Southern Tier, Post 39
Day 44, Post 39, What a great time I had in New Orleans! I took a lazy 35 mile ride in, all on the river levee on its northernmost shoreline (definitely in cancer alley) until I got to the west side of the city, where I got on St Charles Ave near Tulane, and followed the avenue all the way to the east side of the u shape that defines the older portion and downtown area of the city. A Louisiana native had explained to me that all the streets named after Saints all begin at the river (which isn't hard to do, given that the river is on the west, south and eastern sides of most of the city) so that when the judgement day comes, the Saints will be able to come marching in...
The weather was perfect and the city was very alive! I checked into the small boutique downtown hotel that I had found a few weeks before and cleaned up while I waited for Carolyn's arrival. Her flight was without mishap and she arrived as scheduled. After a rest we walked five blocks or so to the French Quarter. The next day we ventured further and on our final day we took some streetcars around the city as if it was ours... and we ate incredible food, each day topping the one before as we learned where to go....
Some of the city was as I remembered from several other trips over the years, but I felt especially rooted this time because there's nothing like biking into a city to help one understand where one really is... Three days later (today) I had a similar experience biking out of the city. Right now I am in Gulfport, Mississippi, about 70 miles east of New Orleans. Yesterday, when I picked up my bike at the shop (where my entire drive chain was rebuilt), I asked the mechanic about getting out of the city. He gave me invaluable advice, and I was able to avoid some difficult situations this morning. And I was surprised to learn that the road I chose to go east (the only way out of New Orleans to the east except for the freeway, interstate 10) was not only mellow with traffic, but incredibly beautiful and fascinating in places. And once I got to Waveville, Mississippi, I was on the Gulf. It's not built up in the way one would expect, and in my mind I found myself imagining this is what the Florida coast might have looked like in the 1950's.
Among the many delightful things that happened in New Orleans is that Carolyn and I reached out to Julia Kumari Drapkin, the founding producer of www.iseechange.org, which is headquartered in NO. I cannot stress enough how exciting I think her project is. Iseechange works with a number of partners, most notably NASA and NOA, and it allows anyone (including you) to report anything of interest that you notice about the natural world. Over time, iseechange will use "big data" as a way to identify environmental trends through community based observations and "citizen science". There are many great things about this project and it's functional smartphone app - anyone can record anything they notice they think is curious, whether one knows if it is substantial or not - like a change in atmosphere, odd smells, pollution, seasonal changes in plant life or weather patterns, allergic reactions, etc. Talking to Julia over the phone (we were not able to meet in person this trip, but that will happen at some point), re-inspired me to become a strong participant in this project, and to encourage others to join in. After all, what can be more helpful than to become astute observers at a time when our way of life actively encourages us to notice less and less about the environments in which we live and work.? The app is easy to download and easy to use, and the webpage a delight. I hope you will take a look!
There's so much more to say, but I want to be up early. I should be able to get to Alabama tomorrow and maybe even Pensacola.... but I need an early start...
Check out my road cycling activity on Garmin Connect.
Pic 1, A refinery beyond the spillway north of NO.
Pic 2, Another shot of one of many refineries in cancer alley.
Pic 3, Some crud in a flood marker, maybe from Katrina?
Pic 4, Typical street in French Quarter, NO.
Pic 5, My friend Carolyn enjoying herself.
Pic 6, An effigy for bikers in NO.
Pic 7, Typical house in bayou country NE of NO.
Pic 8, Mississippi coast.
Pic 9, Mississippi coastline.
More to come,