09
Nov
08

New Orleans Renaissance

    I’ve found myself truly luxuriating in my return to New Orleans.  Every live oak canopied avenue, verdant hidden courtyard, and wrought iron edged alleyway melts with nostalgia.  Arriving in New Orleans was like bursting out from a long, washed-out desert into a lush and vibrant oasis.  The place pulses with life, culture, beauty, hedonism, art, and tasteful extravagance.  The caressing breezes stir the world around you to life while lapping against your skin through the deliciously sultry air.  Intricately unique and mesmerizing architecture is wedged into every corner of the city, ensconced by creeping vines, hanging ferns and bright flowers.  Hypnotic melodies float through the French Quarter, wafting on the same breezes as the scent of cajun spices.  This is the New Orleans I remember, this is the New Orleans I’ve come home to.

    To be back is thus far and with no comparison the greatest delight of my trip.  Although I tried to make myself think otherwise, I had truly been looking forward to this far more than anything between here and Atlanta.  To come back is to remember just how much I had fallen in love with this place the first time I came here in the late Summer of 2002.  Something indescribable had drawn me in and had the promise of the mystique and the unknown which was so compelling to me.

    I’ve spent the past few days here running errands, performing repairs and adjustments to my bike, and also just relaxing.  The weather had been warm and overcast with wonderful breezes from off the water but has now gotten vividly sunny and cooler.  I’ve had the opportunity to just stroll around town and ride the old streetcar down St. Charles Avenue, just as I used to do all those years ago.  Hours were spent just reading in quiet uptown coffee shops and peaceful French Quarter courtyards.  I languidly browsed the unique locally flavored artwork of Orleans along Royal Street.  I searched for random bicycle accessories about the city.  And finally, on the night before I left, I ran into my old high school friend, Patrice, in a Bourbon Street frozen drink bar, whom I hadn’t seen in almost six years.

    My hosts, Bill & Erin, have been so welcoming and had extended me an invitation to stay for longer than I had originally intended, as I hadn’t wanted to impose.  Their home is spacious and cozy, tucked away on a quiet street corner of uptown New Orleans.  Ironically, when I had arrived I asked Bill some questions about bicycle components hoping that he could point me to the nearest shop, but instead to my delight, not only was he an exhaustive resource of bicycle knowledge but also had his own online bicycle parts store with an office only a few blocks away from the house.  The company, Wallingford Bicycle Parts (wallbike.com), happened to specialize in exactly the lines of equipment that I was interested in (Brooks saddles and Ortlieb panniers) and I was able to get the proofide that I needed to treat my leather saddle and the patch kid to repair my panniers after my tumble in Alabama.  I soon had my chariot up to snuff and ready to go.

    Although I would have loved to have stayed in New Orleans longer, I knew that on the fourth day it was time to get back on the road and begin making my way towards the Mexican border.  Although it is bittersweet to leave this place, I know that there will be many more amazing worlds that I will be passing into soon and look forward to my journey while having appreciated the time I was able to spend back with my old muse, New Orleans.  I learned many lessons in my time here years ago, but most importantly that sometimes you have to go the wrong way in order to figure out which way is right.  And after coming back to the river bend after all this time, I know that sometimes falling in love is even sweeter the second time around .

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