Tuesday, January 29, 2013

P4W2 Day 23 Silsbee, TX - Mittie, LA 99 miles

The bulk of today was spent in a wide shoulder on
two lane interstate roads.  I ran a serious slalom course
all day, weaving in and out of pieces of tires, small rocks,
spark plugs, and a really wide variety of other objects.  I even became a packrat and picked up an old pair of pliers.  Most
notably, however, I weaved in and out of loblolly pine debris -
chips, bark, sticks, and even some logs.  The loblolly is king
around here, and hundreds of trucks passed me enroute to paper
mills and sawmills.  It is only fitting that I post a photo
of loblolly bark, very similar in appearance to that of
the ponderosa pines of the Rockies that I traveled through two
weeks ago.

That kind of noise I experienced today and days recently past  - a south wind whining into my right ear, and trucks whizzing by my left ear, has made studying impossible... I brought a little pocket tape recorder with me to listen to my dry voice remind me of some really laconic fisheries and statistical formulas I need to know.  The sound of my own voice reciting some of this stuff also has turned out to be a pretty rough thing to listen to!

Some of the trucks at stop lights were
close enough to me that on the sawlogs the rings were easy to
count; their wide spacing indicated a growing season that almost
never stops.  Here it is in January and I am wishing for a cold
spell.  Even the mosquitoes have hatched down here already.  Some have invaded through the small cracks in my tent fly and I am swatting away as I write this. 

I said goodbye to Texas and entered Louisiana around midday.
Folks seem friendly here.  And the posted speed limit is less than Texas, which sure makes riding less of a rear-view mirror task than it seemed to be on two-laners in Texas.
A week ago I hadn't seen a riverbed with water.  Now water is
everywhere.  In this low-lying part of Louisiana - just
north of the bayou, the cypress stream are filled with tannin.
So you have tea colored water running over picturesque white sands.  The streams are higher due to the really heavy rains these parts received a couple weeks back.

The nice ladies at the Louisiana welcome center back Merryville called ahead to the White Sands Campground and said that the owner was very talkative.  They had a tough time getting him off the phone after making sure the place was open for business - or kind of open for business.  And the White Sands Campground is where I found myself for
the night after pulling in around dusk.  Rhett Pitre was a very, very colorful camouflage-dressed Louisiana native
that proceeded to charge me zero for the primitive camping (read: no shower) and then tell
me about his life - more or less his whole life.  I asked him to substantiate the holes where he was shot many years ago, and there they were.  Same goes for where he was hit with a pool stick. I wasn't sure how my request to take a photo of him and his chihuahua would be received so I kept my camera in my jersey.  Barred owls
and herons squawked from the nearby river bottom as Rhett talked well into
the night on the porch of his canoe livery.  Rhett occasionally punctuated the night air with giddy shrill whistles that would get the attention of dogs barking from farms nearby.  He encouraged me to eat all of the fried fish and other fried trimmings that the boys had cooked for him down at their swamp camp.  By the end of the evening Rhett had convinced me that he could catch, trap, shoot - or drink - anything the Bayou had to offer.  I politely declined his repeated offers to take Bayou sized swigs from his whiskey bottle.  I fought off tiredness and swatted bugs until I could resist sleep no longer.  I was glad I had a tent; the couch on the porch he suggested I crash on smelled very much like a cross between a wet dog and the deep south fried dinner whose odor had fully permeated my bike clothing.

Wow.  Steinbeck and I could have shared notes on this journey.

Note to Craig and Greg from the Houston bike club:  Great hearing from you guys! And thanks for offer to send photos:  my e mail for photo attachments: pjruders@ncsu.edu

1 comment:

  1. Keep it up, Paul. It sounds like there are fun parts of the trip interspersed with the endurance (both the physical endurance of the ride and the emotional endurance of the endless chatter when you reach your destination). I hope you enjoy the rest of your trip.

    "Generic encouraging quote"