Today’s distance / ???????: 44.1 miles / 70.9km
Average speed / ????: 8.8mph / 14km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 4h 59m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 1948mi (plus 266mi) / 3136km (plus 430km)
Ascent / ??: n/a
Descent / ??: n/a
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N18.104.22.168, W091.09.32.6
At last the rain has cleared, leaving a beautiful day in its wake. Even better, I had a tailwind for most of the day. Thank you to the Martins for a wonderful two days resting at their place!
I wasn’t expecting much in the way of smooth roads today, and I was seriously considering skateboarding on the Interstate highway, I-12. I was half way down the entry ramp when I decided not to, and continued down US-190.
For most of the way from Holden to Walker, there was no shoulder on US-190, and I had to skate very defensively. Traffic was light to moderate. After Walker, I had a smooth, passable 3-foot shoulder that would at least keep me outside the white line.
Arriving in Baton Rouge at 4pm, I made it to the UPS Store just in time for the skies to open. It was a deluge. I had to go to the UPS Store to pick up a GPS data cable, supplied by Charlie Gonzalez of Pensacola. The staff were great, and I was able to put together another log book to replace the old one that was full.
I fill this log book in each night, and include as much information as possible about the day. It includes road conditions, weather, distances, food, breaks…
From the UPS Store to where I am staying tonight is about ten miles. One hour by skateboard. It is raining cats and dogs. Baton Rouge is a death trap for anyone on the roads, especially if you’re on a bicycle or a skateboard. There are no shoulders, and no footpaths. This time, I was not going to back off. The Interstate it is!
I covered my pack with a big bin liner, put on my waterproof clothing, and I set out. I kept more or less dry for the first half hour. Interstate 12 has wide shoulders, and I skateboarded towards east-bound traffic. It was rush hour, but no one was rushing. Traffic was bumper to bumper, crawling along. I felt safe.
The wind was miraculously still behind me, pushing me west to Christina and Raphael’s home. I passed three police cars, and they didn’t seem to care about the guy on a skateboard. I got to the junction with I-10 and had to cross two lanes of traffic to keep on the shoulder. It was pitch black, with only street lights and car lights to give me some direction.
I stepped across a short wedge of grass that petered out to a point as the two interstate highways converged. I-12 into I-10. I took another step, trying to time my progress so that I could dash through a gap in the slow moving traffic.
With the next step, I stepped into what I thought was going to be a shallow puddle. With the rain still beating down, there were puddles everywhere. This step was also my committing step to begin my dash across the I-10 exit ramp. With one great effort I planted my foot…into nothing.
I went down like a sack of bricks as my foot disappeared into the black water. My foot never hit the bottom, but my upper thigh took the brunt of the fall into the side of the ditch, sending me toppling towards traffic.
This time my leg hurt more than my pride, a great burning sensation welling up from the front of my thigh. The two closest cars stopped, and let me across. What a dimwit, I thought. That was no puddle, it was a deep drainage ditch or culvert, hidden under water.
I had no other option but to push on, my leg throbbing. In another 30 minutes I was at Christina and Raphael’s place. Sodden. Their place, you realise, is immaculate. Clean and crisp, there is a faint aroma of incense. And here I am dripping wet and covered in road grime.
Christina doesn’t seem to mind at all. Happens all the time, or at least you’d think so by her reaction. She pulls me inside and shows me to the bathroom where I can take a shower and get changed into my dry clothes.
Christina and her husband Raphael are Couchsurfing.com hosts. They open their home to travelers who need a place to crash for the night. They are both originally from Mexico, Raphael a PhD student studying fish farming. I had kept them waiting. Christina had made a large batch of pasta with a delicious asparagus and chicken sauce. Thank you for a great restful evening, guys!