I ask "How fast does it go?" and he said "Fast enough". On further questioning I found that it went 6 knots. "One hundred and forty four nautical miles in a day" he said "during which time I sleep, read and eat. I also do repairs and keep watch. In 21 days I can be more than 3000 N miles from here". I had never thought of it that way. Breathing in and out, sleeping, reading and just living and letting the wind take me away. I fell for it and went sailing. -Tom Swaim-

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Sunday, August 17, 2008

Old Fools Journal: Bike Ride August 15, 2008

August 17, 2008

I've really been getting around on my bike lately in spite of all the rain. I feel guilty of course because I'm having a good time and all the other chores that I can only do in good weather are going undone. It only rained half the day yesterday so I did mark a few things off the list. At least enough to salve my conscience.

It seems to me that casual traffic is a little less these days except during the morning and evening when work time traffic is on the move. This may be wishful thinking on my part. There are more bikes on the road and when I was downtown Houma a couple of days ago I saw several small “town scooters” in use and I had never seen that before. I saw 11 pedestrians downtown and two of them were in the music store. They only walked about 12 feet from their parking in front of the store. I was looked at as a freak because I had ridden a bicycle 6 miles to exchange one electric bass string.

I think that gasoline is becoming more important than water or air for some and for sure more important than the mortgage payment. It didn't seem so until all

Bayou Blue looking south. I don't know why it's called that. It looks like Bayou Brown to me. It has been reduced to nothing but a drainage ditch.

that money started disappearing into that little hole in the back of cars and trucks. For many less driving is just not acceptable until they look into the money bucket and there ain't any. Drive offs at gas stations is on the rise here as is gas theft but there are more new cars and

More pickups than ever. Dealers are making what some seem to think are very good deals especially on the larger high price pickups and SUV gas hogs. Not as many clunkers though as the people that drive those have either curtailed their driving or have run out

of money. Maybe that got one of those good deals and are now driving a new pickup.

Since the repaving of most of the streets in my neighborhood there is much more bike traffic. People have actually taken their bikes out and are using them regularly for exercise. The kids are really enjoying the smooth streets. Because this is a poor neighborhood the government feels no obligation to keep the streets up so they deteriorate to a nearly unusable level before they are repaired or repaved. Like most things here they did a half ass job and stopped when nearly done. When I lived in Mexico I noticed that same mindset of never finishing anything. There was a reason there as new construction wasn't taxed until finished so it was just never finished. I don't know why things aren't finished here. Maybe they just run out of money. We did end up with about 3 miles of smooth streets on which to ride here in Trollville. My prediction of a big increase in auto speed did not come to pass I am happy to say.

There is still the problem of getting to other neighborhoods and to the store with about a ¼ mile of suicide riding to get some breathing room. All traffic is routed from every neighborhood to a 2 lane feeder with no shoulder. It's heavily traveled by big trucks as well. Poor planning is the rule here and since life is cheaper than fixing that problem it will not be fixed. Only if someone with clout or someone who knows someone with clout has a problem will anything be done. It's the Louisiana way. The problem is largely ignored because people reproduce faster than they are killed off.

Houma, LA is an old town (1834) and I find it interesting. Access from Bayou Blue is along New Orleans Blvd (highway 182) which has a wide shoulder and it's a good thing as about every tenth car is using all the road and part of the shoulder. Sometimes they use the ditch as well which is full of water and slows a car to a stop really fast then tests the drivers swimming skills.

I have not taken time to poke around downtown in the 15 years I have lived here but I have started doing that. This last trip into town I visited the Downtown Marina. It's a nice marina for guest boats with water, electricity and pump outs. Lots of trees and benches and a few gazebos for shelter from the rain showers. I have been there several times but this is the first time I have seen any boats. The grounds are in minor disrepair with vandalism to the benches and lamp poles and some graffiti but it is still a pleasant place to be.

This picture is taken from the part of the park across Terrebone Bayou from the Marina looking toward the Inter coastal Canal. My trusty steed awaits.

The marina is built under the bridge across the inter coastal canal. Walking distance to the hospital, a number of restaurants and the center of downtown. I did not see any marine or fishing store. I did not see any no fishing signs either. Hmmmm I have to check that out.

There are no big box stores, department store or grocery stores downtown. They are several miles away on the north side of town and that area has all the class and quality of a cheap plastic trash can. There is a nearby convenience store and a motel with a 24 hour coffee shop. The restaurants seem to be geared to the government office workers and numerous lawyers lunch crowd. I've never seen so many lawyers offices in such a small downtown before. Some of the restaurants have outside sidewalk tables and it is picturesque however they are so close to the parallel parking that you can feel the heat from the parked cars and the food taste like exhaust fumes.

Bronze sculpture of a Native American fishing at the end of the marina next to the Inter coastal. I have never seen a native American that looked like that here. Come to think of it I haven't seen anyone else that looked like that either.

I haven't passed over the big bridge on a bicycle yet and I am a little apprehensive. I have passed in an armored vehicle (car) but that is a whole nother thang. I think there are dragons over there and that they shoot people and eat them. I know the edge of the world is over there as I have seen it from the air. Your perspective is entirely different on foot or on a bike.

Inter coastal Canal looking west. Those pillars are the bridge supports. Its pretty quite here with only the clicking of the joints on the bridge to disturb the silence. It's pleasant and I almost never see anyone here. The is the first time that I have seen the Inter coastal with no traffic. There is a seaplane landing area about ¼ mile down there.

Inter coastal looking east. It looks calm but there is a tidal current that appeared to be 2 to 3 knots running east. If you fall in, good luck finding a place to crawl out. I have seen some big multiple barge tows pass through here going both ways. It doesn't look like there is room to pass but they always do. There is a lot of skill demonstrated on this Canal especially when it is windy.

New Orleans from the edge of the world. Looks insignificant from 25 miles south out near the edge of the world.

Not a very exciting ride but it was informative and profitable. I brought home a bass string, new strings for my Gibson acoustic, a loaf of rye bread, some Pizzelle and about $15.00 worth of fastenings found on the shoulder of the road. I got about 3 hours of healthy exercise, met and made a new friend (Pearl), was filled with awe when a lady stopped and held up traffic so I could cross (a first) and did not have any death defying close calls. No one yelled at me or threw anything so all in all a good day.

No riding today or anything else standing up due to my gouty left ankle. Oh well I have plenty of books to read and two kilts to work on not to mention staring out the window "lost in thought". Lost because it is unfamiliar territory.