I awoke and weighed the physical benefit of staying in the hotel against the mental anguish that would be incurred from another day of watching daytime T.V. The decision was easy – start pedaling.
But first, a stop at Krispy Kreme. While I have tried these doughnuts before, this is my first time in an actual Krispy Kreme store. I purchased a cup of coffee and a couple of these gut bombs and the waitress threw in a third for free: “Honey, you look like you’ll be needin’ another.” Within ten minutes, I was trembling uncontrollably from the sugar and caffeine and decided it was time to get riding. I should stop here and point out that in the interest of full disclosure, I have added a new category above indicating the number of fast food meals I have eaten on this trip. I’m finding it almost impossible to find a healthy family style restaurant, fruit stand or farmer’s market. So, I thought I might as well track how often I hit a Mickey Ds, KFC or the like. Plus, this will help me proactively build my defense as to how I was able to ride across the US and actually “gain” weight.
The first part of the ride this morning was thick fog (aka the “gray blanket”, the “soup” or my favorite, “Nature’s Wet Wipe”). It quieted the noise of the traffic and made the surroundings look mystical. Reminders of Katrina continued everywhere; beautiful restored century old homes next to remains of foundations; brick staircases that lead to nothing; advertisements for slab removal and asphalt parking lots given over to weeds.
I crossed the bridge into Bay St. Louis (a quirky little beach community) and reconnected with Don, a rider who I had met earlier in the trip. We compared notes on our experiences to date and poured over the map looking at different routes and agreed to keep in touch.
For the next four hours, I traveled Hwy 190 dodging rain showers and winding through bayous. The impact of Katrina was constant – entire forests with tree tops snapped off; enormous mounds of vehicles and debris piled on hidden dirt roads; a large fishing boat lying on its side in the middle of a group of pine trees and shuttered commercial buildings with roofs falling down. Yet, the bayous were beautiful. Egrets and herons were in abundance and the high grass danced in the breeze. I saw a large tree lying across a swamp. It had the most intriguing bark – black with a scalloped surface. I stopped to take a photograph and the bark disappeared into the water – it was more than a dozen turtles sunning themselves.
Since about Tallahassee, I have been seeing Mardi Gras beads on every roadway. Main highways, dirt roads, county roads – everywhere and in every color – tangerine, lavender, black, white, turquoise. Perhaps, the reason for the high number of CPM (Churches per Mile) here is that they serve as a balance for the southern love of “Les Bon Temps Rouler”?
At about 4pm, I found a beautiful 30-mile long bike path called the “Tammany Trace”. It’s built upon the remnants of a former railroad bed and I was able to take it right into Fontainebleau State Park where I decided to camp for the night. This is a beautiful park located on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain with laundry, hot showers and some nice quiet sites.
Finally, today’s Road Kill Report: a beautiful barn owl, two armadillos and an extremely large wild boar – large enough that I almost rethought the idea of camping tonight.