De Ridder, LA

I woke up before 5 am. Weird dream about being able to fly on the wind, but I had to do it in a large theater, jumping off the top balcony, where there was no wind.

Outside, there was thick fog, but I could see the lights of the 24-hour gas station next door. I had a bacon and egg sandwich and coffee for breakfast, went back to the motel for a few hours, and hit the road at 8:15 am. The day’s planned mileage was short, but according to the internet, there was supposed to be rain hitting the area at 1 pm. I was trying to beat the rain, or at least most of it, to the next motel.

not as foggy
There was light mist on the road, which cleared later in the morning. Extremely humid.
key
I pass hundreds if not thousands of objects on the road each day, and entertain myself thinking about the story behind each one. What did this key open? How was it lost?
road cable
Cables are common. The most common is a micro-usb, followed by ear buds. I wonder whether they are lost by cyclists or motorcyclists, or are thrown out of cars, or are just long-lived survivors of general trash.
swamp
This was a common scene this morning. There is swamp on both sides of the road, but instead of a bridge, there are conduits under the road to conduct the flowing water. The road surface itself may be only six to twelve inches above the water.
OJ and Boudain
At 10:15, I reached Bon Weir, and stopped at the gas station for OJ and a Boudain. This one was foil-wrapped in a crock pot. Very good – filling, and not too expensive. Reminds me of the Chinese “joong,” only with more spices.
George
Outside the store, I met George, a local who was accustomed to seeing long-distance tourists. I could tell that George was a cyclist, himself, by the way he discussed equipment. He was mostly retired, spending time managing their two homes in Texas and Louisiana. I asked him about the terrain, and he said that there was a small hill on the way to De Ridder, but other than that, flat.
hurricane evacuation route
It must be uphill, if it’s where people go to flee the storm surge. I had hoped to get a picture of a “Leaving Texas” or “Welcome to Louisiana” sign, but there were none. I passed unceremoniously over the border. So this will have to do.

Merryville was just after the Louisiana border. I must have hit a bump or something, because my cyclometer stopped working. I reseated the battery, and everything was fine after that. However, I lost the mileage measurement.

mystery crop
Just at the border of De Ridder, I saw fields of this crop. Soybeans? What could it be?

Soon after I entered the De Ridder city limits, it began to rain seriously. A woman stopped on the street intersecting the main highway ahead, and got out of the car in the driving rain to signal me. Almost as if on signal, the rain abated while we were talking. Mandie was a warmshowers.org host, and offered her place.

warmshowers trail angel Amanda (Mandie)
Mandie stopped to offer housing to me. The rain let up for just a few minutes when this picture was taken.

The only caveat was that Mandie was sitting 8 dogs. I declined the offered hosting, because I might be allergic. By coincidence, we were talking right across the street from a new Mexican restaurant, El Flamingo, where she was headed for lunch. I had not eaten either, at the time. We ended up having lunch together.

Mexican food with Mandie
At El Flamingo with trail angel Mandie.

Besides hosting on warmshowers, Mandie had her own business where she administered businesses and managed their books remotely. She said that she used to work much longer hours, but came to the conclusion that it was better to put in standard hours, and enjoy life. She hoped to save up enough to hike the Appalachian Trail (entire thing) in two to three years.

As we were finishing our food, the rain became audibly loud on the roof. Mandie said that she had a bike rack at home, one block away, and could transport me wherever I needed to go in town. She walked out into the pouring rain to get it. Meanwhile, I waded to my bike to start removing the panniers. The restaurant was being flooded in the auxiliary seating area, and one of the staff was trying to push out the encroaching water with some kind of sweeper.

front of restaurant
The water was rising. Cindy wasn’t even a Tropical Storm anymore, just a Tropical Depression. Surely, the low-lying sections of the road that I came in on must have flooded. How much worse must it be when a true Hurricane hits?

Mandie helped load my bike and gear into her car in the driving rain. As with all the other truly exciting times on this tour, I couldn’t get any pictures. She drove me up the street to show me where Wal-Mart and some other stores and restaurants were, then to the Skipper’s Inn as I requested. She even waited to make sure I got checked in all right, and drove the bike right up to the door of room 114.

Skipper's Inn
The Skipper’s Inn was only $107 including tax for TWO nights. And the room was large enough to easily store my bike out of the way.

This town was designed for drainage. An hour or two after the rain stopped, the streets were relatively dry, and I decided to walk up to Walmart.

walmart special on pizza
I was tempted to get a pizza at Walmart. The older ones that were 3 hours old were just $2.88 for the whole thing, hot.
walmart stuff
I got new cycling gloves at Walmart. What the picture doesn’t show is that the old ones have soaked up water like sponges, and smell like vinegar. I also got a half gallon Jumex, cantaloupe, and two bananas (one already eaten).

Mandie had recommended several restaurants – Los Mayas, Asia Buffet, and Steamboat Bill’s (although she said it was expensive). Even though I come from the land of Asian Buffets, I decided to try Chinese food.

Asia Buffet
I intentionally choose lots of vegetables and rice for each of my plates. There was also a limited sushi section, fruit and desert, and a deep fried section (which I avoided). All for $9.99 plus tax.

Miles today: 40 (estimate, not including 2 miles driven by Mandie)

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