Take your bike to City Park and the Burrito Juke Joint

Mulling over your Friday plans? A few weeks back my boyfriend and I spent a full night’s itinerary out in Mid-City and Bayou St. John. I’m passing it along in hopes you’ll enjoy it as much as we did.

City Park and Lake Pontchartrain
I had never been past the part of City Park that I-10 bisects. We started out on the bike path near the entrance of the park which led us beyond the highway, past Pan-American stadium. Turns out there’s a bike path on the east side of City Park that takes you all the up the Park to the lake. It was a great ride– the path is smooth, yet curvy, so it doesn’t feel boring. Many of the houses along the water had docks and boats, which reminded me of Miami. I have not spent much time in that part of the city and am not sure what it’s called. Google Maps says”St. Bernard area” and “Fillmore.” More Googling leads me to believe that area is part of the greater Gentilly neighborhood. Thoughts?

The ride was so leisurely we realized we could easily make it to Lake Pontchatrain. After we passed City Park, we rode by Lake Shore/Lake Vista, which is part of the land reclaimed from the lake by the Works Progress Administration in the 1930s. The houses there are so new that it felt like we had biked to another city (although some houses were built to look old, with huge windows and balconies). The houses in this area are arranged in the “superblock” style, which means houses are set back from the road and there is more communal green space. Indeed, grand boulevards of green separated the houses. It was downright adorable. I bet it costs a lot of money to live there.

We rode by the lake and down the eastern edge of City Park, weaving our way around soccer/football/tennis game traffic. It was quite the ride and our behinds were sore. Perfect time for burritos!

Burrito Juke Joint
My boyfriend read about the Burrito Juke Joint in the Gambit. Local chefs Aiji Daste and Juba Kali set up their burrito truck in the yard of a house on Dupre Street, near Esplanade Ave. The menu and entertainment at this pop-up party varies, but the week we went there was a brass band. The food was so good! The only disappointment was that they ran out of the sweet potato cake before we could try it.

The best thing about the whole event was how family friendly it was. There were kids horsing around while their parents looked on and chatted with each other. It made me feel like part of a community.

As always, I was unprepared and didn’t have bug spray or beer (must bring next time!)

I have yet to visit all of the bars in Mid City, and it turns out that Pals is nearby the Juke Joint. Pals had that dirty bar vibe and makes excellent mixed drinks. The bartender was really nice. We didn’t stay too long because OH WE BIKED 11 MILES. But we’ll go back some day.

Hope you make this your Friday! (Unless you’re celebrating Yom Kippur, in which case I would not recommend this evening.)


Someone Stole My Bike

My bike is gone. A silver Specialized Crossroads hybrid that I got my junior year of high school. It accompanied me to college and spent six years with me on the hilly streets of DC. I loved that old thing. A few years ago I did consider getting another bike. I test rode some pretty fancy things, but it never seemed worth the money. Besides, I had perfected the bike for commuting around D.C. My bike had a collapsible basket and a Jandd Commuter Messenger Bag.

I did give another thought to getting a new bike once I arrived here in NOLA. My Specialized didn’t have a shock system and so it clanked along New Orleans’ uneven streets. On the really bad streets the ride was so shaky, it felt like I was traveling on a gravel road. But I don’t have a full-time job, so a new bike would be a luxury.

Here is the bike in DC, with me demonstrating my luggage system.

But now it’s gone.

How it Happened.
Last Thursday I spent the workday over at Fair Grinds Coffee, in Bayou St. John. It rained throughout the day, and when I went to leave I couldn’t unlock the U-lock. It was an old lock, and it had grown increasingly difficult to unlock  following a downpour. I guess I should’ve fixed it up with some WD-40, but I just added “buy new bike lock,” to an ever increasing list of things to do. I left my bike at the coffee shop overnight–something I had done dozens of times before, in cities where bike theft is rampant.

And you know how the story ends. I still can’t believe it. I left my bike outside dozens of times in Gainesville and DC– two cities known for bike thievery. Sigh.

Do I Need a New Bike?
I have a car. I brought my bike down in August and have been determined to use it. And I have been! Not exclusively, but for getting around Mid City and for some leisure rides–something I never did in D.C.  But I don’t NEED it. Should I just buy something really cheap and deal with it until I have more money?  In the handful of days since this happened, I’ve already had some skeevy Craigslist experiences and it doesn’t seem like I can get a used bike at a bike store for less than $150.

Bike Stores
Yesterday, I visited Bicycle Michael’s and Gerkin’s Bike Shop, where I spoke with Alex, who was very nice and helpful. This week I’ll check out Bayou Bicycles, GNO Cyclery and Nobs, where my boyfriend got a used bike in August for $200. But $200 still makes me cautious! Plus, I’ll have to buy a new lock, which can be around $50.

Plan B
Plan B, in the Marigny, is a DIY bike collective where you can learn how to build a bike from scratch. I think you buy the parts from them. I would love to do this because then I’d know exactly how my bike worked. Plus, I’d feel really cool. However, it looks like their build a bike classes are booked until November!

Guess I’ll drive down there.

Car Free is the Way I Can’t Be

I was wrong, I admit it.

I thought I could live in New Orleans without relying on a car. For the six years I lived in Washington D.C. I walked, rode the metro or took the bus. In extreme cases I rented a Zipcar or borrowed a friend’s wheels. But most of the time I biked. I biked to and from work. I biked to go out at night. Once, I even biked to all 50 streets named after a state. I was proud, smug even, that I didn’t need a car. I vowed that I would never become car-dependent, even in a city that made that lifestyle more challenging. A city… such as New Orleans.

The car. The evil, sweet, sweet temptress.

I write this post to admit that I failed at my goal. My sublet is located on a bus line, a ten-minute walk from the St. Charles streetcar and within walking distance from businesses I patronize often. But I’ve fallen pray to the lure of the automobile.

I am sharing my boyfriend’s car with him, but he’s the one that walks when it’s an option. When he says he’s going to the coffee shop that’s less than a half a mile from our house I offer to drop him off. Yesterday, I suggested we walk take a walk in Audobon Park, but asked if we could drive there.

A map to the coffee shop I don’t want to walk to:

And JUST as I typed this, my boyfriend told me he is going to meet someone nearby for drinks.
I offered to drop him off.
He said he’d walk.

What has happened to me? I know it’s hot, but I have lived in Miami, Gainesville and DC. Heck, I used to live here! I thought I was prepared. I even carry wet wipes to wash myself down when I sweat. What can’t I handle about a car-free lifestyle in NOLA? This is what I think:

Ipods Off
I don’t see many people listening to their Ipods as they walk around, which always made being outside in D.C. more bearable. If you have your headphones on here, you seem unapproachable and people wont’ say hello to you. In an attempt to appear friendly,  I’ve been sans music and my beloved podcasts.

New Orleans Regional Transit Authority
In isolation, the streetcar and buses are fine. Slow, very slow, but they get the job done. But what if you need to transfer, it’s hard to justify public transportation. Rather than drive to Midcity, my boyfriend and rode the bus to the Canal Street streetcar, and then walked to our final destination. It took an hour and a half. It would’ve taken 15 minutes in the car. According to Google maps, it would’ve taken an hour and a half to WALK.

My Pledge to My Readers
I write this post the weekend before I return to D.C. to get the rest of my belongings, including my bike. Next month, I will drive less. I will use my gas expenditures to measure. I am announcing this so I can be accountable you, my readers.

Because being accountable to myself and Mother Nature is not enough.