With limited time, there really is only one way from Thibodaux to New Orleans, and that is to lean east of Lac des Allemands to join the Mississippi for the journey into the city.
It was an early start, tracing Bayou Lafourche. The night was heavy with rain, a close graze from tropical storm Imelda had showed us what we’d barely missed a few kilometres back down the road.
The rising sun was transforming the cool of the night. It licked up the damp in a wild frizz and humid sticky haze that clung to everything. Anywhere. All the time. We were soaked through to our skins, with little reprieve. Tracing the high levy close to the bayou, we continue to pass the remnant ghosts of historic plantations all adorned in tricolour ribbons and southern moss. Not at all silent but a hiss in the morning still and the steaminess.
We were sucked along in the wake of traffic heading up highway 90 north. Crossing Des Allemands, with a glass flat tide. It’s lush shallows giving way to this molasses black water. So sticky and slow, it clung to the edges of dry land barely a few inches above the waterline. Within it lived wild things sauntering and circling. Monsters.
Beyond that there is this bridge, the Huey P. Long bridge. Just another ‘big ol’ steel car and rail crossing from one side of the Mississippi to the other. It reminded me of that ‘gator’ we had seen days earlier. This enormously long tail of an on-ramp flicking out at an angle to the main reptilian body, which rested on its four huge feet spanning the great river.
We continued and climbed and climbed until the mile wide Mississippi River was clearly visible far below. We rode the scales of the beast, crossed the great muddy and dropped down and deep into the heart of old New Orleans.
We had made it. We had crossed over the river to rest in the shade of the other side. We had ridden bayou and backroads all the way from Houston to The Big Easy.
Mischief waited within.
Long ago in a bike shop not so far away, some dudes said they could do this. Now they’re living the dream. Or at least they’re still dreaming.
Just the nicest bike shop. Spent an age just chatting to Tim. Sharing war stories and all things axle grease. Definitely worth a visit if you need a bike, a fix or just a box back home.
‘There is a house in New Orleans, they call the Rising sun, it’s been the ruin of many a poor boy and god I know I’m one.’
It exists, hell we thought it was a myth. But there in the middle, in the very middle of Bourbon street we found it. Horse was relieved and I was amazed. As within was playing a rendition of The Alman Brothers – it’s not my cross to bare. We hadn’t just arrived in the big easy, we’d been reborn. The house of the Rising sun was everything the Animals said it would be. We became locals is short order. Legends were made that day.
So mothers, tell your children… not to do what I have done, don’t send them to the house of the… well, you know the words.
All sin and misery.