Day 23 – July 23, 2016 – Thibodaux, LA – Covington, LA (Just north of New Orleans)
We continued our detour from yesterday back on Hwy 20. We joined the original route at the point we left and headed towards New Orleans. In New Orleans we toured the French Quarter, saw the Roosevelt Hotel, and drove thru the Garden District. We headed west most of the rest of the day. Saw Buffalo, NY reenactment soldiers. Took off on Jefferson Highway. Drove west along the river but could not see it because of levees. Stopped at Houmas Plantation for lunch, Burnside Café, then toured house and gardens. Headed west even more. We finally started heading north and east as we drove between major thunderstorms. Camped at Residence Inn in Covington, LA. Mileage – 260.5
We headed south on hwy 20 to connect with our route. We passed more mosquito farms and some pretty houses along the way. We connected back with Hwy 90 – the Old Spanish Trail until we got closer to New Orleans. We then took Hwy 310 to hwy 18 and drove along the river. We couldn’t see it for the levees. We passed several large bridges. Pam thought we would go over each but NO…. We saw a sign for Hill. Ok, it was a 3 foot bump in the road. Seriously?? I then saw the sign that I want “Champagne Lane”. We got to Waggaman and the road got very curvy. We then headed over the bridge (no ferry) to New Orleans. We drove by the Superdome and into the French Quarter. We went down Royal Street and saw all the pretty houses. We then went down Bourbon Street but Pam didn’t get any beads….a lot of people blew horns at us. After that we drove by the Roosevelt Hotel where Mom and Dad had their fine Honeymoon dinner and headed to the Garden District where we saw a lot of beautiful Big Houses.
We headed back to Granddads route which followed the river. His route took us WEST on River Road on the Eastern Bank of the Mississippi River. We saw a reenactment for the Buffalo Soldiers, nickname for the black Calvary. They were celebrating their 150 anniversary of being stationed in New Orleans. We met one of the ladies in period attire and talked with her to learn why they were here. She told us many of the wives traveled with the troops and helped out, but of course were never recognized. We also told her our story.
I’m so disappointed, I had REALLY thought I would see the Mississippi River on both sides as we drove along its banks, BUT NOOOO. That levee was beside the road the entire way. It was really boring. It looked like a grassy green mountain (if they call a 3 foot bump a hill then this was a mountain) on one side. As we were leaving New Orleans we passed many one story houses with low roofs that come right to the top of the windows. Then we passed huge industrial plants that depended on the river for transportation of materials and goods. The industries were oil, gas, and chemical industries and were really, really huge. One building and all the grounds around it were covered in a red dust. Yuck. Oh well. I did finally get a glimpse of the River when we drove thru the spillway. It was just a glance. I’m sure Dandy didn’t see any of this lovely scenery.
Next we hit St John Parrish and got to join a funeral procession. They were going 20 in a 55. This lasted for 15 LOOONNNGGGG miles. We were hungry. As soon as they turned off, Susan STARTED to speed up then saw the speed limit drop to 25 MPH. She said she was going 45 anyway. Susan saw a car ahead that looked like it was thinking about pulling out in front of us. Susan screamed, don’t you EVEN THINK ABOUT pulling out in front of me.
After driving for a while, we saw the bridge that we drove over yesterday when we crossed the Mississippi on our detour. Seriously, it was 12:30 and 144 miles since we left this morning and we were really only about 15 miles from there. Wish that bridge had been there when Dandy came thru.
We passed a few plantations and decided to stop at the Houmas Plantation for lunch. This was an excellent choice. We also bought the tickets for the tour so that we could take the tour after eating. We had Lauren as our waitress and she took down Pam’s dietary needs and talked with the chef. She also recommended the special which was crab, shrimp and crawfish in a crème sauce over eggplant. Both Susan and I said the topping sounded great but not the eggplant. She suggested a change to place it over pasta. We ordered it. It seems it also came with fried mushrooms (Nicky, the kind I like – like the ones Tim made) and asparagus. I truly think this is the best meal I’ve had on this trip. It was wonderful. Susan and I couldn’t finish it all but got the rest to go and packed on ice.
After lunch we toured the gardens for a bit before taking the next house tour. The plantation was once the largest sugar cane farm in the Americas and consisted of over 300,000 acres. The house was built in 3 sections and contained period furniture and many original items. We learned that there had been 28 oaks in front of the house but when the levees were built, many had to be cut down. Still the gardens were wonderful. After the tour we saw big thunderstorm clouds in the distance. The sky looked angry and also looked bad on radar so we went to the Japanese garden quickly and headed back to the car. When we were back on the route I looked at the radar. It looked like we would thread the needle between 2 major storms. One was centered over Baton Rouge and the other over New Orleans. They were going to join each other right where we were. We had to travel more to the West before finally getting to turn to the North. We hit the outskirts of Baton Rouge and the traffic STOPPED. WHAT?? It is Saturday. No, we can’t stop….we want to miss the storms! It took us forever to get thru even on side roads, but then we learned what the slowdown was. Many roads were closed for one of the funerals for one of the slain police officers. I only wish we had known about it earlier because we could have taken a slight detour on I12 and missed it all. Oh well. At least we stayed on route. Finally, we left the traffic and got back on the road.
We pulled into Covington. Susan started seeing signs for New Orleans on our directions and I mentioned that Covington is really just North New Orleans – just across Lake Pontchartrian. Susan asked Pam to google how long it would have taken us if we could have driven here directly. It would have taken 1 hour 42 minutes because it was only 87.8 miles. Why couldn’t some of these bridges have been here during Dandy’s time. Instead it took us almost 11 hours (that did include lunch) and 260.5 miles.
Tonight’s hotel is the Marriot Residence Inn and only cost me 10K points.