Day 14 – St. Francisville, Louisiana

Elevation gained: 837/Miles: 38/Total Miles: 760/Total Fast Food: 5

The weather report today was for sunny skies, but winds from the north at 20-25mph. “Makes sense”, I thought “that’s my direction for the day”.

I saddled up and headed for downtown Baton Rouge on what I thought was Hwy 61. Absolutely miserable riding conditions. Huge eighteen wheelers and other commercial trucks speeding by only inches from my panniers. When a shoulder was available, it took all my focus to navigate through the obstacle course of 4×4 fence posts, car parts, broken glass, rusty wire, nails, broken buckets and assorted pieces of iron littered across it.

After two hours, it started to occur to me that I was lost. However, playing to stereotype, I continued on for another hour before I admitted my failure. This isn’t something new for me as my friends will attest. (Once I took a couple of buddies backpacking in the Sierras to a lake I had hiked to many times previously. Somehow, I got us lost for 11 days – and to make things worse, I was an Eagle Scout at the time). On the other hand, W.C.C. (Wife Command Central), being a mid-western girl, has a perfect pitch sense of direction. You could blindfold her, put her in one of these and then ask her which direction is north and she would instantly point it out – adjusting for magnetic declination. And, here I am, with not just one, but two maps; a compass on my watch and a GPS system and I get lost on a major roadway for several hours. I guess I’m just missing the directional chromosome.

Accepting defeat, I stopped at a small market and got directions (as well as some incredible pralines). Once out of Baton Rouge, I passed multiple oil refineries and then eventually the surroundings became more rural. I stopped at Port Hudson State Park and visited the museum and Civil War battlefield. (Kids, see what you’re missing!) This location was the site of one of the longest sieges of the war, preventing Union forces from gaining full control of the Mississippi River.

Twenty miles later, I rolled into St. Francisville, the best place I have visited to date. It’s a very small town, but with a true sense of community centered around the Magnolia – a local bar and restaurant. Kevin, one of the owners, has been running the place for almost 30 years. He put me up for the night in the 3V Tourist Court also located on the property. It consists of five small cabins each about 150 square feet in size, including bedroom, bathroom and study. These were built in the 1930s and have been restored with period furniture. Funky, rustic and great fun. As I’m typing this, I’m listening to a local cover band playing at the Magnolia. Kevin, who used to be in the music business, has been attracting serious musicians here for years. Dave Alvin, for example, is playing here on Tuesday. Considering the population is less than 2,000, this is pretty impressive.

I sat with Kevin and enjoyed a beer and listened to the band. A pod of small girls danced under pale blue Christmas lights, while their parents encouraged them from the surrounding tables. Looking around the room, I saw families, farmers, ranchers, business people of all ages eating, laughing and enjoying the music. I turned to Kevin and said: “You’ve got something special here.”

9 Comments

Filed under Biking U.S.

9 responses to “Day 14 – St. Francisville, Louisiana

  1. Mike, I am so happy to hear that you finally rolled into the kind of town you’d been hoping for every night. Beats the hell out of sleeping in some bag with rain pelting down.

    Liz and I did our quarterly run to Mi Pueblo today. She was stocking up for Declan’s arrival. So you’ll be missing out on some fabulous Mexican gourmet dishes this coming week. Hope you can find equally as delicious meals on your route.(but I doubt it)

    I have been loving you daily missives. Thanks for taking the time to share with all of us homebound sad saps. Love you, Gerry

  2. David Stabler

    MD:

    Rough start, smooth ending, especially if this is the place.

  3. Just wanted to let you know I have been enjoying your posts for the past few days (and eventually read the backlog as well). I stumbled upon your blog by chance (linked from J. Schwartz’s ‘What I Couldn’t Say…’ blog) but now I’m hooked. Bon voyage!

  4. Jan Schultheiss

    Hi Mike – just to let you know I’m enjoying your stories. Whilst we in The Netherlands have the reputation of all being bikers, you’re probably biking more these few weeks than I’ve done all my life … 😉

    Jan

  5. Mike,

    I learned about you trip over at “biking bis”. Sounds like a great adventure. Thanks for letting us join you.

    Jeff Leintz

    http://jeff-road.blogspot.com/

  6. U. Dick

    Mike,
    Sounds like things are looking up, enjoy every minute and remember it for a bad day.
    We all enjoy your daily reports but still burning up the “Worry Beads”.
    I am concerned about your missing Directional Chromosome if you plan a hiking trip with me along.

    Big hug,
    U. Dick

  7. Tom Seaney

    Mike,

    I know I’m logging into this late…ear to ear grin when I figured out this blog thing and realized what you are up to. I’m catching up. This is so you. I’ll be rooting for you!

    Safe travels,

    Tom

  8. Polish Super Hero

    Mike,
    A true taste of Americana! Sounds like an excellent day…better than being an attorney at a large company.
    Enjoy the Beer, Music and New Friends. You should pick up a harmonica so you can “sit in” with the locals at each stop!
    Peace,
    PSH

  9. shannon

    lou is drooling over the fresh coon sign as i write

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