Friday, August 13, 2010

Great River Ride – Day 9 – Rain and the Gulf


We did not sleep well last night. Even though were exhausted from the riding the day before, we were kept awake by our neighboring guests. Venice is a small town that’s primary draw is fishing. It also caters to the offshore oil drilling crowd and is one of the main areas for coordinating the cleanup effort. The motel we stayed in was recently remodeled after Hurricane Katrina five years ago. Unfortunately, they didn’t bother to improve the sound proofing. It was clean, but the Venice Inn was easily the worst place we stayed at our entire trip. We were kept up by oil workers until very late. Somehow they managed to get up at 5am. Amazing. We didn’t leave the motel until 10:58, two minutes before checkout. So slow today.

real end to great river road la-23

We rode down the last bit (1/2 mile) of LA-23 and the end of the official “Great River Road”. It was anticlimactic for me. There was no sign mentioning the end. Just an arrow pointing to the turn in the road as LA-23 became a local road. We followed that road until it was closed by flood waters. I was disappointed not to see the gulf. Just lots of cool looking birds and a lot of water. I think there must have been a sign, but maybe it wasn’t replaced after Katrina. That storm has left a deep mark on this area that is still clearly visible five years later.

CI6345240030096225 CI48114240030096225

We turned around and started our ride north into the big black storm clouds surrounding New Orleans. The storm today was worse than yesterday. In addition to the high winds and tons of rain, we got to enjoy thunder and lightning. It was rained so hard in a couple sections, the drains couldn’t keep up the road was flooded in inches of water. At one stop light, I stopped the bike on the dotted white in the middle to keep to the “high” ground. I didn’t want wet feet again.

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Our rain gear worked great today and neither of us got very wet even though we rode in rain to torrential rain for over three hours. Due to the storm, I decided to skip the Pontchartrain Bridge and instead took the much shorter I-10 bridge east instead. We took I-10 into Mississippi and then picked up the very scenic US-90 east towards Gulf Port.

i-10 across lake pontchartrain CI698510430096226

Our first view of the beach and the gulf in Bay St. Louis

first view of beach on gulf

We intended to stay in Gulf Port tonight. Honestly, I wanted to go to Pensacola, FL, but the rain slowed us down way too much, so we re-adjusted at lunch. We never made it to Gulf Port, MS. When we got to Long Beach, the sun was shining with blue skies overhead and a beautiful white beach to our right. We saw a hotel and just stopped. We got the second to last room. Lucky for us it was on the top floor with an amazing view of the gulf!

View the gulf from our room in long beach,ms room with a view

We changed and went walking on the beach. It was nice to get away from the bike for a while. The beach was great until we realized what tar balls from the oil spill actually look like. They’re all over near the water. At first we didn’t notice, but the water is brown. I’m guessing from the oil spill. The water is also quite warm. We just dipped our toes in and then kept moving. The sand is a beautiful white and very fine. It looks a lot like granulated sugar or salt. Some of it is stained from the oil. It’s sad really how much of a mess the BP oil spill really made of the area.

tar balls on the beach from the BP oil spill toes in the gulf brown water from the bp oil spill

The walk around town for dinner was also nice. Long Beach, MS is a quiet town. It used to be a lot busier, but lots of people left after Katrina and the oil spill. There are empty lots all over the place near the water. This used to be a shopping mall. I think it looks better empty.

five years later you can still see the effects of hurricane katrina five years later you can still see the effects of hurricane katrina

The town is coming back. There are a couple small construction projects going, including a new city hall.

new long beach city hall five years later you can still see the effects of hurricane katrina

We had a great time here today. It was nice to take a break from the bike and the rain. Beautiful sunset too.

sunset in long beach, ms sunset in long beach, ms

You can see the storm on top of New Orleans…

sunset in long beach, ms

Tomorrow we plan on continuing our trek north and east to the Mountains. We rode 155 miles today, and have ridden 2430 miles on the trip so far as we approach the half way point.


Hmm.. no bike pictures. We’ll have to get a few tomorrow!


Full Flickr Album here

CI55567240030096225IMG_6058room with a viewIMGP7947IMGP7948tar balls on the beach from the BP oil spillour hoteltar balls on the beach from the BP oil spillIMGP7960oil in the sand from the bp oil spillfive years later you can still see the effects of hurricane katrinafive years later you can still see the effects of hurricane katrinafive years later you can still see the effects of hurricane katrinaIMGP7976IMGP7978IMGP7979IMGP7980sunset in long beach, mssunset in long beach, msTar balls on the beach :( damn you bp!


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  1. It's too bad about the disappointments Chris, but hopefully the weather will calm down. That storm yesterday was a bit of a tropical depression, I could see a little bit of a swirl going on. Looks like so far today there is good sailing ahead. I HATE being kept up all night by people in hotels. When my daughter and I went to NYC with friends a few years ago, we were kept up by unsupervised kids until the wee hours of the morning. It was insane. I wish my husband was there, he would have ended that. I called the desk and they said they would check but didn't. In the end I got a 30% discount on my charge. Next time that happens let them know, I'm sure they would rather give you a discount than deal with a bunch of drucken A-holes. Now that Friday the 13th is over maybe thing will turn and you'll have the perfect riding day!
    Ride Safe!

  2. Eve: Yea, a sign would have been nice. More rain today, so off we go to Mobile and Pensacola.

    Ugh, yea unsupervised kids are the worst. At least you got a discount. The lady running the Venice Inn was not friendly at all. Was it friday the 13th? We are so off on our days and dates. LOL. Good vacation I guess since we totally lost track of time. :)

    Time to go get wet!

  3. It does sound like you are having a great time. I'm sure the rain gear working helped on that score.

    It is sad to think of all the calamities the area you are riding through has faced over the last five years and will continue to face. It is difficult for me to wrap my mind around all that upheaval of peoples lives.


  4. Keith: Yes, yesterday and today were our two favorite days.

    Honestly, even seeing it I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around it.We had forgotten about Katrina, but it is still an issue for the gulf residents. Makes me wonder how other disaster areas are a few years down the road after the country's attention moves on.

  5. The ride has everything. All these new and humbling experiences would not occur if you hadn't left home. Isn't there something about being changed when we take to the road? Your day visiting the beach seemed like a really well deserved pause...Nice post!

  6. Sharon: Yes, it's part of the fun of traveling -- seeing new places and have new experiences. It has been really something to see the places that I've only seen on TV.