Running At Audubon Park

Yesterday I ran 5 miles at Audubon Park and I felt happy as a lark…that I broke the monotony of running at Lafreniere Park.  That sentence sounds a bit musical.  I guess I still have that same spirit I had yesterday when I cranked up my MP3 at the start of my run.  I felt like dancing in the sun. but I ran.

The scene with nice southern folks, beautiful weather (I think it was 82 degrees), a musician playing his violin, and tall enchanting oak trees made me feel like I was running in a dream.

Audubon Park, part of the Audubon Institute, is situated in a cozy parcel of land which nests a gulf-course, is directly in front of Loyola University and near the Audubon Zoo.  The place is bustling with young families, runners of all ages, cyclists, roller bladders, walkers, dog walkers, baby strollers, and group activities.

There is ample free parking, water fountains and sprinklers, and reasonable rest-areas (although not so well-kept as those at Lafreniere Park).  I stopped at one of the rest areas, and the fumes emanating from it almost made me dip (pass out).

The trail is a wide 1.8 miles-in-revolution, with designated lanes for bikers and runners.  There is also an un-paved path for those who wish to run on the natural ground.

The majestic oak trees were my fascination.  They created an arch-like space over parts of the trail which lends a cooling shade.  Choirs of crickets incessantly screamed at the top of their lungs in these trees.  There were a few species of ducks in the welfare line scoping out people f0r food, while other ducks were enjoying a a swim in the seemingly static green pond.  This place is also a sanctuary for birds.  If I was paying attention in class back in the day and not dozing off (I did work night shift for some time ya know…), I would probably know their names.  Sorry!

There seems to be more runners and people exercising at this park than at Lafreniere because the Audubon Park area is not just near two major universities (Loyola and Tulane) and many students make time for exercise, but I’ve also noticed a more affluent and educated crowd living nearby.  Directly at the side of the trail you will find many beautiful southern-style private properties resembling the likes of mansions.

I would have loved to stick around a while longer at the park, but I had to get back home to my sisters and mother.  We promised to take mom to the French Quarters to get a bite of Beignet, then walk it off like it was a curse.  And so this is what we did.

We sat down at Cafe Du Monde where each had an order of those tasty sweet fried fritters laden with confectioner’s sugar (beignet) with a cool chocolate milk to wash ‘em down.  We sat and enjoyed a soloist who only knew one verse of the two songs he sang (Sam Cook’s “A Change Is Gonna Come “, and one from Mahalia Jackson which I did my best to forget).

Initially, at our arrival at Cafe Du Monde, it was amusing to hear him sing and see him hustle a few bucks.  I even joined in and tried to help the man in a duet, but soon the situation got stale, and I wish we had paid him to put some Poligrip on his choppers, but in lieu of the mad economy we are experiencing in this country, I understood quite well that a brother has got to do what a brother has got to do–HUSTLE HARD!

And because we tipped him quite early on, he came over to our side and was hustling in our ears.  Unfortunately for this soloist, who said his new record is out “And if you want to get a copy, you will find it at the New Orleans Police Department,” an older gentleman paid him $2.00 to “shut the hell up!”  Two dollars did not buy off struggling Sam Cook, so the older gentlemen and his daughter–disgruntled and mad–reprimanded the acapella soloist and immediately fled the scene.  Fortunately for me and my family, this worked!  So, we ate our Beignet and hustled hard to walk those calories off.

OYE!  I know New Orleans has one of the highest crime rates (highest murder rate per capita in the country)  in the nation, but I felt quite safe in both Audubon Park and Lafreniers Park.  The topography of this city is not very runners friendly, but if you are visiting the city and have to get your miles in, I suggest you check out these routes, and one at the Lakefront area which I wrote about a few months back.  Stay tuned for more on running in New Orleans!


MORE PICS from Audubon park!

Honoring the great work done by Buffalo Soldiers.