Mississippi River

Posted by on 16, Mar 2022 in 2022 - USA, Tilly the Tandem, USA

Mississippi River

We picked up another French baguette as we made our way to the Mississippi River Cycle Trail which runs along the levee on a very smooth track. The river here is enormous and the river sides are heavily industrialised for nearly all our cycle along it. 55km of heavy industry with numerous berths for ocean going ships. It was an interesting cycle but not the most picturesque. You also won’t be surprised to hear that the river itself is so heavily polluted that you can’t swim in it, it’s described as highly toxic and between the levee and the river is lined with dead trees.

We did pass some grand plantation houses and took refuge on the porch of the ticket office for lunch as a torrential Downpour arrived. We like this rain, it heavy, warm and all done in 15 minutes. None of this UK drizzle all day!

The guide from the ticket office then came to chat to us about the plantation telling us slavery wasn’t so bad there. Errrrr…. Linda commented to him “I expect if you’d asked the slaves they may have had a different opinion” especially seeing as they rebelled at this plantation, killing a couple of plantation owners and marching into New Orleans only to be stopped by the White Milita and then many of them were beheaded and had their heads put on spikes along the levee to deter future revolts. Sounds like they were all really happy to me….

We left the river and began heading inland to our hotel for the night at La Place. I’d phoned them to ask if they had anywhere to store Tilly “No” they said, ‘In the pool area perhaps?’ “No”, ‘The Gym?’ ” No” ‘Well, could we have a 1st (ground) floor room so we can store her in our room?’ “No”. Cheerful lady she was!

Anyway, we decided as that was the only hotel around and there were no campsites we’d just wing it. We arrived and the hotel computer system had malfunctioned, which meant no one knew what to do and our check in process took 20 minutes and in the end they just gave us a room and didnt complete checking us in. “Could we store our bike somewhere please?” we asked. “Sure, I’ll put her in the laundry room” said the lady… Sometimes winging it works!

Talking about hotels we have to say, in general the standard of the workmanship on hotel construction is very very poor so far, even in new ones. Paint and plaster are all over the place, doors don’t fit properly, sprinkler valves hanging down, light switches exposed – you’d be seriously pissed off if the trades left your house like this. You’d say you’d had the cowboys in…. Errr. Perhaps we’ve been unfortunate, who knows, though our plumber in the UK said the same thing after returning from a visit to the US.

We’d chosen to head west then north out of NOLA as to go east meant our first cycle would be 100km and in the middle of nowhere. We like to ease into things and also be near civilisation to start with incase something goes wrong with Tilly.

This meant we then headed north from LaPlace along the new old Hammond highway. The old old Hammond highway lay next to us and was fast vanishing into the swamp and the new Hammond highway was an interstate on stilts next to us. Which meant we were on the New Old Hammond Highway. Confused? We were…. This new old highway joined the interstate for a very short stretch and we merrily began our cycle on the most dangerous interstate in the USA in blissful ignorance of its dangers.

This was our first, and hopefully last interstate – generally bikes are banned – but this section there was no alternative road and as we’d been passed by numerous police cars we assumed we would be ok. Sometimes Ignorance is a wonderful thing and we didn’t find out that the numerous police patrols were due to the NOLA Interstate Sniper. This person has shot numerous (30+) drivers, without being caught and fortunately we only found out about him the night after our short death defying cycle over a beer in the local bar.. Of course, guns make you safer….

It was a dull day’s cycle, with long straight roads through the swamp but when we arrived at Pochatoula we were back in civilisation and the never ending trail of houses with plastic sheeting for roofs due to Hurricane Ida in 2021. In some places almost every house still had damage. We don’t know whether people can’t afford the repairs or it’s just a shortage of roofers, but the area was very poor – the wealth of an area is in inverse proportion to the number and opulence of the churches – and there were lots of large new churches. One thing we like about the poor areas is that people wave, say hello and shout encouragement. Some of the places that people live in look so derelict it’s heartbreaking.

We arrived in Hammond early afternoon due to the lack of things to see apart from swamp and found a nice coffee shop to relax in with real coffee and real cups.. Result.!! The town itself was nice with “back to the future” charm and had loads of restaurants, hardly any of which did anything veggie apart from salad. Obviously they live on gator out here, so pizza it was for tea.

Our BnB was an old (1903) house and had a porch to sit on and watch the world go by as we had our ‘to go’ milkshake for pud.

I had completely forgotten the noise here. The trains, cars and emergency vehicles, in fact anything that can make a noise does so with enormous enthusiasm. The trains sound their horns at every crossing as there are often no automatic barriers. It doesn’t matter what time of day or night it is either, and boy are they loud! Even 3 blocks from the railway the trains were really loud and would sound their horns all night often for 5 seconds at a time. I’ve no idea how anyone sleeps nearer the tracks! Perhaps they’re used to it though and as many of the cars and trucks seem to remove silencers or have sound systems that hurt your ears as they go past (I kid you not!) maybe people just don’t notice it. For us, on a bike, it’s very unpleasant at times in towns.

This area has a number of nice towns and our next stop was Covington, the start of a long rail trail that will take us to Slidell. We’d managed to get a lovely old BnB with a room with a porch overlooking the pool and hot tub. The town had a fab English tea room where we had Cheddar and Branston Pickle sandwiches and Beans on Toast and the best cup of tea I’ve ever had in the USA. So good I had 8.

It was another Back to the future town so we spent two nights lapping up the sunshine and strolling around the town readying ourselves for the oncoming record low temperature for Lousianna headed our way….

3 Comments

  1. Did you pack a bullet proof vest? Good installment on your latest travels.

  2. Another great update… love the live on ‘gator line!

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