I set off this morning through the depressed part of town and saw the effects of Katrina with many houses closed and boarded up.
No sooner had I approached the French quarter than I came upon Flora's Coffee Shop and Gallery with a bicycle rack outside.
The beautiful Flora from Iran
I met Natalie who gave me the best coffee so far. She moved here from Australia some two years ago and as I had spent some of my youth there I knew exactly where she was from in Queensland.
There were a very bohemian group outside doing what they do naturally.
I met Iam who was extremely enthusiastic about the machine. Such a shame that we didn't have more time to talk.
I had a great time in the city. Food and atmosphere excellent but when I came to leave I hit a slight problem - the way out. I took Hwy 61 but then was experiencing so many expressions of disgust from drivers that I thought that I had better take Hwy 90 instead. The problem was that it crossed one of the bridges leaving the city and they do not allow bikes which I found out as I heard the loudhailer atop a police car. Problem is he didn't stay to help so I chased after him. I eventually caught him up and he explained that I would need to take the ferry to intersect the highway on the other side of the river.
I just got fed up in the end and pulled into a McD especially as the combination of rush hour traffic and the extremely poor road surfaces here meant my progress was slow and I had already spent three hours and 30 miles going nowhere!
Artist Sher Stewart who is 64 and still rides her bike
They have a very strange way of driving here. When they get established in a lane it seems nothing will make them move. They expect you to move out of their way even though there is more than enough space to pass. I have seen situations where nothing is coming in the outside lane but they sit behind you honking their horn and no doubtedly calling the police to have me removed. I wonder if it would be the same were I on a bicycle.
So now I felt it was time to leave and so I made my way to the ferry only to find that I had been sent the wrong way and the best solution was to head towards Baton Rouge on the Airline Highway. It eventually transcribed that no one refers to it as Hwy 61. Now if only had known that in the first place. Then I got a slow puncture and while it was resting against a tree I noticed someone keeping an eye on me. It turns out that his name is Charles and he was visiting a friend next to where I was parked. He said after I had finished that he was just making sure that no one messed with me whilst I was doing the repair. What a nice person and when you see the picture you will see why they wouldn't mess with him!
Cliff & Charles
Now I got on my way but again found it extremely difficult to intersect Airline Highway. They seem to expect that you want to use the Interstate which I wasn't allowed on.
After detouring through housing estates I eventually found the way and was scooting along at 20 mph when I thought that I ought to stop at a motel and pulled into the first one I found. I thought it was a good omen as it was called the London Motel. As I cruised slowly up to the door I started to get concerned for two reasons. Firstly the lights had not been replaced and there weren't even any flickering. Secondly three gorgeous looking girls were excited and keen to talk......until I realised they were not girls!
I then headed off again rather quickly when the usual siren and lights appeared behind. Same thing again only this time I gave in and although I improved the rear lights by changing batteries he said that there are so many drunks who have no regard for cyclists that it would be better he escorted me to a suitable hotel.
the officer was kind enough to escort me some five miles to a hotel. I mentioned to him before heading off that I had been looking for a motel anyway and had decided against the London Motel. He said that it was a good decision as there was a murder there two nights previous!
The trip along the highway looked impressive though and I am sure that the other motorists thought I was in some sort of race or a VIP! He spoke to me on the tannoy whilst I was riding and was even kind enough to stop and pick up a tool kit that I had dropped in my haste to close up my bags after changing the batteries. Each time I indicated that I would pull into a motel he would announce 'not that one'! Eventually he didn't disagree with my choice and we said our goodbye's. What a nice person.