I originally wrote this for my local club, Voodoo Scoots in New Orleans, as a gentle reminder that we/they need to get out and ride more. I apologize for vague geographical references. In the Deep South the riding season is a little longer, and this ride was Dec 18, 2022.
This ride has been in the planning stages for a couple of years. Kevin has been wanting to go on this ride, but he's been in Nursing School, and couldn't afford to skip work and/or studying to make the trip, so we've waited patiently. Guess who finished Nursing School the first week of December÷ That's right, and the first thing we did on his Sunday off was to ride. This is not a complicated ride, it's basically a Ride to Eat, an hour or so away. But schedules are hard to coordinate.
It wouldn't be a Voodoo ride without some funny miscommunication. Nikki and I arrived first at Cafe du Monde* and ordered coffee and beignets. Karl was next, then soon after, Kevin. I always knew that this would be the core of the ride, now we wait to see who else shows up...
I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. It is a great way to keep up with friends and family near and far. I love that we can post an event, and lots of people can see if it works in their schedule. One of the downsides in my opinion, is that there isn't a distinction between "active members" and tourists. Voodoo Scoots Facebook group has ~900 members, but it has to be a special occasion to get 10 people to show up for a ride. In this case, 7 folks marked as Going, and 6 showed up. An additional 14 were Interested. I get it... you click on "interested" because it looks like a fun ride, but you live a thousand miles away, and that is your thumbs up.
Carol called off. She's getting over a cold. 'Tis the season. It's too bad though since Carol spends all of her time these days keeping her grand kids. This would have been a nice day out for her, plus I haven't ridden with her since our Natchez Trace attempt last year.
Dodie from Diamondhead trailered over... but she had forgotten her scooter key at home. We convinced her to follow us and have lunch. She's such a trooper!
A new couple showed up, Nick and his wife (I didn't catch her name). They were not dressed for the ride, they just wanted to meet us for coffee. Here's the funny miscommunication... Nick and his wife thought the ride was the previous day, showed up to CDM, thought they missed us, and hauled butt to the Restaurant... they never did catch us of course since we were 24 hours behind them!
The ride to French Settlement, or more correctly, Maurepas, was drama-free. No flat tires, no near-misses, no one ran out of fuel. We were a little chilly, but it was otherwise perfect riding weather. The low temp was 44°F and the high was 54°F. We had left CDM 20 minutes later than planned, but that put us at the Restaurant right on time. I had several reasons floating around my brain when choosing Airline Hwy**, instead of taking River Road. Mid-morning on a Sunday, the traffic was fine, and I knew that we would make good time. If we had left an hour (and 20 minutes) earlier, River Road would have been a great choice.
When we arrived at Dicarlo's, Jason from the Northshore was waiting for us on his 150. Jason is new to the area, but is a veteran rider. Kevin and I met him last summer at the Voodoo-5‡ Lafayette Rally.
Lunch was good. Awesome French Toast for me, some of the best I've every had, and a variety of other dishes around the table. However, I think Chef Karl wanted to share some tips on making Eggs Benedict. I think they use an English muffin when all the cool kids use a Holland Rusk. I'll definitely make that another Ride-to-eat destination.
Kevin's original plan was a restaurant in French Settlement, but it is closed on Sundays... just means another ride, and another scenic Hwy, La 444.
The route was pretty simple, leaving City Park on Wisner, to Carrolton, right on Tulane, continue for 50 miles on Airline Hwy to La 22 at Sorrento. Even with our relatively small group, we got separated by red lights a couple of times. Then about 20 miles on La 22 which is a Louisiana Scenic Byway, and is a well maintained curvy road. There is a picturesque stretch where you have a bayou or river alongside the road, and you can almost reach over and touch it. It's beautiful. I was able to pick up a Statue of Liberty for the Tour of Honor earlier in the year along this route. Win-Win! After lunch, we continued up La 22 through Springfield‡‡, and then east to Pontchatoula. Jason tagged along with us long enough to do the Hwy 51/I-55 on-ramp/off-ramp exercise and then he turned back for parts north and east. We continued south on the surface road, which I think is being renamed. I think (I could be completely wrong) that the surface road has been demoted and is now a State Hwy, not a US Hwy. Historic 51 or some such name. About half of it has been repaved, and I really enjoy that stretch. I've even seen otters crossing the road. Along this route is another worthy Ride To Eat location, Middendorf's. As you can see from the attached screenshot, the road is on a narrow bit of solid ground between two lakes. The red line crossing Lake Pontchartrain is the Causeway, and is 24 miles of bridge over water. As I mentioned above, Historic 51 is the surface road between Pontchatoula, and Laplace. I-55 is the interstate that has superseded it, and runs parallel, is elevated, and has a couple of interchanges with Historic 51. At Laplace, we crossed Airline and picked up River Road for the curvy route home. This route takes you through the Bonnet Carré Spillway [pronounced Bonnie Carry, meaning square hat or some such]****. The spillway was operated a couple of years ago, and it washed out the road, which has since been repaired. In the future, I may plan River Road in both directions.
The riders disbanded to take their own paths home at the Huey P.
I usually track my rides with an app or two. My favorite is Scenic, but I also use Rever. Rever has a nice "social" aspect to it where friends can see your rides, and vice versa. It also has a tie-in with the Tour of Honor, which is kind of cool. Unfortunately, I didn't use Rever for this ride, and Scenic crashed on me near Laplace‡‡‡, but basic math tells me that we did about 150 miles, and we were gone about 6 hours. Time to start planning our next RTE.
*Cafe Du Monde or CDM, in the French Quarter is world famous. Beignets [pronounced ben-yays](square french donuts) aren't just for tourists, we love them too, and so there are locations in different parts of town now. On a ride earlier in the year, a few of us met up at CDM in City Park, and took off for Laurel, MS, which has gained stardom on HGTV. A prankster in the club posted a photo of his scooter in front of a DIFFERENT CDM, with the caption "where is everybody?" Well, then my phone rings in my helmet... We've left people behind? We're halfway to Laurel at this point. When we got to our lunch spot, I checked Facebook and was going to make my apologies, when I realized we had been had!
‡Voodoo 5 Scooter Sales is a dealer in Lafayette, La, and a great friend to our New Orleans club, Voodoo Scoots S/C. We are otherwise unaffiliated. If you've never been to Acadiana, consider this rally. Tucker doesn't charge a registration, yet has a swag bag and raffles a new bike. It's a little hot in June, but what else are you going to be doing?
‡‡Fun Fact... not too far from Springfield, in the same Parish (county), is the LIGO or The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory which is a large-scale physics experiment and observatory to detect cosmic gravitational waves and to develop gravitational-wave observations as an astronomical tool. Two large observatories, Hanford, Washington and Livingston, La., were built with the aim of detecting gravitational waves by using frickin' Lasers!
****In south Louisiana, rivers don't flow into the Mississippi, they flow out of it. Just upriver of New Orleans, there is a spillway where, when the river height necessitates it, the river is allowed to flow to Lake Pontchartrain, allowing it to "flow around the city" to the Gulf Of Mexico. There is another such floodway north of Baton Rouge, the Morganza Spillway, which diverts water from the Mississippi to the Atchafalaya River, which is where the Mississippi wants to go anyway.
***Airline Hwy, or Hwy 61, for us, is almost an east/west highway that connects New Orleans to Baton Rouge. I mention the east/west part because eagle eyed readers will know that 61 is odd and therefore north/south. Any Dylan fans in the audience? Bod Dylan named one of his best albums "Highway 61 Revisited" due to the triple influence on his life and music, connecting New Orleans to his native Minnesota, and being the main highway through the Mississippi Delta, the home of the Blues. In addition, Hwy 51 (fifty-one) got honored on his debut album.
‡‡‡ Epilog on Scenic crashing.It was all my fault. It turns out that I had laid out the route backwards in Scenic, probably doing some what-if routes. Scenic kept trying to tell me to turn over and over, and I thought it had lost its mind. Not so... it was right and I was wrong.