I had another full day in front of me to explore every piece of New Orleans, and I explored my ass off. My “Fear Of Missing Out” was kicking in hard. I must have rode my bike over 30 miles to every corner of the city. I set off at 9am towards what folks called the “Bayou”. I thought it would be a marsh with crocs and alligators coming at you at every turn like I’d seen in all the movies, but this was a cleaned up and watered down version of a Bayou that was suitable for children and families. I wanted grittiness and adventure! Untamed nature! I just didn’t know how to get to it, so I had to make do with the watered down version.
Fisherman on the Bayou
The Bayou/park was pretty big and stretched out to the end of the city to Lake Pontchartrain. I rode about 7 or 8 miles to the lake and rode back around next to another bayou with huge modern mansions perched on the edge of the water. The sky was beautiful. It was teetering on the edge of a rainstorm all day, and light was streaming through the cracks in the clouds. They were shifting and moving about in the sky so gracefully. I left it up to God to decide if I would get drenched in a downpour.
I needed to see the above ground cemeteries in New Orleans, I found the St. Louis Cemetery and wandered around in it for a few hours. The mausoleums were run down and crumbling.
I had an image in my head of the scene in Easy Rider where they drop acid and wander around a New Orleans cemetery tripping out. This cemetery didn’t look like the one from the movie, but it was close enough. I wish I’d at least smoked some weed before going in. Oh well.
I noticed one bleached white tomb had “XXX” scrawled all over it. There were also little trinkets covering the tomb; bottle caps, notes, pebbles, and beads. Later I found out it was the tomb of Marie Laveau, a well-known voodoo priestess born in New Orleans in 1794. It is said that if a person writes “XXX” on her tomb and puts their hand over the writing, her soul will grant them a wish. I assume the trinkets were there as offerings for a similar purpose.
After my trekking, I found another restaurant in the Bywater area called Elizabeth’s. It was another great soul food place with traditional New Orleans dishes. I wanted breakfast food, so I ordered a breakfast Po’ Boy and biscuits and gravy. I complemented the server on it, and they gave me another portion of biscuits and gravy on the house. At the end of my meal, a group of hip looking folks strutted into the restaurant. One in the front looked familiar, and turned out to be Beyonce’s sister Solange Knowles. She’d bought a house in the Bywater neighborhood and stays there once in a while. I had my camera with me and was trying hard to be cool and not act like the paparazzi. Damn, the rental prices in this neighborhood are gonna skyrocket with her around.
I went back to the list my roommate gave me to try to cross off a few more destinations. At the top of the list was Domilise, which her friend claimed had the best Po’ Boys in the city. I got it in my head that if I didn’t try this Po’ Boy, I would regret it for the rest of my life. Of course, Domilise was more than five miles from the city center in a random spot with nothing else around it. I threw caution to the wind and started on my trek. I braved cracked, broken roads, sketchy neighborhoods, and the looming threat of downpour. Large menacing clouds creeped up behind me the whole way, but I was determined. I finally arrived, and to my great surprise and frustration, the restaurant was closed, on a day it was supposed to be open. I hung my head and rode back through the treacherous roads from whence I came.
After my failed Po’ Boy mission, I wound up in a cool little coffee shop where I almost passed out from exhaustion. The roads in New Orleans are hell on a bike. I had two flat tires in the three days I was there. Most of the folks there rode beach cruisers, which are easier to ride over the bumpy, cracked streets.
I noticed some changes in the neighborhoods as I rode through them. I’ve heard people refer to New Orleans in terms of Pre and Post-Katrina. It seems corporations and special interests saw Katrina as an opportunity to claim the destroyed land and build condos for rich folks and chain restaurants. Oh well, c’est la vie.