Empty Theater at Orleans & N. Johnson

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I know, I know, I’m a broken record, but wow, what a beautiful day for a bike ride in New Orleans. Today’s my last day in the city before heading north to the frozen tundra that is Spring classes, and I spent most of it on N.’s bike. I first rode into the Marigny to meet R. and A. for brunch at the third outpost of that restaurant I think of as where I met D. and M. and S. for the first time~I knew from that first morning that they would all be bosom friends that morning, and I was right; today, same sort of friends, same sort of restaurant, and iit was just a perfect start to a day that then took my to Mid-City to see M.~an unannounced bike-by from the olden days. I pedaled back toward the Quarter along Orleans. I remember when they repaved that street, such a dream, and today it was a respite from the truly awful New Orleans infrastructure. My god, iron your streets! I snapped this picture of an empty building that looks like it used to be a theater. I think the sign is smaller now, but I will have to check the ol’ archive. So much has changed around here~new public housing, new asphalt, newness, but not at this spot and the others where there’s so much blight. It reminds me of Baltimore. A walk through the Quarter for a dog parade and more friends and then I was riding Uptown on the old route to see R. and then S. The fork is still embedded in the street at Baronne and Jackson, the cow’s still there, Muses looks lived-in, and we are still being exhorted to be the change we wish to see in the world. it was a lovely ride, lovely stops, and a perfect vacation. I’m not going to lie, though: I’m looking forward to going home in the morning, if only to get a break from my vacation schedule. Thank you, New Orleans, as always.

Bicycle Float in Chewbacchus Parade on Frenchman Just Off St. Claude

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Saturday was a perfect bike riding day in New Orleans: sunny, warm, plenty of parades to ride between. I rode from Treme to Uptown on my old route to meet up with C. and P. for our usual parade gawking, only this year they brought their Carnival bait~seven month old A. R. and C. joined with their kid, and wow, things can change in just a couple of years once the sweet babies start rolling in. Then again, it was the same floats, same dancing troupes~looking good, Gold Dusters!~same bands~Xavier Prep Yellow Jackets in the house!~and the same sense of family, and oh it was good to see everybody. Then it was time to roll downtown. I took OC Haley to see the changes there as the stretch tries to become a Main Street. It’s still trying, some blocks more than others, and I hope the new Cafe Reconcile’s as good as it is in my head. After a pit stop, a dog walk over to the Marigny for the parade of tiny floats (insert squeal), and a delicious home cooked meal eaten too fast, we were back on our bikes and headed to Frenchman Street to catch the Krewe of Chewbacchus and its giant nerd parade. I snapped this picture of a bicycle float that just made me so happy. It was the bikes, the detailed helmet on our fighter, the lights, the rest of the crowd, and the pleasure there is in a world where people will do such things to put on a show. We left our bikes, wandered around looking for everybody, saw all the people, and then headed home. It was a perfect day for riding a bike around New Orleans, but I need better walking shoes. As S. would say, my dogs are barking. Carnival’s a marathon, not a sprint, a lesson I have already forgotten. I’m happily heading home Monday, though, so I’m thinking the lesson doesn’t really apply in my particular circumstances.

Learning About the Fort McHenry Wetland at Fort McHenry at the End of Fort Avenue

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I woke up this morning to a day with absolutely nothing scheduled. I can’t remember the last time that was true for me so I felt just a little giddy about it. After lazing about in bed for awhile and reading about World War I war memorials (fascinating stuff, really), I hopped on the bike and tooled around Baltimore to see how we were remembering a different war. It was really hot out and the streets were virtually empty as I sped down the hill. It’s rather ghostly when it’s like that, but I must admit I love flying through the streets with only a tiny worry about cars; I just love how riding a bike makes my body feel, all hugged close by wind I help make. I took my turn around the inner harbor’s new bike lane, groused to myself about all the cars in it~why do they need *everything*~ and turned to Federal Hill where I caught the first parade of the day. There was drum and fife, stiltwalking, vintage cars, and then everybody from the neighborhood in red, white, and blue strolling along. I wanted a little more music to really call it a parade, but I put ny bad attitude in my pocket, ate the grape tootsie roll pop I caught from the Grand Marshall, and got back on the bike to track down the dog parade at the American Visionary Arts Museum. I had missed the parade, but I settled in for the pageant and groused about how many winners had store bought costumes and how I think that’s not really in the spirit of things. I shoved my bad attitude back down and made my way to Fort McHenry after a quick stop for lunch. I did a loop around before heading into the air conditioning. I took this picture of the view of the new man-made wetlands around the fort. Apparently there used to be wetlands all over Baltimore, but they were destroyed when they got in the way of industry and were blamed for disease. After the Key Tunnel was built these wetlands were installed to grow back. It’s a similar logic to that inside the museum, remembrance and preservation, but of nature. Or maybe “nature.” I did a quick tour of the fort, watched some more drum and fife, and then I was on my way home, pedaling slowly through the giant oven that is the city right now. It was a most lovely day, but I would like to request a cooling trend so that a short ten mile ride through the city won’t leave me a wilted flower.

Crowds at Middle Branch Waiting for the Blue Angels

Ok, so technically this is what I saw riding my bike around yesterday, but by the time I got home from my Saturday birthday festivities at the shocking hour of 11:00pm, I fell straight to sleep, no time to blog. It was a beautiful sunny day, and since it was my birthday, I got to do whatever I wanted to do. First up: a bike ride to brunch, where I ate just enough and then ran into a woman I lived with in Berkeley 10 years ago, because that’s just what things are like sometimes. Continue reading

Fluid Movement Parade at Howard & Lexington

Today was the last day of my spring break, and oh, it was a delightful one. I hardly did a lick of work, except insofar as visits to museums sort of count as “research.” I got in a visit with my sister, lunch with friends, eyefuls of flowery trees, a whole bunch of visits to museums and historic sites, and even more bike rides. Today featured a long morning in bed, a little reading, coffee with a friend, and then a bike ride over to Howard and Lexington for Fluid Movement‘s Howard & Lex, the perfect end to a positively lovely vacation. Continue reading

Baltimore Irish Northern Aid Society at Charles & Franklin

Today’s ride took me down the hill to meet friends for lunch and then a walk over to Charles Avenue for the St. Patrick’s Day parade (and no, I don’ t know why it was today). This is my third parade in Baltimore, and S. reminded me not to go in to compare this parade to New Orleans parades–they’re totally different things–and to see what fun I might get out of this one. I heeded this most excellent advice and leaned back on my heels for 90 minutes of Ancient Orders of the Hibernians, Irish dance teams, beauty queens, and bagpipers. Continue reading

The Gold Dusters at 3636 St. Charles

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And then I got on a bike, took a right then a quick  right, a left then a right, and I was on Baronne, headed Uptown to meet C. and P. for parades filled with floats and bands and Metairie’s best dance troops. Oh, it’s good to be back home, or in this home, at any rate.