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Tuesday, May 11th 2010

12:00 AM

New Orleans Bike Week, May 2010, Part 2


Saturday, May 8th 2010

Last Day in New Orleans


I got up this morning and found that they have laundry facilities in the hotel where I was staying and since I had been sweating profusely for the past 2 days I decided to clean up my clothes. As my clothes were washing I ran in to a couple or people from Tennessee that were very nice. I don't remember their names but the girl had some kind of cheerleading shirt on. I regaled them with the continuing story of my adventure and a couple of poems that were well received. After doing my clothes, I figured it was time for me to get out and site see a little bit. I did not want to go back to the craziness of downtown so I decide to head out to the lake front to take in the sites out there. Where I needed to exit to go to the Causeway and West End Boulevard they were doing roadwork and traffic was backed up for about a mile and I had to push my bike along for almost an hour. While I was pushing my bike along this young lad on a Honda Shadow Saber with a very fine flame paint job came up by me and we had conversations between times the traffic would move a little bit. He seemed to be a very nice lad. He was headed to the Boyce Honda shop right off the exit. For at least 30 minutes of our wait time, he was looking at the back door of the shop he was headed to. Finally he had a clear spot where he could go through some dirt and pull into the back of the bike shop so he split off and I finished my arduous trip down the exit and onto the Causeway Boulevard.


I was so extremely hot and exhausted I pulled into the first gas station/convenience store that I came to whereupon I met this very nice man that was running the shop. I asked him how to get from there to where the lakefront is with as little traffic entanglements as possible. I don't know if it was a problem with understanding each other or what, but his directions were sending me opposite of where I needed to go. I backtracked to another convenience store and stopped to try to get some better directions whereupon I asked a customer coming out and he was very knowledgeable and helped me tremendously. He sent me in the opposite direction of what the first guy told me which was exactly where I needed to go, Veterans Boulevard which intersects with West End Boulevard and then to Lakeshore Drive - yeah! If he reads this blog, I want to thank him tremendously for leading me in the right direction. I told him the reason I was going out there was to take a trip down memory lane. He told me that all the places that were out by the lakefront had been destroyed in Hurricane Katrina and not rebuilt. But me, being a glutton for punishment, had to see it with my own eyes. He was right. The restaurant, Fitzegeralds, and the lounge, The Porthole, looked like 5-o'clock stubble of pilings on the edge of the water. This broke my heart but I still have my memories and I keep them in a very safe place - between my ears.


So I turned around and headed back to I-10, and came on back to the hotel room. Of course, stopping to replenish my stock of brew. When I got up to my room I cranked the AC up full blast and cooled down the room and made plans to pack up and head out early tomorrow. I don’t want to have to fight so much traffic to head out to the causeway 26-mile bridge, which I sure hope is worth it to ride across. Note: I found out that you have to pay a toll to come into New Orleans on the bridge, but not to go out of New Orleans. So just by accident, I made the right choice to not come in on the bridge but to leave by it.


I’m glad I came but I’m ready to head back home.


Sunday, May 9th 2010

The Road Home


I left the hotel in New Orleans this morning intending to leave on the 26-mile bridge. Since I came in on the wrong end of Lake Pontchartrain to catch the bridge, I had to wait until I left for home. I headed down I-10 west towards the Causeway Boulevard. Once on the boulevard I stopped at a gas station to fill up and prep for the days trip and the first day ride towards home. While in the convenience store a nice lady noticed I had Biker Poet on my vest so she asked me to do a poem. I did a couple poems and she liked them. Wish I could remember her name. I've met so many nice people that the names have gotten confused in my mind. I told her if she'd email me I'd send her a copy of the poems I did for her (Cry and Life). Then I headed toward the causeway and was stopped by the causeway officer and told I could not go across the Causeway Bridge today on a motorcycle because the wind was too high. Which of course upset me because I had planned and looked forward to it but I understood that they were trying to protect me.


So I talked with her and the other officer a few minutes and did a couple of poems. She said she wanted to check out my website and sign my questbook. She'll call herself 'The Causeway Lady' so I’ll know who it is.


I headed back down the boulevard and caught I-10 again to go over to I-55. When I got across the lake in Hammond, I stopped to top off my gas tank and get some one-of-a-kind goodies at the convenience store like pralines, dried shrimp, and Cajun peanuts before I left. Of course I talked to a couple of people there at the convenience store and was asked to do some poems for them, which everyone seemed to like. Then I headed up I-55 into Mississippi.


I stopped at the Loves truck stop in McComb, Mississippi that I had stopped at on the way to New Orleans and was asked for another performance of poetry and met some more new and very nice people there. My next stop on I-55 was in Hazelhurst where I stopped at a Stuckey's to get a bite to eat and ended up talking to the owner who was a lady from India. She was nice and was very impressed with my poetry. While I talked with her, one of her customers overheard some of my poetry and said he liked it also.


I made the turn at Jackson on to I-20 and followed it to cross the Mississippi River at Vicksburg, Mississippi. I turned off I-20 at Tallulah, Louisiana onto Hwy 65, which was very scenic. I ran through a small town called Transylvania and the water tower had a bat on it. While riding next to a levee a sea gull flew underneath my bike and hit my shin on my left leg and disintegrated all over my leg and the side of my bike, making a big mess and bruising my shin. I stopped at the very next gas station to clean up my motorcycle and myself.


At the next town I took a picture of my bike next to a large historic location sign that said it was the house where the Louisiana Purchase was signed. I continued up Hwy 65 and ran through several small towns including Lake Village. I had originally planned to go camping there on my way down to New Orleans and will definitely camp there if I go that way again - it was beautiful. At McGee Arkansas I stopped to refuel and talked with a really nice guy who gave me a weather report from his I-phone and showed me the satellite view which was very nice of him. I hope he reads this because I'd like to thank him again.


As I proceeded up Hwy 65 there was rain on either side but right over the road where I was riding, there was a big hole in the clouds with a blue spot where I was riding. As dusk came I was getting close to Pine Bluff, Arkansas and could smell rain in the air. A few sprinkles hit my windshield and for the better part of valor I decided to get a hotel room for the night and ride the rest of the way home in the morning.


Monday, May 10th 2010

Different forms of Bravery


At the Super 8 hotel where I stopped in Pine Bluff, they were nice enough to allow me to park my bike under the overhang at the entrance to the hotel, which was good, because it did rain overnight.


The next morning, as I went down the hall of the motel, following enticing smells of the continental breakfast, I decided I needed to go the restroom across the hall before I ate. As I entered into the restroom and looked down at the thrown, I noticed a rather large brown recluse spider peering up at me. For you who are unfamiliar with the said brown recluse, it is a very dangerous spider who can do serious bodily harm if not kill you. He looked up at me and noticed me having noticed him. Much to my surprise and joy, he leapt off the edge of the commode seat into the water thereby rendering him into a vulnerable possession where I could press the lever and relieve him of his life, him being caught in the vortex of water, expelling him from my reality. Then, feeling proud that I had taken care of the situation to the best of my ability, I went back to the continental breakfast room to reward myself with breakfast.


One of the things along the breakfast counter to make was a waffle station. Not being all that familiar the making of waffles, I read the instructions posted upon the wall behind it. I poured the batter into the hot tray, closed the top, and it began to beep at me. Somehow what I had read on the wall left my mind and I had to re-read the instructions because it was messing with my mind to have it beep at me. Reading it again, I read that you are supposed to flip the waffle maker onto its pivoting point as soon as you close it so I did that. Which starts a timer and allows the waffle to cook on it's own. Then when I flipped it over and popped it out onto a plate it was crisp and done to perfection. I believe, even though I have not had and former culinary training, maybe it's time for me to call Chef Paul and tell him I'm his new waffle maker since, on my first attempt, I had created such a perfect, crisp waffle. Now I followed down the rest of the breakfast counter and decided not to eat the cereal, which I wasn't hankering for at the moment.


The next part of this story you may not totally understand, the basic reader of my blog. A friend of mine who prefers to be called Biff, and I, have a running joke with each other. I don't know how the whole thing got started, but my buddy Biff came up with this thing, but whenever you have to face something that is hard or difficult in your life you must eat your gravy and it will make you brave.


Now, getting on with the breakfast story, I noticed a crock-pot with a top on it at the end of the counter. Being an inquisitive human being, I had to look into it and see what it was. Much to my surprise I found it was a pot of gravy. Whereupon I finally got it, like a blinding ray of light, the meaning of what gravy is. It is that warm, somewhat gelatinous feeling of the gravy going down your throat that gives you the bravery to face any oncoming foe or life experience that comes your way. I turned and walked back to the front door of the Motel and looked out at the rain falling in the parking lot. It had not changed from when I first looked out this morning, but somehow I felt braver having to face such a foe as water coming from the clouds. So it gave me a whole new inspiration to go back to my room and put on my stuff, pull my head out of the sand and face life’s little pitfalls - yeah. Yet, somehow, I think I shall regret my bravery and all the gravy that’s in me. I'm ready to face it and chase it.


Monday, May 10th 2010

The Next Leg of the Journey Home


When I headed out from Pine Bluff the sky was gray but the cloud ceiling was high. I made good time going up Hwy 65. On my right and left were freshly plowed fields for planting rice and soybeans. I looked off in the distance and could see what I call 'glory rays' of sunshine coming through the few holes in the clouds. The cloud ceiling began to drop more and more, bringing the clouds closer to the ground.


When I got to Little Rock, Arkansas, remembering what a bus driver had told me at the hotel, I looked for Interstate 630 West. The highways around Little Rock were being worked on in several places making travel around Little Rock a very harrowing experience. They have entrances and exits from both sides of the 3-lane highway and the people driving on these highways don't seem to be paying attention to any other traffic on the road - especially motorcycles. Thinking I was on the correct hwy and going the correct direction, I continued on 630 west. I passed Hwy 430 North and South and shortly after that, I found myself on a city street in Little Rock as hwy 630 just ended and it seemed I was deposited into the center of the city, which I did not want to be in. I stopped at a Simmons Bank to ask directions and there was a nice young man that pointed me in the correct direction - back to highway 430. The signs on the highways around Little Rock are not good. There was no forewarning when you were getting to a different highway cutoff and with the exits going off opposite sides of the highway you almost had to be clairvoyant to know which lane you should be in.


I found Hwy 430 North and was told that Interstate 40 West towards Fort Smith would be my next exit. Much to my surprise, Hwy 430 split into two branches, the left being I-40 west and the right being I-40 East which became very harrowing again as I had to make my way across three lanes of traffic to get to the exit I needed. Making it to the right road, I was extremely happy with myself and my abilities to ride. I'm glad to be out of Little Rock and now it's a straight shot to Fort Smith then north on I-540 to home.


Monday, May 10th 2010

Riding in the Rain


While heading down I-40 west, the dark clouds dipped down very low. At this point I was assured that I was going to get wet. Soon after that the rain started coming. I had my Frog Tog rain jacket on but I didn't put the pants on because at the time it was not raining and they are very hot. Note to self - remember to put your rain pants on next time.


As I was continuing down I-40 the rain got heavier and heavier and the wind began to blow hard directly at me. As I was continuing down the Interstate about to pass a slow car (I was in the left lane and the slow guy in the right) a small car doing approximately 100 mph came zooming up in the right lane almost running into the car I was passing. He jammed on his brakes then shot the gap between me and the car I was passing, narrowly missing my front tire. I had to slow down to try to avoid him hitting me as he cut across into my lane - what an idiot.


Sometime after that I noticed my fuel running a little low so I stopped at a gas station along the way whereupon I got into a conversation with a young man driving a van. He said that I had passed him a ways down the highway and that he had also seen the idiot in the small car driving like a maniac. He was very nice and we had a good conversation - again I wish that I could remember his name.


I got back on I-40 west and it was still pouring rain and a while later I passed by a biker on a Harley. He was dressed in full leathers and he looked miserable. I continued on to the last exit before I needed to turn on I-540 to go home to Rogers, Arkansas where I live. After getting my gas, I talked with the people in the convenience store and was telling them part of the story of this trip. A short time later that same Harley rider caught up with me and pulled into the gas station so I went over to talk to him. He said he had seen me blow by him on the highway and was amazed that I looked so dry (of course, wearing my Frog Tog jacket and my BDU pants which both dry very quickly). He was wearing full leathers that were soaked and drooping and looked like they weighed 100 lbs. He was not a happy camper. He made a funny sloshing noise as he walked and left a trail of water behind him, much like a slug. I looked at his bike and noticed that tied to his ape-hanger handlebars was a Mexican Woobie blanket that was so sopping wet the ends were hanging down with water dripping out. I felt sorry for him, but at the same time, on the inside I was laughing.


I got on my bike and made the next exit onto I-540 and began to ride out of the rain. By the time I got to Mountainburg and the Bobby Hopper Tunnel it was not raining any more. By the time I got to Fayetteville I felt my pants and they were completely dry except for right above my boots. I saw my exit coming up and though I was sad that my adventure was almost over, I was sure glad to see that exit.


I pulled up in my driveway at 3:33pm and took a gander at my house and was happy to find it in exactly the same condition as I had left it - except for the grass had grown.


Now I could be bummed out that I got wet on the last leg of my trip, but instead I chose to accept it as part of the adventure. It’s good to be home.

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