Have I talked you in to coming down to Louisiana for some shore leave? Let me know right away because there’s still room for you at the B&B I’ve rented for Thursday night. It’s a three bedroom home that sleeps ten, on the bayou. My ground crew will spend the night there on Thursday night, drive a few miles to the starting line on Friday and watch us paddle away, then head back to pack up the gear and watch the flotilla come by. Then it’s off for the first day of fun.
So, what did our imaginary ground crew do on their last day in Cajun land? Here we go…..
It was the last day of the race and you were deep in south Louisiana. It was only a 30 mile paddle for the racers but they had to battle an incoming tide from the gulf. And, they were tired, so their pace was slower than yesterday. You could take your time about getting to Berwick. After waving goodbye to the racers you strolled on over to the Franklin historic district for some photography and another great Cajun breakfast. You took your sweet time enjoying the food and enjoyed some beignets with chicory coffee. More pictures of the beautiful downtown area and a visit to the Gravemburg museum. Then it was over to Oaklawn Manor for the last plantation on your tour. Hard to believe people actually lived like this a hundred fifty years ago. While there you walked out back and down to the Teche to watch the racers cruise past. They were grateful to see you there cheering them on because they knew they were headed to the wax lake outlet and a possible long portage. This day you stayed on Main Street and cruised slowly south, watching the Bayou out the driver’s side window. If you had hurried just a little more you could have done the swamp tour at Cajun Jack’s, in Patterson. Well maybe next year. His website says he has tours at 9:00 and 2:30, EIGHT days a week.
You got to the locks at the Wax Lake Outlet and watched as the paddlers scrambled out of their boats. They had to drag and carry the boats and gear up the hill for the portage. A lot of head scratching and thinking going on about the best way to do this. Around the first lock, across the water in the outlet, and around the second lock? That water was was moving awfully fast. The “pros” decided to go across the outlet, along with some of those who didn’t have vehicles there to help with the portage. Others made the painful decision to take their boats down the road to highway 90, across the outlet, back up Levee Road to the bayou, and continue their race. Not so bad for those who could strap their boats onto vehicles. Tougher for the poor souls who had to carry their boats the whole way. Not many onlookers here. You couldn’t help your racer, it was against the rules. But, they were glad you were there to support them.
Back in the car and down the road to the last checkpoint in Berwick. This is the place those racers have been dreaming about seeing. You stopped in to see what was going on. Not much, yet, since the first racer had yet to arrive. The gang from the Teche Project had already set up and was getting the food ready so you visited with them and helped get some of the feast ready. Suddenly you heard cheering and looked to see the first boat coming down the bayou. It was the Illinois Brigade coming in for the home stretch and the win. You’d met these guys at the start of the race when they walked down to the water. Really nice guys but….. a little crazy. If anyone besides your racer was to win this you were glad it was them. You knew your guys were no match for teams like this so they wouldn’t be arriving for quite a while. The Illinois Brigade goes all out all the time and when they get to the finish……
………… they are TIRED! But, you knew your racer was having more fun than old Wally there. So, you waited for that phone call your racer promised to let you know the end was in sight. You had some time to check out Morgan City and Berwick.
You got the call a little after noon and raced back to the finish line. A lot more boats had arrived, and you could see more coming along. Lots of really tired racers with huge smiles. Some of them had done this kind of thing before but, for many, this was their first time. They’d made it and they were rightly proud of themselves. Some of the racers who’d dropped out were there, too, to support their “comrades” as they paddled in. Great sportsmen, all of them. Finally your racer came around the corner. You saw him slow way down and almost stop on the water as he looked at the finish. Why was he stopping like that? Then you saw him put the hammer down and paddle like crazy to make a fast finish. Quick, over to grab a cold beer for him, then down to the dock to help him out of the boat, some pictures, back slapping, and congratulations.
Maybe next year you’ll get a boat and try this?