To LaPlace, LA

Submitted by Ben on Mon, 01/24/2005 - 16:09

I left the Haymakers' shortly after sunrise, having planned a couple possible routes for the day, determined by where motels were available.  One would have me cross the river on a ferry and stay the night in Donaldsonville, which is only 1/3 of the way to New Orleans from Baton Rouge.  The other route stayed on the east bank and took me as far as LaPlace, about 2/3 of the way to New Orleans.

The choice between the two routes wound up being made for me because I missed a turn!  So although I battled fatigue all day -- probably something I ate yesterday -- I took the longer route to LaPlace.

My instincts told me that US-61 would be a great road to ride between the two cities, because the parallel I-10 would carry all the heavy traffic.  Richard counseled me to follow the River Road instead.  I compromised and did a little of each during the course of the day.

Route 61 turned out to be very pleasant in my opinion, since it had wide, smooth shoulders and little traffic.  It led through about 15 miles of scenic bayou, but with few bridges; mostly infill so that the road -- shoulders and all -- was several feet above the swamp.

The River Road was windy and had no shoulders and very impatient drivers, and many of the refineries smelled bad.  The "Port of South Louisiana" is practically continuous docks all the way up past Baton Rouge, and some of the boats that dock along the river are huge!  I rode up on top of the levee whenever possible to get away from the traffic, and that was a lot of fun, but I had to keep coming down to pass under the pipelines and conveyors that link the industries on shore to their docks.

When I passed through the town of Reserve I checked out the ferry that I thought I might use first thing in the morning, in order to ride the west bank River Road the rest of the way into town.  When I entered LaPlace, I asked some locals where I could find one of the half-dozen motels.  They soberly directed me to a place that was absolutely appalling... I turned around so fast in the parking lot that I slipped in the gravel and capsized.  There were guard dogs all over the place, and the doorknob on one room had been shot off!  It took me an hour and a half to find another motel with a vacancy, but the room I got is fabulous... bigger than my two-bedroom apartment in Minneapolis, if you count the balcony, and the walls are periwinkle.

53.7 mi