Day Thirteen: Opelousas, Louisiana to DeRidder, Louisiana - Destination Unknown - CycleBlaze

October 22, 2021

Day Thirteen: Opelousas, Louisiana to DeRidder, Louisiana

I was up super early, refreshed after making up for the sleep I'd lost the night on the farm. I was only 20-something miles from the Adventure Cycling Southern Tier route, so I worked out a way to connect to it. An unadventurous idea, but it would hopefully make it easier to ride to my  final destination, which I'd decided would be Katy, Texas, home of my friends the Golbergs. After a couple of days visiting them, I planned to fly home from Houston.

After breakfast at the hotel, I rode past the busy interstate area and onto quiet city streets, past modest homes.

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Bill ShaneyfeltI'm not so great on mollusk IDs, but this one seems to be one of the good guys! Rosy wolf snail.

https://lucec.loyno.edu/natural-history-writings/rosy-wolfsnail-euglandina-rosea
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1 year ago
Jeff LeeTo Bill ShaneyfeltThanks, Bill. From the article you linked: "Their bodies are translucent enough that one can actually see the prey moving down the esophagus."

Too bad I didn't get to see that!
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1 year ago

In about five miles I was in the countryside, on Louisiana highway 104, which I'd ride almost all the way to the town of Mamou ("Mah-moo"), and connect there to the ACA Southern Tier bicycle route.

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Traffic was intermittently annoying on the shoulder-less, two-lane road, for the first five miles or so, but not horrible.

I pulled off the road at some sort of religious organization, the "Cursillo Center." No one was there. I walked around and tried to figure out what it was about.

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There were multiple statues of chickens, one of which was quite large. What was the deal with this place? 

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I moved on. Traffic on 104 was now very light. It was nice riding - the sun was out, but it hadn't become oppressively hot yet.

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I stopped at a country store called Blue Junction, bought an egg and cheese biscuit, a cookie, and a coke, and sat at a table. This was one of the friendliest places of the trip. The Cajun accents of the women working there were certainly the strongest yet. One of them engaged  me in conversation, and did most of the talking. She tried to convince me to try some Boudin, but I remained true to my vegetarian beliefs despite the temptation. 

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Back on the road it was getting hotter, but continued to be a nice ride all the way to Mamou (population 3,242.)

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I was now on the popular Adventure Cycling Southern Tier route, and as I'd anticipated, I soon met touring cyclists riding eastbound. The first were two brothers who were doing the entire route from San Diego to Florida. They gave me some tips about what was ahead; since I'd only been on the route for approximately five miles at that point, obviously any insight I could offer them was severely limited :)

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I've seen these several times. What are they?
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Bill ShaneyfeltCrayfish (crawfish/crawdad) traps.

https://netsandmore.com/27-products/fishing-nets-supplies/crawfish/nets-traps-wire/59-pyramid-type-crawfish-traps
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1 year ago

It was less pleasant - shoulder riding on a busy highway - to Oberlin (population 1,770).  Oberlin seemed kind of grimy, but of course that opinion might be strongly influenced by the route I rode into town on - there might have been verdant parks, tidy streets, etc. just a block or two from my route. I'll never know.

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I spotted a couple of cycle tourists taking a break on a sidewalk, and talked to them for a while. They were a married couple from Westchester, New York, doing the entire Southern Tier from San Diego. It was their first bike tour. As with the two brothers I'd met earlier, they were only carrying two small-ish rear panniers. They had no camping gear, even as a backup, and had been staying in motels for the entire coast to coast route.

That's a bold move in my opinion - and they apparently weren't even reserving places to stay ahead of time - and something I wouldn't have the nerve to do. I don't like sleeping in the tent, but I want to know it's an option if necessary.

It was forty-ish miles to DeRidder, a big town (population 10,578) by my bike tour standards. It was entirely on the wide shoulder of an extremely busy highway. Not my favorite thing, of course. Apparently there's quite a bit of this kind of riding on the Southern Tier.

There wasn't much to see all the way to DeRidder. I stopped at a small, sparsely stocked store in the community of Mittie, right on the highway, for a break, and had an ice cream sandwich. 

The place was notable for having the cleanest public restroom of this entire trip.

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Traffic picked up as I approached DeRidder. A few unloaded cyclists approached every so often on the other side of the busy highway, but all we could do was throw up our hands and wave. Back in Oberlin, I'd learned from the Westchester couple that this group was part of an Adventure Cycling van-supported tour of the entire Southern Tier. I'm almost afraid to imagine how much that kind of tour would cost - several thousand bucks, I'm sure. Despite the money that I'm blowing on sometimes overpriced lodging, I'm sure they are paying a lot more, for the convenience of someone else doing all the planning, for companionship, and of course for not having to carry all their gear like I do.

Getting into DeRidder during rush hour was no fun for a timid cyclist like me. I cut several miles from the busiest section by meandering through side streets before ending at the overpriced Quality Inn. Dinner was French fries and a milk shake at the nearby Dairy Queen.

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Today's ride: 90 miles (145 km)
Total: 906 miles (1,458 km)

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Kelly IniguezJeff,

One of my favorite wasting time activities is to look at bicycle companies' routes, gleaning good roads. I also note with a combination of glee and horror, the price people pay for the convenience of not doing the planning and packing.

For me, planning is a major piece of the fun of touring. I know not everyone has the time or inclination, they just want to get to the good part!

I'm taking a friend on a four day tour in southern Arizona. She is of the bicycle tour company persuasion and is quite concerned about going on our own. I hope she enjoys the trip.

True story - the last cyclist I tried to turn into a touring cyclist was Xavier. We did a four day tour, one of my favorites, the Slumgullion. When he got home, his wife asked for a divorce! I told Xavier I don't think being gone for four days was the problem, that issues had to go deeper than that. It is now years later. Xavier relates the divorce to cycling and no longer rides at all. Sad story all around.

Hopefully my trip with Jan goes better!
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1 year ago
Paula MartinGlad you had a better day! Hadn't thought about the Cursillo movement in a while, really interesting stuff, especially the teen program. Wonderful pics!
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1 year ago
Jeff LeeTo Paula MartinThanks, Paula!

I was too lazy at the time to even do a quick Google search about Cursillo, but I'll look into now that my trip is finished.

I enjoy randomly encountering things I know nothing about on these bike tours - that's one of the reasons I do them.

Hope you haven't had too much snow yet in Wyoming :)
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1 year ago
Jeff LeeTo Kelly IniguezHey Kelly,

Thanks for following my little Fall tour!

I remember looking at an ACA catalog once several years ago, and was shocked at how expensive the tours were - especially how much the "old-style", unsupported, mostly-camping ones cost.

I think I spent less in 2006 when I did the TransAmerica Trail by myself, and I stayed in (sometimes nice) lodging a lot of the time, and ate a lot of restaurant meals. Meanwhile, the ACA group I was riding behind that summer was camping in the heat and cold, and was carrying food and cooking supplies with them.

Good luck with your tour in Arizona. If you guys ever decide to do a tour in or near Kentucky, be sure to let Joy and me know. We'd be happy to assist in any way.

Thanks,
Jeff
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1 year ago