Lafayette, New Orleans, Mississippi all in one day…

July 6, 2010

Lafayette, rural Louisiana, New Orleans, Mississippi… all in one day… too much hm?

Yeah, left Lafayette this morning. The GPS battery is down, I could not charge the damn thing as my room at the Hostel did not have a three prong outlet to plug my laptop… It took me about 25 miles of running around before I could find espresso this AM and head out.

By the way, if you go to Lafayette there is the BEST by far the BEST hostel there, The Blue Moon. It’s beautiful, cheap, and like a home. Just awesome and the very best hostel so far.

the Blue Moon Hostel, the fog is from my fogged up camera lens...

I finally made it out of town. The plan is to go to New Orleans and stay at a friend’s house. Well, I was waiting to get the address via facebook and never got it before leaving this morning. So I head out anyways, figuring that I will find a wi-fi spot before too long and all would be well.

I took the 182 into the back country. Between Lafayette and New Orleans it goes from POOR to WEALTHY.

a wealthy spot as we get closer to New Orleans

I stopped in Houma for some food and gas. I had some cat fish and red beans and rice + unsweet iced tea. Pretty Southern stuff… I’ve had two meals that would qualify as real Southern food and that’s about all I can take. This stuff is RICH. Where is the salad? Where are the fruits?

It is hot. Humid. Thunder stormy. I run through a couple of small rain storms. I managed to suit up for rain in time. The difficulty is in switching between the sunny and the rainy weather. When it’s rainy it’s quite comfortable, I mean, you can actually ride at 70 MPH without gloves and it’s not cold for your hands. (I don’t wear the gloves as the leather just can’t take that much water.) But when the rain stops and the sun comes out and you have that rain gear on, it’s steam sauna city.

I removed my rain gear in Houma. Made it to New Orleans with the leather jacket. I tried to not wear it, but call me a wimp, the wind and sun is just too much for my white girl skin on the freeway. I had to stop and put the jacket back on.

New Orleans… Holy heat… There are traffic lights every 200 ft… I am just dying inside the full face helmet and the leather jacket. I start to lose my temper… The closer you get to downtown, the closer the traffic lights are. And, they are long… OMG…

I follow the signs for the French Quarter. See a big P for public parking and pull in there in a hurry, jump off the bike and take it all off, jacket, helmet, Holy… Wow… Phew… a breeze… Ahhhh…

Right now it’s sunny. I want to go walk around the French Quarter. What do I do with my helmet? Jacket? Laptop? I am in the middle of a big city… everything could be stolen from the bike… so I carry it all. I can’t bear to lose any of these things… I would be in trouble.

So I set off and start walking around. It’s amazing. The buildings. The atmosphere. I get to hear some street performers and they would put to shame a lot of jazz wannabes. They GROOVE! What a joy to listen.

street performers... why is wordpress making all the pics black & white?

Suddenly, the sky goes black. Downpour. I mean, Noah’s ark era kind of rain. Damn. I try in vain to stay out of it but I am getting gradually completely wet. Dog wet. I look around, the water is splashing from the roofs, out of pipes and down the cornices in bucket loads. Everyone huddles against the buildings or inside in cafes.

Downpour in the French Quarter

Speaking of cafes, I was hoping to find an internet cafe and see if my friend had left his address on Facebook but I can’t find any. I end up finding refuge in a covered area where a blues trio plays. It’s really good. I get a coffee and wait.

Now, to be honest, I kind of have had enough of the city. I start feeling confined pretty quickly. I long for wide open spaces.. yes, I should be seeing the sights but that’s the kind of stuff you can really enjoy with someone else while you’re not lugging helmet, leather jacket, laptop, back pack all the while worried that your stuff could be ripped off….

I know, I know… I did not even see Bourbon street, but I just want out. I hear this rain is going to keep pounding for the next few days and I want to head North where the climate is dryer or at least where I can enjoy the ride and the wide open spaces even if it rains. I miss camping, the moon, the stars…. Plus, my bike does not like it in town. It’s too hot for it. The engine is air cooled which means that everything starts to overheat really fast, about 20 minutes especially with the start, stop routine of traffic lights, the clutch starts to be angry and slippy as much as I get steamed. Come to think of it, we’re kind of the same.

So once the rain subsided, I walked back to the bike, suited up for rain and took off.

I found the I-10 quickly. Got on. Thank God.

Within minutes I am out of town. Phew. I get to cross the longest bridge I ever crossed. At this point it’s pouring rain again. I don’t care, I’m heading North. Finally I leave the 10 and hit the 59 North. I go for a while, stop to get fuel : gas for the bike and a white bread cheese and ham sandwich with chocolate milk for me and I motor on.

Soon I am out of Louisiana. Welcome to Mississippi! Wow. Another state. Soon it rains again. Hard. The water falls like needles on my hands. I motor on. I can see on the horizon that this should not be too long. The blacktop is brand new. It is one of the smoothest roads I’ve been on. Who said Mississippi roads are bad? Not this one!

The 59 is a nice rolling straight highway. The wind is gone too. Since New Mexico it seems I’ve been battered by the wind. Right now it’s calm, the skies turn into a magnificent show of light. For an hour the colors go from blues and gold to purples and orange. The sunset is absolutely glorious.

This is what I love. As much as I would try to be a cosmopolitan girl and see the stuff I’m supposed to see, this is what makes my heart soar. White and red we roll down this thread of road,, I’m lying down on the tank, I finally feel free, all this space. Thank you.

I decided to stop at Hattiesburg. It will be early enough so I don’t run myself to the ground and can sort out my routes, my mileage, the blog, my emails, figure out the weather patterns and see where I should go. I’ve already decided I’ll do the Motel 6. I want to be rested for tomorrow.

There is still light when I pull in the driveway. Good girl for once… I get room 129, ground level, non-smoking with wi-fi. There is a pool too. I might use it in the morning if I wake up early enough.

I get in the room and start removing all the rain gear. Man, everything, absolutely everything but the laptop (!) is either soaked, wet, or damp. I methodically sort papers, food, clothes, bags of this and that out. Lay things to dry.

My beautiful leather jacket is starting to look pretty rough. I wash it, splattered bugs, road dirt, grease… the inside is pretty gross. It’s a dirty world.

Looking at the weather map the rain outlinen stops in northern Mississippi and above. The South, South East and South West are wet for the next few days. I think I’ll do the Natchez trace and some rural Mississippi roads. Then up into Tennessee.

What I would like between here and there is to find a place with a lake where I could kind of stop for a couple of days. Sleep under the moon again. I would really like that.

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