3/1/17. Not long after we both returned to the campsite on New Year’s Day the heavens opened again, reawakening our fears of being flooded out again. It appears that the ground is so full of water that any rain cannot soak in and sits on top until it reaches a level where it flows away in one of the many drainage ditches. Thankfully we had pitched the tent on a little bit of ground that was just high enough that the water flowed away before it actually entered the tent. Phew!
Monday morning was overcast so the tent was only drying slowly and, with 80 km to ride, we decided that we could not afford the time to wait so it was packed away wet. We then had a short ride of a couple of km into Morgan City into the strongish southerly wind before turning west towards New Iberia where we had arranged a Warmshowers stay.
The US90 followed a reasonably straight path but there were a couple of sections that appeared to be freeway standard on the map so we took what was probably the old road which tracked the winding Bayou Teche. This was fine when it went north or north west as the wind pushed us along but it was a bit of a struggle when it turned south or even south west.
And the wind was getting stronger as the morning progressed. Not long after midday, as we approached Baldwin with about 50 km completed, we were on a section headed pretty much due west which meant that the wind was hitting us broadside. The panniers front and back increase our “profile” from the side and a particularly strong gust caught Christine full on, blowing her onto the grass at the side of the road. This brought on a complete “meltdown” (her word) and she had had enough. She was only interested in finding somewhere to get out of the wind for the rest of the day.
Entering Baldwin we stopped at the police station to ask if there was a campsite or hotel nearby. After some thought, the considered opinion from the two ladies inside was that the only place was the “Indian” hotel by the casino a couple of miles up the road.
Slightly puzzled by the word “Indian”, we made our way there to find that both the hotel and the casino were operated by native Americans from the Chitimacha nation. The hotel appeared to be a cut above the normal quality that we use so we were pleasantly surprised that the cost was about the average we have been paying.
Almost as soon as we got into our room a thunderstorm broke out so we were doubly pleased to be in shelter but within an hour and a half the sun was out, the wind had dropped and it was a lovely late afternoon! By then it was too late to continue to New Iberia and anyway we had been in contact with Will and Kathy, our hosts, to tell them that we were not going to make it as we were holed up in Baldwin, 30 km away. They invited us to stay the following night instead.
It was misty next morning when we woke but with a short, easy day ahead we were in no rush and, by the time we set sail, the mist had been burned off and it was a lovely day.
We pootled along passing through small towns which all had a few interesting looking old houses, generally from the antebellum period, until we reached New Iberia. We had a leisurely cup of coffee and did some food shopping for the next few days as we will be heading into a remote stretch of marshland by the coast for the last stretch of Louisiana before we reach Texas.
About mid afternoon we made our way to Will and Kathy’s house to find that they were as delightful a couple as we had been told. (Stephen had bumped into a young British couple on Christmas Eve who recommended the Warmshowers hosts in New Iberia.) Will collects old electric fans and has around 200 around the house including one from the old Queen Mary, transatlantic liner, and a ceiling fan in the shape of a propeller plane. They are both pure bred Cajuns – descendants of French settlers who were unceremoniously kicked out of Novia Scotia by the British when they took complete control of Canada after beating the Indians and the French in around 1750. Christine was especially excited to be able to talk French to a native Louisiana French speaker.
It was really interesting talking to them, and their daughter Emily, about the history of the Cajuns and Louisiana and we were introduced to gumbo – a delicious stew.