Thursday, December 13, 2001

Last day in New Orleans....extremely humid, spotty rain all day. People say it's cool, but I'm still sweating buckets and getting the clammy, greasy feeling on my skin.

Today I did a bit of packing, and headed back downtown. My mission today was to check out the New Orleans Museum of Art. I got down to Canal Street, and through talking to several extremely rude people decided to take the 46 City Park bus. Big mistake! Actually it wasn't too bad....definitely went through some questionable neighborhoods along Basin Street and Orleans Street. Seemed like I was in the Projects. Unemployment must be running pretty high in those neighborhoods, coz everyone was out on their front stoops, not really doing much of anything. We ended up on the west (er...uptown) side of City Park, so I had to walk across to the other side to get in on the Esplanade Ave. entrance. I finally made it to the Museum, and spent all afternoon there as well.

Fascinating variety of art there, for sure. The first floor was devoted to special exhibits, right now that being the Martele Silver Collection. These were handcrafted silverware pieces created by craftsmen of the Gorham Mfg. Company of Rhode Island from 1897-1912. Apparently they were the first response to Art Nouveau design in North America, and were progenitors to the modernist movement. They were figured very prominently at the 1900 Paris World's Fair and were extremely sought after over the next two decades. These pieces displayed incredible craftsmanship. I kept thinking about the first class table settings on the Titanic when I saw all of this stuff.

Disappointingly, the 17th century Dutch artist exhibits on the first floor were closed for some reason. I followed a tour group around for awhile, but the guide was really dumbing stuff down for the fat American tourists that were there, so I ventured off on my own again. There were also lots of 15th to 18th cent. Italian Renaissance paintings on the main and 2nd floor galleries. The second floor also housed French 17-19th century art, and European, American, and Louisianian 19th and 20th century pieces, including an impressive collection of Picassos, Renoirs, Rodins, and Degas. Edgar Degas' family lived in New Orleans, and he visited here often. He was the only French impressionist to paint in the U.S.

Of special note on the 2nd floor were the Decorative Arts section, including a huge ceramics collection, esp. Belleek and Meissen porcelain. There was some glassware pieces there from well over 2,000 years ago. The Faberge section was very cool. The detail that was involved in the pieces was incredible, and what's even more incredible is that most of the detail was made from precious jewels, metals, etc. There were three Imperial Easter eggs from 1893, 1895, and 1912. There were many flowers, clocks, and such other things as cigarette boxes, opera glasses, and photo frames. What I thought was really interesting was the Imperial Basket of Lilies of the Valley. It was a tiny arrangement of these flowers, but all made out of gold, diamonds, and other precious stones.

The third floor contained all of the global art collections. There was a huge variety of aboriginal pieces from Oceania, Africa, and North and South America in the pre-colonial periods. There was also a large collection of Japanese, Chinese and Indian Art, such as Chinese porcelain jars, Dynasty ceramics, Japanese silk screens, and Indian paper art using tempera and gold.

After I left the cold, air conditioned museum, the humidity and warmth outside felt like getting hit with water. I took another bus down Esplanade Avenue, took one last walk through the French Quarter, and had a last meal at a Creole restaurant named Gumbolaya consisting of Crawfish cakes, Gumbo, Red beans and rice, and Jambalaya. It was fantastic. I walked down Bourbon Street to Canal and caught the Magazine bus back to Bill and Ed's.

I'm going to relax for the rest of the evening. My flight for Denver leaves tomorrow morning at 9:30. I took out some more money today - hopefully enough for a cab to the airport and an airporter bus out of Denver International to downtown Denver and back while I try to kill seven hours tomorrow afternoon. Then it's off to Calgary tomorrow evening, and to Jeff's Christmas party as soon as I get home. *Sigh* ...another trip coming to an end, but I'll be glad to get back to my arctic desert home.

I spent WAY more money here than I thought I would. The conversion simply destroys you. A Canadian pays on par here what they would back home, plus having to add 60%. This will be my last trip to the United States for a long time. It seems ironic that Canadians can pretty much go anywhere else in the world and get great rates on the Canadian dollar, except for here. And where did I decide to go vacationing? You guessed it.....

At least I got to send my dance gear order from Action Dancewear to Bill and Ed's place with the 2 pairs of M.Stevens tights and 3 BalTogs bodysuits. That'll save me some hefty duty charges when I cross the border with it packed away in my suitcase. I also got the "Hard Heroes" movie sent here -- the customs office wouldn't allow it across the border because of it's content. I mean, please, it's a wrestling/bondage/hero-villain fantasy. What a bunch of prudes. That's coming across the border with me as well!

Next trip? Well, I had been thinking about going somewhere in the spring, but that may be a little to premature. I'm definitely going to Montreal-Ottawa this summer for a week again, but Joe and I are thinking about Mexico for two weeks in the fall. Cancun for one week, Cozumel for the other. Now that sounds like an awesome time!

I love New Orleans...I'll be back again someday.