Monthly Archives: November 2010

Do What? Go Where? Who Dat? DO DAT!

I know it’s a long way off, but this sounds like so much fun I want to make sure anyone who’s interested is aware and puts it on their calendar. Here’s the deal. The Tour du Teche is a three day stage race through the heart of Cajun country, in the Atchafalaya Heritage Area. It should be a blast for the paddlers but it’s a really different, interesting area and would be a lot of fun for anyone who’d like to visit these little towns. Start each day watching the racers take off, spend the day being a tourist, and enjoy a party with great food and live music in the evening. I can think of a lot worse ways to spend some time.

Now, I know I live in Louisiana (Who Dat Nation) but Shreveport is much more like East Texas than South Louisiana. So, I’ll be researching the race, and the culture of Cajun Country in the next few months to try and convince you to join me, in the water or on the shore, for a few days. Here we go!

Naw man, thas not Ned talkin. HA HA HA!

Here’s the schedule starting on October 6
Thursday: Registration, boat and equipment check in Port Barre until 6:00 followed by Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulez (let the good times roll) – live music and food.
Friday: 7:00 am start. 48 miles to St. Martinville. 6:30 pm Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulez.
Saturday: 7:00 am start. 61 miles to Franklin. 7:00 pm paddlers dinner followed by Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulez (are you starting to get the idea of how they do things in south Louisiana?)
Sunday: 7:00 am start. 25 miles to Berwick. And at noon, yep, Laissez Les Bons Temps Roulez.

They put on a great race last year and, from what I’ve been told, everyone (racers, their ground crews, spectators, locals) had a wonderful time. In fact, the only people who were a little upset were a lot of the locals who didn’t know it was happening and missed the fun. They plan to do a much better job of publicizing it in 2011 and there should be a TON of boats of all sorts entered along with lots and lots of people along the banks cheering us on. This isn’t the Missouri River where we were paddling through isolated country. There are small towns and homes all along the Teche. If you’re looking for history, terrific music, shopping, amazing local culture, and great food you can’t do much better than this.

For all my friends who said they envied my experience in the MR340 but thought it was just too much here’s your chance. Find a canoe, a kayak, or pirogue and a partner (or go solo) and come on down. You don’t even need to do all three days. They’ve split it up so that you can enter for Friday and Saturday,or Saturday and Sunday. There are even one day races each of the three days. Come on Vince B, Jim H, David K, Christian F, Eric B, and Mike and Marilyn V. If I’m young enough to do it y’all are, too.

Ned

A testosterone fueled dragon

I typed this post up in September and thought I’d have some pictures so I delayed posting it. But I never did get the pics the kids promised to send. So, here it is. A little late. (11/22/2010 – I did find a picture on the web, it’s posted at the bottom)

On the 11th the city of Shreveport had their second annual dragon boat festival so I thought I’d cruise on down to the riverfront for a few hours to look around, and then head back to the apartment to read a little and maybe take a nap. Seemed like a great way to spend a Saturday.

Of course that didn’t work out the way I’d planned it. I was down there watching the 30 or so teams get ready for the races when they announced that several teams needed people to fill in and asked for volunteers. I couldn’t help myself and in short order I was assigned to the Young Life team – a group of high school seniors who’d never paddled anything and hadn’t shown up for the practice sessions the week before. OK, I figured I’d still be able to make it home by noon and relax.

First race. Three boats, one of which was a team from Houston that had their own carbon-fiber paddles and matching life vests. These guys were serious. We came in 1/2 a boat length behind them. The boys in Young Life were astounded that they’d done so well. The guys from Houston were getting a lecture from their coach as we walked past. He was not happy. “Do you realize that THOSE PEOPLE almost beat you?” The kids all perked up and walked a little taller as they heard that!

Second race. We won. Oh boy. These guys were getting the hang of the team work required when you have 20 paddlers in the same boat all trying to hit the water with their paddles at exactly the same time and move the boat forward. And, of course, a boat full of 19 guys who are 18 years old (plus me filling a seat and yelling along with them) the male hormones are in full flow and the water was flying. They were starting to think maybe they could hang in there a little.

Third race. We won again. By now they’d divided everyone into four groups and we were in the fastest group of all! This third race put us into the final race for this group. We were competing against the guys from Houston, the Shreveport Firefighters (winners last year and a bunch with arms the size of my legs), the Shreveport Mudbugs minor leage hocky team players, and a team of Air Force guys from the base over in Bossier City.

As the day wore on and these kids kept advancing they were getting more and more excited. The guy announcing the races kept referring them as the “upset team of the day” and “Team Young Life – those upstarts.” As we’d finish races and they walked back to their area other teams were cheering for them. These boys were higher than kites.

Last race of the day against five other boats. They came in fourth – less than 2 seconds behind the first place team (the firefighters) and just behind the Houston guys and the air force. But they beat the hockey players. They walked away vowing to put together a team for 2011. So, Shreveport Firefighters – watch out for Young Life in 2011, they’re coming for you!