Tuesday, October 7, 2008

A day I could pass on...

I woke up revived and rested and ready to ride to New Orleans. Bill drove me across a bridge that would have been a dangerous ride and we said goodbyes. I was said to see this part of my journey come to an end.

On the way over the bridge I told Bill, "I bet I get wet today." And I did. Within a few minutes of Bill dropping me off the raindrops started to fall as i headed to the Big Easy. I was fast today. Partly because I had taken a day off and partly because my load was a little lighter (I may have had a tailwind too). I left my tent in Bill's truck and I realized about 10 minutes after he was gone. Bill was off to a meeting so I didn't bother him, plus I had already broken a tent pole and I would really like to have a slightly larger tent to sleep in anyway.

One of my water bottle sleeves on broke off as i was re-assembling the gear. grrrr.

I made it to the out skirts of new Orleans in about an hour. I was pacing at over 25-28 MPH much of the way. Hwy 90 split at one point and I wasnt sure which split was the highway so I took the direction toward the french quarter knowing that it was east of downtown. Big mistake! I soon found myself in a part of town I had know business being in so I stopped to set my navigator to send me to Canal street in the French Quarter. As I was stopped I noticed a man in a junker pontiac convertible take an interest in my. I just glanced and saw that he slowed to a stop ahead and perpendicular to me about 100 yards in front up me. He then pulled into the street and drove by slowly, watching me as I typed into the phone. I saw him drive about 200 yards further and then pull a u-turn in my direction. I knew this wasn't good so I quit the typing on the phone and pedalled quickly. I wasn't sincerely scared in my situation because I knew 100% from his actions he had bad intentions.

A few blocks later he passed me slowly and with his window rolled down apparently trying to get me to pull over. He was a black man about 40ish wearing jean shorts and a tank top. He had a lazy beer gut and a fake smile I knew was worthless. I didn't pull over. He then took a turn at the next street pulling another u-turn in a parking lot and followed me again. Again he passed me a this time gave me a quick honk and said something out his open window as he pulled off to a y in the road. I continued forward. He put the car in reverse, passed me again and then did another u-turn to get behind me.

I took off now quickly. No more breezing down the road. This man was waiting for the right spot to jack me and he was on the phone as well. I was afraid more help was on the way. I ran through several stop lights getting some disance between us as he was caught in traffic. I really didn't know where I was going which made me even more wary. So I stop in at a convenience store, parked the bike by an ice machine and went inside. About 30 seconds later he went by the store slowly and pulled in after noticing my bike. He came inside the store like he wasn't noticing me. He got in line and I also got in line behind him. I nearly confronted him right there. It seemed much safer than the prospect of meeting him outside on his terms. I just looked at him instead as he ignored me. Then he drove off slowly.

About a minute later he pulled back in. I was going to ask another old black man if I could pay him drive drive me out of the neighborhood in his truck. But when I asked him, "sir"? He only replied, "Don't talk to me!" I was very alone amongst no one I could look in the eye ask for help. So I stayed inside. The clerk spoke very poor english and was really no help. Except that when he finally realized I was being stalked by the guy in line before me he said I should call the police. That didn't comfort me at all because it left me the impression this sort of thing happens regularly.

The man pulled into the parking lot again. Slowly drove through and then parked behind a moving truck on the other side of the street. I could still see his wheels.

I called a cab to come get me. But when I gave the cab the address he only said, "I'll see what i can do." He wasn't coming.

The man in the convertible pulled away again and I never saw him again. A police pulled in to fill up for gas. I went out to talk to them and they offered me an escort to the French Quarter. I was less than three miles away.

I stopped at an outdoor cafe with live jazz and order a light beer to calm me down. It didn't work. I really wanted to leave New Orleans but I wasn't going to let that one man change my course. I booked a hotel and stayed anyway...


Mom and Dad said...

Thank you Lord for protecting our son. My heart was pounding as I read today's entry. Thanks for bringing the police.

Shannon said...

Hang in there...we love ya...dont let the bad guys get you....just call 911 as soon as you are not sure :-)Even if you are wrong!

Minh said...

Stay outta of those areas man, guys like you aren't very welcomed down there unfortunately. Glad you made it out of there.