Day 40(Saturday, May 28):Mandeville, LA to Waveland, MS–49 miles
May 31, 2011 § Leave a comment
Are we living the good life or living la vida loca…which is it, perhaps both??
5:45am and the air is already claustrophobic, close with mugginess and humidity. The mosquitoes hover, anticipating an easy meal. We elude them as we have a gift in front of us: the Tammany Trace, a 20 mile paved bicycle route along the North Shore of Lake Pontchartrain, through the LaCombe Bayou, Fairview-Riverside and Fountainbleau State Parks and finally the Big Branch Marsh National Wildlife Refuge. It is a symphony of sounds as we travel under the cool, shady canopy of the tall trees enveloping the trail. Again, a treasure; this is the first dedicated bicycle trail we have seen since the Canal Path in Phoenix.
The path ends too soon for me; we are back on 190, looking for both a donut shop and a way around I-10.
The donut shop is surprisingly elusive; nonetheless we bag our prey–an apple fritter for Joe, a cake donut for me. Our next turn: a right on Endeavor Street in a few hundred feet. Joe, in front of me, just keeps on pedaling; I reel him in and we are back on course as I drag Joe through one of my now notorious shortcuts– this one is a double whammy as it is through a residential neighborhood with meandering streets, though only one turn is involved. I am trying to get us to(surprise!): Shortcut Highway 190. How aptly named! Joe stops and talks to a couple walking their dog about my course: their reply, not a problem, just go a few more blocks. Joe still does not trust the situation as we are going west, not east. The good news: it’s only for one block!
We are now on 190 again. Joe is at least stopping at every main intersection, though he does question my choice to continue straight on 190 when the two other arms of the “Y” behind us are also labeled 190. So we have three roads all numbered 190; I trust my choice; Joe is pointing to the one going in a northwesterly direction. I don’t think so, but I thank him for showing me all the signs.
A bit further he stops again; I ask if everything is okay. Joe states he is not going to continue on a road that goes west. My response, “What are you talking about? We went over the map and 190 runs in a southeast direction….” Joe points to a yellow sign showing an upcoming right curve. I say, “That’s just a little curve; see there is another sign for a left curve in a few hundred yards.” Boy, this navigating business is hard when Joe is cranky; riding the bike is a piece of cake in comparison.
We come to 90 and turn East. I see a sign for New Orleans Honey Island Swamp Tours. You want to go, Joe? No; we continue on, my vision of seeing a real, live alligator, dissipating as the miles roll on by. Maybe I will pass this way again in another life…We are in the middle of a really big swamp– the only way across: I-10 or Route 90. Joe confirms this with a touring motorcyclist; Joe seems to remain mistrustful of my navigational expertise.The motorcyclist, Terry, has both a website and a book of his travels. He tells us of meeting a fellow adventurer, a man, running the circumference of the Continental United States. Yet another wonder on this trek of ours! We travel on yet again; Joe, trusting Terry’s words of wisdom about my route, seems reinvigorated Joe also seemed to be eyeing the motorized wheels with a bit of envy, if you care to ask me. I can’t change either the roads or the swamp; the route is not straight; perhaps they picked the driest, highest land. Time to point the bikes east again and be on our way.
I see a huge sign: Welcome to Mississippi–Birthplace of America’s Music. Yippee! We are really going to complete this incredible journey. Thirty minutes later Joe says he does not feel well; he feels fuzzy. So that is what this is all about; he is not feeling up to par and the morning is rough on him. We stop at the next gas station; we cool down and hydrate. We roll on; Joe stops again in a few miles, unheard of for him. Bugs have been swarming around us; I am even more surprised at the sudden stop in the rest area. He sits with his head down; I get him a cold drink from my rear trunk, which thankfully keeps fluids cold for the six hour rides.
We reevaluate our position. The first possibility for a motel is 14 miles away; we remain in the middle of the swamp– there has been nothing for the past 10 miles. There is nothing ahead for the next 14 miles but sun, heat and humidity. I ask Joe if he wants to lie down for a bit on the shady bench and recover some. Again, a no from Joe, so no choice but to move on. I say let’s stop at the next, now elusive, gas station for another cool down and more rejuvenating fluids. It seems to take hours for the swamp to end and signs of humanity to appear.
Finally, another service station. I motion to stop; Joe’s eyes are glassy; he asks where we are. His reactions are slow. I simply say, “Turn, water, now”. No choices here. A liter of fluids, salty crackers, the act of sitting down and the air conditioning seem to help. I remove Joe’s helmet from his head; anything to cool him down. I check the iPhone; the motels in Waveland are 2 and 3.5 miles away. We pick the closer one as there is a Walmart for food and fluids close by. We arrive at the Coast Inn; Joe nods off even before taking a shower.
It is now several hours later. We’ve eaten lunch and gone grocery shopping. A bonus: Joe gets a haircut and a beard trim– he looks and feels like a new man.
So have you heard of Waveland, our home for the day? Sadly, it was ground zero for Hurricane Katrina in 2005; the whole town was virtually obliterated by the 26 foot storm surge and the accompanying winds. Incredibly,this is the second time a hurricane has devastated the city; Camille landed here in 1969. Both of these storms were in August; rest assured we will be safely out of the area by then and though the “For Sale” signs on beachfront acreage look appealing, we will pass.
3:30 pm. Joe is napping. I think a short day’s ride to Biloxi is in order tomorrow. Blackjack or Roulette anyone….