May 1, 2001 - Houma, LA 105.3***

Question of the day: Whats an arpent?

Today I did what was on this map, except that a) started in Kaplan, b) took side roads (LA182- the grey line that heads SE out of New Iberia toward Jeanerette) instead of 90 for about 40 miles, and c) took the yellow line SE out of Morgan City to Houma (always planned to but couldnt get Mapquest to map it because theyre no towns between Morgan City and Houma to enter as waypoints). Only 105 miles, but until someone does something about the wind, (getting sick of it and of complaining about it) I wont be hitting 130-140 mile days

The first 28 miles were straight E on LA15. I got up early (6, left at 6:45) hoping for softer headwinds in the morning, and to insure I could make it to Houma if not. The first town I came to was Abbeville – a really nice Louisiana town – the Parish Seat (I think they call it something else) of Vermillion Parish. It had two town squares, separated by a block. I saw and checked out this statue in the western town square.

This guy founded Abbeville. Heres the story (for Moira.)

So thats how its done. And what a tragic and usual ending. For the rest of you..

In Delcambre I saw a unique structure that I thought was blocking the road.

From this close you can see its a lift bridge. The little old one is on the right.

Breakfast at Caf Jardin (at the Holiday Inn) in New Iberia, then started some serious thinking about the wind. Went to a K Mart and bought bungee straps to squish my panniers, and decided to take the swamp road where there would be some trees. (They really clear things away from US roads like 90.) The basic speed calculations go like this:

Flat, No Wind = 14.5 mph

Uphill: deduct 1 mph for each 1 degree of grade; Downhill: add 1

Headwind: deduct 2.5 mph for each 10 mph component; Tailwind: add

Trees: good close forest will wipe out 1/3rd of the negative impact of the wind

LA182 was a fairly good choice. 2 lanes, no shoulders, variable surface quality, but light traffic and wooded perhaps half the way. I should have taken a couple pictures of Franklin too. Its got the huge trees with moss hanging down, wide boulevards with pretty old lights in the grassy medians, lots of old homes. However, after 3 days of no Historical Markers, all of a sudden, in downtown Franklin:

5 in a row! Right downtown! No warning! (Historical Marker – 1 mile). 2 of these are about great Civil War events (guess who won), 2 of locals who made it good (1 to the US Supreme Court, the other Governor of Louisiana), and 1 of how the town got its name (the founder liked Benjamin).

So, they have Historical Markers in Louisiana, they just dont advertise them. Ill be careful on my continuing ride so we dont miss any good ones!

In Peterson I had to rejoin US90. The same US90 Ive been on and off on for 6 or 7 days.. but here its very busy. Flat all over, as swamps are, heres the bridges at Morgan City.

The truck is blocking the thin tall train bridge.

My view from the median (waited for no cars so you could see the bridge). At this point, US90 went up in the air, and pretty much stayed there for the next 40 miles. If you look on a good map, youll see its all swamp from Morgan City to Houma. If youre the US federal government, and youve got more money than most people can conceive of, and you want to build a road between these two places think causeway.

Two roads, one each direction, up in the air, above the swamp, about 3 lanes wide each. Theres good and bad things about this. Good is that it has to be better for the swamp and the things that live there. Bad is road noise (for me, the side and center barriers really hold it in) and those little angles of bumps you see on the shoulder above. Lets look more closely:

My thin tires vs. those. Somebody decided to put 40 miles of speed bumps every 25 to 50 feet (literally) in my path. Let me say some idiot who never rode a bike. Im sure they are handy to wake up people just before they crash through the side barriers to their deaths, but it caused me to sway back and forth (among other things) to avoid jarring my bike and me to bits. Precision riding.

Did see yet another big bridge, at the Inter-coastal Waterway again. Surprising to see so much activity in the middle of what had been nowhere. (This is by Amelia LA)

The old and new RR bridges, and a lot of shipyards are visible. Just kept riding, right into the headwind (which was somewhat diminished by the trees in the swamp too) and got to Hourma at 6PM. 12.2 average for the day. Better than yesterday. Lots of hotel choices, but in the end it was obvious.

Now, some of you are probably thinking.. this is getting a little dull. Nothing but swamps, bridges and the occasional marginally interesting town. Well, thats all thats going on. No views, just swamps, rural homes, and farms. To keep from getting bored, and give my legs a break, I play pretend its a hill and stand up and crank (vs. spinning and grinding) for a mile or so. The it in the prior sentence is the wind.

Tomorrow its through New Orleans, stopping for photos only, past the 2,000 mile mark, and I may join up with another rider, Bob Lee

PS. Two Sidebars

Whats the difference between shrimp and crawfish? At Copelands (the recommended restaurant in Houma, where garlic, burn your mouth out quantities of garlic, is the magic ingredient) they, collectively, dont really know. None of these facts verified:

Crawfish: Red, fresh water, raised in mud, harder shells, farmed, spicier. (I passed by dozens of crawfish signs, roadside stands, etc. over the past couple days.)

Shrimp: Orange, caught by boats (Bob note), salt or fresh water, bigger.

I ordered Shrimp Magnolia for an appetizer (portabella upside down with little bits of chopped up tomatoes, green stuff, basil, lots of garlic, small mushrooms in a brown sauce) and Crawfish fettuccini for an entre (what youd expect, plus lots of garlic) and compared. I verify the words above in green. I vote for crawfish.

JR, driver of Tommys cab #8, works nights until 6AM, took me to and from dinner, told me about Houma. Pronounced Humma, according to him. Biggest thing around. 58 miles from New Orleans. 5 or 6 strip bars if I want to make love tonight. Best thing (my question) is the food, then the people. Theyre real nice. (some derogatory comments about blacks). Took me to Copelands but thinks Outback Steakhouse is better. Never been to either, but heard that you can cut the meat off the ribs with a spoon at Outback. JR has no scratch (money), and few teeth, but a nice ponytail. His job is to get people to where they want to go safely in a 20 year old Chrysler K car of hugely indeterminate mileage. Say what you want about him, but on the way back I asked him the shrimp/crawfish question and he said that crawfish are closer to lobster, they can live on land and in water. In a big rainfall they leave the swamps and go to land because they cant stand all the fresh water. They sell by the pound, while shrimp sell by the piece.

Finally, following up on yesterdays update, from Claire:

the brown furry mammals were probably nutria, they are just like overgrown gerbils, are in fact rodents I believe, were introduced to LA as a way to control something or other, then of course they got out of control. I think Louisiana is trying to market them now that they’re pests. They remind me of tribbles.

thank you to Sony for developing such a great camera and computer and memory stick.

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