“God says to Abraham “Kill me a son”
Abe says “Man, you must be putting me on”
God says “No”, Abe say “What!?!”
God say “You can do what you want Abe but,
the next time you see me comin’ you better run”
Well Abe says, “Where do you want this killing done?”
God says, “Out on Highway 61”

- Bob Dylan, Highway 61 Revisited

Vicksburg, MS to New Orleans, LA: US-61 South to Port Gibson, Natchez Trace Parkway South, back to US-61 to Natchez National Historic Park, continuing through Sibley, Dolorso, Woodville, Hardwood Baines, to Baton Rouge, I-10 East to New Orleans. (

Vicksburg looks like an interesting place, one of the largest and best-preserved Civil War sites in the National Park System. I’d like to stay here for a while, drive the park loop road and check out the restored Union gunboat-USS Cairo. But I can’t. I’ve got to get moving if I want to get to New Orleans before dark. This flat tire thing is really throwing off my plans.

Two miles past Port Gibson I jump on the Natchez Trace Parkway. Running 444 miles from the Tennessee Valley to the Mississippi River, it is one of the premier roads in America. There are no towns along the way, no trucks are allowed, no gas stations, no motels, and no restaurants. It is just a beautiful road for over 400 miles. The speed limit along the Natchez is limited to 50 MPH, and that’s good for me today because I’d rather not run that plugged tire at higher speeds. Grass and trees run right up to the edge of the road and there is no shoulder at all. It reminds me of the better parts of the Taconic State Parkway, one of my favorite roads back home.

When I get to Natchez, Mississippi, I make a quick stop at the Natchez National Historic Park to get the stamp and they’ve got a bonus stamp for the William Johnson House that I didn’t expect. I’m in and out in five minutes. One of the park rangers says ”That was a quick visit.” And it sure was, but I’ve got to get to Baton Rouge.

At 2 PM, I’m at Hebert Cycles (http://www.hebertcycles.com/) in Baton Rouge, a BMW dealer. They take my motorcycle into the service area right away and start changing the tire.

Twenty minutes later the service technician is taking the bike off the lift and SNAP, the throttle cable breaks! What? A throttle cable breaking on a new bike? They’ve never seen that before, and obviously neither have I.

I can’t believe my good luck! I could have been ten miles down the road when this happened and then the bike would have had to be towed back to the shop. But it is already here, on the service lift. Perfect timing! About an hour later a new throttle cable has been installed under warranty, and I’m back on the road. Interstate 10 is flat and straight, leading me across the swamps of Louisiana to the city of New Orleans.

As the light fades, I ride around the French Quarter trying to figure out where I’ll stay for the evening and, importantly, where I’ll park the bike. I should have planned this better, and perhaps made a reservation somewhere. I end up opting for a somewhat pricey room at the Marriott on Canal Street, but it has a spectacular view from the 27th floor and safe parking for the motorcycle.

I don’t have much time here so I’m not going to waste it sleeping. There is way too much cool stuff going on down there in the French Quarter. Music is wafting up the 27 floors, from the House of Blues down below, and it makes me want to get down there into the mix of everything that is New Orleans. After all, it is Friday night. At 10 PM I go out for a stroll.

The city is alive with music and mystery. Every street has a different story to tell, and a different scene waits around every corner. Who knows what secrets are lurking in the shadows?

Dozens of Tarot Card readers tell their tales along St. Peters Street, on the western edge of Jackson Square. Outside Preservation Hall the music pours into the street. To enjoy the show I only need to stand outside on the sidewalk.

The corner of Bourbon Street and St. Peters is a madhouse, a non-stop party. Drunks outnumber sober people. Hot dog vendors charge $4.50 for a frankfurter because they can. People walk around with drinks in their hands and the entire street is closed to vehicular traffic. It doesn’t have to be Mardi Gras for women to flash their breasts. People are everywhere, drinking, exposing themselves, and throwing bead necklaces.

I’ll be ready to leave in a few hours.

Miles Today: 248.4
Total Miles: 24,447
Time on Motorcycle: 4 Hours 42 Minutes
Average Speed: 101.7 MPH
States Visited today: 2 (MS, LA)
Total States Visited: 38
National Park Service Passport Stamps: 3
NPS Stamp Totals: 179 Stamps, 34 States
Weather: Sunny, as usual, and getting warmer.
Total Cost for new rear tire, including installation, and a new tire repair kit: $202.45

“Come Back Soon…or we’ll come git ya.” – sign as you leave the Battlefield Inn, Vicksburg, Mississippi.

While gumbo is not my cup of tea, I’m glad to be in a city like New Orleans where fine food is placed in such high regard. I think the last good meal I had was in Kansas.

Well, I’m not in Kansas anymore. In New Orleans they live to eat. There is of course a great wealth of seafood, some of the finest chefs in the world, a strong culinary influence from the Creole and Cajun history, and something like 3000 restaurants. When it comes to food in New Orleans, they even seem to have their own language. Some highlights:

Andouille (ahn-doo-ye) -- Plump and spicy country sausage, used in Red Beans & Rice and other Creole recipes.

Beignet (bane-yea) -- Sweet, square doughnuts that are heavily sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Boudin (boo-dan) -- Hot, spicy sausage that has pork, onions, rice, and herbs mixed together.

Cafe Au Lait (caf-ay oh-lay) -- A half and half mixture of hot coffee and hot milk.

Chicory (chick-ory) -- An herb that is dried, ground, roasted and used to flavor New Orleans coffee.

Crawfish -- Locally known as Mudbugs. Served in many different New Orleans dishes. Only the tail of the crawfish is eaten.

Dirty Rice -- Pan-fried leftover cooked rice sautéed with green peppers, onion, celery and giblets.

Etoufee (ay-too-fay) -- A tangy tomato-based sauce. Etoufee is used in many New Orleans dishes.

Grillades (gree-yads) -- Squares of broiled beef or veal.

Grits -- Coarsely ground hominy grain. Looks like mashed potatoes, but tastes like corn.

Gumbo -- A thick, mostly okra-based soup that is poured over cooked rice. There are many different types of gumbo, including, Chicken Gumbo, Shrimp Gumbo, and Crawfish Gumbo.

Jambalaya (jum-bo-lie-yah) -- Tomatoes, cooked rice, ham, andouille, chicken, celery, onions and seasonings. Similar to paella.

Muffuletta -- A huge, round sandwich consisting of ham, salami, and other meats, cheese, pickles, and olive salad.

Praline (praw-leen) -- A New Orleans candy. Flat and sweet, it is made of sugar, water, and pecans.

Po-Boy -- A large sandwich served on French bread. Po-Boys can be stuffed with fried oysters, fried shrimp, roast beef and gravy, softshell crabs, turkey, or hot sausage.

Red Beans & Rice -- Red Kidney beans mixed with rice, seasonings, spices and (andouille) sausage. Traditionally, Red Beans and Rice was served on Mondays, because Monday was wash day, and the Red Beans could simmer and cook all day without attention.

Thanks to http://www.alanet.com for their food dictionary. And a special thank you to Jack Schatz who wrote me a long e-mail about all the great food and restaurants in New Orleans. Look out Zagats, here comes Jack Schatz!