Thursday, May 24, 2012

Times-Picayune (NO) will stop daily publication in fall

"I read the news today oh boy"
     The Times-Picayune, New Orleans' only daily newspaper, will publish a printed paper only three days a week beginning this fall (2012).  The paper, which has been published daily since before the Civil War will continue to "publish" a daily edition everyday on line.
     This is shocking but not unexpected news.  For those of us who anchor our morning routine around the plop of the paper in our front yard each and every morning it has been painful to watch a New Orleans tradition wither away, shrinking pica by pica as advertising has slowly migrated to other, newer media draining the paper of its financial life's blood.
     Everyone in the city has a connection with the Times-Picayune and here's mine:  I used to write for it.  For 19 years as a freelancer I contributed columns on where to hike, bike and paddle within a reasonable drive of the city.  And some fitness columns.  The kind of thing this blog is about.
     I was not the only one with an outdoor orientation whose words appeared in the paper. Others would write about hunting and fishing and there was coverage of outdoorsy things in the paper's magazine section.  In recent years beat reporters would cover the painfully slow governmental process of developing bike trails, recreational areas and the establishment of new refuges and parks.
     I hope the content of the printed paper will thrive in a new home on line attracting new readers and new advertisers. I can only hope the online versions of the T-P in the fall will be better than what is offered daily now-the horrible
     Oops, this is starting to sound like an obit and it's not.  The Times-Picayune is still here and even when seven days of "dead trees and ink," as a younger friend tactlessly refers to print journalism, is cut to three, a Times-Picayune will still be a daily paper.  Just "published"  in a different form-on line.  Dead trees to pixels.  I'll bet the trees are happy.



Thursday, May 17, 2012

St. Tammany (LA) blueway proposed

     A plan to promote three St. Tammany parish (LA) rivers as blueways--water recreation trails--was presented to the Bayou Haystackers Paddling Club, a group of canoe and kayak enthusiasts from across south Louisiana meeting in Hammond (LA) Wednesday night.
     Part of the plan encourages landowners along portions of three streams--the Bogue Falaya, the Tchefuncte and Abita rivers--to preserve the riparian environment with conservation easements or outright land donations, said Kathleen W. Stites, a landscape architect and acting executive director of the Land Trust for Southeast Louisiana.
     Conservation easements can result in significant tax benefits through reduced income or estate taxes, Stites said.
     BHPC members, many of them in the past having paddled the rivers to be designated water trails, questioned Stites closely about increasing access to the streams and the availability of parking at established launches.  Conflicts between paddlers and speeding motorboats on the wide rivers were discussed.
     Stites said she is seeking grant money for maps and mileposts along the blueway and is hoping for a big turnout by paddlers in support of the blueway when she will make a presentation at a meeting of the Covington City Council.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Using the bicycle racks on a bus in New Orleans

This post is about using the bicycle racks on the buses in New Orleans and Jefferson Parish.  It is an expansion of what appeared with the bicycle parking at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival PRESENTED by Shell.
     There is no additional fare to use the bicycle racks on the front of New Orleans Regional Transit Authority buses ($1.25) or the JeT buses ($1.50) in Jefferson Parish.  And permits are no longer required on either system to use the racks.  Streetcars in Orleans Parish do not carry bicycles.
     At the RTA site,, info can be found on schedules and fares.  Also there is a verbal description on how to use the bicycle racks on their buses but no pictures or illustrations.  (This may change soon.)   I have not redone the RTA text but have included my own take on how to look like a transit pro the very first time you put your bicycle on a bus bike rack.  To make it easier for a bike rack newbie, here are a couple of "high quality" illustrations on how the bike is mounted on the rack.
      Let's go over what happens.  Here comes the bus.  You are standing at the stop on the curb.  The bus stops.  Roll the bike to the front of the bus.  If the rack is not down, that is, it is not open and a bike is not in it already, grasp the latch at the top of the rack, unlatch it and open the rack.  Stand back a little bit and lean toward the bus to reach the latch on the rack.  If you don't you may find the rack will hit you and not fully open until you and your bike move back.
     The rack is now down in the open position.  Try to make eye contact with the driver to get some feedback as to which tray the operator wants the bike placed in.  Some bus operators like the bike in the tray farthest from the bus front, some like it in the tray closest to the bus. Lift the bike up and place it in the tray. Using the tray farthest from the bus means the front wheel must be facing to the right-facing the bus your right.  Using the tray closest to the bus means the front wheel must face to the left-facing the bus your left. If you are using the tray farthest from the bus you will be holding the oily part of the bike, the chain and chain ring, near you so be careful you do not "tattoo" yourself with black grease putting your bicycle on the rack.  Got HandiWipes? 
     Take the metal arm with the hook at the end from near the bottom of the tray pull the spring-loaded hook out and hook it over the front tire at about 2 o'clock.  Make sure it makes good contact with the tire.  Do not place the hook close to the fork or over fenders.  Bring your helmet with you onto the bus and anything else you think might blow or jiggle off the front of a bus cruising at up to 35-miles per hour on a bumpy street.
     This ritual is a little easier if there are two people: one holds the bikes as the other loads them.  Solo cyclists will have to hold the bike up while lowering the rack and after the trip is over, hold the bike up while restoring it to its upright position.  As you approach your stop ask the driver for a little time to get your bike off the rack.

Camping at Grand Isle SP in Louisiana

     Since hurricane Isaac last year, camping on the beach at Grand Isle State Park, in Grand Isle, LA has been prohibited because of a persistant sand errosion problem at the beach.  The sand is now being replaced and beach camping is set to reopen April 1, 2013, said Jacques Berry, communication director for Louisiana Lieutenant Governor Jay Dardenne.
     The full service (water, electricity) campsites behind the dunes, reopened shortly after the storm and are open now.
      All camping at Grand Isle SP is reservation only.  You can get a site if you drive up and one is open but you must pay the $6 reservation fee required of all walk-ups camping in Louisiana State Parks.  Developed sites are $28 per night, in season, which is now through October.  Add the pay-once-per-visit $6 reservation fee to this.  The telephone number of the fee station at the entrance to Grand Isle is: 985.787.2559.  The camping reservation number is 1-877-226-7652.
     Driving directions: Once on the island, stay on LA 1 and continue to drive east,past most of everything, almost but not quite to the eastern end of the island.  There LA 1 veers to the left.  You continue straight on Admiral Craik Dr.  The entrance to the park in on your right, the side the beach is on.  Entrance fee for day use is $1.
     A note to primitive campers, when the camping on the beach is permitted again: there is no driving on the beach so all your camping gear must be hauled from the parking lot, over the levee to the beach camping site-the closest site being about 800 feet from the parking lot.  Use whatever you want to haul your gear, carts, wagons, whatever, just no driving on the beach.
     Here is the contact information.  The telephone number for camping reservations is 1.877.226.7652.  The website for the park is  The Facebook address is
     The park offers lots to do for day trippers.  There is sun bathing on the khaki colored sand on the beach and swimming is permitted in the Gulf of Mexico though some of the beach is closed to swimming.  Watch the signs. There are no lifeguards.   There are bathhouses and outdoor showers to wash off the sand.  No glass containers in the park at all, not just no glass on the beaches.  No pets allowed on the beach and in the buildings.
     The 150 acre park is largely salt water marsh; a tidal wetland growing in salty water.  A trail, nearly three miles long, winds through the marsh for a close up view of some of the 300 bird species that live or pass through the park.  The viewing tower offering sweeping views of the beach, the marsh at the park and Barataria Pass has been rebuilt since hurricane Katrina and is open.
     The beaches on the seven mile long island are checked every day for remaining traces of oil from the BP spill two years ago and none have been found recently, say the folks living on the island.