Trip Summary

Day 52: 2929 miles completed, 8 states, 7 flat tires, 4 flat mattresses, 40 new friends and Bruce #1, 8 rest days

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Day 37: St. Francisville, Louisiana

We woke up to rain pounding the window of our hotel room.  The rain that has been forecasted every day for the past week finally caught us. We started out today thinking a 66.6 mile day was going to be a relatively short ride, even though we were starting out in the 70-degree rain.  Starting a ride in the rain takes extra motivation.  While the weather was less than ideal, the main issue today was the condition of the road/shoulder and the amount of debris that we needed to avoid.

Things were going fairly smoothly, the intensity of the rain weakened prior to our late departure (8am).  Although potential thunderstorms surrounded us, the rain actually stopped after about an hour.  Last tour we were shuttled over the bridge taking us over the swamp; this year there was a route over an abandoned road through the swamp.  Things were looking good as we entered the 6-mile ground level bridge over the Atchafalaya swamp, then Ken suffered a flat tire (first of the day).

Back on the bridge after the flat, we road a ways and Lisa looked over into an open swamp area and spotted a small gator on a log.  U-turn and photo opportunity began. The gator was camera shy I guess, he jumped back into the swamp when he heard us, but stayed close and eventually swam back and crawled back on his perch on the log again.  Pretty cool to observe his behavior.  We spent a lot of time watching him and then slowly made our way through the rest of the swamp looking for more, but we never saw any.  We also saw a camera shy otter and some blue heron.  Other riders saw some water snakes, we were happy to miss those. Little did we know, we had other hazards ahead.

Out of the swamp and back on the road, we got through the next town, stopped for bit of nourishment at a café.  We were on our way out of town, when Ken suffered a "snake bite" (pinch flat).  We pulled over and right behind us was a SAG vehicle, who stopped and fixed the flat.  Not 10 minutes later down the road and with the SAG vehicle gone, flat #3.  We were perplexed, but upon inspection it appeared to be another pinch flat. We all had to reach into our supply of tubes but unfortunately, the tube chosen had a hole in it right out of the box, so we call that flat #4.  Another tube was tried and finally held air, so we were off again to lunch.  We thought we may be riding in to applause today as is the custom for the last riders in camp. 

After our late lunch, we eventually came to the beautiful bridge where we crossed the Ole Muddy, the Mighty Mississippi River.  This was probably the toughest climb/hill of the day.  The suspension bridge is very photogenic, even in the gray clouds, with wide shoulders for riding and taking photos as well. 

Entering St Francisville, our stop for the night about 6 miles from the Girl Scout camp called Marydale where we are staying, flat #5 for our group.  This time it was Lisa.  On inspection, it was a hard thorn that had done the damage--even though we had shortly before ridden through broken glass that our pace line all rode over. 

Soon after the final flat tire of the day was repaired, the silver lining appeared in the clouds that were following us all day.  It was 3:45 as we approached a Sonic.  Happy Hour!  Jeff crossed four lanes of traffic for his reward, a lemon-berry slush.  The rest of the group continued to camp, but our pal Rich followed Jeff for his reward, a chocolate shake.  They finished their ride at 4:15.

The rest of the group made the final turn into camp and rode an enjoyable downhill to Marydale Camp (for Girl Scouts) and rustic cabins spread out by at least a half mile.  The showers were hot and our clothes were dry, so that is all we needed.  Anne served some delicious sausages, some made with alligator, chicken, pork, or beef, which were accompanied by homemade mac and cheese, couscous salad, green salad, and cookies for dessert.  The sky opened up just after dinner, and the Wolf Pack got us back to our cabin, with our fresh laundry and computer in tow, dry and comfortable.  We shared a huge cabin with other couples, Eddy and Frances, Ron and Nancy, and then a staff couple Ed and Joyce.  We spent the evening playing a few card games of "Pig", similar to spoons back in Wisconsin, but we fell into our little cots and slept great with rain pattering on the windows outside.  Glad we brought along sheets and pillows! 

As we write this, the rain pours, thunder and lightning are booming and flashing, and most of us are huddled in the dining hall.  Walking the 0.6 mile back to our cabin will take more motivation.  Right now, we will finish our blog and try with what little WiFi and internet available to get it posted.  Might be a good day for a nap and some luggage reorganization.

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