There’s a Lot of Water in Louisiana

1/1/17.  We set off from the campsite on the outskirts of New Orleans heading back towards the Mississippi (I just love saying that!) so that we could foilow the cycle path along the levee even if it was rather winding/sinuous rather than follow the busy main road.

It was clear that the river is a “working” one with many industrial plants along the way which provided some points of interest even if they were not pretty. We also saw our first Bald Eagle sitting on top of a pole until it got so aggravated by the three crows which were mobbing it that it flew off 200 yards downriver where the crows started again!

After following the river for a couple of loops we headed south towards US90 but, just before we reached it, we turned off on The Old Spanish Trail (presumably the old road) which we had used as a quieter alternative to the main drag in several stretches.

This was where we really started to benefit from the north east wind and we made excellent time along the quiet road which passed through swampland (just as we had always imagined “The Bayou”) and the occasional group of (generally poor-looking) trailers and houses.

Eventually the old and the new roads joined up and we were beside a bit of a racetrack that was the US90 – not especially pleasant but the key thing was that we were beside it so we didn’t feel particularly threatened. And we covered 15 km in double quick time.

Turning off the main drag the land looked to be more cultivated, albeit with the crops, whatever it was, having been harvested. We were passed by several trucks with what we initially thought was fuel for a biomass plant but, as we approached Raceland, there was a sign about “raw sugar” together with a plant producing smelling steam or smoke and the penny dropped – we were in a sugar cane growing area.

Our Warmshowers host, Alvin, that evening told us that the waste product, once the sucrose has been extracted, is called “bag-ass” and the company he works for is seeking to extract other useful products from the bagasse.

We had a lovely evening with Alvin, including tasting our first jambalaya – delicious!, and swapping stories about cycling and other subjects, including Alvin and his two brothers exploding a homemade “bomb” when they were about 7 years old – hilarious!

The weather forecast for the weekend was not good and, with a heavy shower falling while we ate breakfast, we were apprehensive about the day.

As it transpired, the rain stopped before we were ready to leave and stayed away for much of the day. Hooray!

Following a lovely quiet route recommended by Alvin we passed through more sugarcane field land before joining a State Road that ran parallel to the US90 (which seemed be upgraded to freeway standard for this stretch). The cultivation came to an abrupt end and we were again passing through swampland again until, suddenly, we came across a scrapyard for ships and then an industrial area including an office of Intertek, the company for which Stephen used to work.

There were a number of “ancillary services” in this industrial area including the not very tempting “gentleman’s club”

Since we left New Orleans we have passed many casinos. These look much more seedy than the glitzy ones in Biloxi and, to be frank, not at all appealing. The gambling laws in Louisiana must be much more lax than the other states we have passed through.

Reaching our destination of Morgan City (don’t rush to visit would be our advice!) we stocked up on treats for New Year’s Eve (Pringles, cookies, croissants, a bottle of wine – we know how to live!) at the local Walmart just as it started to rain.

Luckily there was a brief respite between us finishing the shopping and arriving at the nearby campsite but we had to erect the tent as the rain started yet again. It got steadily harder and a worrying puddle appeared right outside the door to the tent. Stephen had visions of us being flooded again as we were in Japan so we made sure as much as possible was in the panniers (we frequently strew half the contents all around the tent!) in case we needed to evacuate suddenly in the middle of the night.

About 8 o’clock it stopped raining so these precautions were unnecessary and we woke to a lovely morning. lt was not to last!

Stephen set off northwards for a first bike ride of 2017 and passed through

Now that’s a place he can relate to!

After about 30 km the sky started to get dark so he headed for a convenient garage to “refuel” and shelter – and was mighty glad he did so as the heavens opened. It was more than an hour before the rain relented enough for him to head back “home”.

Christine had taken her pill and then headed into town to find a church where, although the congregation were again stand offish, at least the minister took time to speak with her.

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