Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Big Easy - New Orleans, Louisiana

Day 34 - Donaldsonville, Louisiana to New Orleans, Louisiana - 81.2 miles

Our last day on the road!  We woke up with mixed feelings about the day ahead.  It has been a long and exciting trip and although we are excited to be on the final leg and returning home to family and friends, we are both feeling a little sad that this is our last day of riding.

Leaving Donaldsonville, Louisianna - Mississippi River Trail
Mother Nature tried to cheer us up with a wonderful fireworks show.  Yes, we had only been on the road for a few short minutes when a massive thunderstorm moved in.  We found ourselves huddled under a tree holding each other tight as the storm crashed and boomed around us.  The rain was torrential and within minutes we were standing in 4 inches of water, discussing the merits of standing in water during an electrical storm.  It was yet another reminder that Mother Nature really is the boss.

The storm finally cleared and we were on our way.  Once again the route was one of contrasts...sugar cane fields, fabulous plantations, factory after factory, and ocean liners and barges moving up and down the river.  We stopped at the Oak Alley plantation to visit with tourists who had just disembarked from the Natchez paddlewheeler.  They were cruising from New Orleans to Memphis.  What a way to see the river!  

Paddlewheeler docked across from Oak Alley Plantation
We had the opportunity to ride sections of designated bike path along the top of the levee.  These paths afforded us fantastic views of the river and the country side and also a great break from riding in traffic.  Again there was a dramatic contrast with nature to our left (cranes, dragon flies, countless birds, fish) and industry to the right.  (chemical plants, oil refineries and pipelines galore).

Heavy industry along the Mississippi River

Riding on the levee trails

Our last few miles to the Algiers ferry were on bike path, and finally at one turn we were afforded  our first view of the Big Easy....and a prettier sight we could not have seen.  We stopped and looked at each other speechless, hardly believing that the end was in sight.

View of the Big Easy from the Levee bike path
We arrived at the Algiers ferry late in the afternoon and excitedly waited to cross the river.  The ferry took us to river walk in downtown New Orleans at the foot of the historic French Quarter.

Loading area - Algiers Ferry
As we walked our bikes along Bourbon Street we soaked up the sights and sounds of New Orleans.  What a city!  Music, laughter, action, lights and all kinds of unique characters make up the flavour of this city.  It has a pulse and vibrancy to it that is unique to the Big Easy.  A fitting end to our trip.....and the energy of the city has us wondering where our bikes will take us next.....  

Giggle of the day:

We have really struggled to find fresh fruit and veggies along the way, so today we spotted a small veggie stand on the side of the road and of course had to stop.  We met James, whose family had been farming the land for generations. James got chatting and then said he didn't want to sell us a tomato, but would be happy to give us a "home" tomato.  (these are the ones too bruised up to sell).  He proudly peeled, quartered and salted that home tomato and presented it to us.  Best tomato we have ever had!

James and the "fruits" of his labour

Artichoke flower 

James, also gave us some great advice on the upcoming levee trail....he seemed the most unlikely fellow to take bike route advice from...but, he was right!  The bike path was amazing.


When checking in at the Drury Inn in New Orleans, the Front desk manager Asked, Who inspired you to ride that far?  Forest Gump?

 On Bourbon Street we took the opportunity to order a "Hand Grenade" ( one really should not order this drink after cycling 81 miles and only eating a home tomato)  We chatted with the bartender who asked if we had been in New Orleans yesterday and participated in the naked bike ride?  YUK

Hand Grenades - French Quarter - New Orleans

View Bicycling directions to Jackson Square, Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA, USA in a larger map