Natchez Trace Parkway
Today the final stretch of the Natchez Trace into Natchez which took me a while to find my way back on it. Todays highlight was a couple of dear and I saw a fox which I spent a while watching (from a distance).
Natchez Trace Parkway
The plan was to reach New Orleans that evening but it was much further than anticipated (Where have you heard that before) so I spent the last couple of hours riding in the dark which I keep saying I will not do but end up doing it anyhow. So another long day in the saddle but I had already had a couple of addresses for the night so one less thing to worry about. Arrived at Hostel number 1 after being directed through some seriously dodgy neighbourhoods by my GPS and it turned out to be a place that I had stayed on my last trip to New Orleans called India House Hostel. So that was about 15 years ago. It had grown somewhat since I was last there and luckily they had a bed available as I really did not have the energy to go and look at the next place on my list and it was about 9pm ish. I walked to the supermarket for my supper and was surprised at how much I remembered from last time I was here and I spent the rest of the evening chatting with the folks at the hostel.
Today is my century so that is 100 days on the road so another milestone achieved. Plan today is to wander around New Orleans so that is what I did. Since the last time I was there, there was now a tram that stopped by the hostel as I think I walked into town last time I was here. To be honest cannot say I was overly impressed with the place pleasant enough but by midday I had seen most of it and it was getting very déjà vu and it was also quite hot. So I needed another plan and that was that I had brought a one day travel card so spent the rest of the day on the trams seeing different parts of the city and then back to the hostel via the supermarket to get some dinner.
I decided that I needed to see the city by night so back on the Tram to Bourbon Street again not to impressed but I kept on wandering and I found a more interesting part of town on Frenchman Street away from the tourist bars on Bourbon street which had a more interesting vibe about It. Back to the Hostel and again late evening chatting to an interesting chap who was a musician and he was doing recordings in 10 cities across the US for a project for a radio program I did not catch his name or maybe I forgot to ask but seemingly he also had had a hit single in the charts a couple of years ago in the UK.
I was checking the maps and I was a bit confused on the distance between New Orleans and Houston as I wanted to do a scenic route out of the bottom through the swamps and along the gulf coast so I was thinking of doing this in two days as it was more than 600km and the idea I had in my mind was a route that went off through the fascinating swamplands with a gorgeous run along the gulf of Mexico and then finding a nice B&B in Port Arthur before my final push to John and Angela’s in Houston. Reality was something completely different as I did not find the fascinating swamps and the coast run was not that interesting and as for Port Arthur it was a huge industrial refinery town. And to add to this it decided to rain on me as well so very rapid change of plan was called for and I am now heading for the home comforts of Houston.
Just because the day did not turn out how I had imagined it to be does not mean it was all bad it was actually quite eventual and interesting. I saw some dolphins whilst on a ferry crossing in Cameron and later a strange thing in the water which when I got closer turned out to be a crocodile or alligator buggered if I know the difference swimming alongside me in a canal next to the road.
I had a hairy experience on the bike when it started to rain I finally found a place to pull of the road to put my waterproof’s on (As I said before in the US very difficult to stop as there is no sides to a road in most places) and where I stopped it was on bit of a slant so when I put the side stand down the bike was not very well-balanced as the angle was all wrong so after a bit of faffing trying to move the bike around so that I could get the stand down properly so that is was stable enough for me to get off (This has been an issue all trip as I had put a large metal foot on the bottom of the stand which is great when muddy or sandy and stops it sinking to far into the ground however the conditions need to be perfect for it to work on tarmac or in other words you need a perfectly level road which in reality you rarely get) So this in combination with my inadequate length of my legs (me being a serious short arse) somehow today I managed to get the stand down but as mention it was not yet stable however to get the stand up I needed to lean the bike over the other way which you can imagine is difficult with my little short legs with a fully loaded bike and to add my issues it was bloody hot and pissing down with rain. So I did not have the strength to do what was needed so I tried manoeuvring the bike and this dug the side stand further into the tarmac making the situation even trickier. So you would think all I needed to do was start the engine and use that to move me to a better position but Suzuki in their wisdom had built a kill switch that turned the engine off if you tried to ride with the side stand down so it was left to a tired Philly to manhandle the bike to a place that I could get of without dropping the bike. More than 30,000km and the last day of riding of part 1 of my trip and I was going to end up on my arse in an ungainly mess. After what seems like ages of man handling the bike I managed to get the side stand up so that could move the bike to a place where I could get off safely without dropping the bike. Nice little workout Not! So after regaining my composure waterproof’s on and that’s it I am heading straight to Houston.
So a long and challenging day in the saddle also I had a strange feeling as I knew this would be last day doing this for a while as I am heading back to the Netherlands to sort out my redundancy which comes final on the 1st October and I am not sure I can trust them to do this without me hovering in the background and being on hand to smooth the path if things go wrong (I was right as I already got a note from them saying that they had not yet received my choices form which I put in the internal post in June so I am expecting them to screw things up as that is all they are good at!)
After tackling Houston Rush hour on crap roads and in the rain I got to John and Angela and as I had promised myself it is time to fall of the wagon again so after a French shower (Douse yourself with deodorant) me John and Angela Rowley headed to a nice little local pub called the Petrol Station for some beer and food.
Nice end to a long day in the saddle I must admit I had been dreaming about my first beer in a month for the last 200km or so well if I am honest a little longer than that 🙂
Lekker beer, Lekker food and Good Company looking forward to the next couple of days 🙂