Mesa to Pitt 2015

Mesa to Pitt 2015
Mesa to OBX

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Bay St Louis to New Orleans - Feb 6

82.6 in 5:45. I got out of town with wind at my back and a beautiful road that ran parallel to US90, even though traffic was so light, I really would have been good on the shoulder of 90, which was sufficient in itself. I was cruising along at about 16 or 17 mph, lost in my thoughts on a nice road, when I missed my first sign of the trip, therefore going about 8 miles out of my way. Somewhere, (Pam didn't miss the sign!) US 90 made a left and became a narrower road, and I continued going straight with the wind at my back and not a worry in the world. I guess, I just wasn't looking, because when I glanced at the map the night before, I thought it was all a straight shot in to New Orleans on 90. Well, I ended up on LA 607, which dead ended at a NASA rocket testing sight. By the time I got there, I knew about the NASA thing, and was suspecting a mistake. I talked to the guards, manning the entrance, they gave me a shortcut to get back on track. The only headwind I had the whole trip was for three miles on the way back to LA 604, which was a narrow road that looked like it led to no where, but it led to Pearlington , LA. Boy, was that an eye opener as to the poverty of the area, compounded by Katrina damage that was still apparent, as if it happened last year, instead of seven years ago.  It was right on the border of Mississippi and Louisiana. The buildings were rotting away, the bayou smelled, and flood trash was everywhere. The most common thing I saw was "you loot, I shoot", spray painted on what was left of the buildings in town. I saw no one, but there was an ATM, without a bank, along the road.
     The stretch of bayou was broken up after about 10 miles, with a new bridge ( compliments of Katrina, I'm sure). After a ride up into the fog and over the bridge, I saw signs on buildings and life, but it was no less depressing. There was a fort, that was a state park, that was still closed down, and a few fishing piers and businesses that may or may not have been open. As I rode along, fishing homes and camps were becoming more common, some of them intact, most of them gone, however. There was bayou on both sides of the road, absolutely clogged with debris and garbage, almost to the point that it looked like people were still just dumping their garbage there. Most of it was hurricane damage , however, and debris were up into the trees eight or nine feet. I saw at least a dozen boats, in the forested area that sometimes lined the road. Fortunately, I guess, most of the area looked like it was people's second homes, or fish camps.  The fog and mist in the area just added to the depressing atmosphere. America's Gulf coast is really just a mess so far, with a few exceptions, like the Destin area , of course.  Pam - the roads going through the swamp areas were very rough in a motor home bouncing me to pieces!  There were also quite a few very narrow, old iron bridges along the way.  Unfortunately, going over the last bridge which was the most narrow of them all, I had an old man driving with his tires on the center line and was forced to the right and my side view mirror got ripped off by the girders!  I guess it was better than a head on..... It's tough driving in a motor home with no passenger side mirror when you get onto the interstate!  I had to go to the campground via I-10 since US90 was not motor home friendly through New Orleans!
One of the old, very narrow bridges.
View from a bridge

Old fort that was closed due to Katrina damage

     I was riding parallel to a levee that appeared on my left as the area started getting a little more populated, and actually got to ride through some flood gates that were open, that would close US 90 in flood situations. On the outside of the flood gates was a wildlife sanctuary, where some reclamation was still in progress, but the old debris were still up about 6-8 feet into the trees. From SEVEN years ago!  As I got into the most eastern reaches of New Orleans, I went through an oriental section, maybe Vietnamese, and other areas where hotels, malls, and other businesses and homes sat half destroyed and abandoned.
     Finally, the town began looking more normal, and I was coming to a point where I had to make a decision about which of the two paths of travel I was going to take. I had mapped out two trails last night, not knowing the traffic and roads, I wanted to have options. One trail would take me north, past the University of New Orleans, along Lake Pontchartrain, with possibly less traffic. When decision time approached, traffic was not bad, and a beautiful bike lane traversed US90, so I went with that, even knowing that I was headed for downtown and possibly crazy times ahead. Well, the road stayed nice until I was really close to downtown, bike lanes were good, probably thanks to Dilliard College and Tulane U. areas. I finally came to the Claiborne Street overpass, very near the Super Dome, where things got crazy. The elevated road is where you saw people stranded, on tv, in town during Katrina flooding . I wasn't sure if I should go up there and mix it up with traffic, after being warned by a delivery van driver to walk my bike. I, of course, decided just to go for it, and it really wasn't that bad, I just had to keep my head on a swivel because of all the exit and entry ramps. Once I got through there, it was just another busy, business oriented  stretch of road, peppered with construction, red lights, and increasing traffic. As businesses thinned out and residential areas increased, I got out of Orleans Parrish, and into Jefferson Parrish, where the KOA was located, in the western suburbs. Overall about 25 miles of my 82 was actually inside the city limits of New Orleans. The wind was at my back the whole way, traffic was friendly, and the trip was really pretty cool. New Orleans has distinctive, unique architecture, and crossing Canal Street on a bike was neat. I wasn't so focused on traffic that I couldn't enjoy the sights!
Once I had found the campground , gotten a shower, and such, we decided to go to the uptown section of New Orleans and try to catch an evening parade. That wasn't the original plan, as we thought about resting up and starting tomorrow, but I felt pretty good, and Pam was excited to see a parade. We found the corner of Napoleon Ave and St Charles, in a residential area, close to the beginning if the parade routes. We saw the Krewe of Ancient Druids  and the Krewe of Nyx  and Pam learned how to get beads( in a family friendly way!), and really got into it. Toward the end the rain began to fall, but we stayed and had a great time. We ended the day with omelets at Dot's Diner. Heavy rains pounded the area all night. Someone said it rained almost two inches. It was coming down in sheets, great weather to sleep in.
Flood scraps - 7 years after the fact

Saw a lot of trashed boats, but we saw a few like this!

Replacement street sign - it says "Main" street!

Post Katrina house replacement!  This is made of concrete and should be hurricane proof!!

Getting close to Mardi Gras!  Note the beads in the trees

You know this didn't end up here naturally!  Courtesy of Katrina!

Super Dome

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