instantly where this picture was taken even if I had never been to the French Quarter.

I would know instantly where this picture was taken even if I had never been to the French Quarter.

The Supreme Court of New Orleans.

The Supreme Court of New Orleans.

The Supreme Court of New Orleans.

The Supreme Court of New Orleans.

Guess in the comments what this place is!

Guess in the comments what this place is!

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Royal Street used to be Calle Real. Real was also the French word for Royal at the time, hence Montreal -- Mont Royal.

Royal Street used to be Calle Real. Real was also the French word for Royal at the time, hence Montreal — Mont Royal.

Saks 5th Avenue is open by appointment. I doubt I can afford to shop there. :)

Saks 5th Avenue is open by appointment. I doubt I can afford to shop there. 🙂

The groddy Algiers Ferry terminal.

The groddy Algiers Ferry terminal.

The inside is worse. This place is NASTY.

The inside is worse. This place is NASTY.

Entrance to the Riverwalk shopping centre area.

Entrance to the Riverwalk shopping centre area.

Entrance to the Riverwalk shopping centre.

Entrance to the Riverwalk shopping centre.

There's a Café du Monde in the Riverwalk. I really wasn't hungry, but there was no wait and I knew Croft would shoot me if I didn't try their beignets.

There’s a Café du Monde in the Riverwalk. I really wasn’t hungry, but there was no wait and I knew Croft would shoot me if I didn’t try their beignets.

You get three beignets (puffy deep fried bits of dough covered in powered sugar) for $2 and change. One would have been enough for me! They are also famous for their chicory café au lait.

You get three beignets (puffy deep fried bits of dough covered in powered sugar) for $2 and change. One would have been enough for me! They are also famous for their chicory café au lait.

I ate my beignets while watching the Mississippi, a much more relaxing experience than the frenzied pace of the French Quarter café.

I ate my beignets while watching the Mississippi, a much more relaxing experience than the frenzied pace of the French Quarter café.

They were like doughy pillows. I recommended shaking the bag on occasion to get more sugar over them. Prepare to be COVERED in powdered sugar. Verdict? Meh. :) I'm just not that big on doughnuts (shocking for a Canadian, I know).

They were like doughy pillows. I recommended shaking the bag on occasion to get more sugar over them. Prepare to be COVERED in powdered sugar. Verdict? Meh. 🙂 I’m just not that big on doughnuts (shocking for a Canadian, I know).

WHY?! They spent money on several signs like these. Couldn't they have hired a translator, too?

WHY?! They spent money on several signs like these. Couldn’t they have hired a translator, too?

People marching into the cruise ship.

People marching into the cruise ship.

This sign claims that NOLA has a special budget for removing alligators' from people's yards....

This sign claims that NOLA has a special budget for removing alligators’ from people’s yards….

The St Louis City Museum

The only way I can describe the St Louis City Museum is that it is a giant playground. It was apparently first created for adults, but now it is overrun by kids. The highlight is exploring all the nooks and crannies of various structures that let you climb, slide, and crawl. I had a blast but have to say that it would have been even better if there was an adults only time. There are a lot of structures that I would have liked to try but which I knew I couldn’t clear quickly enough for kids eager to get by. I was proven right when I descended a particularly slick structure, kids decided to come up, and one pushed me such that I got disoriented and stood up, right into a steel bar. I have a nice egg on the top of my head tonight. 😀

I’m going to put the rest of the bla bla bla into the gallery because this place is impossible to describe in words! I think that even the pictures don’t convey it really well. At $13 it is the most expensive St Louis attraction that I could find, but since everything else is so cheap or free and you could easily spend a whole day here I think it gives you a lot of bang for your buck. Wear long-sleeved pants you don’t mind getting dirty and closed-toed shoes. My sandals were a bit too slick in some areas.

entrance to the City Museum

entrance to the City Museum

cave tunnel to crawl through

cave tunnel to crawl through

or you can take stairs (you can get through a lot of this place without getting on your hands and knees, but you will need to do so to get the full experience!)

or you can take stairs (you can get through a lot of this place without getting on your hands and knees, but you will need to do so to get the full experience!)

another narrow tunnel (writing says that kids must be accompanied by an adult)

another narrow tunnel (writing says that kids must be accompanied by an adult)

turtles

turtles

octopus-like sculpture

octopus-like sculpture

entrance into a sea cave

entrance into a sea cave

This guy decided to come out and say hi by being vicious and hissing at me.

This guy decided to come out and say hi by being vicious and hissing at me.

what the heck is that?!

what the heck is that?!

turtle playing by himself

turtle playing by himself

Big Fish is roaming around

Big Fish is roaming around

Mr. Turtle takes off in a huff

Mr. Turtle takes off in a huff

Big Fish obviously does not find me interesting

Big Fish obviously does not find me interesting

Great quote by Jack Kerouac, "The only people for me are the MAD ones..."

Great quote by Jack Kerouac, “The only people for me are the MAD ones…”

this exhibit sounded cool but I think it was under repair

this exhibit sounded cool but I think it was under repair

giant Sphinx

giant Sphinx

architecture museum

architecture museum

architecture museum

architecture museum

about the architecture museum (asks if a 100 year old courthouse should be demolished because it is not ADA)

about the architecture museum (asks if a 100 year old courthouse should be demolished because it is not ADA)

there is an amazing vintage clothing store on the top floor! this is surely a St Louis hidden gem!

there is an amazing vintage clothing store on the top floor! this is surely a St Louis hidden gem!

racks and racks and racks of vintage clothing; I didn't see anything over $25!

racks and racks and racks of vintage clothing; I didn’t see anything over $25!

stairs up to the vintage clothing shop

stairs up to the vintage clothing shop

this is a wall of safety deposit boxes

this is a wall of safety deposit boxes

entrance to the vault

entrance to the vault

the inner vault door

the inner vault door

pretty arch way

pretty arch way

deep in the heart of the cave system

deep in the heart of the cave system

I do not recommend turning around too quicky in the cave system unless you want to embarrass yourself by shrieking. I wasn't expecting a giant dinosaur, okay?

I do not recommend turning around too quicky in the cave system unless you want to embarrass yourself by shrieking. I wasn’t expecting a giant dinosaur, okay?

I climbed up a super narrow staircase only to face this. I turned back. :)

I climbed up a super narrow staircase only to face this. I turned back. 🙂

looking up towards the top of the TEN STOREY SLIDE

looking up towards the top of the TEN STOREY SLIDE

climbing up to the top of the TEN STOREY SLIDE; it is a bunch of spiral staircases that get more wobbly the closer you get to the top...

climbing up to the top of the TEN STOREY SLIDE; it is a bunch of spiral staircases that get more wobbly the closer you get to the top…

four floors to go, *pant, pant*

four floors to go, *pant, pant*

Top of the TEN STOREY slide, looking down. I actually slid down it! Wheeeeee!

Top of the TEN STOREY slide, looking down. I actually slid down it! Wheeeeee!

the outside portion looks like a mess of metal and get every inch of it is meant to be played on

the outside portion looks like a mess of metal and get every inch of it is meant to be played on

Can you see the kid in the red shirt climbing up in front of the plane?

Can you see the kid in the red shirt climbing up in front of the plane?

Can you see the kid in what looks like a giant slinky?

Can you see the kid in what looks like a giant slinky?

I didn't break a sweat crossing this!

I didn’t break a sweat crossing this!

kids coming out of the giant slinky

kids coming out of the giant slinky

Looking down to the ball pit

Looking down to the ball pit

Close up of the slinky that leads to the plane. Most of the structures were accessible in a number of ways. I would end up getting very close to that plane.

Close up of the slinky that leads to the plane. Most of the structures were accessible in a number of ways. I would end up getting very close to that plane.

I went over the walkway, but a smaller person could slide under it and crawl across!

I went over the walkway, but a smaller person could slide under it and crawl across!

I liked the random columns in the parking area.

I liked the random columns in the parking area.

There is a giant slinky going from the airplane to the top of the keep.

There is a giant slinky going from the airplane to the top of the keep.

I bonked my head really well coming down this green structure.

I bonked my head really well coming down this green structure.

bottom of the keep; the 'stair risers' would get higher and higher

bottom of the keep; the ‘stair risers’ would get higher and higher

partway up the keep, looking at the other plane

partway up the keep, looking at the other plane

At the top of the keep. This slinky was short enough that had there not been a bunch of kids in the plane I would have gone over there.

At the top of the keep. This slinky was short enough that had there not been a bunch of kids in the plane I would have gone over there.

I started up this structure, but it got really narrow and crowded.

I started up this structure, but it got really narrow and crowded.

it just keeps spiraling up

it just keeps spiraling up

this is the lobby area where you buy your tickets

this is the lobby area where you buy your tickets

This sign announces the 'circus', which is a pretty good clown act. Be prepared to tip the clown as she is a volunteer.

This sign announces the ‘circus’, which is a pretty good clown act. Be prepared to tip the clown as she is a volunteer.

St Louis Almost Charms the Pants Off Me

I just got in from a full day spent touring St Louis, Mo.

Before I get into the good stuff, I have to get something off my chest. Missourians, why do you hate tourists so much? Driving in St Louis was horrible! I have driven in much bigger cities and never been honked at once. Just about every time I stopped at a red light, I was honked at if I didn’t hit the gas the second the light went green. I earned multiple honks for being cautious when turning left with tons of oncoming traffic bearing down on me. But my absolute favourite nasty habit was that every single time I would signal to change lanes, and I mean every single time, if there was a car behind me in the next lane, it would speed up when my turn signal came on, making it impossible for me to make the lane change and causing me to miss exits and turns. What a way to cause accidents, folks, by getting tourists really frazzled! The other thing that irked me was inconsistent signage to tourist-related things. For example, there is an inexpensive parking lot for visitors of the Arch. You get a few signs indicating which way to go, then good luck, you’re on your own! Even though there is a nice big RV lot, I would not go there without having first plotted out the route and having a navigator.

Okay, enough of that! When I wasn’t hopelessly lost with an equally confused GPS, I was having an amazing day! St Louis was on my bucket list because of its place in American expansion history, but I never really read up much on it. I had no idea that its touristy part would feel so quaint and old worldly. I love walkable cities and appreciated St Louis’ acres and acres of green spaces, walking paths, and easy to navigate city streets. If someone had told me that I would one day visit St Louis while traveling east in a modern day covered wagon, I would have laughed. It just goes to show that you need to leave room in your life plans for surprises.

This post is just generally about my day and I will shortly follow up with individual posts about each attraction, with most of the information given in the photo gallery for each post.

The first thing on the agenda was to find the right parking lot that is just $6 for the day. I’m not sure I found it, but I did find a lot that said $5 for the day that was reasonably close to the Arch, so that was good enough for me. I put a $5 bill in the machine and that got me two gold coins back. Once I was parked, I looked at them and realised they were US $1 coins, which I have only seen once, back in 2007, and which I had a dickens of a time getting people to accept. So, I had put $5 in and got $2 back in change. Why? I went back to the entrance and read the fine print on the sign. Early bird discount! I’d left early to be one of the first up the Arch before the throngs came and it paid off. 🙂

It took a bit of guesswork to find the Arch, but I finally did and was on the last uncrowded tour. I came down and went to the Museum of Westward Expansion, which is in the base of the Arch. It was still really early at that point, so I decided to do the City Museum. The gal at the information kiosk under the Arch said that the City Museum wasn’t walking distance, but it was only about 17 blocks, of which I’d have to walk three just to get back to my car.

By the time I was five blocks or so from the City Museum, it was just past 11:00 and I was hungry. Since the City Museum is interactive and promotes physical activity, I decided it would be a good idea to have lunch first. I was walking down Washington Avenue, a major thoroughfare, so I figured I’d come across a few restaurants. I did, and one of them was a sushi bar, Mizu. It was hot out, so I didn’t want anything too heavy, so this was perfect! The sushi was excellent; I was very impressed! $18 including the tip got me a miso soup that was included in my lunch combo of a tuna roll with four pieces of nigiri, and I added one piece octopus. The salmon sashimi was particularly memorable as it literally melted in my mouth, the way good sashimi should. Mizi Sushi Bar was definitely an expected surprise and I am so glad I gave it a try!

I then spent a couple of hours at the City Museum until the chaos of the children variety drove me out of there.

It was only about 2:00, so I ambled back to the car, and, after much trouble, made it to the Forest Park section of town to visit the Missouri Museum of History. I got out of there in about an hour and decided that I was done for the day. So, I set the GPS for home, was promptly squeezed out of the lane I needed to merge into, and found myself detouring through a section of St Louis I’m pretty sure tourists aren’t supposed to see. I would have taken pictures, but I was afraid to stop the car. 😀

More below:

first glimpse of the Arch

first glimpse of the Arch

first good glimpse of the Arch

first good glimpse of the Arch

old worldly kind of feel

old worldly kind of feel

Eads bridge

Eads bridge

the Arch

the Arch

the Drury Inn was lovely

the Drury Inn was lovely

Mizi Sushi bar; excellent!

Mizi Sushi bar; excellent!

Next to Mizi, a pub was serving a beer and cheese soup. If I hadn't been so full, I would have been tempted. :)

Next to Mizi, a pub was serving a beer and cheese soup. If I hadn’t been so full, I would have been tempted. 🙂

nice building seen from the corner of Washington and Tucker

nice building seen from the corner of Washington and Tucker

This guy was cleaning the street, and I mean cleaning it. I've never seen someone apply cleanser and then scrub a city garbage can before! St Louis was very clean and I complimente this man on his hard work.

This guy was cleaning the street, and I mean cleaning it. I’ve never seen someone apply cleanser and then scrub a city garbage can before! St Louis was very clean and I complimente this man on his hard work.

Illinois is across the river

Illinois is across the river

final glimpse of the Arch

final glimpse of the Arch

ice cream truck! haven't seen one of those in ages!

ice cream truck! haven’t seen one of those in ages!

walking down to the river

walking down to the river

Eads bridge, which spans the Mississippi River

Eads bridge, which spans the Mississippi River

Eads bridge, which spans the Mississippi River

Eads bridge, which spans the Mississippi River

Salem, Oregon

Today, I drove to Salem, capital of Oregon, to visit with Joan. She had an afternoon all planned out for us and I was happy to let a native guide take the lead!

First stop was a yummy lunch at Adam’s Rib Smokehouse. I had a BBQ pulled chicken sandwich with a side of hush puppies. The meat was very flavourful, with a sweet and tangy BBQ sauce, and the bun was particularly tasty. Very nice sandwich, if not too healthy! I haven’t had hush puppies since I first discovered them in 2008 during my adventures south of the Mason-Dixon line so they were a real treat!

Next, Joan took me to a museum she’d always wanted to go to, the A.C. Gilbert Discovery Village and Children’s Museum. A.C. Gilbert is the fellow who invented the Erector Set. This is the kind of place a grown up can’t really go alone without feeling silly. But as a pair? I haven’t played like that in a very long time! I even got on a swing. Joan and I just laughed and laughed and laughed. Such fun!

After the museum, she took me to the Salem Carousel. This beautiful carousel features hand carved horses, each with its own name and unique personality. I can’t remember the last time I was on a carousel. At $1.50 each for a ride, it’s an affordable outing.

Finally, we headed to the Sweet Papaya for dessert/a snack. This is a self-serve frozen yoghurt joint where you pay by the weight of your confection. You can mix together as many flavours of yoghurt as you want, then add candies, fresh fruit, sauces, mini cakes, and more. Yu-um.

Awesome day, Joan. Thank you!!!

state capitol

state capitol

state capitol

state capitol

Adam's Rib

Adam’s Rib

A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village

A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village

A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village

A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village

looking out over the gaming and music area; each table had a popular game like chess and snakes & ladders

looking out over the gaming and music area; each table had a popular game like chess and snakes & ladders

staircase and stained glass

staircase and stained glass

ahoy matey!

ahoy matey!

fun with shadows

fun with shadows

China exhibit

China exhibit

bridge over a 'river'

bridge over a ‘river’

wasp nest

wasp nest

wasp nest

wasp nest

Joan by the BIG chair

Joan by the BIG chair

Willamet River

Willamet River

Joan on a BIG chair!

Joan on a BIG chair!

the bubble master!

the bubble master!

creating a giant bubble

creating a giant bubble

giant bubble

giant bubble

entrance to a display looks like we're going behind a waterfall

entrance to a display looks like we’re going behind a waterfall

beautiful staircase

beautiful staircase

Joan got a kick out of the cow and insisted on a photo of me 'milking' it!

Joan got a kick out of the cow and insisted on a photo of me ‘milking’ it!

gorgeous stained glass

gorgeous stained glass

the chess set from The Chamber of Secrets?

the chess set from The Chamber of Secrets?

mammoth dig

mammoth dig

one of several giant xylophones

one of several giant xylophones

A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village

A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village

inside the Erector maze

inside the Erector maze

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Atomic energy lab set!

Atomic energy lab set!

magic trick set

magic trick set

Erector sets

Erector sets

the Erector maze

the Erector maze

Doing my best Dr. Horrible impression

Doing my best Dr. Horrible impression

A.C. Gilbert's Discovery Village

A.C. Gilbert’s Discovery Village

Willamet River

Willamet River

the Salem carousel

the Salem carousel

the Salem carousel

the Salem carousel

I picked this horse because of the kitty!

I picked this horse because of the kitty!

each carousel horse had a name; this was mine

each carousel horse had a name; this was mine

Sweet Papaya self-serve frozen yoghurt

Sweet Papaya self-serve frozen yoghurt

3 kinds of yoghurt (pina colada, cheese cake, mango) with peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, brownie pieces, Oreo crumbs, pineapple, papaya, and some tasty little strawberry bubble things

3 kinds of yoghurt (pina colada, cheese cake, mango) with peanut butter chips, white chocolate chips, brownie pieces, Oreo crumbs, pineapple, papaya, and some tasty little strawberry bubble things

Out and About In and Near Prince George

Prince George, located at the confluence of the Fraser and Nechako rivers, is called BC’s Northern Capital. It is a beacon of civilization in a vast and empty land of black spruce and open blue sky set against snow-capped mountains. Prince George’s primary industry is lumber, followed closely by tourism.

Yesterday had me move from the Bee Lazy Park to my friend’s place of work (10km north of the RV park) where I parked Miranda for the day while I went exploring for a few hours.

There wasn’t much ‘touristy’ stuff that interested me. The town is renown for its railroad museum, but I was feeling very ‘meh’ about that, so the only museum I did yesterday was The Exploration Place. This small museum is a hodgepodge of mostly hands on exhibits. It didn’t take long to tour, but is still worth a visit. I paid for the ‘deluxe’ entrance that included a simulator ride. Having ridden one in Las Vegas that had me racing down the Strip in an Enterprise shuttle with Klingons firing full phasers at us and another that had me assimilated by the Borg (I’m Geek!Girl and proud of it! 😀 ), I didn’t have very high expectations for a small town, small museum sim ride, so I was very pleasantly surprised by the fun, ten minute ‘under water’ ride.

stained glass windows at The Exploration Place

stained glass windows at The Exploration Place (blurry because of no flash)

I turned from the stained glass to find these guys! Yes, I jumped!

I turned from the stained glass to find these guys! Yes, I jumped!

I then stopped to watch a movie that was straight out of my childhood. I’m fairly confident that it was my first viewing of it that gave me the bug for the north:

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There are strange things done in the midnight sun
By the men who moil for gold;
The Arctic trails have their secret tales
That would make your blood run cold;
The Northern Lights have seen queer sights,
But the queerest they ever did see
Was that night on the marge of Lake Lebarge
I cremated Sam McGee.

Nechako River

Nechako River

I spent most of the afternoon at home (in a parking lot; love this life!) watching a movie before following him out to his spread, about 25km from town. It was a rather dizzying drive here (so much so that I asked for help back to civilization this morning!), but it was so worth it! I was especially grateful for the offer of cold beer once I was squared away. 🙂

Today, I decided that some hiking was in order, so I set off along the desolate Yellowhead highway, heading east back towards Edmonton, to visit the only inland rainforest in the world.

The views were, well:

Yellowhead Highway heading east towards McBride

Yellowhead Highway heading east towards McBride

Unfortunately, the trip was for naught; I should have brought my snowshoes!

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The trip wasn’t a waste, though. The drive really gave me a taste of what I’m going to encounter soon enough; endless stretches of monotonous solitude broken by fantastic scenery.

One final thing to say: it’s only May and I’m only in Prince George, so I know that I need to make some serious window covering preparations for the 21 hours of daylight that the Yukon gets in June. It felt like high noon at 6PM tonight and things are only going to get worse! Or better, I suppose, if you can sleep when it’s bright daylight out… 🙂