April 13 - 17: Louisiana

4/15 - Simmesport (65 miles 1983 total)
65 miles from the holiday inn in opelousas to the sportsman's motel in simmesport, LA
it was a beautiful day for biking. early on it looked like it might be a bit foggy, but when the majority started out around 7:45, there was no smog in sight, the sun was shining, & breezes were light (& behind us). the winds picked up later in the day, but until the last 8 miles, were almost always giving us a boost.
traffic was a bit tricky getting out of opelousas. then once we got to the edge of town, we saw a sign that directed us to detour onto the interstate because the road that we were to take was closed ahead. by this point, sari & i were, as usual, riding by ourselves behind the group we'd started out with. we stopped to ponder whether to detour or not to detour, quickly deciding that we could most likely get thru any closed road with bikes......especially if the alternative was to bike on the interstate.
so we continued ahead, skirting the barricades, & soon found this handy dirt path on which sari is walking her bike in this photo. it led us past the new bridge (to the left) that was being built. bryn & sandy later told us that, when they got to this little stretch, they knew i'd been past here because they saw the prints of my birkenstock sandals' soles in the dirt.
the riders who followed instructions & took the detour had a harrowing ride on the interstate....& added 6 miles to their day.
at 25 mi into our route we arrived in the little town of lebeau. roma had told us there was a good place to eat here. the only spot we could find was a very small restaurant attached to the gas station. we went inside....& the first thing that caught our eye was a 135-lb snapping turtle (dead, stuffed, & in a glass display case). we each had a scoop of chocolate ice cream. we ran into patty fainer here, & she rode with us the rest of today. (frances is driving the subaru today; she & patty take turns doing that.)
not long after leaving dupont we found ourselves on this beautiful road with arching live oak trees, some draped with spanish moss. along the side of the road in the photo are, from right, becky, rita (trying to get off her bike without falling over backwards), sari, & patty.
sari & i have been noticing all sorts of easter decorations along the way this week. somewhere between plaucheville & moreauville today we came across this yard. this family seems to have all the easter & patriotic bases covered. notice the large bunny rabbits hanging from the porch posts.
mid-afternoon we neared simmesport on a rough back road. we 3 stopped to look at a horse in a fence near the road. not long after, its owner walked over to chat with us. back of him was a sort of large lean-to under which 2 yellow crop-dusting planes were parked. we asked if that was his business & he said yes. he went on to talk about crops in this area; he listed 5 that are usually growing this time of year: sugar cane, wheat, sorghum, corn, & rice. but he said things are about a month late because the weather is so slow in warming this spring. he also said that he not only dusts crops, but also plants rice by plane. we've seen yellow crop-dusting planes flying low overhead several times in the past couple of days.....& always hope that we won't be dusted, too.
late afternoon as we milled around the motel, the motel's owner stopped by with a large bag of cooked crawfish. here are, from left, sandy (a real crayfish-dismantling expert, by the way), gay, & mary (from boston) trying their hand at extracting the choice tail meat from that prickly crawfish body. the crawfish had been boiled in a spicy stock of some sort & were delicious.
after a delicious supper of enchiladas (both chicken & tofu), beans & rice, green salad, a delicious corn salad with cilantro & onions, sliced watermelon, cookies, cake, & ice cream (whew!), michelle told us about tomorrow's route, a short one at 54 miles. a highlight will be a ferry ride across the mississippi river to our overnight (& layover) stay at st. francisville.
after the map meeting, rita presented the BITCH socks to marilyn boger, describing 2 different days when marilyn had stayed with rita to help encourage her along difficult stretches. today's acronym label is: Boger Is Tenacious Competent Considerate (&) Helpful. (again, we have an extra C word; there are just so many dandy words starting with C that people can't settle for just one.)
here's a photo of rita after she'd relayed the socks to marilyn (left).
after the socks ceremony, michelle took up her guitar & played, by popular demand, the louisiana song she's written recently....then went on to sing a couple of additional songs. in the photo, beside michelle with her guitar, are sandy, cynthia, & on the right, bev. the day was waning by this time. & in the east, a full moon was rising. 'twas truly an idyllic evening....at the end of a close-to-idyllic biking day.
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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