We actually rose up at a decent hour and were on the road by 715. The path we took was not the best, and required a lot of stopping at lights throughout the city. Once we were exiting, and traffic thinned, we were able to make great time. We picked up some nice tailwinds off the gulf and were cruising at a consistent 20+ miles per hour. Our first stop would be in Laplace, about 25 miles out.
According to a nice man who spoke to me on the phone for 25 minutes the previous day about bike paths throughout Louisiana, the Airline motor restaurant would be a good place to grab some food. Boy was he right; great food. Fluffiest pancakes in Louisiana. One of the servers there was amazed at what we were doing. He was going to give us a huge Atlas to help us out. Those things aren't cheap… or light. It would be too bulky and heavy, but it was the sincerity and thought that counted. Another employee, a biker, was quite interested in what we were doing as well. So interested that she (Nicole) went in the back on a computer and looked up campgrounds and motels in the area we expected to be that night. Seeing a theme here? These people are great. Pretty sure Paul actually fell in love with Nicole even though she was pregnant and engaged… but he was "flying" to Aspin and out of her life.
As is our ephemeral nature, we soon were forced to hit the road and continued to benefit from the tailwinds heading north. We were able to cover 30 miles in almost no time and stopped in a small town called Ponchatoula. This is where our Sonic smoothie addiction began.
Wasting no time, we filled up our bottles at Subway next door, and skipped town. Another 20 miles or so would land us in a really small town called Roseland where we ate at a mom and pop called "the front porch". The workers were actually sitting on the front porch upon our arrival and some scurried in as we came with appetites aplenty. We had covered about 75 miles by 1:30, and were ready to reward ourselves. The Front Porch was an all you can eat buffet, lucky us. We got our first taste of gumbo, a sort of thick soup with meat and veggies usually served with rice. I hope it's not our last because it was delish.
With full bellies we didn't want to ride out right away so we stuck around for a bit… of course… on the front porch. The folks were oddly enough really friendly and we talked to them for a while about what we were doing. Once we eventually mustered up the courage to get back on the road, we wanted to make one more stop prior to Osyka, MS. Ha another state in a day.
We actually made it all the way to Osyka without stopping by 4:30. We had already reached our goal for the day with help from the winds, and stopped at a small gas station. Much like the rest of the towns, Osyka was small, where everyone knew everyone. This particular area seemed very tightly knit, and we got to talking to a few folks for a while. One of the guys we spoke the most to, Mark, actually shared stories of his bike riding days, when he had ridden to Houston Texas leaving with $7 and arriving with $700. Perhaps embellished, who knows, but they were a very entertaining crew. Mark was quite the character. He had made his own song about Osyka, and also gave me a cross of Jesus to keep me safe along the way.
After enjoying the Osykans company for a while, we started to head out when one of them, Jamie, had pointed out that Paul's rear was flat. I knew from riding behind him it could not have been a glutial comment, and sure enough, flat #3 for Paul in two days! A staple was the culprit. We patched the flat and hit the road.
With repairs taking a bit, and the conversation, we had eaten up most of our remaining daylight. We still planned on making it to a small town called Liberty. About 7 miles into the trip Paul had busted another flat. #4 in two days of riding. The kid was suffering; what else could go wrong? We again considered asking a local if we could camp in his lawn, but still had some light left so we hit the road.
As we were getting ready to leave after the fix, Paul's sunglasses fell off his bike and toppled down into a ditch on the side of the road. I stopped him as I had to take a picture, as we were both laughing out of frustration, and his general misfortune.
I know you're concerned… we made it to Liberty, fear not. We had some light left and made it to a gas station to get some drinks and little snacks for the night. Mind you at this point, we still didn't know where we were staying for the night. Fortunately, the attendant knew of a campground right down the road. As we ventured that way in near complete darkness, we found the vacant campgrounds. It had a rodeo ring, just like you would expect from any campground, and also a nice place for us to lay down our heads. Big day, and likely a free sleep that night. Tomorrow we would be back in Louisiana, sleep for now.
Life was good.