Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Natchez to Nawlings

Today's ride was fun. I'll sum it up by saying that we followed the mighty Mississippi River for about 175 miles. We looked at maps and considered following LA 1 to a small island in the Gulf of Mexico, or going to New Orleans. In either case, we had to travel south and east, the same direction the river flows.

So, we discovered that all along the river runs a network of roads running parallel to the river and right against the dikes built to hold the river in during flooding. The roads go on and on and on, all 2 lanes, and almost no traffic along the way. Great riding. Speed limits were usually 55mph, with some lower, and good road surfaces. A great ride.

With the dikes beside the road, you can't see the river anywhere; the dikes are probably 18 feet higher than the road. But it was worth it to ride at an easy pace and having no traffic to deal with.

Occasionally, the main road (LA 1) and a town crowded the dike roads, and you had to leave them for a mile or so. But always, the river roads came back. I guess they exist to provide maintenance to the dikes whenever needed.

We saw 2 or 3 ferry locations along the way, taking vehicles across the river. We tried to take the first one we came to, but it was closed. So, we didn't get to do a ferry ride.

At one point along the way, I spotted a crop duster airplane dusting crops in huge fields along the dike. It would come over the dike, low and immediately dip to a few feet off the ground and spew the mist for whatever agricultural reason needed. WE watched him make 5 or 6 runs, with me wondering each time, how he knew where he had sprayed and what needed spraying next. GPS? Sight? I just wonder how he knows where to drop his load each time.

Oh, the nail in the tire. I decided that I had to deal with it in Natchez before we left civilization. So, after breakfast, I got the pliers out and gave it a slow, agonizing pull, hoping to not hear the hiss of air escaping the puncture. YES! It did not penetrate the lining of the tire, so there was no need to plug it. Made my day!

And, during the day, Gary's right headlight bulb burned out, too. So, each of our bikes has the right bulb burned out. We both bought replacements, and might have a bulb-installation party before we leave for home. I dread it; they are very difficult to install. The left one is a piece of cake, so, of course, the right one burns out! Oh well....

Had lunch at an interesting place in Baton Rouge, Deep South Barbecue. I know the sanitation grade would have been lower than what I'm used to eating at, but we decided to try it anyway. Gary had a BBQ sandwich. I gambled on a Rib sandwich, thinking that no one would sell a sandwich with the bone in it. I was wrong! Two ribs between two slices of grilled bread! Tasty, I must say, but very different. We survived!

After lunch, we continued our track down the river roads to a point where we had to decide where we were going for the night. On the side of the road, we talked about the pros and cons of going to the island at the end of Hwy 1 vs. New Orleans. Nawlings won!

So, we headed east into New Orleans, found a hotel, and went to the room.

After a shower and a brief rest, we walked to Bourbon Street, about a mile from the hotel. Drank a couple beers, listened to the pianos at Pat O'Brien's Bar, had dinner, and walked back to the hotel for the night. A long day, but a good one.

While I'm thinking about it, we ended up crossing the Mississippi 6 times total. It's a BIG river!

Mileage for the day was 257-not far, but given that we piddled along, a long day.

Tomorrow--North to Birmingham.

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