This morning dawned clear and cool for our 53-mile ride from Simmesport to St. Francisville. We crossed the Atchafalaya River (formed at Simmesport from the Mississippi River) just out of town. While there was no shoulder and was a rather long, arched bridge, there was little traffic early in the morning. So we felt safe as we climbed up and over the river. Almost immediately after crossing the river, we turned onto a small state road that followed the levee, near the mighty Mississippi River. All day long, we wound through the countryside with the levee on our left and fields of corn, wheat, and sugar cane on our right. There was an abandoned grain elevator that brought back childhood memories of when Polly and I spent hours playing around the one in Metter.
Then, there was the beautiful Episcopal Church founded in the 1700s and restored in 1970. There was even a statue of a Confederate soldier in the cemetery.
Most graves in the area are above ground, as evidenced by the ones in this cemetery beside an abandoned church
Talking to the animals has been one of our favorite experiences on this trip. Ramsey is learning to communicate with the horses by blowing on their noses. They seemed to enjoy talking to her.
After crossing a Morganza Spillway Bridge (built to control flooding on the lower Mississippi River), we entered the town of Morganza. Scenes from the 1968 movie “Easy Rider”, starring Peter Fonda, Dennis Hopper and Jack Nicholson were filmed in this location in 1968. Anyone remember that movie? Alas, it was time to eat again. At “Not Your Mama’s Café” almost everyone in our group stopped to enjoy seafood gumbo, fried onion rings, and fried fish sandwiches. Yes, I have been eating fried food on this tour!
One has to eat what the locals enjoy! To create ambiance, the café featured stuffed wildlife, including a huge turtle and a turkey and other unusual art. This chicken greeted us at the door.
Of course, we added our own “wild women” to the place. The sign reads "I'm not a fast cook, I'm not a slow cook, I'm a half-fast cook!"
The seafood gumbo gave us energy for the last 20 miles of our day’s journey. After a few miles on a rather bumpy highway, we turned once again to a road that followed a levee beside the Mississippi River; anticipating the highlight of the day, reaching the ferry crossing that would lead us into St. Francisville. As we reached the crossing, the ferry, which runs every thirty minutes, was just pulling away from the dock. Instead of being frustrated at missing the ferry, we struck up a conversation with J.T., who was also waiting to cross. He entertained us with local history stories.
And, we never would have met him if we had caught the earlier ferry.
In years to come, Womantours riders will no longer be able to have this experience. In 2010, the John James Audubon Bridge will be completed at a cost of $348 million. At 1583 feet, it will be the longest cable-stayed bridge in North America. For an interesting story on the ferry, see this article written by the owner of Butler-Greenwood Plantation, the B&B where we are staying. http://stfrancisville.blogspot.com/2006/12/farewell-to-st-francisville-ferry.html
Located near St. Francisville, Angola is the Louisiana state penitentiary. Some of our riders visited the prison on our day off. I chose to stay in town. But for more information on Angola, go to http://www.corrections.state.la.us/lsp/history.htm
Everyone appreciated the day
off and the lodging(s) we had in this charming little town of St. Francisville. It is steeped in history. http://www.stfrancisville.net/town_new/index.html
Because there was not room for all of us at either of the locations that Womantours had chosen, we were split up. But, it worked out fine. Some of the group stayed at the St. Francisville Inn, built in the 1880s. It had a delightful courtyard for the group to have drinks and swap stories.
We stayed at the Butler Greenwood Plantation. This plantation has been in the same family since the 1790s. We were housed in various little outbuildings near the main house. Rebecca and I stayed in the Treehouse.
After dinner on our first night, the owner; Anne Butler took us on a tour of the home. It was fascinating. I have included several pictures and a website for more information.http://www.butlergreenwood.com/history.html
Wine Cellar under the house-no longer used.
Original furniture for the house
Bedroom is still used
This is the main house
The original kitchen behind the main house, now a guest house.
Anne has quite a history herself. In 1997, her fourth husband, Murray Henderson, the warden at Angola shot her. Miraculously, she lived and has told her story in Weep for the Living. I bought the book and am reading it now. It is a real page-turner.
On our day off, I wandered around the town and found several interesting spots. Here is the Methodist Church.
Beside the Magnolia Café, where we had lunch, was a “motor court” still operating as it did in the 1930s. Any one remember staying at one of these?
I returned to the plantation in the afternoon to rest and take care of my bicycle before the long ride (105 miles) on Thursday.
Since Womantours does not furnish meals on days off, our group decided to have a potluck dinner and invite our guides, who normally cook for us. I found a Louisiana delicacy at a meat market, called Boudin Balls. Boudin is a kind of sausage in Louisiana made pork, rice and spices. To make the balls, the sausage is removed from the casing and fried. It was a big hit! The big pot of crawfish was another local delicacy. Finally, someone brought boiled peanuts, both regular and Cajun. They were cooked to perfection and enjoyed by everyone. The whole evening was a huge hit.