Louisiana

With the bikes fixed we left Texas behind and headed east towards Lafayette, Louisiana. The drive to Lafayette was predicted to be long and with the current heat wave, tiring too. The landscape between Houston, TX and the Louisiana border was not pleasant. Oil refineries and chemical factories after a another – we just wanted to get out of it all. Crossing the boarder was like crossing into a a world before industry. In front of us were green mangrove and swamp forests, behind us was refinery towers and tank farms.

We had heard a lot about the 'southern hospitality' which the deep south is so famous for but what we experienced in Louisiana is just off the scale. It all started with our first hotel stay in Lafayette – within 5 minutes of arrival a local, Nick, offered CB a ride on his bike after hearing the polite revs of the BMWs. After taking Nick's Harley Davidson Sportser Custom for a spin, we were offered a cold beer and met the loveliest Cajun lady, Shanon, who along with Nick told us about their Cajan culture, language, food and traditions. After talking to them for nearly an hour, she offered us free gumbo, a local delicacy, at a popular local restaurant – it was the hero of our dinner that night.

Checking out the local attractions we next took a day trip to Avery Island and accidentally stumbled across the Tabasco Factory – that's right, the hot stuff. We had no idea it was made on this wee island – next time you open a bottle take a look at the label and you will Avery Is, LA. Next thing on our Louisiana 'to-do' list was a swamp tour. Shanon recommended a local operator, which took us through a typical swamp area with alligators and all. However, the boat trip was overshadowed by a heart-attack moment when ten minutes into the trip DB realised that left her wedding ring on the top of the tank of her bike after applying sunscreen – we feared for the worst. Needless to say, we couldn't fully enjoy the tour, even though what we saw was quite magical like out of another world. Once back on terra firma, we raced to the bikes and with great relief we found that the ring was still exactly where DB left it – puhhh…a bit too much adventure on this adventure-trip. So far she has managed to lose her credit card and NZ drivers licence between Houston and the Louisiana border and now nearly her wedding ring…we need to superglue stuff to her.

After the drama of the swamp tour we headed east to Baton Rouge to stay at the home of a friend of a friend from Sydney. Alejandro is a fellow motorcyclist, Colombian, a jack of all trades and along with his wife two of the most generous people we have ever met! When we arrived at their house, Alejandro was still at work and so his lovely wife Jessica was there to greet and invite us in. Now imagine this, two smelly bikers drenched in sweat who you've never met or even seen before standing on your doorstep saying "hallo! we are friends of friends of Alejandro's visiting from Australia can we come in?" What started as quick cuppa on the way to New Orleans ended up as a four-night stay and two new life long friends! We had such a great time exchanging stories, going for a motorcycle ride along the Mississippi, watching the sunset over the Mississippi river and sipping ice-teas in a swanky Baton Rouge bar, eating blackend alligator and cheese and jalapeno covered fries and smoking a fine Cuban cigar with whiskey. Again, thank you so much Alejandro and Jessica for having us and showing us your Louisiana – you truly made us feel like we were at home away from home.

Team Berg also went to New Orleans for a night and stayed in a wee boutique hotel (based on the price DB obviously picked this one) right in the heart of the French Quarters. Our big night out started with some cocktails in a lovely cocktail bar, some exploring, more cocktails, divine food (again DB's choice) and a late night in some of the finest Jazz bars the Frenchmen Street has to offer. We were told that the city is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, but we thought that this must be one of North America's best kept secrets – forget Vegas! If you want good times go to New Orleans! Unfortunately, we had to head back the next day, but we both knew that this is certainly not the last time we'll be here.

That sums up Louisiana for us – one of the highlights of our trip so far! Next we visit Alabama, speed through Mississippi and the Florida pan-handle to get to Georgia to celebrate 4th of July with CB's long lost cousins.

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