Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Turning Up the Heat

We left the luxury of Chicot State Park at 8:40 this morning. Weather report for today was warm and humid--about 85 degrees.

We made good time cruising through a number of small towns (most with no services). Took a photo of a plantation house just outside Moreauville. Fancy winding staircases! Now we are in corn country. At this time of year, the corn varies from 6 inches to about a foot high. Saw tons of red-winged blackbirds near the corn fields.

When we got to Cottonport, it was close enough to lunch, and there was a Subway! My first Louisiana Subway! Christian has been a good sport about my Subway habit. Sometimes he gets the pizza. Today he got a footlong roast beef. He's had problems getting coffee at the last couple of Subways. That just means we stop later at a gas station minimart. Across the road from the Subway was a waterway. There was a beautiful white egret. I took a couple of photos. It was fishing, but not successful.

On our way out of Cottonport, we rode past two huge historic oak trees. I think they were the biggest oaks I have seen. Took a couple of photos.

We continued through a couple more small towns. After Simmesport, we crossed the Atchafalaya River (where the Red River joins it). We turned just after the bridge to follow alongside the levee for the Red River. It was really quite warm and no shade along this portion. Kind of in the middle of nowhere, we came upon another plantation house. This had spectacular gardens and there was music blaring from the house, but no other signs of anyone being there. I'm sure they were probably inside under a cooling fan. The place was called "The White House" plantation house.

As we pedaled on, we went past several small houses and mobile homes. I couldn't see anywhere on the map where we would encounter any services to get water. I started watching for a house where it looked like someone was there. After awhile, I saw just what I wanted. Someone was out working in the yard and an elderly lady was standing on the porch. We pulled into the driveway and up to the house. I asked the lady if we could please have some water. She said yes, and, what sounded like, "Come on in." So, we followed her as she disappeared into the house. When we came in I didn't see her. I figured she just meant for us to head to the sink. As I walked over, she emerged from a back room with two bottles of water. We startled her and she said, "Don't you come in my house! I should have locked the door!" I apologized profusely and told her I thought she told us to come in. I also told her tap water would be fine. We just wanted to fill our bottles. She calmed down and took the bottles and filled them for us. I also told her that she was right in not letting strangers into her house, but, as cyclists, we were certainly not out to do her any harm. I asked her name, and we introduced ourselves and told her where we were from. I told her we were going to Memphis, then I would be going on to Little Rock. She brightened and said she was from Arkansas. It all ended up okay, and she wished us a safe journey. Next time, however, even if I'm sure someone says come in, I will wait outside!

Not long after the water incident, we reached the end of our time on the Southern Tier Route. Now we are on the Mississippi River Trail (MRT). The maps, of course, are not as detailed as the ST. It showed a primitive campground nearby. As we pulled up to the bridge over the locks, we pulled over to consult the narrative from the book. A gentleman from the US Corp of Engineers (the people that operate the locks) was coming out of the gated area. He asked us if we were with all those bike riders he had seen in Morganza (part of ST). We suspected they were Bubba and his crew and told him so. We asked him if there was a primitive campground nearby. He told us where it was. I asked if there was water there. He said no and, nicely offered to let us fill our water containers at the Corp office. We followed him through the gate (first making sure he wanted us to do that!). He let us fill everything up and practically followed us to the campground to make sure we found it. He was a very nice guy, but he didn't understand why we would want to do something like this.

We've set up our tents for another night of free camping. We rode back to the locks to have a closer look from the bridge. The locks bring barges from the Mississippi to the Red River. From there the barges travel to the Atchafalaya and out to the Gulf. Christian was hoping to see a barge go through the locks, but we just missed one.

We are conserving water for tomorrow's, supposedly even warmer, 54 mile ride to Vidalia. There are no services along the way until Vidalia.

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