DeRidder to Mamou
Brace for weather, only this morning it’s cold. Currently overcast and 41 degrees, which is cold for Louisiana. The forecast is for sun by noon, but temperature will probably only climb to about 50 degrees today. It should be a good cycling day. It appears the cold has driven out the rain. The news is calling this “Winter Storm Bessie,” but it is mostly impacting East of me. Not sure yet where I will end up at the end of the day. I’m planning to ride either 37 miles to Oberlin or 63 miles to Mamou.
End of the day
I don’t think the temperature ever reached 50. There was a strong North wind blowing all day. After seven hours of riding, the wind will finally start to penetrate you, no matter what you are wearing. You can’t wear a down parka when you are cycling, so it becomes a balancing act between ventilating and not being too cold. For me, that means by the end of a day like today, I’m chilled.
When I got to Oberlin I was ready to call it a day. I pulled in to the only motel in town and discovered that it was not open for business. I had actually taken my time to get there, it was 2:30 already. I had enjoyed the ride very much to that point, i.e., I was not yet chilled. Now it was push on to Mamou or find a campground. There weren’t a lot of camping options, and it was cold after all, so I pushed on.
I’m glad I did, when I got to Mamou about 5:30, I found a hotel right downtown that was also an historical landmark. Built in 1911 by one Mr. Cazan. The story goes he built the Cazan Hotel and the town as a place to help the Governor of Louisiana launder his money. The important part of the story, from an historical perspective, is that the Governor at the time told voters he was going to make more money once elected than he would every make in salary. The people elected him anyway. I think this story has important relevance today. I’ll leave that as an exercise for the reader.
The hotel Manager gave me a tour of the place. There is an old bar and restaurant, complete with original furnishings but no longer used. It was one spooky place to stay on Halloween. She also showed me the secret door behind the bar to the back room where they kept the safe. The safe is still there. She told me the ghost of Mr. Cazan is said to roam the halls at night sometimes. I was delighted. This seemed like the perfect time to be staying there. The decorating style reminded me a bit of the Shepard Sanctuary.
After I got settled in I walked across the street to what looked like the most promising bar on the block. There were four within 100 yards of the hotel. At first glance, it appeared I did not choose wisely. Inside the bar was the bartender and one paying customer. I assume he was a paying customer, he was definitely the bar tender’s best friend. They seemed like best fiends anyway. I ordered a Bud and struck up a conversation. They were great company. We talked about a lot of stuff, from the fires in California to the election in Louisiana. I got my first taste of what I will call “Louisiana accent.” I only understood about half of what the bartender was saying to me. They also filled me in a bit on the Cazan. There is no ghost they said. The Manager just likes to tell people that. When the bartender was telling me this, he was twirling his finger along side his head. The gesture indicating clearly that the Manager might be a bit batty. He made the same gesture when he told me about the hotel’s owner, a woman who lives down in New Orleans. After two Buds, I decided I was hungry. I asked the bartender where to go for a meal. He seemed to think a little too hard, then said “David and Lori’s.” He took my order and called it in for me. I got up to leave and he asked me if I was going to cycle there, I said no I’m going to walk. He shrugged his shoulders and we all shook hands. I realized 20 minutes later why he asked me if I was going to cycle there, the place was a good mile from the bar. I made it, and the food was waiting for me, mostly hot.
When I arrived at David and Lori’s, It was at the only drive-in restaurant in town. I picked up my order at the window and started looking around for a place to sit down and eat. There was none. I did see several milk crates lying nearby, so I stacked one on top of the other and sat down. Someone came up to the window to pickup their order and looked at me and said, “you know, there’s a dining room right there.” Sure enough less than ten feet from where I was sitting was a door that clearly said “Dining Room.” It was warm inside, so I finished my meal in relative comfort while anticipating the 20 minute walk back to the hotel.
Tomorrow I’m heading to the town of Bunkie. I’m not going to stop at Chicot State Park because there are no cabins for rent there and we are still in the midsts of a significant cold snap. I could tent in the park, but I’m thinking right now I’d rather not. Reaching Bunkie would amount to a 37 mile day. That sounds like a nice number to me right now.
The wind chill factor was, well, a factor.