Lots has changed over the past few days. Since writing from Magnolia Springs, Alabama, I went on a breathtaking morning boat ride that made me rethink my overall opinion on the state of the Crimson Tide at large, rode a ferry to the immensely disappointing and desolate Dauphin Island, carried on to the next town–Bayou LaBatre–and “slept” in the backyard of a Weslyan Church there, crossed into Mississippi and slept in Gulfport, and today crossed unceremoniously into Louisiana, where I now sit in the suburbs some fifteen miles west of New Orleans.
Today’s ride rivals the Saint Augustine-Gainesville century for sheer grit and difficulty. Some 85 miles with winds varying from favorable to overwhelming and a rear wheel that needed repairs in Gulfport that have do not seem to have cured my flat problem made things rather festive. I am on my third tube in four days and had to re-inflate this one every twenty miles to keep rolling at a semi-respectable pace. Hurricane Isaac could be seen all over US 90 from Biloxi into New Orleans, and for as little as I heard about it from the road, it seems to have done its fair share of damage to those places less likely to garner the national spotlight. The Mississippi coast towns still had downed trees and their beaches were razed of all dunes (which were conveniently swept out of the road and onto the shoulder…everywhere) and the seemingly endless stretch of 90 starting right around the Louisiana border was littered with debris piles, boats, and animal carcases. The work crews were out in light force today using front loaders to fill dump trucks with errant trash and roadkill, but their efforts were but the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The sights (but mostly the smells) were wholly overwhelming. There is something about seeing several thirty-plus foot boats perched precariously just out of the line of traffic on a US highway that really drives home the stark reality about storms. That locals to the area tell me that Isaac was a “non-event” is truly a testamant to the devastation they have witnessed. Riding around Lake Ponchatrain as opposed to across it on the massive I10 bridge really gobsmacked me. There is a lot of water in this area, and I haven’t actually been into the city yet.
My riding wounds were salted by Popeye’s for dinner in the suburbs. A paltry couple of biscuits mean that I’ll wake up ready to sample the beignets at every establishment that serves them.
As always, there is much more to say than “comfortable” computer time to say it–it’s a weird phenomenon that you experience when borrowing things at all times–but figured I’d quickly bring ya’ll up-to-speed. The bayous between here and Austin are starting to sound less appealing by the day, lest we begin to discuss the endless expanses of desert across New Mexico and Arizona. Something about consecutive days of 53, 57, 65, and 85 miles without music or much other diversion has me thinking that I’ve just about thunk myself silly. Hopefully an extended break in a city wrought with an interesting breed of coffee, good architecture, and lots of pastries (sadly most of their famous fare is non-vegetarian) will prove thoroughly rejuvinating and provide more computer accesss. Some essays and non-factual updates are starting to burn holes in my notebook.
A moment of zen from a gas station water break in Somewhere Near Pascagoula, Mississippi:
Armored truck driver: “You must be from Alabama!”
Me (surprised and smirking): “You think so? Why do you say that?”
ATD: “Cause of them britches you got on…kinda making me laugh.”
Please feel free to shoot me recommendations of all sorts for things to do, places to stay, (meat free) things to eat, and pictures to take here in New Orleans!