For those of you on tenterhooks after reading Malkolm’s tornado blog, breathe easy. We survived. The events I am about to describe took place right before the tornado day.
Rain bashed noisily above our heads, and thick clouds dimmed the dawn. Ken crawled out of the tent to make coffee and found a note under our stove. It was written with large neat handwriting. “Go back to bed. We’re doing B’fast: Ham, Eggs, Grits, Coffee, Juice Etc. Hot showers???”
We hadn’t planned to come here to Bogalusa. The day before, we’d been sipping coffee in Starbucks in Slidell, joking about getting arrested for cycling on an interstate. We just wanted to nip over the Pearl River into Mississippi, and we thought the interstate bridge would be safer than route 90.
It took determination to get on to the interstate. Two lanes of transport trucks thundered past as we wove our way over the potholed shoulder. One truck driver blasted his horn angrily right behind me. I nearly swerved into the ditch. When I saw the bridge, I suddenly felt frightened. There was no shoulder and there were no breaks in the traffic. That bridge did not reach the standard required by Team Bird Year Safety Officer.
I nervously suggested that we detour north 35 miles to Bogalusa where there was a recommended bicycle route . . . nervously, because Bird Year has had its share of detours lately.
Late in the day we pedaled into Bogalusa. A steely-haired man leaned out of his car window and yelled. “Where are you from? Where are you going?”
“Yukon. Florida.” I shouted back. He caught up to us at the next corner and invited us to camp in his yard. As I cooked a curry supper, Charlie d’Aquin brought out platters of hors d’oeuvres: spinach dip surrounded by a rings of celery and rye bread, and a plate with chunks of fresh fruit. Two of the fruits were new to us – kumquats and tomatillos. Next came buttered mirliton (chayote), a home-grown squash. We hardly had room for the curry. Chai tea followed, made with whipping cream.
Before we got the breakfast invitation, I was already happy we had made the detour. When we cycled to the Pearl River and found a quiet bridge with a huge shoulder, I was even happier.