Thursday, October 20, 2016

The final day was a test of resolve.  I realized early it would be a harder day than I originally imagined.  It also had a bit of symmetry with my first day of riding--long stretches of mostly featureless highway with a headwind.  This time, however, add in heat and humidity and some general weariness from riding in the same conditions for the last three days.

The day started ominously when I realized I had no good way to get across the small waterway necessary to continue on Hwy 23.  There was supposed to be a pedestrian route but it was closed by a padlocked gate.  Fortunately, Cathy had not yet crossed and we loaded the bike onto the car and made this crossing:

Needless to say, as confident as I am about riding in traffic, this is not a place I wanted to be on a bike.
I did get to see one more new agricultural crop.
At one point I was able to ride up onto the levee to see
After that, it was a whole lot of

With about 30 miles to go, a deadly piece of shrapnel on the shoulder blew out both my tube and tire.  By this time, Cathy was patiently waiting for me near the end and had to drive back to my location so that I could make the needed repairs.  Fortunately, I had started the trip with two spare tires in addition to many tubes and I ended up needing both tires.

I resumed my trip down Hwy 23 with little to look at until a bridge over a canal at a bit past mile 50.  From here, I could see most of the rest of the way.

I continued to struggle against the headwind that I swore got stronger the closer I got to the end.  With just three miles to go, I got a gift when the road turned southwest and the mostly east wind suddenly became a tailwind.  I put my head down went pretty much all out to get to

While I wanted to end with my front tire in the Gulf of Mexico, this was the closest I could get.

We did this together

As we left, I was able to enjoy the beautiful wildlife area I hardly saw in my sprint to the finish.

The journey by the numbers:

States                                                                   10
Items lost or stolen                                         lock (lost); phone mount (stolen), wedge bag with tube, levers, minitool and pliers (stolen); part of bike rack (lost); Cathy’s purse with cr cards, health card and our passports (stolen);tool bag with small tools (stolen);bike frame (broken);bike pump (broken but maybe repairable);Hydration pack bladder (leaking but with a lifetime warranty)
Bee stings                                                           2
Mosquito bites                                                 Innumerable
Flat tires (tubes)                                               6
Blown tires                                                         2
Miles on MRT                                                    2,300
Total miles                                                          2,469
Days riding MRT                                                32
Days riding from border                                34
Average miles per day MRT                         69.7
Average miles per day from border         70.55    
Lessons learned about security                 3
Last day's data

 I wonder what will be the next big adventure.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The final day beckons.  It is bittersweet.  I am a bit sorry it will be over.  On the other hand, I am tired of hot, humid weather.  I really miss marine air.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The penultimate day! 

Another day of riding beside the levee for a while and then I got to get up on it!  Not to get too excited though.  Trees blocked my view of the river a lot.  However, when I could see it, I could see how different is this stretch of the river.  This is the commercial end with oil refineries, coal processing and steel mills lining the river in places.

Riding beside the levee
Seen from beside the levee - a hint of things to come

Riding on the levee - glimpses of the river

The levee trail

The cranes working beside the levee
I had about 4 miles on the levee before finding myself back in residential and farming land. One sure sign you are in Louisiana is the Spanish moss on the live oak trees.

Also, a new crop - sugar cane

 When I turned onto Spillway road, I got a different look at the commercial vessels.
and Industrialization
From the ridiculous to the sublime, I met Cathy at Audubon Park in New Orleans.
Going through New Orleans, I enjoyed seeing how at least one person goes crazy in preparation for Halloween

I got lost trying to get out of New Orleans.  I forgot that the primary direction of travel here was East and, because it sits within a loop of the river, I really did need to go north to get farther south.
I would love to have taken a picture of the ferry I was on to cross the river but that was when my phone died.
Data for the day (my third straight day of riding into a mild headwind)

Monday, October 17, 2016

For the first 21 miles today, my D- grade for Louisiana's MRT route was unchanged.  The two highways I was on either had no shoulder with traffic, or a poorly maintained shoulder with traffic.  While the roads were smoother than yesterday, there was still no scenery and little to recommend.

Finally, as I neared Baton Rouge on the business route, the traffic abated somewhat and the road conditions improved.  I stopped by the old state capitol building to meet Cathy as I needed to find a bike shop for some supplies.

After replenishing my supplies and enjoying a latte and a muffin at a local coffee shop, Cathy returned me to the MRT route where I was able to ride the levee trail for a few miles.  I actually got a brief glimpse of the river from the trail.

Their levee trail is even lighted for about 4 miles.

A couple of miles down the road I saw a small pond with a large number of white cranes.  I swear they are camera shy.  As I was getting out my phone to take the picture, most of them took off.

That was pretty much it for any scenery.  I followed the levee for over 30 miles.  At least the road was pretty good and the busy traffic going my way counteracted the mild headwind and I made good time to the day's end of the route.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Today was among the more disappointing days I have had.  I don't usually have particular expectations about a day but the map made it look like it would be a day of great views of the river and wildlife areas.

It started well enough.  I got an early start and with the heavy overcast it was a cool morning. 
Leaving Vidalia

I was less than 10 miles down the road when I saw a pond with many birds.

When I looked closely at the bird closest to me, I realized I was seeing my first spoonbill in the wild. The beak does not show up well but it is the only non-white bird in the picture.

Unfortunately, this was pretty much the highlight of the day.  My "great views of the river" were pretty consistently blocked by the levee (on the left).

On top of that, when I made the effort to climb up onto the levee, it appeared the river was even farther away.  I either saw the equivalent of a dry river bed or a grassy ditch.  One of the better sights beyond the levee was

 Adding injury to insult, I was on a stretch of over 20 miles of very poor road surface.  In fact, by the end of the day, I was thinking of an old Duane Eddy number called "40 Miles of Bad Road".  In my case it was more like 65-70.  I was kept alert by trying to find the smoothest part of the road which was often the oncoming lane.  Fortunately, there was very little traffic, especially oncoming.  In some places, the "repair" of the road amounted to a thin layer of asphalt.  This layer looked like someone drove on it with some piece of heavy equipment making the repaired surface something akin to a rumble strip.
The most interesting discovery of the day was the Old River Control Project.  There is great information about this at

While dodging bumps in the road, I couldn't resist a shot of our old friend Kudzu.

 Probably the prettiest view of the day was this flood plain a few miles before I got to Morganza.

After all of the miserable bumpy roads I was on, it was  great relief to turn onto State Highway 10 with a smooth shoulder separated from the traffic lanes by a rumble strip.  Wouldn't you know that is where I would get a flat tire!
After changing tubes, I was within sight of the bridge across the river that would take me to my final destination of the day. 
Data for the day