As I write this we are sitting under a pavilion at Bayou Segnette State Park. It is cold and pouring rain. Everything is wet, damp, or moist. Fortunately the clothes we are wearing are mostly dry so we aren’t too cold, but I am so excited for some sunshine whenever she decides to come out. We arrived at this state park on Saturday afternoon after biking 42 miles into a 25mph head wind. Knowing that 2 days of rain, strong wind, and thunderstorms were coming we ate the $45 and got a campsite so we wouldn’t be out biking in cold, windy, and wet conditions. The 42 miles on Saturday were pretty fun up until the last 10 miles. We left early in the morning and took side roads whenever possible; at one point we pulled off for a snack and were surrounded by acres of sugar cane. We did have to do a few miles on the shoulder of a highway, but the shoulder was massive and it was a Saturday so it wasn’t too busy. Around 11am we arrived to our first paved bike trail! No more cars, roads, and intersections for a bit. Not only were we excited to be on a bike trail, but this particular trail was very special to us as it happened to be The Mississippi River Trail (aka MRT). For the first time since we turned off the Mississippi and towards the Atchafalaya a couple weeks ago, we were re-United with the mighty river. And mighty it was! We came to a steep grass hill which acted as a levee. Once walking the bike up the hill we were on top of the levee on the MRT. That is when the river came into view and here is what I saw: 2 offshore ships bigger than the 49 barge pushes we were used to, countless ocean tows and river tows, work vessels moving in every direction, a cruise ship, and massive tankers anchored smack in the middle of the river. And to add the wind was 25mph from the south so the water’s surface was angry and choppy. The first words out of my mouth were, “I am so glad we took the route less travelled!” As had we not taken the calm, peaceful, muddy Atchafalaya we would have been smack in the middle of all the commercial traffic.
Sitting in the grass we made some lunch, rested our legs, and laughed at how the universe continues to amaze us. No one could have ever convinced me I’d travel through New Orleans, along the river, and finish our journey on a tandem bicycle! What a funny turn of events. Anyway, after resting and enjoying the river view we got back on the bike and began pedaling on top of the levee, fully exposed, into the wind. It was really difficult pedaling and we worked as a team to set a pace that would get us to the campground by 4pm but not over-do it. Despite the sky being gray, the wind being strong, and our legs being exhausted, we were able to have some fun and sing songs and enjoy the river view. Eventually it was time to turn off the levee and head a couple miles west towards the campground. We had to be creative in our routing as to avoid freeways and busy roads, but we found some side roads that brought us to where we needed to be.
After checking in with the ranger we quickly set up camp to prepare for the forecasted storms-very soon after it started to rain and it hasn’t stopped since! On Sunday morning Kyle was making some adjustments to the bike when our neighbors from the campsite next to us came over. Dan was his name and he and his wife Connie are bicyclists and offered Kyle tools and spares if we needed it. One thing led to another and before I knew it we were in their camper eating cheeseburgers (for Kyle) and Connie made me the most wonderful fresh salad with avocados, tomatoes, and onions. We spent over an hour chatting and getting to know each other. Then they offered to give us a ride into New Orleans for a couple hours so we could explore the city without having to ride the bike. We all climbed into their truck and headed to the Algiers Ferry where we got on and were taken across the river into the heart of New Orleans. Going our separate ways we made a plan to meet back at the ferry later on. Kyle and I wandered around in the drizzling rain in the amazement of the city. So much was going on everywhere we turned. Every type of person, store, activity, and bar you could imagine filled the streets. As we walked aimlessly we came upon a street and looked down: lights, music, food carts, people, bikes, more people, and loud noises. Bourbon Street. It started to pour so we ducked into a bar and spent the next couple hours chatting with a fellow traveler before heading back to the ferry. Bourbon Street was a bit too much stimulus for me and we decided that when we come back on our bike we will explore other streets. But I am glad I experienced it for an evening.
Today we awoke to more rain and gray skies. We only have to bike about 5 miles to get to our hosts from ‘warmshowers’ house, but are really hoping to find a break in the rain before making our way. We said our goodbyes to our new friends Dan and Connie and quickly packed up camp while there was a break in the rain. Now we are sitting under a pavilion while Kyle cooks us top ramen for lunch. So far this bike thing has been wet, but rather fun. I am looking forward to getting through New Orleans and finding some sunshine 🙂
Kyle and I spent our afternoon yesterday hanging out in the pavilion while the sky poured rain. Around 2pm the sky lightened a bit, the dark gray transitioned to a light gray, and we started packing our gear back onto the bike. We biked 2 miles to Winn Dixie to get some groceries before heading to our host’s house. The ride to Erin and Bill’s (the hosts from warmshowers) was an enjoyable one as we rode on top the levee next to the river. Passing railroad yards, grain processing plants, and massive ships I was blown away by the busyness of the river front in New Orleans. We turned off the levee and into a beautiful suburb with brick houses and wonderful Christmas decorations. Arriving at our hosts house a few minutes before them we waited with our bike in their drive-way. What a funny thing, waiting at someone’s house we have never met for them to let us into their home for the night. As always on this journey people are kind and beautiful and we were anxious to meet some new friends. When they arrived we said our hellos before heading inside. The evening was filled with stories, information, laughter, and quick friendship. Kyle and I both felt at home as we made dinner, showered, and went to bed in their guest room.
This morning Bill made us delicious lattes with coffee beans he roasted himself. Kyle and I were planning on pedaling away around 8am to get an early start, but the conversation flowed so freely that before we knew it, it was after 9:30. Bill and Erin were so incredibly kind and Kyle and I feel so thankful for their hospitality and friendship. Thank you Bill and Erin!
We pedaled about 10 miles on the MRT before arriving at the ferry to get us across the river. We had been advised to stay off the bridges, so happily paid the $2 to take the ferry. After a few minutes we arrived on the other side of the river and that is when our awesome adventure in the French Quarter of New Orleans began.
Using warmshowers.com again we had found another place to stay on the way out of New Orleans. Therefore we knew we had a safe place to set up our tent and hang out for the night so we felt free to explore the city. I must say, our experience today was much more enjoyable than our rainy night spent on Bourbon Street. It was actually quite a magical day!
To be continued!