April 13 - 17: Louisiana

4/14 - Opelousas (58 miles 1918 total)
58 miles ridden sometime during the day between the best western in de ridder to the holiday inn in opelousas, LA (the total mileage--completed by some bikers--was 92)
it was foggy again this morning. it didn't seem as bad in town, but it sure got worse once riders got out into the country.
sari & i knew, because of our speed (or lack thereof), that we couldn't ride the whole 92 mi & still get into opelousas in time to go to the restaurant we'd been planning to try for weeks---one recommended by sari's daughter, who used to live in new orleans. so we got a ride in the subaru the first 23 mi. a few other riders got bumped up on the route 40 or 50 mi in the van.
while riding in the subaru, we played a tape of patty's zydeco music, & would roll down the window so riders we passed would be buoyed by the music. here's a photo of caroline as we passed her.
& here's a photo of elaine enjoying the musical respite we provided along the way. notice the fog behind her.
back on our bikes, we couldn't help but think how just a week or so ago we were riding in arid, almost-mountainous country. now we're surrounded by water & flat lands. in this photo is a rice field, one of many we passed today.
& we learned that they rotate crops--one year the field is in rice, the next year it's a crayfish field; the crayfish feed on the rice stubble. here's a photo of a crayfish field. those little things sticking up are the tops of crayfish baskets. the boat cruises over the top of the water, & the fellow operating it grabs the individual baskets, pulls each one up onto the boat, empties out the crayfish, then replaces the basket & moves on to the next one.
at about 15 mi into our ride, sari & i stopped at an exxon station to look for ice cream bars & use the bathroom. but once inside, we started browsing & saw a case with lots of cooked food inside. but it wasn't the usual pizza slices & hot dogs. it was chicken gizzards & livers, plus a couple of things whose names we didn't recognize: pistolettes & boudin balls. the very nice woman behind the counter told us these were cajun specialties that she cooks right there every day. she's 100% cajun. so we decided to buy one of each & split them. the boudin balls turned out to be balls of dirty rice & the pistolettes were larger balls of bread with a filling of crayfish bisque. both were delicious. the lady even gave us the recipe for the boudin. sari & i are determined to try lots of cajun food while in louisiana, but we didn't dream we'd find good cajun food in an exxon convenience store.
at about midway in the longer version of today's route, we came upon a sag stop; riders had stopped to rest & eat the sandwiches they'd packed. from left, seated, are karen, patty elliott, donna, bryn, & sandy. standing are patty fainer & roma. (carolyn is behind patty f.; i can't tell who's getting things out of the back of the subaru.)
a little later, sari & i stopped in the driveway of an conocoi station in mamou to decide if we wanted to go inside for anything. while pausing there, a local called out to us, "that's a great place to eat." he was referring to the little restaurant next door to the conoco station that had a sign in one of its windows: "crayfish, 99 cents a pound." in a little while, loralee rode up. we 3 decided to go inside, & we each ordered a pound of crayfish.
the waitress was kind enuf to give us a detailed demonstration on how to eat them.
the afternoon's ride was hot, & the roads were pretty rough, seldom with much shoulder. we stopped for a few minutes to give bev a hand as she finished changing a tire. a bit later, maybe 8 mi out of opelousas, patty came by in the subaru to check on us. at that point, sari & i realized we were going to be late if we rode the rest of the way, so sagged into the motel.
many of the bikers enjoyed the catfish dinner served here at the motel, but 11 of us (bryn, sandy, gay, loralee, becky, rita, sari, caroline, laura, carolyn, & me) --along with patty fainer, who drove the van--went south about 11 mi to lafayette to dine at prejean's, a place famous for its cajun food & music.
we got there around 6:30 & the band started playing at 7.
oh my oh my, the menu was brimming with tempting choices. not able to select one dish, i ordered the grilled seafood platter, which included catfish, alligator, oysters, shrimp, stuffed crab....golly, i don't know what all, but all delicious. here i am with my catch of the day.
patty couldn't resist the pull of the music, so was soon dancing with a local woman she later learned comes there every monday night to enjoy this band's music. it wasn't long before others joined in. the local woman was adept at showing newcomers how to do the cajun dances.
in the photo, rita, patty, & sari are trying not to get all tangled up in their twirling maneuvers.
If you would like copies of the original, full-size photos, feel free to e-mail me with your request, and I'll save your note and get back to you after the ride. Stay tuned....

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