I am not a fan of tour buses. In fact, I dislike buses in general, but that is a tangent.
I’ll stick to why I don’t like tour buses: it is mainly because I love details. If you are on a tour bus, you roar by all the details in a miasmic cloud of exhaust. You miss all the snippets of conversation, the tantalizing aromas wafting out of doorways, and the little things that make you smile with secret delight. Sure, you see all the big-ticket items when you’re on a bus, but I happily skip those in exchange for the small vignettes of a neighborhood.
This is why I love biking through a city. You cover a lot of ground, but you’re still on the ground. I’ve taken day-long bike tours in various cities all across the country, but my hands-down favorite is in New Orleans. It’s the culinary bike adventure given by Confederacy of Cruisers. The four-hour tour is different every time: the stops you make depend on the weather, the guide, and the makeup of the group. Pedaling through the streets feels so liberating and joyous that the snacks and meals you eat along the way are just frosting on the cake of the whole experience (metaphor intended). I loved so many moments from my most recent bike adventure. Here was one of them:
The group of eight bikers and a guide is riding down a street in the Treme neighborhood. It’s a beautiful day, and folks are outside on porches and lawns, enjoying. People in the neighborhood wave at us as we pass by, and we wave back.
Old Man On Porch: “Good afternoon, y’all!”
Me: “Good afternoon!”
Old Man On Porch: “I didn’t hear nobody say good afternoon!”
Me: “I did!”
Old Man On Porch: “Well, all right, then!”
I also went on a kayak tour (with the hale and hearty folks at Kayakitayat) while I was in New Orleans. This was an activity not for the faint of heart. My friend Ginger and I are both in good shape, and this five-hour tour along the bayou to Lake Pontchartrain kicked our butts. When it was over, it was all we could do to stagger onto the streetcar and head for Bar Tonique. No matter that it was 2 pm on a Sunday. However, being on Bayou St. John in kayaks was also one of the highlights of our trip. Part of the reason might be because I wasn’t sure I was going to make it back alive. Just kidding. Sort of.
We also enjoyed a lot of Bikram Walking on our trip. We coined this phrase to describe the way we march through the hothumidsticky city, ignoring and even welcoming the gallons of sweat dripping from every pore. It’s great.
And you just can’t get all that on a tour bus.