Day 1 - New Orleans (airport Holiday Inn Express) to Sorrento, LA (Cajun Village Cottages) - Seeking A Bicycle Warrior's Death, Part II: The Great Rivers South - CycleBlaze

September 22, 2022

Day 1 - New Orleans (airport Holiday Inn Express) to Sorrento, LA (Cajun Village Cottages)

Flat and Hot Roll On The First Day of Fall

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Statistics, Useful & Otherwise;

Elevation Gained Today; 308 ft                Cumulative; 590 ft

Roadkill Seen Today;     2 Hawks     

Found Money Today;                                     Cumulative; $0.02

Lodging Cost Today;     $126.48                 Cumulative; $126.48

Average Speed While Riding Today; 11.6 mph

Summary of Today's Ride; Flat and hot.

I was reminded of how far south I am by this tree in the hotel parking lot.

Palm Tree At The Holiday Inn Express
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The difference in humidity inside in the air conditioning and outside is significant; the camera lens hadn't adjusted when I shot the above picture and it was foggy.

About half of today's ride was on the Mississippi River levy trail.  The trail is paved, smooth, and makes for easy stress-free riding.  When it ended I found myself mostly on various state highways, with traffic volumes that varied from high to medium.  If you are looking for a serene ride on low-traffic roads, this isn't it.  But it was a safe ride because there was always a shoulder.  Experienced cyclists would do well on today's route, but parts of it weren't pleasant because of the highway-speed traffic whizzing past. 

This part of Louisiana is highly industrialized.  I passed refineries and other oil-industry operations operating close by the Mississippi River for the convenience of shipping products.  There were plenty of services along today's route, both restaurants and convenience stores.

Foggy Lens Photo Of Mississippi River Industry
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I think it's interesting to see how the ACA describes Louisiana in general; following are some snippets from the ACA maps.

[begin ACA snippets] The only banana republic north of the Rio Grande covers an area of about 51,000 square miles...Louisiana is an enigma in the deep south and America in general, and it begins with the basics.  Since its inception, Louisiana has gone through nine constitutions generated by a political system historically populated with a multitude of baronies, courthouse gangs, warhorses and political machines.  [end ACA snippets]

But none of the above had any impact on my ride today.  This area suffered a lot of devastation from Hurricane Ida last year.  The below pic shows damage that was probably due to Ida.  It's also interesting to note how the house is built way off the ground to allow for flooding; I saw a lot of homes like that today. 

Damage From Hurricane Ida?
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I did manage to see a wee bit of wildlife today in swampy areas near the highway.

Great Egrets (thanks to Bill Shaneyfelt for the i.d.)
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Bill ShaneyfeltNot enough detail to be sure, but probably a great egret.

https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Great_Egret/id
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6 days ago
Great Blue Heron (thanks to Bill Shaneyfelt for the i.d.)
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Bill ShaneyfeltGreat blue heron

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_blue_heron
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6 days ago

I had lunch at a Creole House restaurant today.  It was okay - the food was good but the wait staff were overworked and it took a long time to get served.  I didn't mind because it was an escape from the heat and a bit of relaxing inside with cold iced tea for me, but other patrons were less forgiving.

Okay, so let me tell you about my lodging tonight - I don't even know where to start! This place is cool, I'm congratulating myself for discovering it cause it isn't real obvious.  First, let me start like this; last night while returning from downtown New Orleans on the river trail, I got a call that I answered on my smartwatch (my cell phone rides inside the handlebar bag but the watch can answer a call if it's close to the cell phone).  It was Theresa, the very nice lady who runs the restaurant here at the Cajun Village and also rents out a few cottages that are hidden in the woods behind the Cajun Village. She was calling to let me know the restaurant would be closed - I had planned on having dinner there tonight and my cottage rental came with a breakfast at the restaurant, so that was bad news for me. 

But it's the reason that it's closed that is the most interesting aspect.  A Hallmark Christmas movie is being filmed in the restaurant, and the entire Cajun Village is closed off and has police guards at all the entrances.  I suppose the police are there because some folks may try to sneak in to get a view of the actors?  I'm on the outskirts of Sorrento, LA and the movie will be called something like "Sorrento Family Christmas" and is expected to be shown during Thanksgiving week.  So how's that for cool, huh?  I don't usually watch Hallmark movies, but the wife does - but I will watch this one, if only so I can see the restaurant I didn't get to eat in! 

As I got close to the Cajun Village area today, the traffic was really thick.  Both entrances to the Village were blocked off and a police car was guarding them.  There is a separate gravel drive that leads to the Cajun Cottages I am staying in - from the road you can't see them at all, all you see is a gravel drive and there is no signage so most folks wouldn't even know they are here.  But you could walk through the woods and get to the Village from here, so there was also a police car guarding the gravel drive that leads to these cottages.  Theresa had apparently let them know I was coming, because the officer in the car just waved at me as I cycled past him and went on down the drive.  Once you get a block down the drive and are hidden from the road, you must stop and walk through a fence to your cottage.  Here's a photo to help you visualize the scene.

Cajun Cottages
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There are 8 cottages in total, but Theresa told me that 3 of them were damaged from Hurricane Ida and not being used.  There is also a barn and another building or 2 that's behind me in the photo above.  Here's my cottage for the night;

My Home For The Night
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Inside, the cottage has been decorated with period furniture to give it a quaint feeling.

My Cottage is Quite Comfy
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Inside My Cottage
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The history of these cottages is amazing.  They were built about 1900 in Baton Rouge and were what Theresa described as being "Spanish Cottages."  They appear to be what I have heard described as being a "shotgun house."  In Baton Rouge they had become run-down and were suffering badly from lack of maintenance.  Theresa's husband is quite handy and he bought 10 or so of these and moved them here, then repaired/restored them.  So I'm staying in a place tonight that's 120+ years old - wow!  

I was a bit surprised to find that they had wifi, because they are hidden off in the woods - but I suppose it's not that hard to run a cable - and the wifi works great.  I travel with 3 days of bicycle clothing and will be out of clean clothes tomorrow night - I was hoping to find a laundry tomorrow night near my motel - so I was very pleasantly surprised to find a laundry here in my cottage!  Now I have enough clean outfits to make it to my first rest day in Natchez - I just have to get there first, and that's a big challenge.

It's a little "eerie" being the only one here in the cottages in the woods, but I've certainly stayed in some places that were much more so (Spooky Church in Jeffrey City, WY).  But I think I have a police guard all night long, so I'm about as protected as one could be.  

I rolled alongside the Mississippi River for a lot of today's ride.   Even though I was close to it a lot, it was often hidden from view by a levy.  But I knew it was there, just like I can't see you folks following along with me but I know you are there. I've stayed up late to catch up on the journal - but hey, who loves you if I don't?   G'night folks - hey, want to see some more wildlife first?  How about some animals?

Today's ride: 53 miles (85 km)
Total: 92 miles (148 km)

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Kelly IniguezOur daughter lived in Houma, LA for ten years. We toured several plantations while visiting. Your first photo of the cottages reminds me of the slave cabins at the plantations.

Good sleuthing job on lodging. I'm always happy with myself when I make a good find.
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6 days ago