Friday, May 4, 2012
POWER TO THE PEDAL
I love watching the expressions on people's faces when I tell them why we are in New Orleans. One woman exclaimed "Oh, we love cruising up the river". Did she believe me when I told her we weren't cruising, but were biking up the river? Probably not. New Orleans is an exciting city to visit because it's a vibrant mix of dynamic cultures in a setting that gives permission for freedom of expression in many different ways ---lifestyle, food, music, dance, art, theater, and architecture. It's a city that came back from one of the greatest disasters in the United States and holds its head high. Although I only spent two days in NOLA, I wouldn't hesitate to go back and this time bring Bruce with me for a few days of decadent living. I think one of the best meals I've ever had were the charbroiled oysters at highly acclaimed Drago's. They were so delicious that Penny and I went back and shared a dozen for lunch the next day. Then there were the shrimp, man, were they ever good. I think New Orleans is definitely back! Finally, after two days of playing tourist, we met up with the 29 riders at the orientation on Thursday afternoon. Carol Wilder and Lynne Brach are our guides and Lynne, who has 30 years experience as a camp cook, also doubles as chef. Going around the room and introducing ourselves to one another, I was struck by the different levels of biking experience, from people who have ridden cross country several times to gals who've never done a bike tour before in their life. Sleep did not come easily to me last night, which was most disturbing as I looked over at my roommate who appeared to be knocked out. Then when I rolled over at 4:30 this morning and saw her reading with a flashlight, I was wide awake too. Bottom line: short night. But I was ready to go this morning when we finally took off at 8:30 AM and headed 41 miles north for LaPlace, Louisiana where we are staying tonight. HOT, HOT, HOT and FLAT, FLAT, FLAT. Can you imagine? 41 miles and 125 feet of climbing? Riding out of New Orleans took us by many beautiful homes, some large and majestic, some small and quaint. We wondered which ones had been affected by Katrina Eventually we rode the levees which were smoothly paved and, of course very flat. The landscape, while somewhat industrial, was also quite scenic. The Mississippi is definitely a working river. Right now I seem to be having difficulty posting photos via my iPad on my blog, but if I could, you would be looking at photos of tugboats pushing barges, vistas of smokestacks and flames shooting up from oil refineries. Not pretty, you might say? Actually, the views were still distinctive in an commercial sort of way, giving you a real feel for what life is like along the great Ole Miss.