Today I put on short sleeves and a skirt and rode the bike up to campus in 70 degree weather. Oh, New Orleans in December, how I love your occasional spring day! After coffee with a student and a quick stop at the office, I pedaled over to Audubon Park for a quick spin around before heading to the grocery. The path was crowded with people enjoying this unseasonably warm day: kids on bikes, a woman trying to go for a run with a puppy, mature dogs talking their humans on walks, a rollerblader, and a guy in a weighted vest jogging. The bike racks were full and golf carts zipped back and forth across the path. It was a regular postcard out there. Continue reading
Today’s bike ride took be down to the Bywater for lunch with J. The sun was out, I was in short sleeves, that asphalt on Camp in the CBD is still like butter, and I felt lucky to be here now as I zipped along. By the time we were done the clouds were rolling in and I got to ride around in a whole different kind of day, this one darker and cooler. I pedaled up Chartres and over the sharrows before taking a left on Mazant toward the Upper Ninth Ward. I rode around that neighborhood, up and down the streets, doing laps, struck, as always, how different it is over here on the flood side of St. Claude. Continue reading
A couple lovely days in the Delta and it was time to head back to New Orleans, so I strapped the bike to the back of the car (and yes, I spent the entire ride staring at it in the rear view mirror, pretty sure it was about to fly off–can anyone explain how that flimsy thing can hold anything on my car while I drive 75 down the interstate?), loaded in S. and the dog and the new snazzy Christmas record player, and we were off. Continue reading
Ok, I’ll admit it. When I woke up to gray skies and blustery winds, I considered *not* taking a bike ride today. I mean, I enjoy spending time in the smallest chain ring, but I just wasn’t sure I felt like working that hard this morning. S. pointed out that I could always go out for a short ride and come right back. Excellent plan. I donned my layers, took a right out of the driveway this time, and headed toward town. About half a mile in I was reminded that it is always a good idea to go for a ride. The wind wasn’t bad and the views went on forever. I stopped right before Inverness to watch a couple of horses snack on hay, and I heard the gurgles of so many birds. I snapped this picture of part of the crazy stretch of birds flying together against the clouds. Everyone was headed the same direction, but at intervals three or four would turn around and, in my anthropomorphizing mind, work as crossing guards, herding everyone into lines, keeping things orderly. They were noisy and beautiful and I was completely irrelevant–perfect. I rode through and around the silent town, outrunning dogs, studying cypress in the bayou, wondering if that was a cotton gin, and then headed home to a hot shower, an extra soft, extra large sweater, and some footbal. Like I said, perfect.
I am spending the holiday in the Mississippi Delta with my pal S., her parents, two dogs, and my bicycle. I’ve been here before, but today after a delicious breakfast and present opening (how did you know I would love that old postcard of Le Petit Theatre in the Quarter!), I took the bike out for my first ride. I took a left out of the driveway and just rode and rode, crossing the Sunflower River, passing empty field after empty field, staring up at endless cloudy skies. I saw cardinals and blue jays and other little birds I couldn’t name. (Somebody should give me a field guide to nature for Christmas next year.) The view was so empty, except for the occasional stand of trees or ones like this–solo by the side of the road. I saw five cars, two dogs, and a whole lot of beer cans, but mostly I felt like I might be the only person in the world. And I liked it. I turned back around to make it home for dinner, and those headwinds, with no breaks, gave me the opportunity to discover gears I never knew I had. A Delta Christmas just keeps on giving.
I spent this holiday day lolling around the house, reading a book and watching TV and baking sweet potatoes. But then it was just plain time to get on the bike. I ran some errands, stopped at A.’s for a chat and some time staring at her cats, and then headed downtown to meet S. for food and holiday shopping–thwarted for her, but a winner for me as I chugged another Seasonal Latte. On my ride I was thinking about how advertising has become absolutely ubiquitous, and it only picks up this time of year, when we are all supposed to be buying things for each other, no matter our means or our desires. Continue reading
Ok. I’m going to admit it. I was scared to sleep outside, all by myself. I have been camping with other people–my dad, friends who I haven’t known well enough to say no to–but I really want to be able to go alone. I’ve got the biking part of the bike trip down–now I need to figure out how to sleep through the night so I can ride again the next day and get to the next place. So yeah, ten hours of sleep later, and the First Time is out of the way. But I need to figure out how to feed myself–so hungry! Anyway. I got up, ate a grapefruit, took down the tent, and headed to the Visitor’s Center on bike, in case they had the coffee I left at home. I locked up on an overgrown bike rack, walked around the building, sat on a bench, and snapped a photo of this view. If “camping” means this is at the end of your commute, I’m in.
I am not one for making a plan or carrying a map, prefering to find my way by feel or hoping there will be a sign, a foolish strategy likely picked up from my father. If I don’t have anywhere in particular to be, though, the Never Fail Guide Service is perfectly sufficient. It does mean, however, that sometimes I end up on my first solo camping trip, at Davis Bayou in Gulf Islands National Seashore, riding around rich people’s cul de sacs or on roads with no shoulders. Oh well. I rode around so many weird neighborhoods today, showing so many levels of wear, passing folks smoking on their porches in their Slankets, kids on bikes, old ladies with dogs, and a Justin Bieber lookalike on a skateboard–I hope he finds his way out. I took a right on Beachview Road, hoping it would lead me to a beach view. I usually have bad luck following roads in search of their namesakes (today’s trip down Old Oak Lane a case in point), but today I ended up here, at the boat launch at Lake Mars, where the marsh meets saltwater, just me, my bike, and this great blue heron. And now I’m back in the park, writing from a bench tucked away in the marshy grass, waiting for the longest night of the year to kick in. I wouldn’t be here if not for the bike.
I spent my early afternoon like everyone else in New Orleans–watching the Saints lose a heartbreaker to the Ravens. I spent the game half watching/half planning Baby’s First Solo Camping Trip. This little trip is going to need a camp stove, so after the game I hopped on the Surly and headed over to the sporting goods store to do some shopping. Continue reading
I spent the day at home, reading, watching a documentary film or two, making soup, talking to cats, and just generally being on vacation. Once the clock hit 5:00, though, it was time to get on the bike and head down to the French Quarter to meet D. and friends for food and drinks. I suited up in lights and florescent vest and my helmet out on the corner. I saw a little wriggly movement out of the corner of my eye, and there it was! A little mouse! He hopped up on the curb and looked around all nervously before scampering across the oak tree roots and into the night. Now, if this mouse had been inside my house, I’d be talking about it in an entirely different way, but out there I can keep a safe distance. Continue reading