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Stranded on the West Bank!

Yesterday a bunch of teachers from Xy’s school gathered at the Dry Dock in Algiers Point for snacks and drinks. So after work, I rode my bike down Canal Street, took the ferry across the river, and joined them.

It was fun to hang for a bit with some less-than-sober schoolteachers. Sadly, they seemed to be in agreement that the new charter schools are not all they’re cracked up to be. There seems to be a craze in New Orleans right now to charter many of the schools, and one gets the sense that it’s become a fetish, a supposed silver bullet for all the problems in the school system. Yet the teachers report that they’re still dealing with — how shall I put this delicately — the “same old shit.” Of course, this is the most chaotic year ever. Hopefully things will improve.

Xy and I ate a couple burgers, then we went around the corner to the Crown & Anchor for pub trivia, my favorite Thursday night activity. We played one round, didn’t place, and decided to head home. Xy took her car over the bridge; I took my bike to the ferry.

Only when I got to the ferry, I discovered it was done for the night. Mind you, the sign on the East Bank still indicated it ran ’til midnight, but apparently it stopped before 9pm.

Alas. So near to my home in Mid-City, yet so far. The Mississippi River is no small obstacle.

I stopped back at the Crown & Anchor and asked some people out front if anyone was headed over the river, but they were all West Bankers. I called Xy’s cell phone, but got no answer.

So I started to ride in the general direction of the Crescent City Connection bridge.

I noticed I was near Malik Rahim’s house, which is a center of activity for the Common Ground Collective. I rode past, but the place was dark. I didn’t see anyone out front, and I didn’t feel like knocking.

I continued toward the bridge. Bikes aren’t allowed, but a vague plan was forming in my head to hitch a ride, something I haven’t done for 20 years.

But as I approached, I saw flashing police lights. Then I saw a bunch of Mardi Gras floats. They were lining up a convoy from one of the dens, probably at Blaine Kern’s, over the bridge to the East Bank for a parade this weekend. (Which krewe, I don’t know.) The floats are drawn by tractors and move slowly, requiring a police escort. The idea popped into my head that I might be able to hitch a ride with one of the floats since they were headed my way and probably had room for my bicycle.

I rode to the end of the line, but by the time I got there, they were moving out. Too late.

I began to follow behind the floats, and then I got my lucky break: A van pulled up (a three-generation crew of contractors from St. Louis) and asked for directions. I asked if they had room for my bike, and next thing I was riding with them them over to the East Bank. Whew!

Published inBikeLife with XyNew OrleansThe Ed Biz


  1. David David

    That’s hilarious! Here’s a link to the bus schedule for the line that goes from Algiers Point to the East Bank: The buses have bike racks on them, and I think they’re free right now.

    Every time I encounter some difficulty on a bike trip (which is too common), I remind myself that biking is an adventure. I think my most extreme moment was the time I went UNDER a stopped train. I mean, I’ve gone over a stopped train so many times I don’t give it a second’s thought, but going under . . . that made me anxious.

  2. Joe Joe

    The deal with charter schools is that they aren’t required to do the state’s curriculum, so they can ignore social studies, history, science, etc and just do math and reading. If a kid is way behind, that can be good, for a while.

    They can also enact pretty draconian discipline. It’s a mixed bag.

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