Thursday, June 30, 2011

American Society of Mammalogists Meeting June 24-28, 2011 or My Trip to Portland, OR

I recently attended the annual meeting for the American Society of Mammalogists in Portland, OR. Despite its reputation, the weather held up for most of the time I was there, and we only got some drizzle on the last day.

I really liked Portland, and it's a place I would definitely go back for another non-work related visit. I really liked how easy it was to get around, how relatively clean it was, and all there was to do. I went to the Saturday Market (which actually goes on all weekend), which was really neat to see. It's basically a huge craft fair/flea market and you can find a lot of unique hand made items. I got a nifty bronze and copper barrette.
Portland State University was also really nice, it's right in the middle of the city but it doesn't feel overly city-like when you're actually on the main part of the campus. During the first day of the meeting there was a huge farmer's market going on right in the plaza area of campus, which made for a really convenient place to get lunch. The growing season there is several weeks behind NM, so it was a treat to see all the late spring veggies and berries.

I stayed with a friend while at the meeting. Fred's mother lives in Gresham, OR, which is really close to Portland. Fred, Matt, and I camped out in her mom's living room, and we enjoyed the added company of Jack the dog and Darwin the cat. We took the light rail in to get to and from the meeting, which was about an hour long trip, but it was convenient none-the-less. I can always appreciate cities where you don't really need a car. I could live in a place like Gresham, or any of the other cities near Portland. They're all just really convenient, and you can get just about anywhere between the light rail, a bus, and some walking. Portland is actually pretty eco-friendly, as far as cities go. They recycle everything, and it's one of the few cities I've seen that composts.

The meeting itself was very enjoyable. I personally prefer smaller meetings to the supersized meetings I sometimes go to. This was my first mammal meeting, and it's the first meeting where I was in the minority as a paleoecologist. Unfortunately, there was a mix up with my abstract and I ended up presenting in a session that wasn't ideal. But, the show must go on, and it went alright. Not my best talk, but certainly not my worst. I did have a couple of people approach me about my work with some interest, which goes to show that I am, in fact, my own toughest critic.

The final day of the meeting was really good because I saw some really interesting posters, got some really good deals on reference books, and the keynote talk was also fantastic. Liz Hadley from Stanford gave the talk, and it was on Pleistocene paleoecology and really highlighted how paleontology is relevant to modern ecology. The whole talk was basically about all the things that keep me up at night, so I really enjoyed it. Liz is also just really cool and a really great speaker. She's definitely on my list of amazing female scientist role models.

Here are a few non-meeting related highlights from my trip. I know it starts to sound a bit like a travel guide, but honestly, if a good time can't be had at a conference (or during field work for that matter), then you're doing it wrong:

Multnomah Falls - a really good afternoon hike, beautiful scenery, and I saw TWO pikas. Very appropriate for my first mammal meeting! If for some reason you don't know what a pika is...

South Park Seafood Grill & Wine Bar - I was disappointed with the mussel & sausage appetizer, but everything else I tried was delicious. Kind of pricey, I recommend the butternut squash ravioli, and Fred enjoyed the smoked salmon salad. The wine was also very nice, and I had a Sparkling Elderflower cocktail which was fabulous.

Saturday Market - Lots of hand made goodies! North Waterfront Park and Ankeny Plaza. The portion near the waterfront has the most hand made stuff.

The Seafood Groto - This place is tiny but good! Matt and I broke a cardinal rule by going to a restaurant on a Monday, but we still got a nice (but again, pricey) dinner. The crab stuffed mushroom caps and hazelnut crusted halibut are really great.

Saturday Farmer's Market at PSU - Located right in the middle of Portland State University is a really nice farmer's market. An excellent place to get a bargain lunch that is delicious. You can also buy really fresh fish, and the berries in June are just beautiful.

Powell's Books - The world's largest book store that takes up over a city block. I got some good deals on books, and they have just about everything.

Voodoo Donuts - They're going through a remodel right now, so the hours can be kind of iffy, and if you try to go during the day on the weekend, be prepared to wait in line for at least an hour or more, no exageration. We went at 11pm on a Tuesday, but were still able to get a decent selection considering they were out of a lot of things. They also have a really large selection of vegan donuts, and I've heard their maple bacon donut (so not vegan) is really good. I'll definitely go back to try and get it.

Hotlips Pizza - Definitely a good place for a delicious slice and good drink, right near PSU. They offer up a variety of guest microbrews and they make their own fruit sodas. I got the raspberry soda which was on tap, and two slices of veggie/vegan pizza. You can get a large slice of pizza and a (good) beer for $6. Did I mention they have HUGE fresh cookies? The service is also really quick and they have both indoor and outdoor seating.

Rogue Brewery - There are a lot of breweries in Portland, and I want to go back and try them all (wishful thinking, haha), but this is arguably the most famous. I went to the Rogue Hall on campus, it's under a dorm for Pete's sake. They have all their beers you can find nationwide in stores, plus a bunch of others which you can only get at the brewery. I was very happy with their Mocha Porter. Also, there was free Rogue beer at all the social events for the meeting, and the Hazelnut Brown Nectar Ale is really really good.

McCormick & Schmick's Pilsner Room - Another good place to get a beer, not to mention the best place I did my networking at the conference. They have an extensive selection of guest brews on rotation, and they do their own on the premises. Most of their beers can be had for about $5 a pint, or they have a sampler of 6 varieties for $9. Plus it's down by the marina which has a nice view.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Writing Project

I need to start taking advantage of good things that come my way. Starting now.

Felisa was asked to write a chapter for a book, and the other day she invited me to help her with it. We met yesterday to discuss what we were going to do, but what I mostly got out of the conversation is that she thought it would be fun/enjoyable/a good idea to include me. She generally hates writing book chapters, but seems more excited about doing this one. Needless to say, I was surprised and pleased.

The book is about paleoecology for modern ecologists and conservationists. We haven't completely settled on what our chapter will be about, but Felisa made it clear that this is a collaboration and that I have a pretty hefty say in the matter. So far we've decided, very broadly, that we're including climate change in whatever it is we end up writing about. We've got it sort of narrowed down, but only time and research will reveal what "wants" to get written.

I don't think I'm at liberty to give any more details about the book, other than I'm excited to get started working on it. Future updates will probably just be about how the whole thing is progressing. This new project will give me something else to work on during my self imposed "writing time", which I've been neglecting really badly. Between this and the manuscript, I have a lot to work on over the next few months.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Failure: The Ultimate Self Fulfilling Prophecy

Over the past couple of weeks I've been spending a lot of time working on this one particular data set. After several hours of tinkering, I'd find a new and easier way that I could have performed the task. I went through this frustration for about a week, then realized my original data set didn't have everything I wanted, and it also looked funky for reasons I'm still trying to figure out. These kinds of revelations take a lot out of me, to the point where I even look exhausted. Moping about the building doesn't help, and sometimes I just need to give up on a project for a period of time otherwise I get too discouraged.

I decided I needed to reevaluated my priorities for the near future. I'm giving a talk next Sunday, and I had been neglecting this looming deadline for months. I dropped the new projects I had been hopelessly working on to give some attention to an old friend: my master's research.

Sadly, the project I did for my master's thesis is only slightly closer to being published than it was a year ago, but giving a talk on the topic injected me with a little motivation. I had started putting together an outline for the paper. I got all the way to the results section, but had to stop because I needed to do some more statistical analyses. What I had so far was adequate for my thesis, but not for anything I wanted to send to a journal. I did those analyses over the past couple days, so not only do I feel more secure in giving my talk next weekend, but I can move on through the results section of my manuscript outline and on to the discussion, the meat of the paper.

Thank God I had this productive distraction from what I had been doing. I sometimes get stuck in a rut where something doesn't go right, and the next thing I know I'm stuck in a spiral of failure. Hopefully when I come back to my other projects I'll be fresh and have a different (i.e. better) outlook. Among other reasons, this is why I like having multiple projects going at once. If I had to keep working on the same old thing, even if it wasn't going well, I'd go crazy.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

To Move or Not To Move

When Matt and I were first looking for a place to live in Albuquerque we only had a couple days to find a place and sign a lease. We didn't know where the good and bad places were and were trying to do the best we could from Pennsylvania. We found an affordable place with adequate room and a nice landlord, but the location left a lot to be desired. We figured we'd stay for a while, then move once we figured the city out and our lease was up.

Our lease ends in July, and we're not exactly on the fast track to moving out of here. We both really want a place with a yard so that we can have a garden, but so far most places we've looked at in our price range haven't been so great. There's the temptation to just settle for something, but I really don't want to move again while we're here.

The truth is there isn't really much rush for us to move right away. Even though our lease is up, we can still rent month to month without any problem. I was feeling a sense of urgency about the whole thing over the past couple of weeks, but I think that's left over from being in a college town. The housing market was rather cut throat in State College, because there were so many students. Now that we're in a regular city, housing options pop up periodically throughout the year, and there isn't as big of a mad dash to try to find something.

The biggest issue for me right now is not being able to putter around in a yard. We're not supposed to have ANYTHING outside of our apartments. I'd like to at the very least be able to grow some lettuce and herbs, but that's not an option at the moment. The closest I can come to fresh local produce is the farmer's market, and that can be expensive.

I'll get my yard eventually. I'm just sick of apartment living and being in a sketchy area. But I can suck it up for a while longer.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fires in the Southwest

Over the past few weeks there have been several wildfires throughout the southwest, including my state. The biggest and scariest of these is a wallow fire that has been going on for 11 days in east-central Arizona. With the drought and the strong winds, fire danger is a serious problem in this region. From what I've heard, this is a human induced fire.

I was sitting in my living room around 7pm on Monday, and I noticed the light in my kitchen looked weird. I realized that the light was coming from the window, and the weird color was from the sky which was a strange brownish orange. We had been getting smoke from Arizona for a couple days, but that was the worst I had seen it. In addition to being able to smell the smoke, there were particles falling from the sky. Of course, this is just ash, none of it is on fire, but the flash from my camera made the particles look a lot like snow.

As of yesterday, this is the second largest fire in Arizona's history, and it doesn't really show any signs of stopping soon. The cities of Eagar and Springerville have been evacuated as firefighters work to try and save those areas. Another major concern now is the possibility that the fires will take down some major electrical lines, which could cause cascading blackouts in Arizona, New Mexico, and parts of Texas.

I don't feel as though I am in any imminent danger, the smoke here in Albuquerque wanes in the morning but then is thicker in the evenings when the winds change. It's more of an inconvenience for me at this point, my asthma hasn't been too bad. However, my heart goes out to the people in Arizona who are helpless and can only watch as their homes and communities are consumed. I hope that we get some rain and that the winds die off before much more destruction happens.

I was talking to a fellow student yesterday who experienced the Cerro Grande fire in Los Alamos, NM during 2000. She was evacuated from her home. The smoke in their air here from the Arizona fire is causing her anxiety, even though we're in no real danger at the moment. I guess when you go through such psychological stress, the physical affects can last for a long time afterward.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Gator Huntin' in the Bayou: Louisiana Trip Part 5

On my last full day of my visit in Louisiana, Bea and I took in an air boat tour. When we first started planning my visit she had mentioned this activity, and I was looking forward to it since. It turned out to be a great way to look at some of the really cool scenery and also look at natural historical stuff. Plus, the guy driving the boat (I didn't catch his name) had an awesome Louisiana accent.

This is an air boat. As you can see, the propeller doesn't go into the water. It has a flat bottom, and doesn't need much (in some instances any) water to move.

These boats don't come equipped with seat belts, but there is a little bar that keeps passengers from flying off the side. In all seriousness though, it was a really smooth ride and once we got going it felt like we were flying. They are, however, very loud boats. For most of the time we were moving at full speed I had ear protection on, although I did take them off near the end of the trip and it wasn't so bad.

The objective (or at least one of the objectives) was to see alligators (gators) in their natural habitat. The area we were going around is government property that is leased by the air boat tour company. Gator huntin' isn't allowed in this area, and it's kind of a refuge for them. Most gators don't live to be more than 5 feet in length, so gator farms will raise them to be that size to give them a head start before releasing any. These farms, in addition to releasing a certain number of animals back into the wild, also sell the skins and meat for profit. The bayou we were in had a mix of wild and farm raised gators. Farmed gators have a notch taken out of the tip of the tail, so that's how you can distinguish them from a wild gator. Of course, they fight so much they may end up with missing parts anyway... like this guy...

This gator's name is Tripod, and he's about 9-feet long. It's not obvious from the pictures, but he is missing his front left leg. He probably lost is sparring with another male for the rights to a female. This is not uncommon, and there are much larger male gators in the area, which we unfortunately didn't find. The guide spent some time looking for Vicky, a 13-foot male. Apparently it was mating season, so there weren't as many large male gators around, but that just means I'll have to come back at another time of the year!

The way in which the guides get the gators to come up to the boat is kind of insane. They use marshmallows (or gator crack, as our guide called it). They love them, which is convenient since they float and the guides can plop them on the surface to make ripples. The gators sense the movement on their snout and come toward the boat. It's actually pretty ingenious, until you see something like this...

Oh yeah, he's totally leaning in to kiss the gator. That little maneuver gained this guide $5 from me, personally.

 We spend the rest of our 2-hour tour driving around looking for whatever we could find.

A Great Egret.
A common moorhen, who also liked the marshmallows! (There was a gator in the water about 15 feet away.)

A very large turtle, he didn't like us and he jumped off his log when we got close.
Another exciting moment was when I got to hold a juvenile gator. It wasn't a wild gator, but that's fine with me, I didn't particularly want to lose any fingers. It was so cute, and the longer we handled it the limper it got, probably trying to convince us that he/she was dead or something. All of us who held it managed to avoid getting peed on (gatorade). It was cool to see it up close, I got a good shot showing the pores around it's mouth that helps them sense movement in the water.

Look at those teeth! He/she is going to be fierce when they grow up (or a marshmallow junkie).
Aside from seeing and touching gators, the best part of the trip was getting to see all the scenery. The bayou is beautiful in an kind of eerie way. Most of the live oaks and swamp cedars are draped in Spanish moss. It's like there are thousands of dark graceful veils hanging off the trees.

When we got back, I took some pictures of the inside of "Air Boat Adventure Tours", because the place was definitely quirky and like something you read about in creepy books. They had stuffed gators and skins all over the place. They also had a holding tank filled with gators. There was a fairly large albino gator which came from a farm. This animal can never be released into the wild, it's color would have made it stand out too much and it would likely die. This animal also had another strange feature, it had a double eye on the left side of its head. It only had the one eye socket there, but you could clearly see two pupils. I don't know if that affects its vision, but I imagine it must.

The albino gator. If you look carefully you can see the double eye. The right eye was normal.

Most of the gators in the tank were pretty small, and were just kind of hanging around. Normally I don't like captive animals, but these guys didn't appear to care. I'm of the belief now that gators are pretty big couch potatoes.

This shows the eye glow that hunters and trappers use to find gators. They hunt at night, when the animals can't see very well, and the glowing eyes give them away.
This more or less concludes my Louisiana adventure. For a four day visit, we did a whole lot, and it was exhausting but super fun. I would have to say it was one of my more successful "short" trips. Bea was really great about coming up with stuff to do, and I can't wait to go back. I think Louisiana is such a neat place, the people and culture are really different. Maybe next time I'll go on one of those ghost or Voodoo tours in New Orleans, that would be awesome.

It was really good to see Bea again, as well. I'm terrible about keeping up with people, I'm just not a phone person. I was just starting to really know her when we were living together in State College and then we all moved. It was also great to see the girls again, I miss having a cat around.

Lani and Luna

Monday, June 6, 2011

Louisiana Trip Part 4: The French Quarter

No trip to New Orleans would be complete without a trip to the French Quarter. After a delicious breakfast of crab cake Benedict (seriously!) we once again took the long trek across the causeway to the south shore.

Our first stop on our walk about was the Southern Candymakers to get the world's best pralines. There was a huge line, and this place was tiny. We actually came in one side of the building, saw the mass of people, and went back around to the other side of the building to get into line. It moved really quickly, and in short order I was enjoying a fresh pecan praline.

I would have to say the best thing (other than restaurants) about the French Quarter is St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square. The cathedral is one of those old enormous churches that has really cool architecture and artwork inside. I also love that it's right in the middle of everything, there are shops and residences literally right around it. I didn't get any pictures (photography wasn't allowed), but it was truly a beautiful building.

Right outside of the cathedral was Jackson Square, which has a beautiful little gardened park which was apparently designed by the same guy who did Central Park in New York City. The park is an oasis of trees, flowers, and grass in the middle of a city. There was a banana tree producing fruit right there in the middle of New Orleans!

On the brick walks around Jackson Square there was all sorts of art being sold by local artists. I think my favorite pieces were of pre-Katrina images done on remains salvaged after the hurricane (anything from building doors to shutters from windows). There were also people painting and making art right there, and some of the techniques were really fascinating. There were apparently shops all along the periphery of the walkway, but I was so taken with the artwork that I completely missed them.

One of the other great things about Jackson Square, is that there are all kinds of people playing music. These are really talented musicians. There was a jazz/Dixieland type band playing that we stopped to listen to for a while. I was able to get some shots from Bea's iPhone from the steps of the cathedral.

We wandered around some more, I bought a funky dress from a vendor, and Bea found some interesting old dishes to add to her growing collection at a neat antique shop. Hunger was starting to set in, but I was also feeling kind of sluggish from all the rich food we had been having all weekend. We decided to go to the Gumbo Shop, and we each got gumbo and a salad. The gumbo was good, very different from what I had 2 days previous. The salad though, wow, the dressing was amazing. It was a pecan vinaigrette, and the fresh greens were nice too. I really just needed some kind of vegetable in my stomach.

Since this was the French Quarter, we had to go down Bourbon Street to get a large crazy drink. Cities as a whole are kind of stinky, it's one of the reasons I don't want to live in one. Bourbon Street smelled like every gross bar I had ever been in, but that's to be expected, because there is some kind of bar or porn shop every 5 feet. It was a cultural experience. There are no public drinking laws, so the objective was to find a Hand Grenade ("New Orleans' most powerful drink", according to my glass) and do some more wandering around. We went to the Tropical Isle to obtain this neon concoction, which had the decor to match the Hand Grenade; the whole place was done up in green and electric yellow. The bar. The floor. The bathroom. The "Hand Grenade Flavored Condoms" dispenser. Everything.

With my icy cold pineapple flavored drink in hand, we continued our wandering. Eventually I finished my drink, and we made it back to the street we were parked on. We made a stop at Lush to get some bath products. We also make one more trip to the candy store where I bought a box of pralines for Matt (and me).

Over all, I really liked the French Quarter. I'm a fan of people watching and wandering, and there is a lot of both to be done. The city itself is kind of surreal, like something out of the past. Most of the buildings have the really beautiful Spanish ironwork on balconies. You also discover all kinds of "secret" courtyards withing restaurants and shops, which are pleasant little shady areas that come in handy in such a hot and humid climate. I'd definitely go back, even just for the pralines.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Oak Alley: Louisiana Trip Part 3

I took a day off from blogging yesterday, Matt was gone for a couple days and came back in the morning, so I was eager to spend time with him, away from the computer.

I last left off on the Saturday afternoon of my visit: Bea and I drove off into the country to go visit a plantation. On the way we passed through cuts of lush forest, and at one point the sky had 8+ white egrets. I mention this because I forgot what dense forest looks like, and even from a highway clearing it's impressive.

We arrived at the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie in the early afternoon. Back when it was operational, it was a sugar plantation. Now it is preserved by a historical society, the mansion (built in 1839) has been restored for tours, and the grounds are used for a variety of tourist and entertaining purposes. Around the mansion there are rows of live oaks, which are estimated to be 300 years old. These massive trees can live to be about 600 years in age. In the back of the house are some younger oaks, about 150 years old. They've figured out where the slave cabins were in the back of the property, and the historical society is in the initial stages of rebuilding those. I'd be interested to see how that turns out, and it's good they are working to acknowledge the people who were arguably the most important presence on the plantation.

The mansion itself has a pretty interesting history, and went through a handful of owners before the historical society received it. In particular, one family allowed their sons to race horses from the stables in the back of the property, to the front of the property... and the fastest way was through the house. I can't imagine this, but sometimes wealthy people are weird and do strange things. The mansion has been used in a variety of television shows and movies, such as Interview With the Vampire. I'm sure most people would recognize it, the oak trees leading up to the house is pretty memorable.

I don't have pictures from my own camera (always check to make sure you have a memory card before you go on a trip, sigh), so I'm waiting to get the pictures from Bea, who let me snap some shots on her iPhone. I hope they came out okay, it was such a pretty place. They have cabins that you can rent, and I'd love to come back and spend more time looking around.

Here are pictures!

Artsy photo of a live oak.

Waiting for the tour to begin.

The Mississippi River, flooded right up to the levee.

View of the walk up to the mansion from the 2nd floor balcony.

More live oaks.

Live oaks and the mansion (tourists for scale).

View of the plantation from on top of the levee.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Louisiana Trip: Part 2

Saturday morning Bea and I headed to the local farmers market. This was one of the nicer farmers markets I've been to, and I think we were both surprised at the variety of stuff that was there. I got a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice to enjoy as I wandered around, and I bought a couple of snacks to enjoy over the next couple days. "Theresa's Italian Cookies" was selling much more than cookies, and I ended up going home with some tasty granola and vanilla custard. Bea went home with some local free range (really really free range) eggs, and some grass fed beef. Everything looked so good, I'm glad we didn't stay too long because I would have spent all of my money.

After the farmers market we went to the "English Tea Room" in Covington for some girly tea time. This place was absolutely adorable, and also kind of quirky. Nothing pretentious about this place: there was a London black cab in the front yard, a red phone booth, and an adorable scotty dog named Nigel who was hell bent on coming inside and getting attention. We enjoyed a teacup of butternut squash soup (seasoned with pumpkin spice tea, such a good idea, I'll need to try doing that myself) with spinach and artichoke quiche, and a savory cheddar cheese scone. I got their maple creme black tea, and we had another plate of chocolate chip scones with clotted cream, preserves, and lemon curd. Of course, I had to get some thing to take home with me and I ended up buying the tea that Aubreya had, which was a loose leaf cardamom black tea. 

Next Post: Oak Alley Plantation

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Land of "Union, Justice, and Confidence" (Louisiana)

This past weekend I finally made it out to visit my friend and former roomie, Aubreya, who lives in Louisiana. The timing worked out great, we had a full four days to see the sites, shop, and eat delicious food. It was a drastic change of scenery from New Mexico, it was hot an humid, which is something I'd nearly forgotten about since moving to the southwest.

For the sake of comprehensiveness and brevity, I'm going to stretch my recollections of the trip over multiple blog posts.

It's surprising for me when I think about how much I've changed in the past 5 years when it comes to traveling. I used to dread traveling and flying alone, and I vividly recall freak out moments when things wouldn't go as planned. This time around I was delayed 3 hours (on top of my 2 hour layover), so I spent a very boring 5 hours in the Dallas Airport on my way to New Orleans, only this time I just kicked back, read a bunch of papers, and wandered around. The disappointing thing was that I ended up getting into LA late, and I ate airport food instead of something worthwhile. BUT, I eventually made it, my plane got in around 9:30pm, and I was comfortable at Aubreya's house by 11pm. We stayed up late, had a glass of wine, and caught up. Bea and I started having really interesting conversations right before she moved out last year, it was too bad we didn't get to do more of that. That always seems to happen with me and friends, I start getting close to people and then one or both of us move on to the next thing in our life and we end up in different places.

On my first morning of my visit I was awoken by Lani and Luna (the cats) pretty early, but I lazed around for a while. Lani serenaded me from the bathroom, and I finally relented after she started climbing all over me. Our plan was to get brunch before heading out across the lake, and we went to this really fabulous place in Old Mandeville called the Broken Egg Cafe. Mandeville is the super cute old town that has a lot of really interesting buildings, and the cafe was one of those places that were a local chain that didn't look or feel at all like a chain. The one in Mandeville is the original (all the others are called "Another Broken Egg"). Bea got the redfish Benedict (which I didn't try but it looked amazing), and I got the Mardi Gras omelette, which had smoked andouille sausage, peppers, crawfish, and a tomato-hollandaise sauce. I also had an enormous glass of peach sweet tea.

After breakfast (lunch?) we headed out across Lake Pontchartrain via the causeway that has the longest continuous water span in the US (but see comments for clarification). I never actually timed it, but I estimate it took us about 30 minutes to cross this thing. We had crossed it the previous night coming back from the airport, but it was dark and I couldn't see anything. It turns out you can't see much of anything even during the day because you lose sight of land pretty quickly. Bea lives on the North shore of the lake, New Orleans is on the South shore.

On the South shore we checked out an area called River Walk, which Bea hadn't been to yet. It's a mall area that also has transient shops on the upper level. One of the stalls had clothing from Greece, but they were rather expensive, and there was nowhere to try things on. We also checked out a store that was selling fruit wines, and we had a rather tasty blackberry wine. We also had a very weird tasting orange coffee wine, that smelled like coffee and tasted like orange. It was a little too freaky for either of us.

We wrapped up the day with a big delicious bowl of gumbo and some more tea at a place called Mulate's.