Day 35(Monday, May 23):Vidor,TX to Sulphur, LA–47 miles
May 24, 2011 § Leave a comment
Bienvenue en Louisiane!
Yes, we are in Louisiana and trying to pick up some of the local flavor.
We departed Vidor at our now normal departure time of 6am. I ask the young motel clerk about the choices for today’s route: Road 12 to DeQuincy or a questionable frontage road on I-10. His reply: Ma’am, I wouldn’t be caught alone on those country roads, if you understand….Joe’s comment: no ad-libbing the route; we take the safe and known route on the frontage road.
Off we go; there are some deviations,however. Again the iPhone research helped and I do not cause either extra mileage or more gray hair for Joe. At the Texas-Louisiana border, we have no choice but to join the semis on I-10 crossing the Sabine River.
We are finally in Creole Country. Joe espies a Welcome Center, beautifully situated on Lake Bienvenue. There are No Swimming signs accompanied by pictures of alligators. Yes, we are no longer in Texas. We stop at the center and receive some surprising advice about our routes.
First, Road 12 probably has no shoulders and there are many logging trucks to compete with. Good fortune we did not choose it this morning.
Next, Highway 90, running parallel to I-10 part of the way, also has no shoulders.
Third, bicyclists are not allowed on I-10 across Lake Charles. Joe asks about the 210 bypass; no, the bridge is also too narrow there for bikes. We are given two options: take 378 and detour north of the city for about a 25 mile loop or try to get a ride from someone over the bridges. It has been awhile since I hitchhiked, but…They further suggest we stay on I-10; this is perhaps the biggest surprise. We are actually encouraged to stay with the big, fast guys. I ask about frontage roads: “Oh, we don’t have many of those around here….”(too much swampland–though in Louisiana it is referred to as wetlands).
We have a quick Louisiana Lakeside celebration in honor of our arrival; we open a cold bottle of bubbly, Perrier water–of course, and split a Snickers bar. Heaven…..
Off we go, on the road again. The good news: the shoulder is wide and smooth. The bad news: someone forgot to replace the old Highway 90 bridges over the bayou and there is no space between us and the semis; moreover there are six inch gaps in the pavement every 6 feet on the bridge to further shatter our confidence. This serves to make this the most precarious 1,000 feet of our ride to date.
Thankfully, we cross without incident and press onward.
We encounter a pleasant surprise: another touring cyclist. He passed us while we were in the welcome center reveling in the air conditioned climate control.
Our latest acquaintance: Sean Newall of Scotland. We ask about his journey; our jaws drop open–until this point, we felt ours was a long trek! Sean’s website is http://www.thecommonwealthchallenge.com; his goal–to bicycle through all the countries of the Commonwealth. He has been on the road for a year and has put on 20,000 miles in 24 countries. Most recently he was in Mexico,crossing the border at Brownsville, Texas; he is now on his way to Canada via New Orleans. We are awestruck!
By the way–on that death defying bridge a few miles back–a kind policeman escorted him across.
This day has yet more surprises for our little dynamic duo….
I see flashing lights up ahead. I haven’t seen any “No Bicycles Allowed”, but … It seems the same policeman found an errant driver; we pass him quietly and uneventfully as his loyal canine sniffs very enthusiastically at the stopped vehicle while the driver stands on the shoulder.
Joe makes yet another stop roadside in the heat and humidity; I suggest that we take a real break and reevaluate our position. It seems we can go a few more miles; find a place to overnight and position for the detour around the lake tomorrow. How is it possible that two weeks ago our problem was drought; now everywhere we turn, we encounter one water hazard after another?
Yet another hazard confronts us: the interstate is down to one lane from three; our edge now has no shoulder; instead we have a three foot tall concrete barrier as our closest companion. We are inches from speeding semis. I think it is back to Highway 90 in the morning; at least there is some grass to escape to there.
We stop at Exit 23; I call 5 motels, all in sight, to find out the best rate. Yes, a room and breakfast for $50.00…I make sure to get the AARP discount, though no one has ever asked for a card.
However, before the motel, I have one more request: purchase fluids now rather than take a walk later and have to carry all our goodies.
We stop at the Chevron Quick Stuff Market; while I am inside speculating on which color of cool, refreshing liquid from within the huge, fully stocked coolers, to purchase, Joe strikes up a conversation with the store manager, John. We purchase our goodies from Debbie, John’s wife, and relay our dilemma of the day: that darn 25 mile detour tomorrow. John asks when we usually start our ride. We reply–early! He then kindly offers us a ride across the bridge anytime after 6am his arrival time at work. The bikes will have a temporary haven in his pickup truck; we get to ride in a motorized vehicle. We are overjoyed and elated; we bid our adieus until tomorrow. Life is once again spectacular. Another riding day, full of life’s surprises, has come to a satisfying close….
Did I mention this added bonus? Our Super 8 Motel has a free espresso machine in the lobby…
It almost makes up for yet another Severe Weather Warning this morning: I won’t bore you, suffice it to say yet more winds from the SE, gusting up to 35mph. We are becoming accustomed to it….Joe disputes this point and says he is ready to give up, though a few minutes ago he swore his hair was getting darker. Remember, St. Augustine is where Ponce de Leon purportedly found the Fountain of Youth….
Is the real fountain of youth life’s journey?
Laissez les bon temps rouler!