Monday, June 10, 2013

Cajun Country - Louisiana

Day 33 New Roads, Louisiana to Donaldsonville, Louisiana - 78.2 miles

FANTASTIC!  Rumour has it that Cajuns are friendly so we were excited for the day ahead riding through Cajun country.  We must confirm the rumours - the Cajuns were friendly, helpful, welcoming and had us laughing at almost every turn.

Point Breeze Motel - New Roads
As we left New Roads, we were again awestruck by the huge oak trees, plantations and antebellum houses.  Just breathtaking.....and then disaster struck.  Jane had a flat.  Unbelievable -  with only two days of riding left before New Orleans.  I felt what I imagine a baseball pitcher feels when he is throwing a perfect game and then in the bottom of the ninth he lets go a big, fat fastball that the hitter sends over the fence ruining his chance for the perfect game.  Before we could even get the back tire off, a kind lady pulled over and offered help. Yes - we were in Cajun country. 

Tire repair
With the tire repair complete we set out for a fantastic morning of riding along the Bayou.  We travelled along the Grosse Tete and the Intercoastal Bayous and at one point we had a forced (and welcome) rest break as we had to wait for the swing bridge to open and close as a tugboat and barge went by.  With the bayou meandering along one side of the road and huge Oak trees and sugar cane fields on the other side it was a fabulous morning of cycling.  

Majestic Oak trees line the entrance ways to Plantation Homes - Mississippi River Trail

We arrived in Rosedale and pulled off to the side of the road to review our maps and directions when an older gentleman on a riding mower pulled up.  His name was Carroll.  He saw us looking dazed and confused and figured since his grand-daddy, his daddy and he himself were born and bred in the area, he might be able to help.  He was true, blue Cajun!  When he started school he could not speak English and was put in a seperate class.  He shared wonderful stories of life on the bayou and had us in hysterics.

Bayou Grosse Tete - Mississippi River Trail
The Iberville Parish Visitor Centre in Grosse Tete was a fabulous stop.  We were treated like royalty and offered coffee, cold water and given a nice gift bag of Cajun spices.  We learned a lot about the area and had a chance to review our route with the Visitor Centre staff.  You just can't beat local knowledge!

Based on the advice of the ladies at the Iberville visitor centre we made a stop at the Plaquemine historic locks and were once again treated royally.  The interpreter welcomed us in, gave us clear, cold bottled water and a personal history lesson of the lock and the Mississippi River diversions.  He also gave us great route advice for the last leg to New Orleans.

Iberville Parish Visitor Centre
Based on the advice of the interpreter we stopped at Big Daddys for lunch.  We caused quite a stir with the locals as both staff and customers gathered round our table and tried to figure out WHY anyone would cycle from Canada.  To quote, "I like riding a bike, but that's just crazy!"

Entering Atchafalaya National Heritage Area
We had spent so much time visiting throughout the day that we found ourselves forced to make a difficult decision.  We were worried that we would not get to Donaldsonville before dark if we didn't pick up our pace.  We decided to leave the back country roads and travel the rest of the way on the highway.  Definitely not as scenic, as we passed huge fertilizer factories, but the road had a good shoulder and being a weekend traffic was light so we arrived in Donaldsonville before dark.  We got a bit of a scare as the first two hotels we tried were full.  A huge thunderstorm was looming and we had one last chance at a room or we would need to resort to Plan B.  We managed to get the last room at the Supreme Hotel.....a huge relief as we really didn't have a plan B.

Giggle of the day:

Growing up, Carroll told us that he was so poor he had never had ice cream.  However, he knew a guy who had seen a guy eat ice cream!


For dinner we went to a little take out shop and ordered salads.  Clearly not a popular item on the menu as three of the staff had to consult an instruction sheet and work together to make a chef salad.  Their instruction sheet was awesome..they did a great job and dinner was delicious.

View Bicycling directions to Donaldsonville, LA in a larger map