Today’s distance / ???????: 51.7 miles / 83.3km
Average speed / ????: 8.9mph / 14.8km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 5h 49m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 1865mi (plus 266mi) / 3002km (plus 430km)
Ascent / ??: n/a
Descent / ??: n/a
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N22.214.171.124, W090.06.17.2
Anyone from this area will tell you it is not 51 miles from Slidell to Convington. They will tell you it’s about 35 miles. Where did the extra miles come from, you might ask. They came from going around and around in circles, trying to find smooth and traffic free roads. Back roads, side roads, main roads with shoulders…anything that I could skate on safely. None were to be found today however, and for the first time in the US, I seriously considered skating on the Interstate highway (big nastly expressway).
I began the day well, despite having to say goodbye to lovely Renee and Jamie who had let me stay for a couple of days and see the Mardi Gras parade in Slidell.
By chance, I stopped in at a huge strip mall in West Slidell, and leaving the car park, I noticed some signs indicating bicycles crossing. Investigating further, I found that I was at the beginning of the Tammany Trace, an awesome 31 mile cycle path from Slidell to Covington. Fantastic. The great thing about a cycle path is that I can listen to music at full volume and just switch off. No having to concentrate on staying within a road shoulder, no contending with stones and glass on the road…bliss.
I arrived at Covington at the end of the trail at about 4pm. From here I headed to US highway 190, but soon gave up on that one due to no paved shoulders and too much traffic. I took some back streets back to Covington, and ended up camping out at a public boat launch in Menetre Park in Covington. Just before I got into my tent a local police officer on his regular rounds passed by and asked what I was doing. They don’t get too many people camping out in that area, and he had to call another officer to see if it was OK. It seems it was, him letting me stay. I gave me the local police dapartment phone number to call if I had any troubles, and reassured me that officers would be coming by regularly on rounds and would keep an eye on my tent.
I woke up on Saturday to heavy rain and wind. No the optimal skating weather by any means. It was an easy decision to hang out at Renee’s place for the day. The next day was a pre-Mardi Gras parade in the city, so it was an easy decision to stay Saturday night too.
I spent some of the morning on Saturday sweeping out the barn to keep warm and active.
Renee is a horse trainer, however she and her daughter Jaimie are in the throws of uprooting their life in Louisiana to return to their house and home in Florida. A once lively horse stable slowly got quieter as clients came and picked up their horses to move them to other locations.
It was evident that despite being happy to be heading back home to Florida, Renee and Jamie still felt the pain of closure at the farm, shedding tears as the horses left and once clients, now friends, drove away.
Later in the evening, we visited Miss Hazel, Miss Patsy, and Miss Elizabeth down the road. A raukus bunch – lots of laughs!
Sunday saw more raukus madness with a local Mardi Gras parade through town. Copious, copious amounts of beads were dispensed by the passing floats.
In defiance of the rapidly cooling day, we stoked up a campfire next to Renee’s trailer in the evening. Renee’s long time friend Darrel, a songwriter Renee met while living in Nashville, visited and reminised with Renee through song. Incredible melodies and fine guitar playing filled the clear full moon night with a peaceful joy.
Today’s distance / ???????: 58.6 miles / 94.2km
Average speed / ????: 9.6mph / 15.5km/h
Time on skateboard / ????: 6h 05m
Total skateboarding distance to date / ????????????: 1814mi (plus 266mi) / 2919km (plus 430km)
Ascent / ??: n/a
Descent / ??: n/a
End-of-day GPS coordinates: N126.96.36.199, W089.43.18.4
I had to have my smooth roads radar set on high today, weaving in and out of neighbourhoods in Biloxi, Gulfport, Long Beach, and Pass Christian along the Gulf of Mexico coast of Mississippi.
Traffic was not much of an issue – their were no houses in the vicinity. Just slabs of concrete where houses used to be.
This whole area was once packed with luxury beach-front mansions. Not any longer.
The wind was behinf be however, and the road surfaces were smooth on the whole, with US Highway 90 from Bay St. Louis with wide smooth shoulders all the way to and past the Louisiana border.
In Bay St. Louis I chanced upon the local Rotary Club’s annual Chilli Cookoff. I went in to see what all the fuss was about.
I asked each competetor to describe to me their chilli. The Bay Carpet’s entry was green based chilli with duck and pork. Peneguy CPA’s was ‘football chilli’. Hancock Medical Center was “out to win!” with their green curry. Pest Control Specialists Bugman’s Special Chilli was suspect, but was a “home brewed Mom and Pop recipe”. Coast Choarale’s effort was made with love, the chilli sung to while it was cooking, aparently. Dr Charlie West’s entry was spicy, for a party, and will “keep you coming back for more, just like this part of Mississippi”. Silver Slipper Casino’s chilli, served by a chef (who just grunted when I asked him whether he was here because he wanted to be or whether he was just there coz he was paid to be there), said he didn’t make the chilli. “How’s you chilli?” I asked. “Good” he replied.
From Bay St. Louis, I continued on west into Louisiana, past swamps on either side of the road.
I asked for directions at around 5:30pm and was promptly invited to stay at Renee and Jamie’s place for the night at their horse stables. With the weather forecast for rain tonight, it was a welcome invitation!