Sunday, April 14, 2013

A Stretch Not Good For Reptiles and Mammals

We got on the road from our primitive campsite at 8:20. It was chilly, but not bad. Our first town was Oberlin. We stopped at the first gas station to take advantage of the restroom for that morning detail best suited for more modern plumbing.

We saw the "Rabbit" go by (the fast Pampered Pedalers rider). The sag vehicle had already gone by. The first sag stop for them was at the other end of town. We pulled in to say hi. Larry took my picture as I rode in. Ron (aka "Stretch") came in shortly after we did.

We headed on down the road. We had much more of a headwind today than we've had for awhile. The terrain, however, was flat as a pancake.

As soon as we left Oberlin, we started seeing dead critters. At first I was keeping track, but then it got to be too much. We, of course, saw the ubiquitous possum, but we also saw about 4 armadillos (I thought they were only in Texas). We rescued another turtle, and saw several that we were too late to rescue. I did see one live snake, but it was small. I saw several dead big snakes (the best kind of snake--dead, that is!).

I think the reason we saw so many turtles is because we were also going by field after field (or is it paddy after paddy?) of rice and crawfish. Apparently, according to Ron, who I rode with for a fair stretch into Mamou, the farmers alternate rice and crawfish. One year they grow rice in the paddy, then the next year they raise crawfish. The crawfish eat the left over rice stalks, and fertilize the paddy for the next season's rice crop.

In Mamou, while I was waiting for Christian, I had pulled up to "Fred's Lounge". A lot of the Pampered Pedalers were there too. I've included a photo below that tells about this famous Mamou landmark. We didn't go in as we still had 20 miles to go and were also in need of some lunch, but we could hear the Cajun music blaring every time someone opened the door.

As we rode through the historic district of Mamou, we did not see any restaurants that appeared to be open. As we got to the end of town, we came across two gas stations. We decided to try our luck there. The first one was a bust. The other one had typical southern fried food offerings--chicken, fries (Cajun or regular), biscuits and gravy, and catfish. We opted for the chicken tenders and fries. I also got, for dessert, something called a "Owie Gooey". It was very good! It was like a gooey butter cake with chocolate chips. Perhaps not the best cycling food, but when in the South...

After our fried lunch, we continued on to Ville Platte. We needed to restock some groceries. There was a Walmart in Ville Platte. Wally World is not my favorite store, but the prices were good, and it was the only game in town.

As we were heading out of Ville Platte, I had to stop at a gas station to get something to drink (should have got it at Wally World, but I didn't think about it then--all that salty fried food sucks the fluids). A guy poked his head out of the store after I'd bought a Powerade and told us all about his bike riding. At least I think that's what he was talking about. Christian said he didn't understand the guy. I told Christian I didn't really understand him either.

We rode the final 8 or so miles to Chicot State Park. This is a huge park. There is a lake for fishing, a pool for swimming, and an arboretum. The showers are hot and free! Believe it or not, there is even wifi! We've decided we have time to take tomorrow off and stay here an extra night. Otherwise, we wouldn't get to see much of this park. I did a bunch of laundry in the sink (although at the North Landing campground--we're at South Landing--they have a laundry room and it's free!).

Across from our campsite is a Cajun guy named Shannon. We are getting a kick out of listening to him talk (that which we can understand anyway). We just heard him say, "Raccoon come around here, we'll have us some breakfast in the mornin'!"

Another one of our neighbors, Carl, a hairdresser from Lafayette, gave us some Cajun sausage he cooked up on the campfire. He even brought some Louisiana Hot Sauce (Christian had it on his sausage--me, not so much). The sausage was good. It did have a bit of a kick in the aftertaste, but it was okay!

It's nice to be back in a campground! In the photos below you'll see a typical Louisiana cemetery. The graves are above ground. Also, when we checked in, they had free samples of Grape Nuts Cranberry and Vanilla cereal. They said we could take as much as we wanted--so I did. I should be good for granola in my oatmeal for the rest of the trip!

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