Day 35: Picayune to New Orleans
Phil and I were in the kitchen already when Barbara came in and told us to help ourselves to breakfast. Chris woke up shortly afterwards and packed some food for us to take with us for the day, including some of the delicious pecan pie from the night before. She also fed carrots to the horses and goats outside, so we could get a closer look at them through the kitchen window.
The ride that day was perfectly flat and a stark contrast to every other day we’re ridden thus far. When I had mapped out the last two days on the same route, from Hattiesburg to New Orleans, the first half of the ride was quite hilly in comparison. The elevation chart flat-lined halfway through the route, making it look like someone had died. This was our day, from Picayune to New Orleans, and it was supposed to be sunny with gentle tailwinds the entire way. We were both in a great mood, being so close to our destination for the next few months.
The first road we turned onto was called Flat Top road. It sure was flat, and looking at the elevation chart, we were indeed at the top of the day’s course. Not ten miles into the route, we came to a gate across the road. It was a NASA space station, and the guard would not let us cut through. He sent us back to the main road, and we ended up on a detour that took us about 10 miles east of where we were supposed to turn south. However, if it weren’t for that detour, we would not have passed the ice-cream shop at mile eighteen, where I enjoyed a peanut butter sundae.
We used our phones to reroute ourselves back on track, but the pavement of one of the roads we turned down suddenly disappeared. We found ourselves struggling to go forward on a road of loosely-packed dirt. I ended up getting stuck in the sand and was unable to start again without sinking into the road. A pickup truck drove up from behind and stopped next to me, while Phil slowly continued down the road. The driver, who introduced himself as Deputy Earhart, started talking about how he used to bicycle 75 miles a day. He offered to drive us a few miles down to where the road was once again paved, and I gladly accepted. Meanwhile, Phil had made a bit of progress and was about half a mile up the road. He passed his bike up and jumped in with me. We rode in the back, hanging onto our bikes, for about 2 miles before the deputy stopped and helped us to unload our bikes. He pointed us in the right direction and sent us on our way, down highway 90.
We were just about to approach the point on highway 90 where we were back on course with Garmin, when we came to a small bar called Turtle Landing. A sign on the door indicated that the kitchen was closed, but we went in to use the bathroom and then sat outside eating the snacks that Chris had packed for us. We opened one can of the Vienna sausages, which resemble pieces of hotdogs and have the consistency of soggy bologna, but we couldn’t finish it. We also had a package of crackers and a few slices of processed cheese. The meal reminded me of Lunchables. As we were about to get back on the road, a man came up to us and offered us hot jambalaya inside. It was free, and I had never tasted jambalaya before, so I went in to try some. It was quite good.
We still had 40 miles to ride before reaching our destination, and the sun was on its way down. It would get cold quickly. We rode non-stop until we were only 11 miles from the city and stopped to eat the pecan pie and don some warmer layers. At some point we had to cross a bridge to get to New Orleans, and from a distance, the bridge rose up like a roller coaster. I could see cars driving up and disappearing over the other side. It reminded me of the Mario Kart game, where you go over these jumps in the road. Fortunately, the road seemed to flatten out as we approached.
When we were each about 5 miles from our respective friends’ homes, Phil and I parted ways and rode on our own for the last few miles. I arrived at the apartment where Bobby, Aaron, Jeremy, Aly and Matt reside just before 6pm. Aly was home to let me in, and after a shower, we went out to find food.
We took the trolley into the French Quarter and ate burritos at Felippe’s. Walking further down the road, we ran into Taz, a busker who was finishing up for the night. We offered to help him carry his instruments (and his door) back to his motor home. After walking with him to the motor home, he offered to buy us beer for our trouble. We ended up going to a convenience store on Frenchmen Street and drinking beer with a few other street musicians. After walking to another convenience store on Royal Street for a second beer, we heard from Bobby and Aaron, who were with two new pedicab drivers, Dennis and Pete, who had just arrived from Boston. We met up with them at Thirteen on Frenchmen, shared some potato puff nachos, and walked back to the pedicab shop, from where Aaron drove us home.