Day Seventy, Date Saturday, May 9 2009
Time in Saddle: 8:10
Distance for the Day: 86.1 miles From Lake Charles To Lafayette, LA
Accumulated Trip Distance: 3123.5 miles
Altitudes: Starting/Ending 300’/301’, Highest: 349’ Accumulated: 220’
Speeds: Avg: 10.5 mph, Max: 49.9 mph (unlikely)
Weather: 70° humid, high, broken cumulo-stratus clouds
Woke at 6:30, on the road at 7am, headed for Lafayette, and almost lost my GPS unit! Before setting off, I checked and recorded my location, set it down on my trike, messed around a bit, and then took off. I rode up the highway a mile or so, and remember hearing something go “clatter,” but looked back and didn’t see anything, figured I hit a bit of road debris, and kept going. I stopped and got up a moment about a half-mile later, and noticed my pannier was still open. I then realized I didn’t secure my GPS, and instantly knew what happened. I rapidly went back along the road, looking for it, all the way back to the spot where I used it. This was the quick scan, to see if it were just lying on the road where someone might notice it and pick it up. I then went forward slowly, looking carefully. I had passed nicely manicured lawns, and sections of areas where the vegetation was un-cut. About a mile from the start point, I located it in the roadside vegetation. Whew! First the goggles, and now the GPS – lost and then found. Gotta stop doing that! Stopped in at a mini mart at 8:08am for a hot coco and Danish ($3), and a Subway in Roanoke at 11:30am for a “meal deal,” ($10). I spent three hours at Subway to catch up on blogging during the hotter part of the day. When I got going again at 3:30pm, it was still quite warm at 92°, but the humidity was less, so it wasn’t so bad. Stopped in Welsh for a cold soda, some fruit and carrots ($5) and to clean my goggles. Hwy 90 paralleled some railroad tracks, and every now and then, a side road would go over the tracks to access the other side of them from the highway. At 5:11pm, I thought it would make a cool picture to put my trike up on the tracks and take a picture like I was going down them, so I brought my trike up to the tracks, put the camera on the tripod, and set the picture up. I heard a horn in the distance, and looked up and down the tracks, but didn’t see anything. Hmph! I continued to set the picture up, and then I heard that horn again. I looked up, and could now see the headlight of the approaching train. Oh, shit! I grabbed the front end of the trike and pulled it over the track, and then the back tire hit the track, so I pulled on it to pull it over, and it didn’t move! Yipes! Mr. Adrenaline to the rescue – I pulled again, and this time the back tire came up and over the track, and I rolled my trike down off the track bed, and over to the road, again. It wasn’t really *that* close, as it took another minute or two for the train to get to my location, but it got my little heart a pumpin’, let me tell you.
Continuing on, I passed through a handful of towns, Jennings, Mermentau, Estherwood, Crowley, Rayne, Duson. It was around Duson that I realized, I was getting close to Lafayette, and I could make it to my Warmshowers hosts, Becky and John’s home. I called them up, and asked if it would be okay to come in a day early (sure!), but that I’d probably get there maybe as late as 10pm. Still okay. Great! I ate the other half of my Subway sandwich, and took off, pumping hard to try to get to Lafayette ASAP. Of course, at 3108.5 miles I got my 14th flat (another wire fragment) at 8:10pm; my starboard front tire. I took about 25 minutes to fix it in the last moments between dusk and dark. I then went a bit further, and stopped in at a gas station to check StreetAtlas for more precise directions into town, when a cop pulled in and checked me out (ran my ID, asked questions, etc.), all making me even more late. He was interested in me, because the gas station I stopped in was *closed* (I didn’t even realize it), and they’d been having problems with break-ins, there. Terrific. So, I continued forward through the dark of night, and finally made my way to the incredibly beautiful home of my Warmshowers hosts, Becky and John W. They own and operated the local version of REI (outdoor sports supply shop and kayaking/bicycle trip tours), and had done very well with it, probably in good part because they still loved their work, even after having been in the business for more than a decade. We chatted a bit, and then they showed me to my guest bedroom with private bathroom, whereupon I took my warm shower, switched my used clothes for fresh ones, and got to sleep. As is my custom, I didn’t use their bed, but just rolled out my sleeping bag on the floor (I like to mess up my hosts’ facilities as little as possible).