For our last full day in New Orleans, Melody finished up her conference while I went to Audubon Park and the neighboring zoo.
Melody's last day at the conference started a little earlier than usual, so she headed out a bit early, and I stuck around the room for a bit before heading out. I was thinking of either going to City Park (which also has a botanical garden and a museum/sculpture garden) or Audubon Park (which also has a zoo) and settled on sticking with an area I was more familiar with.
It took less than a half hour to get to Audubon Park. I hadn't looked beforehand about what to expect, so I started at one corner and looked at a map to figure out where the water features were. Seeing there was a golf course as part of the park, I walked along the long, C-shaped lake on the east side of the park.
The first thing I noticed was several parts of the lawn were still recovering from the heavy rain a couple days before, with soggy and muddy areas, but they were easy to navigate around. When I got to the fountain near the main park entrance, I started seeing several monarch butterflies, so I stuck around for a while watching them.
Continuing towards the lake, I saw several dozens of ducks on the part of the water I could see. When I turned the corner, that number went up to hundreds. I continued to see more ducks, more than I'd ever seen in one place.
I saw a bridge, so I crossed it to see what was on the other side. Ends up that was the edge of the golf course, which apparently you can walk through, but they take no responsibility if you're accidentally hit. There were several people playing the course, so I went back across the bridge to follow the pond a bit more.
Having gotten a good feel for the park, I continued west to a French café for lunch, where I had a croque-monsieur which, in addition to ham and cheese, had a béchamel sauce on it.
It was just a short walk after lunch to get to the Audubon Zoo, which is a continuation of Audubon Park. One more time I purchased my ticket just before getting to the entrance gate, then went inside. The first thing you see is a bunch of flamingos situated such that you were able to get pretty close to them.
Not having gone through the ticket line, I didn't have a map (and didn't see any available near the entrance) so I looked at one on my phone and came up with a general plan of attack.
There's a smaller loop covering Asian animals, so I did that first. Unfortunately, the orangutans weren't out since they were new acquisitions, so need to get acclimatized, as well as the trainers getting to know them. The elephants were also not out because workers were assembling a new shade for them.
After making an ice cream stop (where there were maps available) I started going around the larger loop which covers the rest of the zoo. The first stop was the reptile house, which was more extensive than I expected. In fact, after I exited it, I knew I would need to pick up the pace. Fortunately, that was the densest exhibit, so things would go more quickly after that.
One large section covers the local area and is built around a recreated swamp. Another had a Mayan theme which flowed into an area with a Mexican theme. Before I knew it, I was at the aviary where you could walk along a lot of very colorful birds. And with that, it was time to head out.
The timing worked out that I was planning on hanging out at a café a bit before meeting Melody after her last session. I went to the bus stop and had about a 10-minute wait. Or at least it was supposed to be; the combination of the bus being late and traffic being slow for the first mile or so, I ended up getting to the hotel only a few minutes before Melody was ready.
We walked over to the warehouse district to have dinner at Cochon where we split a rabbit stew with dumplings and a side of smothered greens. We were sitting at the bar in front of the kitchen, and it was fun watching them go through their routines, churning out lots of meals as we were enjoying ours. They even gave us an amuse bouche of pork on toast.
After dinner, we went a couple more blocks to Bakery Bar where we shared a Bananas Foster bread pudding. The cakes also looked really good.
The streetcar was a couple of blocks away, and we got back to the room early enough to do most of our packing so we could head out early to the airport for our 8 am flight and a (thankfully) uneventful trip home.