Central Park, NY – August 23-24, 2018

The Wife Billboard

We left the bike shop in Poughkeepsie about 3:00 PM and drove back to New York City. It took a little over an hour and a half to drive to Central Park where we parked our car in a deck on 66th Ave. Realizing that we had a couple of hours to waste before the park would be closed to car traffic, allowing bikers and pedestrians a safer pathway, we decided to go to the movies! I had secretly hoped that we would be able to see an early screening of The Wife, starring Glenn Close and Jonathan Pryce, at the Paris Theater, and my wish came true 🙂 . We walked about 10 blocks to the theater and arrived just in time to pay for our tickets, go to the restroom, and purchase a drink before scurrying into the dark theater where the previews had already started. The movie was definitely worth our extra effort; the acting was flawless, and Glenn Close’s portrayal of a wife trapped in desperation was mesmerizing to watch as years of her pent up frustration exploded on the screen before our captive eyes. The ending was completely unexpected; she finally had her freedom but not as the audience expected. I certainly hope that this deserving performance will finally earn Glen Close the Oscar, which has eluded her several times in the past.

Dusk in Central Park

Exiting the theater, we walked a few blocks west to the bike shop where I had purchased our 2-hour rentals through a Groupon for $12 prior to the trip. The rental agent informed us that the bike shop closed at 8 PM instead of 9 PM, which I had mistakenly thought. Since it was already 7 PM, we had only an hour to ride the 6.1 miles around the park, including pushing our bikes a few blocks over and back. As directed by our map, we entered the park on Central Drive and proceeded counterclockwise around the perimeter. There were literally hundreds of joggers and bikers following this same route, and it almost felt like a Friday night traffic jam in Atlanta. Bikers zigged and zagged around the joggers and pedestrians, whizzing by us as if we were standing still. The route around the park is hilly, and I needed to lower my gear several times as I strained to make it up some of the hills. Thankfully, neither of us succumbed to dismounting our bikes and pushing them; however, our uphill speed was nothing to brag about 🙂 . Since New York is further east than Atlanta, the sun sets earlier. As we neared the end of the loop, darkness was fast approaching, and many bikers turned on their headlights. We returned our bikes with five minutes to spare, and I crossed off another item on my bucket list: bike through Central Park 🙂 .

Tavern on the Green

I talked Joyce into eating dinner on the patio at Terrace on the Green. Thankfully, I had packed my jacket because it was chilly sitting underneath the canopy of lights on the terrace. Although this restaurant is located in a beautiful, romantic setting in Central Park, the food was really just average. After dinner, Joyce and I lamented that we should have purchased dessert instead of wasting calories on a bland meal that was not very satisfying. We walked back to the parking deck, paid $40 (ouch!) for our car, and drove toward LaGuardia to our hotel. Since it was night and we were not familiar with the highways to Long Island, the drive was a bit stressful; however, Joyce remained calm and we did not miss a turn 🙂 . Arriving to the Wyndham Hotel after 10:30 PM, we were informed that we could either pay $25 for parking or try to find a legal place to park nearby. We carried our luggage to our room and returned to the car in an effort to find a free parking space; however, after circling the streets around the hotel to no avail, we decided to concede and pay the valet fee. We probably didn’t get to sleep until after midnight and had to wake up early the next morning to get to the airport. After a quick breakfast at the hotel, we returned our rental car and took two shuttles back to LaGuardia. I slept during part of our flight home, and was thrilled that my husband had decided to pick me up at the airport rather than have me take MARTA to the North Springs Station. I was glad to be home but already planning our next bike trip on the newly inducted Cardinal Greenway in Indiana.

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Hudson Valley Trail Network, Poughkeepsie, NY – August 22-23, 2018

Leisure Ride Bike Shop

After our bike ride in Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, we drove three hours northeast to Poughkeepsie, New York. We arrived in Poughkeepsie about 6:15 PM and drove directly to the Leisure Ride Bike Shop (excellent customer service and well-maintained, quality bikes) where we rented two KHS Brentwood comfort bikes and a rack for our next day’s ride on the Hudson Valley Trail Network. The 18-mile Network is comprised of three paved trails: the Dutchess Rail Trail (13 miles), Walkway over the Hudson (1.3 miles), and the Hudson Valley Rail Trail (3.6 miles). Our original plan was to ride across the Hudson to the northern terminus of the trail and back the same evening as we rented the bikes to reduce the amount that we would have to ride the following day. However, we found out that the Walkway over the Hudson closes at 8 PM (time adjusts with sunset), and if you do not make it back across the pedestrian bridge before the gates close on the west side, you have to bike south and cross the Hudson on the car bridge. Based on this new information, we decided to wait until the following morning to bike the whole trail down and back, which would be a total of 36 miles.

Mill House Brewing</center)

The bike owner personally helped us secure the rack and bikes onto our rental car, then we drove to Mill House Brewing for dinner. We ordered a pizza and discussed how to adjust our schedule for the following day. I highly recommend this two-story, warehouse brewery; the food was excellent, and the service was quick even though they were extremely busy. Following dinner, we drove to the Holiday Inn Express to spend the night.

Martha on Pedestrian Bridge

We ate an early breakfast at the hotel, including one of their decadent cinnamon rolls, and then drove back to the Leisure Ride Bike Shop to park our car. The shop was not open yet; that’s why we rented the bikes the previous evening. We unloaded the bikes and pedaled a few hundred feet to the entrance of the trail. Although the trail passes through several hamlets, it felt fairly isolated. We crossed three iron bridges over highways on the 6.5 mile stretch from the bike shop to the Walkway over the Hudson.

Walkway over the Hudson

The 1.3 mile Walkway over the Hudson River is the longest pedestrian walkway in the world. As we approached the bridge, we noticed that pedestrians are supposed to walk along the outer sides while bicyclists are supposed to ride in the center – a recommendation which definitely improved the flow of traffic across the bridge. It was approximately 9 AM, and there were about 100 people on the bridge; however, there were noticeably more walkers and joggers than cyclists.  We stopped several times to take photographs and then made our way to the other side where we biked 3.6 miles to the northwestern terminus of the trail.

Caboose Near Western Terminus

Caboose Near Western Terminus

The trail was extremely well maintained with restroom facilities, mile markers every .5 mile, and numerous benches and picnic tables. This more isolated portion of the trail was tree canopied with a few rock outcroppings, and it reminded us of the Silver Comet Trail in Georgia.

Wild Flowers along Trail

The ride down to the end of the trail and back to the bridge took about an hour, including a quick bathroom stop. As we entered the bridge, the sun was in front of us and I was thankful that I was wearing my sunglasses. It took only about 10 minutes to bike across the Hudson. After exiting the bridge on the eastern side, we continued down the trail past where we had parked our rental car and pedaled on to the southern terminus in Hopewell Junction. Although we had read that this portion of the trail crossed several roads and was more urban, it was unexpectedly remote as soon as we passed the outskirts of Poughkeepsie. I enjoyed the wild flowers and the variety of trees bordering the trail. This stretch was not as crowded and seemed slightly downhill.

White Haven Train Depot

We arrived in White Haven sooner than we expected and decided to eat lunch at Daddy O’s, a New York chain restaurant located almost in sight of the restored train depot and museum marking the end of the Dutchess Trail. After a satisfying lunch (turkey & avocado sandwich with fries and a coke), we biked 6.5 miles back to the bike shop where our rental car was parked and returned our bikes before driving back to New York City for our flight home to Atlanta.

 

Videos Coming Soon!

Lehigh Gorge Trail, Jim Thorpe, PA – August 21-22, 2018

Empire State Building

Our bike trip to the Poconos started with a flight from Atlanta to LaGuardia, followed by a two and a half hour drive to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania. Our GPS route took us directly through Manhattan, via the tunnel under the East River, down 5th Avenue past the Empire State Building, and under the Hudson River to New Jersey.

Broadway Street, Jim Thorpe

Arriving to Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania was a pleasant surprise! The quaint tourist town, lined with gift shops and B&Bs, is sandwiched between the Pocono Mountains and the Lehigh River. A scenic railway, bordering the river on the east side of town, runs daily from Jim Thorpe north to to the Lehigh Gorge State Park.

Inn at Jim Thorpe

We checked into The Inn at Jim Thorpe and carried our luggage to our room before walking a block to Molly Maguire’s for dinner. Our original plan was to eat at the Stone Row Eatery, but we found out that it is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.

Molly McGuire’s

The outdoor deck at Molly’s pub was a perfect spot to enjoy a good meal and the cool, fresh air! After dinner, we hurried back to the hotel so that I could log into my online help session for the college algebra class that I’m teaching this semester. I helped one student and then fell asleep watching a new episode of 800 Words on Acorn TV. Fortunately, I got a good night’s sleep and felt rested the next morning.

Renee’s Cold Cut Hut

I chose French toast and bacon for breakfast at the Broadway Grille (hotel restaurant); the food was both delicious and filling. After breakfast, we loaded our luggage back into the rental car and drove about a mile and a half to the Lehigh Gorge State Park where we met Jim, our shuttle driver, who transported us with our Trek rental bikes to White Haven. Jim dropped us off near the trailhead, but we decided to pedal a few blocks back into town to Renee’s Cold Cut Hut where we purchased sandwiches for a picnic lunch on the trail. We purchased a large hoagie, chips and a drink for approximately $8, which was much cheaper than we expected. Renee, the owner, was extremely cheerful and friendly.

Martha @ Waterfall

We started biking about 10:00 AM and within minutes we felt completely isolated from the hustle and bustle of the world around us. The 25-mile Lehigh Gorge portion of the Delaware & Lehigh Rail Trail follows the Lehigh River through tree-canopied forests on its slightly downhill route to Jim Thorpe. The trail is hard-packed crushed gravel and is well maintained (no potholes or debris). We passed numerous waterfalls on our ride, including Buttermilk and Luke Falls. The landscape reminded me of the Greenbrier River Trail in West Virginia, and I felt extremely blessed to have the opportunity to experience this remote, scenic portion of the country on a bicycle!

Joyce @ Picnic Spot

Just below Penn Haven Junction, we decided to eat our lunch at a picnic table perched on the bank of the river and adjacent to the Lehigh Gorge Scenic Railway tracks. Opposite the tracks and in sight of our picnic table was a small waterfall – what a perfect spot for our lunch! We enjoyed our ham & cheese hoagie while listening to the river rushing below. The water was swift but too low for rafters; however, we did spot two groups of tubers.

 

St Mark’s Cathedral

After lunch, we pedaled south a few more miles to the Glen Onoko access point. Unfortunately, we did not have time to make the two hour plus round trip hike to the falls so we continued our journey south to Jim Thorpe. We parked our bikes and took a walking tour of the town, peering in gift shops, strolling down narrow carriage roads, and admiring the Gothic-style St. Mark’s Episcopal Church built in 1869. Our walking tour ended at Wood’s Ice Cream where we indulged in our traditional end-of-the-ride dairy treat 🙂 .

Scenic Railway

As we departed Jim Thorpe, the scenic railway train was also leaving the station for a sightseeing trip up the valley. The train paralleled the bike trail for several miles, but we turned east into the state park to return our rental bikes to the same parking lot where we had left our car earlier that morning. Our shuttle driver had left a combination lock for us to secure the bikes to a concrete picnic table until he later returned to get them.

Although this is not a Hall of Fame trail, I highly recommend it! We only rode the Lehigh Gorge portion of the much longer Delaware & Lehigh Rail Trail, which spans 141 miles from Bristol (just outside of Philadelphia) to Mountain Top in the Appalachian Mountains.

Stream Near
Buttermilk Falls

Abandoned Track Adjacent to Trail

View of Lehigh River Valley

 

Videos Coming Soon!

Hudson River Valley Trail, Thursday, August 23, 2018

Joyce on Walkway

Actually, this trail of 18 miles one way has three different names—the lower part is the Dutchess Rail Trail, between Hopewell Junction in Hopewell, New York, and the edge of the Hudson River. Then comes the Walkway Over the Hudson, a 1.5 mile pedestrian/bicycle bridge over the Hudson River. (Martha said she read that this is the longest pedestrian bridge in the country.) The northern stretch is actually called the Hudson River Valley Trail. The last part goes a little over three miles and ends at a park. The Walkway Over the Hudson was fun because the scenery of the Hudson on both sides of us was great, and we could also see the small mountains in the distance and the green tree-lined hills on both sides of the river. There were several people walking the bridge, but it wasn’t a problem as long as we stayed in the bike-designated area and they stayed in the pedestrian-designated area. The other two sections were tree lined and shaded. The whole trail is paved. The three sections form the Hudson River Trail Network.

Dutchess Trail

We had rented our bikes from Leisure Riding in Poughkeepsie the night before, plus we rented a bike rack for the car, and drove out to dinner for a pizza and then to our room at the Holiday Inn Express. So on Thursday morning, we drove back to the bike rental place parking lot and left the car while we started on the trail. We had done the rental the night before because we started riding at 8:30 a.m., and the rental place didn’t open until 9:30 a.m. We wanted to get this early start. We rode north to the end and then south to the end, where we had lunch at Daddy-O’s and then back to the bike shop parking lot to turn in our bikes and the bike rack. Martha had read that the trail went through several little hamlets on the lower part, so we were expecting many more street crossings and commercial development. We were pleasantly surprised to see how rural and isolated the trail actually was. Except for many memorial benches along the trail, we didn’t see any other amenities and also very few people. It reminded us somewhat of the Silver Comet trail in Atlanta. It was also shady, perfect weather again, and plenty of trees to the side and overhead. It was another enjoyable ride.  Our legs and lungs must be in pretty good shape, because even after riding 36 miles, we still had plenty of energy and could have kept going.

Joyce on Trail

After turning in the bikes and turning on the GPS, Martha navigated us out of Poughkeepsie and south on various roads (like I said, I never really knew where I was going, just following her directions) to enter Manhattan from the north side. I learned as soon as I started on this leg of the trip that the merge lanes end abruptly almost as soon as we merge onto another road. One time we came close to running out of lane but fortunately no one was in the lane immediately to my left as I continued to merge onto the highway. This part of the drive was about one and a half hours. The GPS led us eventually to our parking deck near Central Park, even though barriers in our road caused us to improvise the directions about six blocks beyond our turn and then do a backtrack on another road.To top it off, there was construction right before our turn into the parking deck, so we almost missed it, which would have meant we would have to do the 12 block roundtrip detour again. However, we did see it and zipped into the deck. It was valet parking only, and it cost $40 for our six hour parking. Welcome to NYC.

Trump Tower Restrooms

With the car parked, we footed our way to the Paris Theater about six blocks away to see The Wife, a new film starring Glen Close. That was a good break, and the movie was excellent. Thanks to Martha for noticing it was playing so close to where we were and just at the right time! After the movie, we walked another five or so blocks to 5th Avenue in search of Trump Tower because I wanted to see it and go inside. Martha had the address, but somehow we kept walking past it. We should have paid closer attention to all the people taking pictures with their cell phones! Anyway, we went in, saw the escalator that Trump rode down to announce his candidacy to the crowd gathered in the lobby (I heard they were each paid $50 to be in attendance, but I have no proof), and then down another escalator to the gold-plated restrooms. Took some pictures to verify my being there and to show to Ron and Johnny.

Joyce @ Central Park

Leaving Trump Tower, we walked back about seven blocks to the bike rental where Martha had reserved bikes for us to ride around in Central Park.This ride was 6.5 miles. Not knowing how long it would take to do this because of the hills, we rode faster than we really needed to—zipping around it actually—and returned the bikes 20 minutes before they were due. Even though we could ride only on the perimeter road of Central Park, we were still in the park with no autos competing for our space (only many many other people riding and walking) and could see lots of the scenery of Central Park. I thought about the novel Kiss of the Jeweled Bird and its scenes in Central Park. We had dinner at the Tavern in the Park, which wasn’t very tasty at all and pretty expensive. It was after 9 o’clock when we were there; we decided that we should have just skipped dinner and ordered one of their fancy desserts.

So around 10:15 we started out drive to the Wyndham Hotel near LaGuardia Airport so that we could catch our flight back to Atlanta in the morning. That drive was an experience all its own. Again, with Martha navigating and me driving, we had to traverse several roads, change lanes, cross at least one big bridge, and compete with all these fast New York drivers who didn’t have patience with my going a bit under the speed limit because (I have to admit it) I was rather rattled by all the traffic and night driving. At one point, all lanes were packed, I was in the left lane, Martha said my next turn would be to the left, and there was no shoulder next to me, only this cement barrier. I stayed in the left lane going cautiously, a bit under the speed limit probably, much to the dismay of the drivers behind me who didn’t hesitate to honk to let me know I was holding them up. I wasn’t creeping along, but I definitely wasn’t going 60 miles an hour.  I didn’t want to crash. (The next day, driving my Subaru back in Atlanta, I realized that part of my troubles had been that I am used to sitting much higher in the driver’s seat than I was in the Ford Focus.) However, we made it to the hotel. And there began our next stressful experience:  there was no place to park at the hotel. Well, I take that back, there was a huge empty lot behind the hotel but fences prevented us from walking from back to front, so we decided we better not park there, because, surely, the hotel has parking spaces. Driving around to the front of the hotel, we saw a narrow driveway that led to some underground parking spaces. Ah, we were in luck. There was one spot left.  It was a pretty tight fit, Martha having to get out of the car and guide me into it so that I wouldn’t hit the cement poles or other cars parked there. But we did it! Then walking out to the front door of the hotel we saw the sign that said “Private parking. Violators will be fined $25.” Still stressed out from the drive and parking experience, we went into the hotel to check in and ask them where to park. Their response was “No, you can’t park in the underground parking area where you are. We have valet parking for $25, or you can park in the street if you can find a spot.” It was close to midnight, we didn’t want to pay $25, so we said we’d go look for a spot. But that was NOT easy! Streets for four blocks surrounding the hotel were jammed with parked cars parked inches from each other. This was not looking good.  Finally, in desperation, we drove back to the hotel after circling the area twice and said they could do valet parking. We were tired!

Small room, no hair dryer for Martha, but it did have breakfast the next morning.  We made it through the night.  The next adventure came when we checked out and asked for our car.  Suspicious of where their “parking garage” was located, because they said they could get the car for us in five minutes, I followed the employee out the front door and down into the little driveway where we had painstakingly parked the night before, only to move it and hand it over for valet parking.  This time, though, he had parked it on the side of the drive way, so that he literally drove our car ten feet to the outside sidewalk and gave us the key.  Then he kept standing there and asking for the “tik.”  I kept telling him that we gave the valet parking ticket to the inside desk, and he kept holding out his hand and asking for the “tik.”  Finally, I put his gestures and his nationality together and realized he was asking for a tip.  I gave him $3, so that we could get out of there.  Never will we stay at that hotel again.

From the hotel, it was about a twenty minute drive to the Avis Car Rental to turn in the car, get their shuttle and ride to the airport for our flight home. We got to the airport a lot earlier than we needed to, but we were there.

Martha and I always enjoy our bike rides, even the unexpected. This one was no different.

Lehigh Gorge Trail, Wednesday, August 22, 2018

NYC Bridge

Although this is not a Hall of Fame Rail-to-Trail, Martha and I wanted to ride this trail for its scenic value. We were thinking of doing the Pine Creek Gorge Trail also in Pennsylvania, but the drive between this trail and the Hudson River Valley Trail was around five hours, whereas the Lehigh Gorge Trail was only 2.5 or 3 hour drive from the New York trail. We’ll do the Pine Creek State Park trail another time.

The Lehigh Gorge trail is part of Lehigh Gorge State Park and is a beautiful setting in central Pennsylvania in the Pocono Mountains area, right outside the little town of Jim Thorpe, a turn of the century “carriage-street” town set in the rolling hills of the Pocono Mountains. On Tuesday the 21st we stayed at the Inn at Jim Thorpe, an old partially remodeled hotel on Broad Street, which was a neat place to stay. We had flown to LaGuardia airport in NYC on Monday, rented a car, and drove to Jim Thorpe. Getting out of NYC was an adventure in itself.  I was driving and Martha was navigating with the help of her Google Maps on the cell phone. The route we were given took us through the tunnel under the East River, through the heart of Manhattan, and through the Lincoln Tunnel under the Hudson River. As long as Martha was giving me good directions, though I had no idea where I was going except from designated street to designated street where I turned and it was definitely crowded, the driving was manageable. We were able to drive along 134th Street and see the Empire State Building right close up. So many sky scraper buildings!  And so many exits and entries onto various parkways and interstates! The country side was pretty once we got out of the traffic congestion and urban environment.

Jim Thorpe, PA

On Wednesday morning, we had an early breakfast at the hotel and drove the rental into the State Park where we met our shuttle driver and renter of our bikes. His GPS coordinate was not quite where we were supposed to meet him, and he seemed rather perturbed that we weren’t at the picnic table he had (or had thought he had) designated, but after a phone call to him, we met up and started the drive. He seemed to be an okay guy—knew his biking and skiing (Telluride in the winters) life contexts—but was a bit over confident of his own knowledge and opinions. Our nickname for him became “Snobby.” He dropped us off up in the town of White Haven, where we bought good, reasonably priced ham and Swiss cheese hoagie sandwiches for our lunch on the trail at Renees’ Deli and then started riding at 10:06 a.m. I forgot to press “start” on my odometer until 1.5 miles into the trail, but at least I realized it then and didn’t go the whole time not recorded the ride.

Joyce by Waterfall

The trail was a lot of the same scenery, but that was fine because it was great scenery. The Lehigh River flowed swiftly in the gorge to our left and a rock/dirt/tree lined cliff was on our immediate right. We had an overhang canopy of trees, lots of shade, perfect weather, and very few other riders. Very peaceful and relaxing. The trail was made of hard packed crushed gravel, which made for good traveling. We had no bike problems and good shocks on the bikes. A positive comment about Snobby is that his rates were very good–$21 each for a day’s bike and the shuttle ride to the top. We used the shuttle because riding north to south was slightly downhill and because we didn’t have time in one day to ride it both ways and still get over to Poughkeepsie, NY, for tomorrow’s ride.

Martha @ Buttermilk Falls

The most notable feature of the ride was the many—about six I’d say—solid waterfalls that were coming down the mountain side on our right. Our lunch spot picnic table, in fact, was across from one and a view of the river was on the other side of us.There was one public restroom, not flush toilet but a building nonetheless, at the Rockport access area, about half way through the ride. When we finished the trail, about three hours later, arriving back in jim Thorpe, we rode a mile into town, parked our bikes and walked around the old town to see it when it wasn’t sprinkling and in the day light. We also got a huge ice cream treat/reward at Woods Ice Cream next to the train depot, where we watched people gather and board the train for an excursion into the gorge, by train instead of by bike as we had done. In all, we rode 26 miles today. A good ride. I’m glad we did it.

Tammany Trace Trail, Covington to Slidell, Louisiana, March 5 – 7, 2018

Joyce on Shore of the Bogue Falaya River in Covington

Because we have decided to continue riding all the Hall of Fame Trails and because the Tammany Trace became a Hall of Fame Trail during the last two years, we decided to make an Amtrak trip to Louisiana and do this trail before summer heat set in. We rode down on Monday, biked the trail on Tuesday, and rode the train back to Atlanta on Wednesday. It was a short but good trip. Rain was forecast for Tuesday, which could have been a downer, but the overnight rain stopped by 10 a.m. that morning, and we were able to ride from 11 to 4:30.

Joyce on Tammany Trace

Why it has the designation of Hall of Fame, though, is a little bit of a mystery to me. Maybe because a lot of it goes through swampy areas, which is different, or maybe because it is one of the few bike trails in the south Louisiana area. It had rained a lot lately, so each side of the trail was bordered by a little swampy creek area. Besides the fact that it’s an asphalt paved trail, it has few amenities: no mileage signs, only a few signs indicating that it’s actually a Hall of Fame Rail-to-Trail, no bathrooms except at the ranger “office” at LaCombe and in the town of Mandeville, only scattered yellow wild flowers growing off some vines, only a couple of benches for resting along the trail, and no visible animals except one lone turtle. Alligators are supposedly in the nearby swamps, but we didn’t see any. It crosses several roads along the way, but most of them are back country roads, infrequently traveled, and not a hindrance to riding. In fact, we probably saw one car the whole time. Speaking of cars, though, we did pass two different security vehicles on the trail, so it seems pretty well patrolled for safety of the riders.

Lacombe Bayou Drawbridge

Near the end of our ride, maybe five miles from Slidell, we did come to an interesting feature: the LaCombe Bayou that has a crane operated draw bridge, complete with a ranger there to raise the bridge as needed, through which big yachts could pass from Lake Ponchartrain to the homes farther up the bayou. We couldn’t see any of the homes and didn’t see any of the yachts, but it was an interesting, unique part of the trail. The ranger came out to talk to us and said that a mother alligator is pretty consistent in caring for her breed of baby alligators each year (can’t remember the season) in the area close to the draw bridge, and he warned us not to approach any alligator we might happen to see.

Abita Springs, one of the first towns we went through, had a “crazy Louisiana stuff” museum, but they were charging to get in and it all looked like a tourist trap, so we went on.

Beach @ Fontainebleau State Park

In Mandeville, we got off the trail to see the Dew Drop Inn, an old wood framed jazz building, that is used occasionally (built maybe in the 1930’s). Its redeeming factor was its location under old oak trees with Spanish moss hanging. We then rode to the Ruby Road House, which is supposed to be another well-known jazz location, but which looked and smell only like a bar. We also bought a sandwich to go at Liz’s Where Y’at Diner. Interesting little diner. We took our sandwich three miles farther down the trail to a picnic area at Lake Ponchartrain at Fontainebleau State Park and had lunch while watching the pelicans on the lake. That was relaxing and pretty. We could also see the Causeway from New Orleans to Mandeville, about 25 miles long.

We rode 35 miles total, but the trail was only about 28.5 miles. We started at the old train station in historic Covington and ended rather abruptly near a shopping center in Slidell. The word is that the trail is being extended a few more miles, but that’s not completed yet. (It would have been nice for the trail to end closer to downtown Slidell, where we could have taken our bikes to the Best Western, but we can’t have everything go our way.) Our Amtrak rides each took about twice the time it took us to ride the trail, but then the train rides were part of the adventure. I’m sure Martha mentioned the long delays both down and back due to having to wait for freight trains to pass on the one track for both directions. This is just part of the trip, I figure, and a price we pay for no-stress riding, being able to take our Tern fold-up bikes with us on the train, and the opportunity to watch the countryside go by when I wasn’t reading, playing Cribbage with Martha, or talking with people we met on the train.

Camellia House B&B

The logistics were to use Uber from the train station in Slidell to our Camellia House B&B in Covington (we give it 5 stars for the ambience, the comfy beds, the delicious breakfast of spinach quiche, fruit, and pastries, and the friendliness of the proprietor). Then we used Uber from the shopping center in Slidell to the Best Western Plus motel for Tuesday night, and Uber over and back across the bridge for an evening in New Orleans. There we rode the street car (not trolley and ate delicious Beignets—not pastries—“you’ve got to get your lingo right” says the young Uber driver on the way to the Best Western) at the famous Café Dumonde on Decatur Street. And we walked around the old French Quarter a little before we took the St. Charles streetcar just for a ride and then called another Uber for the ride back. Our Uber drivers were all friendly, so that was sort of fun also.

On Wednesday morning, we awoke at 5:45 a.m. for the breakfast at the motel and then rode the three miles on our bikes over to the Slidell Train station, where we started our trip back. No flat bike tires, no train crashes, no rain, and good company. It was a fun trip.

Tammany Trace – Day 3

Since our Amtrak train was scheduled to leave Slidell at 7:57AM, we had set the alarm for 5:45. We showered, dressed, and ate breakfast at the hotel before biking the 2 ½ miles through a residential neighborhood over to the train station. Although the train was supposedly running early, it actually arrived 30 minutes late. During our wait, we met two nice ladies, one was a retired teacher and theology professor who used to live in Smyrna, GA and the other was visiting her daughter, a student at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. After boarding the train, I slept until almost lunchtime. We decided to eat in the dining car again and were seated with a couple from Little Rock Arkansas who were staying in a roomette (something that Ed and I plan to do on our Great Lakes trip in May). He is a retired middle school music teacher and she writes technical government documents for a pharmaceutical company. After an engaging conversation and a good meal, we returned to the coach car where I tried to take another short nap, but the temperature was too cold! I decided to go to the lounge car where it always seemed to be much warmer. I worked for a couple of hours grading my students’ online tests and then joined Joyce and the theology professor for a discussion about religion. I ordered a salad from the snack bar for supper and also purchased a blanket so that I could sleep comfortably for the remainder of our trip. Although our train was more than three hours late returning to Atlanta, I still am an advocate of taking the train!

Joyce and I are already talking about our next bike ride, which will be the Hudson Valley Trail in upstate New York in the fall….