We are now in Louisiana, state number fifteen, and today we will ride into the City of New Orleans. The temperature this morning is around 75 degrees and the humidity quite high. This makes getting togged up for the bikes a little uncomfortable, but I know from experience that these conditions are pretty mild compared to what we will face later in the trip, so this will be a good way to acclimatise. It was around thirty miles into the City as we had been forewarned that this weekend there was be a huge jazz festival and that there would not be a room to be had anywhere. The satnav took us directly to the Louis Armstrong Park, and a safe covered parking lot to leave the bike. We spoke to an ex pat from the East End of London, she gave us the heads up as to what to see and do in the time we had. The Old French Quarter was top of the list, so that’s where we went first. This area is the oldest part of the City, and luckily had seen very little flood damage after Katrina struck in 2005, this
is because it is just a few feet higher than the surrounding area. The district is famous for its Mardi gras, Bohemian residents, and Voodoo. We walked up and down the grid system that makes up the Quarter, and very impressive it was, a little difficult to describe the style though, French obviously, with a little Victorian wrought iron work to stop you falling off the balconies basically. We took a carriage tour that showed us around the district and to one of New Orleans famous cemetery’s, where the residents are all buried above ground, fascinating. Bourbon Street is world famous for its party atmosphere and gaiety, but now also for its ten shots for ten dollars, and two for one drinks, which is obviously all aimed at the younger revellers. As the evening wore on, out came some of the crazies it is famous for, along with the scantily clad ladies, all trying to entice the more easily led male into the various gentlemen’s clubs. Well I’m a gentleman I thought, but apparently with Lynne’s new found authority where I am concerned, it was not going to happen, all I got was the look, and….. “STEPHEN” how the hell
did she know what I was thinking? Day 29……29/04/2012
Today we will ride back past New Orleans and on west through Louisiana, the road once past the city was absolutely fantastic, it was basically a three lane highway heading west that ran though the swamps and bayous, and was suspended about twenty feet up above the black water below, the most amazing thing was that it went on for miles and miles, supported by literally thousands of concrete stanchions, it gave the impression that the road was just floating in mid air, amazing.That afternoon we visited an old Creole sugar plantation called Laura, the house to which had been restored to exactly how it would have looked around 150 years ago, the tour around the house and estate showed how the owners lived and conducted their business over four generations and also the lives of the slaves that lived and toiled there. After the days ride of around 150 miles, we made for our night stop, in a motel in Baton Rouge, just off the interstate, while these motels are convenient they do not usually offer much in the way of anything to do around them.
There will always be a garage or two, and the usual names from the food chain company’s, Burger king, Waffle house, Wendy’s, Taco bell, and the list goes on and on. Tonight though we were in for a treat, we spied a sports bar on the other side of the road, it even had a few bikes parked up outside, the only problem was that the road separating us from our goal resembled something like a six lane Nascar event. A crossing I hear you all cry, nope, nobody walks here, except the poor people. So taking our lives in our hands we made a run for it, “I’ve only got little legs she cried” “oh stop moaning and mind that eighteen wheeler”. Well the bar was very nice, it was called Twin Peaks, its name had nothing to do with the TV series, but more to do with the buxom low cut lovely’s bringing the beer, …..“STEPHEN” how does she do that, she could not possibly know what I am thinking, all the time, can she? Day 30 30/04/2012
Last night’s motel was not the best, but adequate enough. On opening the curtains at around
seven this morning we were greeted by the sight of thick fog, something we did not expect, but within the hour it was almost completely gone, and replaced by brilliant sunshine, but still a little humid. We made our way out of Baton Rouge and on West along interstate 10 towards Lake Charles. Like all interstates you have limited things to look at, and you have to contend with the trucks too, so after a breakfast stop we decided to take a smaller back road that was going the same direction, but it seemed that the state of Louisiana had no money left to put a decent surface on it, and it was a very unpleasant ride, me trying to avoid the crevasses in the road, and Lynne bouncing around so much it looked like she was having a fit, so it was back on the interstate. We did contemplate camping for the first time but decided it was too hot, plus we had gotten soft and a little too used to the air conditioning in the rooms. An afternoon stop to get rehydrated brought a bit of good fortune, a chap using the diner had contacts with many of
the hotels along the route we were taking, and after explaining that we found the usual motels by the interstate ok, but that there was not anything much to do after getting there. He made a phone call and we had a reservation at one of the hotels that we usually scurried by due to frightening rate for a one night’s stay, for a little more than we normally pay. There was a little way to go before getting there, and Lynne was getting a little tired, and heated, so the stop in the town of Sulphur, could not come soon enough for her. Once checked in we were soon in the pool and the rigours of the day a just distant memory. The hotel even had a full gymnasium, but luckily the memory of Lynne in my mirrors today trying to hold onto the trike, stopped me from saying anything stupid. Day 31……01/05/2012
A leisurely breakfast, of waffle, and biscuits and gravy, don’t ask, oh well seeing as you have asked, US to UK translation, waffle = waffle, biscuits = scones, and gravy = mushroom soup, see I told you not to ask. On leaving
the town of Sulphur heading south, we found out how it got its name as we passed into what seemed like the largest smelliest petro-chemical industrial plant I have ever seen, it stretched for miles in all directions, and the road ran right through it. Once through this daddy of all blots on the landscape, we entered a wetland wildlife reserve, you could not make this up. The road took us to the coast, and while very straight was full of different species of birds in the reeds and marshes of this vast wetland. The coast road west took us into Texas, state number sixteen, we rode along the coastal road past hundreds of beach homes some grand, and some more modest, but all built high up on stilts, I imagine to allow the water to pass underneath should a hurricane turn up. Forty or so miles later of what seemed like riding on the beach we were that close to the sea, we arrived at the free ferry that would take us to Gaviscon. Sorry Galveston, but it could work, if only Glenn Campbell had had heart burn the day he wrote that song things could have been so
different. We found a motel on the seafront, and after unloading the bikes took a walk out around the town. We walked through Galveston’s historic district, which we found has the highest concentration of Victorian homes in the country, and beautiful they were. Another thing that I did not realise is that Galveston is an island and a seaside resort, something you do not imagine even after years of listening to the song. We found ourselves in the downtown area, and right outside an Irish bar, well it would be rude not to wouldn’t it, not that Lynne really likes beer, it’s more just about keeping me happy. After a couple of bottles, and introductions to some of the locals, we got talking to a chap called Mike and his wife Val, he explained that he was born and raised in Galveston, and loved it. He then went on to invite us out on his boat the next day, well that was all the excuse we needed to stay another day here, oh and to have another beer. Day 32……02/05/2012
We were off this morning to get me some deck shoes, that’s what us seafaring folk
call them, flip flops to the rest of you. We met Mike at his beautiful house built on a small inlet just off the Galveston basin. From the upper levels of the house they had stunning 360 degree views. The boat skimmed across the bay past fantastic waterfront homes of all sizes, and a few with boats moored up alongside with price tags of all sizes too. We visited Bird island, where there were Pelicans and spoonbills, pink cranes and skimmers, thousands of them, and quite a sight. We had a final whiz around the bay and then back the house where we thanked Mike for his kind hospitality, and all from a chance meeting in a bar. The afternoon was spent walking, sightseeing and a small amount of shopping given the spare space available to us, so a few fridge magnets will probably be Ok, although Lynne did by a flouresant green lightweight airtex jacket, she claimed it would be cooler on the bike plus Hi-vis, “Hi-vis!!’” along with the day-glow cover on her bag you could probably see her from space. The evening was still very hot so we crossed the road from the motel to the beach
and paddled our feet in the warm water of the Gulf of Mexico, ahh how romantic, watch out for the jellyfish. Day 33……03/05/2012
Today saw another long seaside ride south along the Texas coast, more clear skies and also rising temperatures, it was only 1000am but already in the high 80s.We were heading towards another beach resort called Rockport, near Corpus Christi, a place that had been recommended too us.
I am not sure if I have mentioned it yet, but I think I should take the time to say, that at times like this when you are just riding along with the wind in your face, a thing that only bikers and dogs with their heads out of the car window will understand, that I say how very lucky we both are to have this opportunity to do this, and despite the odd moan about this and that, we are appreciative of every moment, just in case you thought otherwise, which I’m sure you don’t. Anyway back to the ride, after around 180 miles of blissful self-indulgent heaven, we arrived at Rockport, and found a motel right by the water again. After unpacking, the
bikes got a good check over to see that all was well, and that Lynne’s Harley was still mostly intact, and mine to degrease the back end after the chain oiler had decided to give a little more than was necessary. After a shower and shave we took a walk out to find something to eat, obviously that was just me doing the shave thing, just so we are clear. Day 34……04/05/2012
A thirty mile ride into the fairly large city of Corpus Christi, and we made a stop at a waterfront venue for breakfast, this restaurant had a fairly interesting feature at the end of its pier, the USS Lexington, a World War II aircraft carrier, well you don’t see that every day. Today we will head towards San Antonio, around a hundred and fifty miles north and away from the sea, in fact we will not see the ocean again now until we reach the Pacific coast, which will be a few weeks yet. Interstate 35 was just like all the rest, albeit with a better surface, but still the damn trucks, so now I have mastered the re-routing procedure on the satnav we took a slight detour onto a quieter but equally smooth road. The scenery became surprisingly green with lots of trees, given that this was probably a dry area all year round I was surprised. Lynne saw a sign that said 95 degrees, and that was enough of an excuse for a stop at the next towns Dairy Queen for a drink and an ice cream. As the afternoon wore on, we tore on, until I must admit the temperature got to us both, it was not a ferocious hot like it can be but enough to say that’s it for the day. A Best Western loomed on the horizon in a town called Floresville, and once again within ten minutes madam was in the pool.
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