More Adventures in Louisiana
October 16, 2015 – Day 43
Natchez, MS to Morganza, LA – 80 miles – Total Miles – 2,709
Weather 85 degrees, sunny, 10-15 mph tailwind
We left the hotel by 7:30am and headed down the road to find the Uptown Grocery to get supplies for camping that night. Unfortunately the grocery store was not open yet so we decided to head to Vadalia, LA – just across the river from Natchez to hit their grocery store. We crossed the Mississippi on Hwy 65/80 into Louisiana – yea we have finally made it to our finishing state. We found the grocery store but had to go off route about 5 miles total – not too bad.
In Natchez and Vadalia the big balloon festival was going on so we were glad to get out of town before everyone got to town!! Supposedly there were some balloons up early this morning before we left but they just looked like dots to us. We were glad to get to town the day before because we would not have had anywhere to stay on Friday night.
Our ride was mainly on Hwy 15 which traveled on the levee or right next to the Levee – it was an easy ride not too much traffic and the road was generally in good shape. We took a break to eat our lunch on top the levee – there really is nowhere to go to get off the levee and we experienced an Act of Kindness. So we were standing along the side of the road eating lunch when a Louisiana State Wildlife Officers truck stopped – the officers stopped to see if we were ok and if we needed anything. We said we were good and just taking a break to eat lunch. They again asked if we needed anything and said they had water if we needed some. That we took them up on and filled our water bottles with some nice cool water – it was greatly appreciated and allowed us to bypass the Army Corp of Engineer where we were going to fill up our bottles. The officers were really nice and we enjoyed talking with them – they were amazed that we had bicycled all the way from Green Bay, they probably thought we were nuts!! Oh well.
After visiting with the officers they headed down the road and we headed the other way. Soon we left the Levee Road and were once again on Hwy 1, the road is normally in good shape and has a nice wide shoulder – this one was at least 12 feet wide. We even skipped a part of the route which took us thru the town of Batchelor to stay on Hwy 1 with the great shoulder – we don’t think we missed too much in Batchelor but a five mile detour. Sometimes it is hard to understand why the route takes us on these weird detours and we have started to bypass some of them. The detours we believe are to get the bicyclists thru another town and also possibly closer to the river – but not quite sure!!
Our day ended at the Maxicare RV Park and Campground in Morganza, LA. The campground is very nice and has everything we need and then some. The camp host – Beverly is very nice and used to hosting bicyclists – she said frequently she has big groups stay with her. The Southern Tier Bicycle Route goes righty by her campground, as well as the Mississippi River Trail route. She appears to take good care of the bicyclists and is very welcoming to them.
We have two more days of bicycling and we will be in New Orleans, we then plan to take a day off and then head down to the Gulf and officially end the trip.
October 17, 2015 – Day 44
Morganza, LA to Baton Rouge, LA – 50 miles Total miles – 2,759
Weather 80 degrees, sunny, tailwind
We slept in a bit later than usual because we had a shorter day today – only 50 miles to Baton Rouge. It was fun to camp again it has been a while, the last time we camped in Mississippi the campground was pretty sketchy and we did not feel comfortable there – this one was very nice and welcoming – nice. Also realized this will probably be the last time we will camp on our bicycle trip.
Our trip began with another our last crossing of the Mississippi River on the SH 10/Audubon Bridge which is a fairly new bridge – built in 2007. The bridge was nice and included a nice big shoulder for bicyclists. Ironically when it first opened the shoulder had rumble spots all the way across the shoulder, this made it close to impossible for bicyclists to use the shoulder. Also no one told the police that bicyclists could legally use the bridge- so they were stopping the bicyclists on the bridge. After a few calls to the Baton Rouge bicycle advocacy group – their president contacted the DOT and explained the concerns and the rumble spots were removed across the shoulder and the police were informed that it was legal for bicyclists to ride the bridge. We learned this from our Warm Showers host Mark who is the President of the local bicycle club.
We were cruising right along and figured we would get to Baton Rouge to meet our host who was going to ride with us the last ten miles by 12:30pm. We were about 10 miles from meeting Mark and the bicycle started making some nasty noise – of course it was as we were traveling along a busy highway. We stopped and looked down and the bicycle rack had broken – crap!! Now what – Tracy took the bags off the rack and Peter started to walk down the road to try to find something to fix it. He came back with a ten penny nail and a short piece of rebar – with the duct tape we carry he was able to fix the rack – very innovative!! So with a 15 minute delay we were back on the road and were only a half hour late to meet up with Mark.
We then followed Mark into the city- unfortunately we ran into all the traffic for the LSU vs Florida college football – it was unbelievable traffic and we stood on our bicycles for a good hour and moved very little – it was fun to watch the people and a good chance to get to know Mark. After an hour and a bit of movement we were able to get on a sidewalk and actually travel some miles towards Mark’s house. The traffic was unbelievable and it was difficult to get anywhere but we finally made it to Mark’s about an hour later. Just FYI. LSU did win the game 35 – 28 – a good game – we watched part of it at the restaurant we had dinner at. We also got a tour of downtown Baton Rouge, they have been working hard to revitalize the downtown – they have some really cool areas but pretty limited and quickly you walk away from the active downtown area. It was fun to get the grand tour and background from a local and hear the scoop on everything.
Mark, our Warm Showers host works at LSU in the library in the archives, he has worked at LSU for a long time but is ready to retire soon and would like to take off on his bicycle on a long trip!! Mark started the Baton Rouge bicycle advocacy group and has had his hands full trying to make a difference in the city. He feels like much has not changed but as he talks about it there really has been quite a few improvements.
October 18, 2015 – Day 45
Baton Rouge, LA to Lutcher, LA – 58 miles – Total Miles – 2,817
Weather 75 degrees, sunny, cross wind
After a delicious breakfast with Mark – oatmeal. Mark rode out of town with us. We rode thru LSU and saw the mess left behind from the game the night before, although staff was very busy cleaning up already when we went thru. Mark assured us there will not be a piece of garbage remaining by the end of the day. We also went by the Cow Pasture(RV Parking Lot) and saw all the RV still sitting there. Later we had many of them pass us as they headed home.
We spent most of our ride today on Hwy 75/River Road. We had the levee on one side and sugar cane fields and refineries on the other most of the day. Although as we got further south we started to see the beautiful plantations. Our ride ended in the City of Luther with a stay with a Warm Showers host – Dale. Dale is a mechanic and was able to make a more permanent fix on our bike rack and seemed to enjoy doing it; so we should be set for the rest of the ride and then some.
are staying in his man cave, basically his shop – it has everything we need including a stocked refrigerators, microwave, restroom and sleeping space. Peter is happy because we got here in time to watch the Packer game and he is happily watching on his phone.
Tomorrow we will hit New Orleans.