October 7 Houma to Cocodriea, LA (Where the Road Ends and the Gulf Begins)

Posted by on Jan 31, 2013 in Mississippi River Trail | No Comments

Distance 37 miles, 13.2 mph average,  2:45 ride time, actual time on the road same. Today’s Expenses $ 20.00

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Alvin and I were up at six AM, had a quick breakfast and headed to the Gulf.  As we left Houma we had to cross ride across a draw bridge high above the HoumaNavigationCanal where I got to see my first of many shrimp boats.  Alvin told me this was the only hill between us and the Gulf.  As we rode south we were helped along with a strong northern wind (finally wind in my favor) the morning was beautiful and the ride through Marshes, crossing various channels and seeing many more shrimp boats anchored waiting to head out to catch one of my favorite seafood.  As we needed to finish quick as possible I did have a little difficulty keeping up with the pace Alvin set for us.  Proving me right in my thesis Alvin was putting me on with his modest, “I’ll try to keep up” line.  That said he was great company for this little jaunt to complete my riding the length of the Mississippi.  Also confirming Alvin has the enthusiasm and ability to motivate and lead folks on bicycle tours.  I trust I will do as well when I lead folks on their bicycle adventures.

First Shrimp boat we spotted

First Shrimp boat we spotted

Shrimp boat fleet preparing to head out into the Gulf.

Shrimp boat fleet preparing to head out into the Gulf.

Arriving in Cocodrie was a bit anti-climatic as the road ended at a Marina which sits on yet another small canal.  The Marina has a large sign hanging above its second story frame structure proclaiming “Where the road ends and the Gulf begins”.

Cocodriea - Gulf of Mexico "Where the Road Ends and the Gulf Begins".

Cocodriea – Gulf of Mexico “Where the Road Ends and the Gulf Begins”.

Alvin took a couple pictures for insertion in this journal and we laid our plans for getting back to his place.  Alvin realized I wasn’t capable of keeping up with him and as we were short on time for to be able to be in New Orleans by two PM for his daughter’s birthday party, he said he’d ride back to his place get his truck and drive back to pick me up however far I made it north.  I agreed with Alvin’s plan and told him I was going to take a short break before heading into what must be a 20 mph headwind.  With that Alvin pedaled toward home.

Just can't resist taking a picture of beautiful wildflowers I find along the  road.

Just can’t resist taking a picture of beautiful wildflowers I find along the road.

After taking my break, I noticed four guys standing between two pick up trucks talking about how much fun they had had fishing the past couple days.  It appeared three of the guys were preparing to “drive” home.  Seeing as the road only goes north I introduced myself to the group and told them about the adventure I just completed.  Of course, I added my need to get back to Houma as soon as possible and would they be willing to give me a ride.  The guys were receptive to doing that and helped me load my bike into the back of one of the pick-ups and I jumped into the rear seat of their crew cab and we were on our way north.  A few miles up the road we came to Alvin standing on the side of the road talking on his cell phone.  My newest “Road Angel” buddies asked if I’d like them to stop and pick up Alvin, which I enthusiastically said yes.  Alvin was talking to a friend who had offered to come pick him up if we rand sh0rt on time.  So even an accomplished tour guide knows when it is better to accept a ride in a motor vehicle than continue on a bike.  This revelation was enlightening and made me feel good knowing when to recognize my limitations and seek a ride.

As we drove to Houma Alvin and I learned these four “Road Angels” were professional bronco-busting bull (riding 1,500 lb wild bulls for the amusement of rodeo fans) riders who travel all across America to rodeos.  I tried riding a wild bull once at a local rodeo in Nevada.  Let me tell you these guys have my highest respect as bull riding is an insane occupation where broken bones, their own, are frequent occurrences.   Though I also have to admit doing such is a hell of an adrenalin rush.  Which these 3 guys admitted is much of the reason they do it as well as the celebrity status they receive from fans.

The bull riders dropped us off at the same intersection I had phoned Alvin from yesterday.  On the way to Alvin’s we passed the Shrimp processing plant Lep (My Warm Shower Host in Jackson, LA) and family have owned for over 100 years.  Had to stop and take a picture.

Dried Shrimp processing plant owned by Lep's family for over 100 years.

Dried Shrimp processing plant owned by Lep’s family for over 100 years.

Thanks to my new bull riders buddies Alvin and I were back on schedule.  At Alvin’s home we took a shower, I packed up my gear and we were on our way to New Orleans.  On the north edge of Houma Alvin stopped at one of his favorite Creole restaurants.  He treated me to the house specialty; Louisiana Creole crawdads, shrimp, fried frog legs and several side dishes.  The meal was not only delicious but huge.  Thought Alvin was going to have to roll me out to his pick-up and use a floor jack to boost me up into the cab of the truck.

Out on I-49 (Hwy 90) Alvin first showed me I should have stayed on this highway to save about 10 miles of riding.  A few miles further along we began going through the construction zones and Alvin said he didn’t realize they had begun construction of this section of Hwy 90 converting it to Interstate status.  Had he known he said he could have routed me out of it.  I told him no problem as I made it through without becoming Road kill.  Once in New Orleans Alvin took me to tonight’s Warm Shower host Graham Ballard’s home.   Graham lives in a section of New Orleans which is still rebuilding from Hurricane Katrina, in fact the home two doors down from him was being renovated as were several others on the block.  Graham was at work and had left a key for me to get into the house.  I spent what was left of the afternoon checking email which I hadn’t done for about a week.

When Graham arrived home we decided to go out for pizza and a beer at one of his favorite neighborhood bars.  While at dinner Graham shared with me how and why he moved to New Orleans.  He is yet another soul who first came to New Orleans to go to school and stayed because he fell in love with the area.  I have to admit the variety of ethnic foods, beautiful homes and charm of this city is intriguing and if you like to party it’s a place to be.  As for me guess I’m too much country for big cities, though I wouldn’t mind coming back to New Orleans to experience Mardi Gras.

After dinner Graham and I explored his neighborhood and he showed me the easiest way to get to Jaden’s home in the French Quarter.  Jaden, my Warm Shower host who I stayed with my first night in New Orleans, offered to disassemble and box Spirit for the flight to Kansas City.  He also said he’d take me to the airport.  Both offers were too good to turn down, especially since I’m a mechanical moron and reluctant to tackle disassembling my bike in fear of messing up the drive train or steering system.

Graham and I went over my map of New Orleans and as Jaden had told me, New Orleans is a basically in a bowl shape with a couple arterial east to west streets, St Charles and Magazine, that run the length of the city and North South Avenues, Jefferson, Napoleon and Louisiana.  If I keep those five in my memory I’d be able to get around the city without getting confused (lost).  I thanked Graham for his hospitality and told him I’d explore this city he and so many others have fallen in love with.  Of course, I will have to be sure and include a jaunt over to the infamous Bourbon Street of New Orleans.  Graham wished me well and said if I ever come back to New Orleans I’d be welcome at his place.  With that we called it night.

Today was a very good day.  I have no doubt I’m addicted to the adventure of discovering America from the seat of a bicycle.  There are so many wonderful and beautiful places to visit.   Meeting new friends and discovering the real beauty and strength of America are “We the People”.  Thank you God for showing me a whole new wonderful world I live in.

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