Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Public Transit Tuesdays: Algiers Ferry and Algiers Local

Posted By Google on Tue, Jul 3, 2012 at 11:30 PM

For the first time in Public Transit Tuesday history, I had a buddy ride with me. Rachel Heiligman of Transport for NOLA accompanied me on the Algiers Ferry and Algiers Local bus, and it was great to finally have some company—not just because I'm sick of people bothering me when I eat alone, but because someone was there to go through the drama with me, helping me to remember that I'm not crazy...

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Rachel and I met at the foot of Canal Street, outside of the ferry terminal. Since there's no air conditioning in the ferry terminal and since the escalators haven't worked in years, we were pretty sweaty at the beginning of our journey. That was fine, though, since we'd end up getting a bit lost, running for a bus and getting equally sweaty later.

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"Riding the ferry is the only chance I have to really interact with the Mississippi River. The river's always behind a building or under a bridge," Rachel said as we enjoyed the air conditioned ferry. We went outside to take a few pictures, but the heat brought us back in swiftly.

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Once we arrived at the Algiers ferry terminal, we stopped at the Robert E. Nimms Jazz Walk of Fame. There's a phone number to call for tour narration but they ask you—after a really long spiel about the walk of fame—for a location number. Rachel dialed the number she saw waaay at the top of the light post but that number was incorrect. "Just dial one, it has to be one since this is the first stop on the tour," I told her. Wrong again. Rachel spotted a button on the light post! Finally we could enjoy our tour! Wrong again. Didn't work.

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We decided to walk the rest of the tour and were disappointed that the majority of the replica street signs bearing the musicians' names were gone as well as the pictures. They're also really high up, too. Very hard to see.

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(Sidenote: The man narrating the tour was my Paw Paw's friend Tex Stephens. Tex Stephens was an accomplished journalist and a very thoughtful man but he sure knew how to overstay a welcome. He'd come over to visit with my Paw Paw over Jack Daniels and tonic but would always doze off on our avocado and harvest gold couch, his feathered fedora on his chest.

Being a Paw Paw's girl, I would get frustrated—even as a teenager—with having someone over at the house, taking up time with my Paw Paw that I felt should've been spent with me. I'd stomp around the house slamming doors, trying to get Tex to wake up and go home, but it never worked. As they say, that brown [liquor] brings you down.

One day my mother said jokingly, "Megan, your Maw Maw used to say that if you put a broom upside-down behind someone that they'll leave your house. And if you sweep out behind them, they'll never come back." I had nothing to lose, so I grabbed the broom and leaned it on the space heater behind him. "No, no, no!" my mother yelled. "They aren't supposed to see it! Here, lean it on this counter in the kitchen."

Almost instantly I heard, "Well Freddy, looks like Imma hit the old dusty trail."

"Ma! It worked! It worked!" I ran and told my mother. I would use this trick many more times, usually on Tex, and it never failed.)

I wanted to take Rachel to my favorite place for a bacon Bloody Mary, The Crown & Anchor English Pub (200 Pelican Ave., 227-1007; www.crownanchorpub.com), but they were closed.

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We walked around Algiers Point for a bit, admiring the architecture and landscaping while on the way to Kupcakes Etc. (501 Pelican St., 227-0306; www.kupcakesetc.com), but they were closed.

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We took a Big Shot break at Algiers Point Grocery (541 Bermuda St., 875-4317) and I was happy to see that they renovated but was sad to see they only had pineapple Big Shot. They used to have all the flavors, but the owner said that the delivery person is bringing fewer flavors since they don't sell well there.

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Wanting to explore via the Algiers Local bus, Rachel and I walked across the street to the bus stop we passed up along the way. It's for a different Algiers bus. Rachel used a third-party app, Joel Carranza's NOLA Transit beta, to find the nearest Algiers Local bus stop but we got lost and ended up walking two blocks in the wrong direction. I remembered there was another bus stop on the corner of Opelousas and Vallette. It was also for another Algiers bus.

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When we found our way to Opelousas and Bouny, I noticed that the bus stop sign said the bus was going to Algiers Point. We looked across the street but saw no sign. According to the third-party app, the bus was coming soon and we didn't want to wait an hour in the heat for the next one. We crossed Opelousas, looking for signs of a bus stop but found none. Rachel saw the bus coming and said, "I'm just going to stand here and flag the bus down."

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"I'm sorry we were waiting in the street but we didn't see a sign or anything. Where's the actual stop?" Rachel asked the driver as we deposited our fare. "Oh baby that's the stop. There's just no sign," the driver told us.

I'm assuming it's because the buses don't come as frequently and are harder to connect to, since the lines aren't as densely packed as on the Eastbank, but Algiers bus riders seem to know the bus schedules very well.

Rachel and I rode the Algiers Local all over the Westbank (near the English Turn bridge, the end of General Meyer, Algiers Point) and even met a girl on the bus who offered to help us if we were lost. We had a decision to make once we approached the end of the line: Do we ride the Algiers Local back to General Meyer to stop for barbecue at LaRue's or do we try to catch the General Meyer bus and go to Van's Snoballs (4811 General Meyer Ave.)?

We were pretty hungry, so we chose LaRue's Barbeque (3613 General Meyer Ave., 644-4408). Before going in, I wrote down the Stop ID number at the General Meyer bus stop across the street so I could use the automated system to find out when the bus was coming. LaRue's was clean and the employees were friendly, but the food was just okay. Seeing the smoker outside was a good sign but the barbecue sauce seemed store-bought, with the exception of the large, undercooked pieces of garlic throughout. The sides that we tried—macaroni and cheese, potato salad and baked beans—also appeared to be store-bought and then doctored up to appear homemade. You get a corn muffin with your meal but it's prepacked and presented in its factory-sealed cellophane wrapper.

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Still, the bathroom was clean and the people were friendly.

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I called the RTA rideline to figure out when the bus was coming, but the line was busy. It stayed busy for roughly 10 minutes, so I used the Google Transit app instead. The Google Transit app is almost always accurate. Rachel used her third-party app and it was also accurate.

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Rachel and I boarded the General Meyer bus on time and were finally headed back to our workplaces after the sweatiest bus adventure yet.

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Thanks again for checking out this bus adventure! Outtakes are below! Also, since I'll finally be getting this dental splint and these braces removed next Tuesday, July 10, I plan on riding somewhere with plenty of yummy stops along the way. I'm thinking either the Freret, St. Bernard Avenue, Hayne, Lakeview, St. Claude Avenue or Marigny-Bywater. Please feel free to comment below letting me know which of those buses you'd like me to ride next.

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