Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The bikes of New Orleans

Jackson Square
During my college years at the University of Southern Mississippi, my friends and I would make the 1-1/2 hour trek from Hattiesburg to NO on a regular basis and I grew to love that city. In the intervening 18 years (good Lord, seriously?), I haven't been back except for a few short hours a couple of years ago when Scott and I were attending a large SCA camping event in Lumberton, MS. My goodness, but the city had changed.

Royal Street blue
I was able to return for a longer visit this past weekend and introduce the city to a girlfriend who hasn't traveled much beyond the mid-Atlantic region. I exposed her to the debauchery of Bourbon Street, the peaceful lushness of uptown and the Garden District, the incomparable food, and the near constant soundtrack of jazz, blues, and rock that fills the French Quarter. But she wasn't the only one to experience something new and exciting: I discovered the bike culture and infrastructure of New Orleans.

Royal Street red
It's funny, but before I started regularly bike riding, I didn't notice things like bicycles locked to racks and posts or cyclists, bike lanes or sharrows. But I was psyched to see the bike lanes and sharrows on several streets. And there were SO MANY cyclists out and about, and pretty much all of them were in regular street clothes. They were downtown and uptown and riding between the streetcar tracks. And the bicycles... so many beautiful and unique bicycles. I had to snap photos of the ones which caught my eye.

Bikes galore on Royal
A few people were puzzled by why I took pictures of various bikes chained to fences; my quick explanation was that I am bike crazy. My friend said I should write something like a travel book about bikes in various cities. That sounds like a fun idea, but I am barely a good enough author/photographer to keep a blog going, heh.

Secret garden on Toulouse

The trip wasn't all about bikes, of course. We walked all over the city including the Quarter and Magazine Street. We shopped like we had money, got our drink on at various bars and with most meals, and even saw the Bustout Burlesque at the House of Blues (OMG, so much fun!). We even partook of two pedi-cab rides; our second "driver" was a student at Tulane and had ridden his Specialized Allez from his parents' New Hampshire home to Oregon one summer.

NOLA Rising / Road Kill on Royal
We even got to spend quality time with my NO friends and their kids and see how the "other half" lives in quiet part of the raucous city. They took us to La Petite Grocery for dinner, La Divina for gelato, and Taceaux Loceaux for food truck tacos. I never thought that I would have to safeword on food.

Beads on Royal
Other meal stops included The Corner in Jackson Square where I ate my first soft shell crab po-boy in eighteen years and sucked down a frozen strawberry lemonade which made my eyes go wobbly. We enjoyed a decadent Sunday brunch at The Court of Two Sisters, the near-mandatory beignets at Cafe du Monde, and excellent service and even better food at Arnaud's.

This bike belonged to the chef at a tavern on Magazine. Apparently, it gets 35 MPG.
Before our weekend ended, my friend stated that she wanted to move to New Orleans. I had to laugh since she had complained about the heat and humidity through most of our stay, but I understand the desire. My local friends say that living in New Orleans is like an abusive relationship: when it's bad, it's really bad, but when it's good, it's really REALLY good.


  1. New Orleans left a mark on me. No, not a tattoo, but happy memories of a visit that started at midnight in the Quarter after a long road trip. Music, people, food, it has it all.

    1. We almost got tattoos, but got distracted by shinier things thank goodness.

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