It has been 130 days since I launched the latest Lewis and Clark and Mark Grand Tour Bicycle Expedition. It has also been since April that I’ve had a place to call home. My original thought when planning this tour was to spend a month in New Orleans, and then continue trekking around the south by bicycle. After some cold weather camping and cycling, I’ve thought it might be better idea to wait for winter to pass here in the Big Easy. I know Texas’ winters aren’t as bad as say Chicago or Pittsburgh, but they do get the occasional snow and some crazy ice storms, too. I figure there’s no good reason to be a “hero” and push on. Plus, as much as I love the adventure and meeting new folks, it’s been really nice to stay in the same place every night for a change.
When I made the decision to call NOLA home for the winter, I emailed the India House Hostel to see about a work-for-accommodations trade. It was just my luck that one of the front desk clerks was heading off to new adventures and I got a gig working at the hostel inside of a week of my arrival. I work the front desk three nights a week in return for a place to sleep every night. The hostel is a really rad place that has guests from all over the world. I’m sure I’ll do a post or two on the hostel and the interesting characters I’ve met/will meet. (If you follow my Instagram, you’ll have seen some photos of the interesting art on the walls of the house as well as a few pics of my fellow travelers. You are following me on Instagram, right? And Twitter?)
I next hit up Craigslist and the want ads in the local paper to search for a part-time job for the days I’m not working the desk. I applied to make bicycle deliveries, wash dishes, clean houses, do lawn care and anything else that was available and legal. (I’m on a couple of guest teacher lists at local ballet schools and have a master class I’ll be teaching at an arts school in January. For those of you that don’t know, I was a professional ballet dancer before the bicycle touring travel stage of my life.) I ran into more than a few scams on Craigslist and didn’t hear back from several places I applied. (There was one job that I only had to work 15-20 hours a week for $400-500; all they needed for me to start was all of my personal information – including my bank account number. Nice try.)
I did end up getting a prompt a response from Bittersweet Confections on Magazine St. in the warehouse/arts district. I had a good feeling about the place when I read “must have a good sense of humor” at the bottom of the job description. I went in to my interview and the manager said that he wanted to meet me because of my very unique resume. (I guess it’s not every day a bicycle touring, former classical ballet dancer applies for a steward job at a bakery.) I explained my situation and told them I’d only be in town through the spring and they were gracious enough to hire me for the duration of my stay. (It must have been my sense of humor.) It’s a good thing too because I knead to make some dough! I’m not gonna lie – after months on the road with no steady income, it is a relief to put away something for a rainy day. Or a cracked rim. Or any of the many other hazards of living on the road.
Many people have asked how I can afford to travel around without a job. I jokingly told a Border Control agent in Canada, “you and my mother seem to be the only ones worried about it.” He didn’t find it amusing. Seriously though, taking a few months off the road will give me a chance to refill the piggy bank. (Don’t worry, it’s a lightweight carbon-fiber piggy.) It will also give me some much needed time with electricity and reliable wi-fi so I can finally finish some of the blog post drafts you’ve all been waiting to read.