There is a house in New Orleans
‘There is a house in New Orleans
They call the rising sun…’
Yes! I’ve reached New Orleans and not surprisingly, there actually is a house, here which is called The Rising Sun Hostel.
My plan initially was to stay the night in The Rising Sun, But then my Facebook friend Chris Clinton told me that his niece, Jennifer would host me so instead I’m staying tonight I’m her lovely cozy home in downtown New Orleans.
Maybe it’s just as well. That house could well ‘be the ruin of this poor boy’ and Jennifer is most hospitable!
It was one hell of a tough day in the saddle and I covered over 180 km, cycling from just after dawn, to well after dusk.
I’d pitched camp last night in a swampy area just outside the town of Franklin and usual, my camp was on a riverbank. -These are not hard to find in Louisiana!
However, this morning before the sun had risen, I went for a pee into the river and was admiring how the early morning mist was lying low on the water, and the many rotting logs which were floating by.
Wait! That log just winked at me, and it’s got a tail. Yes, it was an alligator! -A very big alligator.
Every time I tell people I’m camping in Louisiana I get the same reaction. -“Dey’s a big motha fucka daddy gaitor down in dat swamp. He’s gonna creep up tonight and haul your white ass into dat river!”
I’ve heard the same thing more or less, many times in relation to coyotes and rattlesnakes in Texas. My experience is that many people living in the southern states have a fear of the great outdoors.
In any case the big daddy gaitor was winking at me about 20 m from where I was peeing into his river. I didn’t panic, because he seemed happy to ignore me and I even managed to take a photo. However I didn’t delay in breaking camp, constantly watching my ass!
The plan was to leave as early as possible but I needed coffee first and the nearby McDonald’s was open at 6:00 am serving good coffee with free refills. I parked Karolina outside, took off my cycling shoes which were soaking wet and left them to dry beside her.
I didn’t spend long in McDonald’s as I’d already posted my blog so all I had to do was answer a few messages, energize myself with a few cups of coffee and get going.
As soon as I got outside, I was shocked to see that one of my tattered, smelly, wet cycling shoes was missing. I’ve had my helmet and lights stolen from my bicycle before, but who, in their right mind would steal one of my disgusting cycling shoes?
This was a real disaster, -not only would I have to spend at least $100 on new shoes but today’s cycle into New Orleans with only one shoe was going to be a real struggle.
I’d cycled about 500 m away and saw a mangy looking dog chewing what I assumed was a bone. Again, not an uncommon site in Louisiana. However, when I got closer I saw that the bone was in fact my missing cycling shoe. The dog wasn’t too happy to part with it but I was pretty determined and so after a short tug o war, I was happily on my way, this time with both shoes on.
It was a very pleasant morning with some nice sunshine but unfortunately the crosswind which plagued me yesterday was still blowing strongly. Nevertheless, I was feeling very energetic and made very good progress, covering the first 80 K in just over four hours. For most of this I was on frontage roads running parallel to the No. 90 Highway, but as I expected there were many bridges and I had to cycle onto the highway itself for quite long distances, with the usual problem of heavy traffic and no hard shoulder.
I took a short break in at Subway restaurant and then continued eastwards. The wind had dropped and changed direction slightly so that I was able to cycle faster towards the city. But I knew that I had no chance of getting there before it got dark.
I reached the outskirts as I passed by the Louis Armstrong International Airport at about 5:30pm. just as the sun went down. Of course, because it was now rush-hour the traffic was extremely heavy. There was absolutely no cycle infrastructure and I was beeped at hundreds of times by irate motorists, not used to being delayed by touring cyclists.
The last 15 km or so was particularly scary. It was pitch dark and I’d no choice other than to cycle on the highways over several flyovers, under many bridges and through many tunnels. This time last year, I would never in a million years have contemplated cycling in such an environment but my confidence, along with my road handling skills have grown a lot and while it was quite frightening to be there, I cycled assertively and survived.
With the assistance of Map Me, I found Jennifer’s house easily and am now heading out to find some good live music, good company, good food and good beer.
As King Louis would say:-
“And I say to myself,
What a wonderful world!