Day 37(Weds,May 25):Eunice to Livonia, LA–55 miles
May 26, 2011 § Leave a comment
If we had the two best bicycling roads in Louisiana yesterday, then today we either had the worst roads or paid dearly for yesterday’s perfect pleasures.
Furthermore, it all happened on the same road as yesterday: 190.
The morning starts with a very rough shoulder; the glistening new asphalt of the prior day is but a fond memory. Joe rides with the semis inside the white line; I struggle through the pockmarks and debris until I too move reluctantly onto the smoother main roadway.
I soon regret my grumbling about the poor shoulder as it disappears entirely. Poof! The ride becomes a test of nerves. We take a roadside water break and commiserate with one another. Misery loves company. No choice; let’s move on.
I see a roadside “cemetery” for literally one thousand fifth wheel trailers, slightly used, some with windows open–remnants of Hurricane Katrina?
We have breakfast at a truck stop in Port Barre. We ask Linda, our waitress, about both road closures and the floodwater ahead. Joe says he’s especially concerned about the water as he does not swim. Linda’s reply: “Baby, then you gonna have problems at that Fountain o’ Youth!” We immediately put swimming lessons on Joe’s revised Bucket List.
We pass through Opelousas. I expect much from its description:
“Opelousas is the third oldest town in Louisiana, a center for zydeco music and the spice capital of the world.”. My thought yesterday: too bad we did not plan a stop here. Today, however, I notice nothing but how miserable and narrow the road through town is; furthermore we go through it in the morning rush hour. As we pass a construction worker yells(yes, there was also road work with lane closures!), “How many miles a day?” Another man, black, older and riding a broken down bike loaded with grocery bags, asks where we are bound. In unison we reply, “Florida!” Our observer shakes his head in disbelief, “On those bikes!”
We move on to yet another town, Krotz Springs, recently in the news due to imminent flooding. It is bone dry there, but we see a huge bridge rising on the horizon. We make yet another stop at the local gas station for more info from the locals. Oh yeah, there’s lots of water on the other side of the thankfully wide shouldered Atchafalaya River Bridge. Joe’s new friend, Norman, does mention a four(yes four!) mile bridge a mile after that- no shoulders and very narrow, besides being very long. On the positive side, it is a flat bridge. Let’s get this over with before I have more time to think about it.
We go over the first bridge, a little windy, but really not a problem. On the other side, I see “Road Closed Flooded ” to my right, TV news cameras to my left, Wildlife Protection trucks, flashing signs warning of reduced speeds due to wildlife on the road and lots and lots of water. There are no forecasts for road closures ahead; we do,however, have the shoulderless bridge to contend with. It is as foretold–four narrow nail biting miles with a concrete crash barrier, inches away, separating us from the waters below. I see a sign “US Army Corps of Engineers– Morganza Spillway”. This is what all the fuss has been about!
I am writing this, so you know we made it safely across. The traffic and drivers were kind; mercifully they left me alone in my lane.
One more water break at the ever handy gas stations; a chance for more talk with the locals. Engineer Joe now wants to detour to see the actual Morganza Spillgates.
We land in Livonia, remarkable for the following: “According to a 2007 report, Livonia was named one of the 10 worst speed traps in the state of Louisiana. Livonia made 41.18% of its revenue, an average of roughly $349 per capita population, from fines and forfeitures in the 2005 fiscal year.” No speeding tickets for us these days.
Tonight I will sleep soundly, visions of the Louisiana roadside, with its discarded Mardi Gras beads, in colors of purple, green and gold, littering the landscape, like forgotten dreams….