A trip to New Orleans - Yamaha FJR Forum : Yamaha FJR Owners Forums
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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-14-2019, 09:23 AM Thread Starter
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A trip to New Orleans

I've had a long affection for New Orleans, and it's somewhat counter-intuitive. Never been a drinker, not as enthused about late-night entertainment as I may have once been, not interested in debauchery and related pastimes, so the attraction seems mysterious to my friends and family.
Yet I've now made six trips there from here in Chicagoland over the last quarter-century. Of destinations further than 500 miles away, that's second on my lifetime list only to Vermont; I've ridden a motorcycle to the Green Mountain State nine times starting in '79, and absolutely ceased after the '03 trip. The state is now virtually a suburb of New York and Boston. Still beautiful, but it's hard to find the Vermonters, they're hidden so deeply in mountains and won't come out anymore.
The first five trips to the Big Easy were via Amtrak trains. I've always been a rail person, worked in a museum/shortline in Wisconsin for 25 years, and am able to get past the national rail service's flaws pretty much. Although, the new diner on the City of New Orleans is truly awful, and that was painful when on the most recent City trip three years ago I took the Missus, a professional chef, on her first long distance train ride. Yeah, bad news in the diner.
Anyway, a bucket list item of considerable importance to me has been a motorcycle trip down there. Streetcars and walking do fine, but I still needed to ride a bike around the place to really see the rest of it. So I chipped out almost a week of time late in October while things were still pretty warm, even though I knew the return would be downright cold as our early winter 2019 was coming in.
Traversing Illinois north-to-south in a journey in itself, nearly 400 miles. I confess to doing I-57 most of the way, finally bailing off to get to the surface roads for the last sixty-seventy miles before crossing the Mississippi into Kentucky and Missouri. Somewhere along the line, I did something to re-aggravate an old groin injury, maybe got off the bike wrong.
But that's a bad thing to do while on a trip on a 700-pound bike when you're planning to walk a lot at the destination.
Oddly, I could ride pretty well, I just couldn't get off or on or walk. Like, walk to the bike to ride it.
I made it to Clarksdale, Mississippi for the night. Clarksdale is the location of the "Crossroads", US Highway 61, the "Blues Highway", and US 49, where, as carefully-nurtured legend has it, bluesman Robert Johnson made his infamous deal with the devil to become the greatest bluesman of all time. Yeah, it's a cute story but I wanted to add it to my list, being a Chicago boy steeped in the Delta-to-Chicago blues tradition.
Down 61 to New Orleans was also the first time I'd ever run through Mississippi on the road. There really is cotton there. What do you know?
By time I hit my Metairie hotel just north of town, I was pretty much out of action, walking wise. I spent the almost the whole third day of the trip in bed with an ice pack.
The weather'd been hot on the way in, 92 or so, but by time I got on the streets again it was decent. I got my riding done, saw the city and environs about as much as I cared to. Being a city boy, slow urban traffic is not a big problem for me, but still. It's hard to be enthused about averaging two miles per hour for most of the day.
I did miss the sub sandwich shop the Missus has insisted I visit. When a chef tells you to eat somewhere, you listen, after all. But I couldn't find a place to park even the FJR within two blocks (that wasn't concerning) so I gave up on that. Have to go back I suppose.
On the Saturday morning, I was up and at it but stumbled into the French Quarter ritual street cleaning as they do many mornings. The tourists dump an ungodly layer of garbage everywhere, and every day the city goes out at dawn and cleans it up.
I was stuck behind the city crew pressure-washing the sidewalks and streets and in front of the massive Elgin street cleaner trailing to suck up the unbelievably smelly detritus.
This slime splashed up from my front Pilot Road 4 and onto the header pipes. The stench of that almost led me to dump the bike in the river. Good heavens.
And so I present a photo of my being stuck while this was going on (slowly) on Bourbon Street as my most prominent memory of the trip.
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File Type: jpg Streetcleaning in the Quarter.jpg (177.5 KB, 22 views)

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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-14-2019, 10:05 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherryriver View Post
I've had a long affection for New Orleans, and it's somewhat counter-intuitive. Never been a drinker, not as enthused about late-night entertainment as I may have once been, not interested in debauchery and related pastimes, so the attraction seems mysterious to my friends and family.
Yet I've now made six trips there from here in Chicagoland over the last quarter-century. Of destinations further than 500 miles away, that's second on my lifetime list only to Vermont; I've ridden a motorcycle to the Green Mountain State nine times starting in '79, and absolutely ceased after the '03 trip. The state is now virtually a suburb of New York and Boston. Still beautiful, but it's hard to find the Vermonters, they're hidden so deeply in mountains and won't come out anymore.
The first five trips to the Big Easy were via Amtrak trains. I've always been a rail person, worked in a museum/shortline in Wisconsin for 25 years, and am able to get past the national rail service's flaws pretty much. Although, the new diner on the City of New Orleans is truly awful, and that was painful when on the most recent City trip three years ago I took the Missus, a professional chef, on her first long distance train ride. Yeah, bad news in the diner.
Anyway, a bucket list item of considerable importance to me has been a motorcycle trip down there. Streetcars and walking do fine, but I still needed to ride a bike around the place to really see the rest of it. So I chipped out almost a week of time late in October while things were still pretty warm, even though I knew the return would be downright cold as our early winter 2019 was coming in.
Traversing Illinois north-to-south in a journey in itself, nearly 400 miles. I confess to doing I-57 most of the way, finally bailing off to get to the surface roads for the last sixty-seventy miles before crossing the Mississippi into Kentucky and Missouri. Somewhere along the line, I did something to re-aggravate an old groin injury, maybe got off the bike wrong.
But that's a bad thing to do while on a trip on a 700-pound bike when you're planning to walk a lot at the destination.
Oddly, I could ride pretty well, I just couldn't get off or on or walk. Like, walk to the bike to ride it.
I made it to Clarksdale, Mississippi for the night. Clarksdale is the location of the "Crossroads", US Highway 61, the "Blues Highway", and US 49, where, as carefully-nurtured legend has it, bluesman Robert Johnson made his infamous deal with the devil to become the greatest bluesman of all time. Yeah, it's a cute story but I wanted to add it to my list, being a Chicago boy steeped in the Delta-to-Chicago blues tradition.
Down 61 to New Orleans was also the first time I'd ever run through Mississippi on the road. There really is cotton there. What do you know?
By time I hit my Metairie hotel just north of town, I was pretty much out of action, walking wise. I spent the almost the whole third day of the trip in bed with an ice pack.
The weather'd been hot on the way in, 92 or so, but by time I got on the streets again it was decent. I got my riding done, saw the city and environs about as much as I cared to. Being a city boy, slow urban traffic is not a big problem for me, but still. It's hard to be enthused about averaging two miles per hour for most of the day.
I did miss the sub sandwich shop the Missus has insisted I visit. When a chef tells you to eat somewhere, you listen, after all. But I couldn't find a place to park even the FJR within two blocks (that wasn't concerning) so I gave up on that. Have to go back I suppose.
On the Saturday morning, I was up and at it but stumbled into the French Quarter ritual street cleaning as they do many mornings. The tourists dump an ungodly layer of garbage everywhere, and every day the city goes out at dawn and cleans it up.
I was stuck behind the city crew pressure-washing the sidewalks and streets and in front of the massive Elgin street cleaner trailing to suck up the unbelievably smelly detritus.
This slime splashed up from my front Pilot Road 4 and onto the header pipes. The stench of that almost led me to dump the bike in the river. Good heavens.
And so I present a photo of my being stuck while this was going on (slowly) on Bourbon Street as my most prominent memory of the trip.
Good story, you ALMOST have me wanting to visit there. One small complaint, paragraphs are your friend. LOL

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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-14-2019, 10:33 AM
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I have done a number of SS1Ks to New Orleans and back. I have been there frequently for business over the years (unrelated). It is a truly filthy place, even without the tourists. The area smells bad. I enjoy staying there, because I know where everything is, and I can live pretty sustainably out of any one of several hotels very close to the French quarter.

The cleanup starts far before dawn. I like to run around 430-530ish, from my hotel, through the French Quarter, until I start just seeing residences, then I turn around and come back. You see the grifters, the dealers, some late blooming prostitutes, and others, without the cover of hundreds of tourists. I find it interesting. If I did not run wearing a cellular Apple watch and firearm on my hip, I would probably feel quite differently about being on that area at that time.

I would not want to live there, but I always enjoy visiting. It is more like visiting a seedy area in another country than any other place I go.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-14-2019, 11:01 AM
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I have ridden thru parts of Louisiana, even spent the night in Vidalia once, but never visited new Orleans. My son went there for business a couple years ago and said the place smelled like a giant over flowing toilet. I have zero desire to visit there.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-14-2019, 11:36 AM Thread Starter
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It's true about the smell. Yet another mystifying element to my still wanting to go there.
I recall the first trip thinking, this is a place where I really, really wish I had my .45. That was before it was possible for us to get a license. And that, from a guy from Chicago.
And yet- I look forward to the next visit there.
Part of it for me is the oldness. Evidently I'm a history buff and have volunteered/worked in museum type places, and when I buy a book it's a fair chance it's a history-related one.
I started my long career as a remodeler specializing in old-house work even before it was hip, and remained interested in it to the very end.
So New Orleans being one of the oldest settlements in the country has pull.
But I cannot dispute that it has some considerable negatives.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-14-2019, 11:46 AM
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After graduating tech school at Keesler AFB I needed to catch a flight out of New Orleans. A buddy was from there and offered to drive me there, spend the night at his house and then he would take me to the airport in the morning.

We were driving around New Orleans that night just looking around when we saw an African-American man trying to run across a busy street. I saw three different cars hit the guy and NOBODY stopped to check on him. I guess they didn't stop because they were all glancing blows and he keep on walking/running across the road.

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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-14-2019, 03:31 PM
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I get it. New Orleans is mysterious and cool. Part of the sewage smell is just that region. Old architecture (and balconies awaiting collapse) intrigue me.

Top floor of a nice hotel in the French Quarter area still smells like sewage. Itís not from the tourists.

Donít get me started on what it was like to roll in there right behind Hurricane Katrina. It was like a movie.
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Originally Posted by Cherryriver View Post
It's true about the smell. Yet another mystifying element to my still wanting to go there.
I recall the first trip thinking, this is a place where I really, really wish I had my .45. That was before it was possible for us to get a license. And that, from a guy from Chicago.
And yet- I look forward to the next visit there.
Part of it for me is the oldness. Evidently I'm a history buff and have volunteered/worked in museum type places, and when I buy a book it's a fair chance it's a history-related one.
I started my long career as a remodeler specializing in old-house work even before it was hip, and remained interested in it to the very end.
So New Orleans being one of the oldest settlements in the country has pull.
But I cannot dispute that it has some considerable negatives.
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-14-2019, 08:41 PM
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Donít get me started on what it was like to roll in there right behind Hurricane Katrina. It was like a movie.
Yes. Yes it was.

@Cherryriver are you aware that one of the nicest, smartest, friendliest and most handsome members of this forum lives just an hour west of NOLA? That guy could show you some historic areas outside that filthy cesspool and a few decent roads.

Just sayin...

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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-14-2019, 08:59 PM
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Yes. Yes it was.

@Cherryriver are you aware that one of the nicest, smartest, friendliest and most handsome members of this forum lives just an hour west of NOLA? That guy could show you some historic areas outside that filthy cesspool and a few decent roads.

Just sayin...
Maybe I can fall on your graces the next time I'm in or around NOLA. I was down last weekend heading to West Orange TX on a SS1000 & BB1500 from Nashville, wishing I knew where to stop for good Boudin Noir, and Cracklin, along with other great food. Saw plenty of signs west of NOLA.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 12-15-2019, 07:03 PM
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I'm surprised about the commentary about "the Quarter". I can't say as it's ever smelled as described.

The SW end of Bourbon Street, closest to Canal Street, is not where I'd take my maiden aunt. Dauphine and Royal Streets are fairly tame, but with some overflow from Bourbon St.

That put away, the Quarter is a fascinating place, with buskers and street performers. Look for the guy with the white tie and tails walking his dog, for example. Doreen Ketchens performs in front of Rouse's (small supermarket) at St. Peter and Royal. Her clarinet playing is astounding. There's Jackson Square with performers ringing the gardens (no performing inside). And then there's Preservation Hall, with dixieland like no other. It's a small venue. The queue is sociable and there's a place to fill a "traveling cup" with a Hurricane across the street. Sit on the benches if you want, but it's the cushions in front that put well inside arm's reach from the players. Frenchman St. at the NE end of the Quarter is where the locals go for their music.

Restaurants... depends on what your wallet can stand. Antoine's... died and went to heaven. Of course there are evil, evil pralines. Consume them to save the world from getting them. Cafe du Monde is open 24/7. Chicory coffee (or coffee aulait) and beignets covered with powdered sugar... nothing else like it. Period. End of story.

There's more to NOLA, though. The Garden District is an easy trolley ride down St. Charles St. Commander's Palace is about high end creole. They have a dress code and they enforce it. DAMHIK (A collared shirt and shorts doesn't get in)

Mardi Gras World in the port area is fascinating. Walking around the warehouse space, filled with figures from floats is a little eerie.

Finally, forget trying to park - Uber works like a charm.

Point being NOLA and the Quarter have a lot going on without being nasty.

I used to think I probably knew what I was doing. Now I know I probably know what I'm doing. Which doesn't say I always knew what I was doing or always know what I'm doing. You know what I'm saying?
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