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    Day 1.136 – Am I Under Arrest, Officer?

    Houma -> New Orleans
    Distance (km) : 91
    Time on bike : 5h 03m
    Brutto time: 12.00 – 18.20
    Avg : 17.9
    Max.speed: 30.5
    Total (km) : 47.736
    Altitude: 3 m
    Difficulty: 3 of 5

    Sleeping in Phil’s mom’s house was like sleeping in some antique museum, full of untold stories, full of soul. I had the house all to myself, since Phil’s living nearby with wife Amy (and all the animals) and his mom’s moved to Texas.

    A beautiful living room...

    Phil and his dog Snoopy are already at the house when I wake up. Along with lots of good talk, Phil and I head for The Golden Arch for a nice burrito + coffee brekkie, free of charge. Phil is a fine man.

    Antique

    Phil and I in Houma...

    After the goodbyes with Phil, Snoopy and the cats, I head straight for the library (again) to try and confirm my contact (thru www.warmshowers.org in New Orleans. The facilities at the brand new library are fabulous and I could’ve easily spent a few days just sucking information in books, magazines, and newspapers trying to make my drastically shrinking brain volume grow a little. Feel that I’m in a desperate lack of written words.

    Filling water bottles at the Houma Public Library...

    The swamp scenery continues. A strong headwind is a new player on the field. And it lasts all of today’s 91 km. Bummer, cos it’s such a beautiful day for cycling.

    Louisiana swamp north east of Houma...

    You can buy this day here – and become a part of the WT Hall of Fame 🙂

    In the roadside shoulder I suddenly see an unopened package of peanut butter biscuits. I pick it up, check it. Seems dandy. Sherlock Holmes in me notices that the wrapping is still kind of cool/cold, even though the biscuits were lying in the strong sun. Aha, Sherlock says, I’d be damned if someone didn’t put the goodies there for me to pick them up. And so I do. And I eat and I eat, cos that’s what a permanently hungry cyclist does.

    Thanks to whomever put the roadside gift there for me.

    (And a little hint for the future: cyclists might look weird in all that lycra and spandex, they might look way too focused in their cheese-dish cover of concentration, but they do speak, they are humans, and next time you should stop for a little chat, all right)

    Motel 90, Louisiana.

    So I finally get to the Mississippi River. A few bridges span the river, and I just keep going along Hwy 90 since that crossing is nearest to the place in New Orleans where I want to go. People have warned me about the lack of shoulder on the bridge and the nerve-wrecking crossing of the steep bridges.

    The steepness of the Huey P. Long Bridge doesn’t scare me at all. Reg. the lack of shoulder: When I have to, I can keep the bike in a near-straight line, like a tightrobe walker on a bike. So I give it a go. I do notice a sign saying “no cycling on the bridge” but my selective sight ignores it (at the time I knew of no alternatives).

    The first 2 km are all right, traffic is not too bad and all cars give me a wide berth. Then this truck pulls up just behind me, the blinks on and a voice telling me to pull over. A big fella comes out and tells me that I’m not allowed to cycle on the bridge, and asks me to wait. 2 minutes later a police car arrives, the blinks on too and I’m expecting the classic “Freeze, police!!” anytime soon (this is America after all!).

    An officer approaches me, I stretch out my hand to greet him, cos I thought his right hand was about to do the same. Soon turns out that he wants to search me, not greet me. And I was just trying to be polite. The officer is a man of very few words. He basically just puts me in the back of the police car and locks the door. Not exactly the messenger kind of guy. I just sit there, looking at my bike through the window, feeling naked without my handle bar bag, and missing my gear already. The big guy in the truck grabs the bike and puts it on the truck with much less care than I would’ve done it.

    Huey P. Long Bridge that took me over the Mississippi River and into New Orleans...

    The officer gets back into the car. By now the row of cars queing up on the bridge is miles long. Much ado about nothing, if you ask me. I’m taken to the other side of the Mississippi River, some ridiculous 500 m, where another two police cars meet me. They tel me again that I can’t cycle on the bridge, and I politely tell them that I got that part of the message. “Didn’t I see the sign?”, and “No, I didn’t see no sign, officer” (Hard pressed, I do know how to lie). I show the guys my passport and that’s it. No more drama. I can go. What a way to cross one of the greatest rivers in the world! My-oh-my.

    Nice cycling along the levees to keep the Mississippi River from flowing into New Orleans...

    It was just a bit more action than what I’d expected. Nonetheless, cycling through the western suburbs of New Orleans, along a nice bike path on top of the man-made levee, that’s supposed to keep the water out of town in case of flooding of the mighty river, is an important moment for me.

    I find Dufossat St. where Raymond and Emily (and Texas, the former stray dog) lives. They are both cyclists themselves and I’ve found them through Warmshowers.org. They’ve kindly invited me to come and stay in their apartment in uptown New Orleans, and I feel at home right from the start. We, together with Emily’s cousin Moos and his girlfriend Hannah, have a super evening with lots of talk, smiles and my first real southern meal, a shrimp gumbo with rice and homemade corn bread. Delicioso!

    In New Orleans with Ray, Moos, Emily, and Hannah...

    As I lie in “my” bed in “my” room this evening, I feel exhausted (all that headwind, all those new faces), happy (for being in New Orleans, all those new faces) and thrilled at the thought of what lies ahead of me in the Jazz Capital in the World, Nouvelle Orléans.

    On this day..

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