So picking up back in New Orleans...We stayed with Chris's friend Shawn and his wife Lauren. We put all our laundry in the washing machine and sat around in our swim trunks. Our hosts were super cool and treated us to dinner at a local seafood joint. Our clothes were not dry yet, so we looked a bit off eating in swim trunks, but we were so hungry we didn't care. Shawn and Lauren started by ordering 10lbs of crawfish for an appetizer and after a quick tutorial from Shawn we doing our best to put down our 5lbs. Just as we had finished the last of the crawfish the waiter dropped off our meatball po boys. The food was so good and we ate so much they had to roll us out the door and help us into the car. Back home we watched a few episodes of heli loggers and went to bed.
I got up early and realized that my wheel was really out of whack, I had ridden around 80 miles with a spoke missing and it had taken its toll. We could not find a bike shop that was open on Sunday and the few shops that are normally open on Sunday were closed to offer support to the half Iron Man race in New Orleans. I finally found a shop that was open and we back tracked 15 miles into the French Quarter to get my wheel looked at. The shop was a zoo because they do a huge amount of rental business. The mechanic said he could save my wheel and he spent about two or three hours truing it up and replacing some spokes. Finally we were on our way, but it was already afternoon and we had a long way to go to meet our next host in Baton Rouge. I had another flat and Chris ripped through another back tire shortly after leaving New Orleans. We rode hard but came up short and as the sun was setting the clouds moved in too. Lightning lit up the sky, but we stayed just ahead of the storm. We pulled in to what we thought was a campground, but was a trailer park in the end. We took shelter in a Wendy's and finally checked in to a cheap hotel for the night.
The next morning we rode to Baton Rouge where Del bought a new rear tire and I bought a new rack. We ended the day in Ragley, LA at an RV park that was run by the nicest old couple. They let us stay for free and opened the kitchen for us too. We dropped of our bags and rode our bikes another mile to a store. A few feet into the ride I broke another spoke and my wheel was instantly wobbly. We talked strategy and found a bike shop, but it was 20 miles away each way and completely out of route.
In the morning I rode the 20 miles alone and Del continued on. I broke two more spkes on the ride and had to completley remove my back brake because the wheel was so wobbly. Once I made it to the shop I was beat from trying to keep my balance on such a wreck of a bike. I bought a new wheelset and a tougher back tire and planned my route back to meet Del while the guys at the shop made some adjustments to my derailer. Basically the day was a nightmare, every time I rode ten miles I ran into a stretch of interstate that I could not ride on and had to back track. The guy at the shop gave me a shortcut, but it involved crossing the river via a railroad bridge. This seemed very sketchy so I backtracked some more. Eventually I ran in to a gym that looked like a bowling alley from the early 1980s with a bunch of free weights thrown in. The owner was wearing a fishnet tank top, a truckers cap, and cut of jean shorts. As unlikely as it sounds, the gym owner actually gave me directions that worked and eventually I met Del back at the TX border. I had ridden a ton of extra miles and was dead tired when we finally got to Orange, TX to meet our hosts for the night. Alison and Jane were our hosts and they are both intern educators at Shangri La Gardens. They cooked us a vegetarian dinner and took us to see a bluegrass session at an RV park nearby. We finished the night with some Pizza and hit the hay.
Today I was feeling pretty worked and quickly fell behind Del as we battled a terrible headwind. I stopped short of Galveston by about 25 miles and got a campsite. Del continued on and we are meeting up in Galveston in the morning. More pictures to come.