I cannot begin to express what a perfectly beautiful day it was in New Orleans–crystal clear skies, mid-70s, I was riding the Surly around in a flipping sundress. In January. This is more like it, people. I headed out for one of those rides with no destination. I rode down to the Quarter and then over to the St. Claude bike path, and took a right on Piety, just to see where it lead. I rode through the 9th Ward where lots of folks were sitting outside in the sun and kids were riding bikes. The rebuilding in this neighborhood is incredibly uneven, until you get closer to the Desire development neighborhood (not the Desire Projects anymore…). This development feels like the suburbs dropped in the middle of a war zone. The contrasts are so, so extreme. I snapped this picture of an overgrown, blighted house on Piety, I think near N. Galvez, though I forgot to note the street. Behind some of that growth you can must make out the cookie cutter houses that are taking over this neighborhood. But there’s still this place. I was thinking as I rode around how you could take a camera here and isolate the new construction and miss the wider context, these stretches and stretches of abandoned and run down and dilapidated properties. It’s all about the story you tell, I guess. I continued my ride around the Desire neighborhood and over to Gentilly Terrace and back through St. Roch to the Marigny for coffee. I was listening to a podcast about Haiti, trying to wrap my head around the myriad causes of such mass destruction and wondering what it really means to rebuild. Another day riding a bike around New Orleans, dealing with the massive contradictions and wild mood swing in this place.