Day 2

Natchitoches, LA to Lake Village, AR

At the end of the second day, the GPS trip odometer reads 595.5 miles, making today's leg of the journey about 260 miles.  The GPS also tell me that by now I have been riding for 12 hours by the time I reach my destination for the day, Lake Village, Arkansas.  While today's ride was shorter than yesterday's, it took me longer to cover the distance.  This highlights the fact that on these journeys, those that are the meat of many biker's dreams, it is not about getting there as quickly as you can, or taking the shortest, and fastest route.  It is instead about finding those unique roads that few besides the people living in the areas your travel through take.  These are the roads that hug the topography, are immersed in the smells of their surroundings, and offer photographic opportunities that deviate from the structures, objects, and landscapes that are the result of the 8 to 5 schedules of people stuck in a cubicle, fifty stories above, and 100 miles away from the closest tree.

  • July 7 2008

Today I left Robeline, LA, at about 8:30 am and arrived in Lake Village, AR, at about 5 pm.  In Robeline I met the daughter of the inn-keeper.  A lady who went to California to become an ordained pastor, and returned to northern Louisiana to start a church.  No small task in a small town.  Later on, as I stopped at a gas station to fill-up before taking off, I am approached by a tattooed HD rider, asking to borrow a map.  After looking at my paper maps, which I do carry as a back-up for the GPS, he becomes one of the many who quizzically look at me asks if I am crazy.  He is referring to the fact that I am wearing a full-face helmet and a jacket while the temperatures hold steady above 90 degrees.  I explain that if I fall, the asphalt will feel hotter if I do not wear a jacket.  "I have had three brother die in motorcycle accidents.  None of them died because of head injuries", he remarks.

  • Oak
  • Leaves
  • Friendship
  • Underpass
  • Southeast to Hwy 478 E
  • Stop the Cranes
  • Diagonals
  • Curve
  • Stop
    • Light
    • Yield
    • Rolling
    • Shoe

    Highway 84 takes me Winnfield, where I am met by Spiderpig and Superpig.  From the the road takes me through Jena, LA.  Again, thoughts of a town's civil rights records and recent unrest assault my soul.  Still, I stop to have lunch at a local pizza joint, and my feelings are not put at ease by the sheriff, who I noticed giving someone a ticket as I rode into town, coming in after me, and sitting at the table next to mine.  I finish my lunch under his watchful gaze and I am on my way.

    • Super Pig
    • Spider Pig
    • Swirl
    • Trunks
    • Luke 17:24
    • Dome

    I continue westward on 84 until I reach Ferriday, LA, birthplace to Jerry Lee Lewis and Jimmy Swaggart.  Ferriday is also the place where Frank Morris, an African-American man who owned a shoe repair shop was died as a result of extensive burns when his shop was set on fire in the 1960s.  Here I take a short brake at Lake Concordia, where I visit briefly with the owners of an RV camp on Sportsmans Ln, before turning North on highway 65 as I finally start tracking the river.

    • Bird House
    • Top 3

    By mid afternoon, the most important goal of the journey has been achieved.  I have seen the Mississippi river.  I have seen it before, but never like this.  More importantly, the point was that getting to it was to be the focal testimonial jewel of His Glory.  I saw the river, not by crossing over it along some highway bridge, but by getting of the road a riding over some giant levy south of Lake Providence, and getting to a small loading area on the other side.  There, after stopping for a few moments to thank the Lord for having taken me this far, I met two men.  One of them was operating a crane, using it to load a truck with timber.  The second man is the trucker.  After they finish loading the truck, all 35 tons of timber it will carry, they approach me and we engage in conversation.  The trucker shakes my hand with his paddle-sized mitt and asks me what I do.  I explain that I work with computer and he exclaims, 'No sh----t!', and smiles.  I also tell him I am in the middle of this testimonial trip and offer my story.  'Don't let that scoot get away from you' he says and goes back to securing the load on his truck.

    • He Reigns!
    • Hidalgo at the Mississippi
    • The River
    • Virginia Renee
    • Barge
    • Welded
    • Chains
    • Loading
    • 4079 Trailers
    • Lines

    Egrets continue to be my travel companions as I follow roads planted with corn, sorghum and rice.  Silos continue to be some of my favorite architectural enhancements in the landscape, and what someone had predicted to be just a bunch of boring mud flats along the river, has turned into a fascinating exposure of agricultural America.  

    • Isabel Voelker Hathorn
    • 4 Crosses
    • Speed Limit 35
    • Stump
    • The Bayou
    • Ducks
    • Louisiana
    • Blue

    Before rolling into Lake Village, AR, I ride through Transylvania, where I can't help but notice the Transylvania Church.  At around five I am settled into the Plantation Bed and Breakfast, taking some time to rest, continuing to read one of the books that have made it with me on this trip, The Afghan Campaign, by Steve Pressfield.  After resting for a while, I head to a local restaurant by Lake Chicot.  As I enter the place, all patrons stop eating and turn their heads to look at me.  I guess Latino bikers are not part of their landscape. I am blown away as 'Thomas Greider's twin' stairs at me from one of the tables.  Tom Greider is indeed, the first neurosurgeon that looked at the MRI of back and exclaimed "This is the largest disc herniation I have seen on an MRI".  I sit down at a table and watch a young teen-age boy dutifully and carefully busing tables.  There is something in his looks and attitude that reminds me of my your nephew Nico.  Along the way, and while I wait for my fried oyster po-boy, a very tall black man emerges from the kitchen area.  Our eyes meet, and we quietly nod.    Later on, a band of 3 white men and 4 latinos, enters the place.  Wondering what the relationship between them is I observe how  one of the three white men seems to attempt to engage the 4 latinos in conversation, and attempts to explain the menu to them.  The 4 latinos seem to have varying degrees English knowledge, and while all seven sit at the same table, I can not help but notice a not so subtle separation between them.

    • Power Lines
    • Welcome Travelers!
    • The Natural State

    After I finish my dinner I walk over a pier by the lake.  With the sun setting I reflect on the of the day.  LA 500 has been one of the most wonderful roads traveled, with 24 miles of tarmac rolling through forests and crossing over old bridges.  I been blessed in so many ways, and little things like a torn toe nail have added spice to a journey of a life time.