|December 2004||Louisiana HSTA Newsletter||Bob Chappuis, Editor|
Part 1by Drew Newcomer
November 16, 2004
Highway 4 from Chatham to Highway 499 south to Sikes. Okay this is fine, we have done this part before. What can we do to ad to last year's ride? On to Winnfield, picking up 167 below town then ride up to Highway 501. Tony Crowell said it was worth the trip - might as well give it a try.
Good job Tony!! 501 is almost as good as 126, and a little longer. From the intersection of 156 to Brewton's Mill is smooth surface with plenty of up and down and to and fro. Will ad a loop north to Mount Olive and Quitman than easy ride back to Chatham. This will ad a good number of good miles to the route taken last year.
November 17, 2004
Today's mission is to find a good place to eat lunch and check the morning route. At Grayson get on 126 and guess what - the bridge is out -- again!! No problem, just work up the detour and get back on 126 before it gets good anyway. The good part of 126 begins at the intersection of 126 and highway 503. Same as last year - this may be the best motorcycle road in the state. Too bad the 12.6 miles isn't longer. Okay, things are okay with 126, on to find a lunch spot in Jena. I have five possibilities.
Lunch is going to be more difficult than I thought. My first three possibilities are not open for the noon meal on Saturdays. Keep going west. Red light at First Street. There it is!! The Caboose Café and Gift Shop. Turn around (since I have gone right past it). Park in the front and go inside. Great!! This place has an eclectic atmosphere and the menu is varied enough to be interesting and not so common. Last year was Popeye's Fried Chicken. Certainly don't want to do that this year. The manager, Laura, says she'd love to have us as long as we are not in a hurry. No problem with that. I eat a club sandwich and look at some of the other things people have ordered. This place will work just fine. Now, off to add a little more interest to the afternoon ride!
I pick up 500 west of Jena and head toward Georgetown (a very famous speed trap!) 500 is not bad and part of the ride is through the Kisatchie National Forest. Road surface is not so great but not so bad either. Pick up 472 and ride on up to Winnfield. This is better than last year and north of Winnfield we can pick up 501 for an after lunch set of ups and downs and rights and lefts. Okay, I have added a few miles on the front side of the "Louisiana Loop". Total miles will be around 240. Now, if the weather will cooperate.
December 3, 2004
What have I forgotten? I have the barbeque pit and firewood and have emailed Bob and Stacie a dozen times to remind me of anything. Truck and are loaded. The reservations have been reconfirmed. I guess it is time to head my long 45 miles south to Jimmie Davis State Park. Cabin #11 is waiting and 10 minutes after I arrive so do the LaPointe's from Ohio and Dave Brickner from North Carolina. Bob and Stacie have been talking up the rally for the past several months. Although Sunday's weather is not so promising, we look good for Saturday. I get help to unload the bike and the firewood and pretty soon others arrive from south Louisiana, Texas, and Florida. This looks like it is going to be a great group!! Let's go eat.
The Warehouse Restaurant is ready for us and seems to be a hit once again this year. I get a call from Nikki O'Quinn. She is in east Mississippi riding in the dark. Gotta like that woman!! She'll be in around 11pm. Plenty of time to go to the liquor store! Brad and Cinda are behind me but I have lost David and Sherita. I hope they find their way back as I don't know where they are now.
Well, I did forget my gift exchange present. Once again, I have no imagination so will use a bottle of wine for my gift. Next year I have to do better.
Back to the state park. Thank goodness David and Sherita are here. Time to crowd into Bob and Stacie's cabin and drink a little and talk a lot. Nikki calls about 11pm. She is West Monroe and heading south. I will meet her in Chatham. Thirty minutes later she arrives in Chatham with the local constable in tow. Nikki is dog tired and to-the-bone cold. Fortunately, in a holiday spirit mood, he lets her go with only a warning. Good, the last thing she needed was a citation. We get to the state park and a piece of Stacie's pecan pie makes everything alright!!
December 4, 2004
Good breakfast for Nikki, Bob Burditt, and me. We are up a little earlier than everyone else. Let's go. I lead to 499 where Bob and Nikki tire of 70 mph and blast by me. We wave at Brad and Cinda in their Miata as we pass. On to Grayson where we find the bridge is up - the bridge is up - so there is no need to detour. Stay on 126 and have a blast. I tell Bob and Nikki to just wait for me at the intersection of Highway 4 where I lead of group of six to lunch.
The Caboose Café is a hit!! I felt it would be and manager Laura says she looks forward to seeing us next year - don't think that will be a problem. The after lunch ride is nice as the temperatures have warmed up nicely into the upper 50's. I let Bob and Nikki go at Highway 4 west of Jonesboro while they continue north. It'll be time for a libation and get the firewood ready when we get back. I follow Bob and Tony and a couple others back to the state park. Still with my short-cut, I have ridden 220 miles. Not bad and some of it very good.
Bob Chappuis is getting things ready at 5pm. Stacie's gumbo is a hit all the way round. This year, as in years past, Stacie has brought enough food to feed a small army. We number around 30, and Stacie could have fed 60. Bob Burditt is placed in charge of my barbeque pit full of Cajun sausage. Everyone eats till they absolutely can eat no more!
Twenty-six participate in the gift exchange. This is the most fun gift exchange I have participated in my four years of Cajun Christmas. I draw number 1 - the best number!! As we go through the gifts it is interesting to see what gets stolen - things I never would expect. We have a blast. Everyone ends up with something they can use - no lava lamps this year!! After the exchange it is time for a little more drink and a lot more talk. This has been the best Cajun Christmas ever and I can't wait to work on next year's to make it even better --- I have some ideas already!!!
Part 2by Bob Chappuis
Cajun Christmas 2004 is history and a great one it was. We have had many good ones over the last 16 years but I don't think I can argue with Drew - number 16 has to rank right at the top! Everything seemed to fall into place perfectly. Weather clear (at least for Friday and Saturday) and cool, perfect cookout weather. A record number of bikers in attendance with many new faces and riders from four new states, Florida, Missouri, North Carolina, and Ohio plus Santa Claus from Indiana and our good neighbors from Texas - many veterans plus four first-timers! And what a great, fun loving, hard riding bunch!27 made it to The Warehouse #1 in Monroe, LA for dinner Friday night. Drew had arranged for a private room and it was just big enough for our crowd. The staff did a fine job and the food was delicious. After the trip back to the park most gathered at event Headquarters Cabin 12 for homemade Pecan Pie and socializing. Lunch ride route sheets and maps were handed out and studied. Around midnight we decided on a lunch ride departure time and everyone headed for bed.
Drew and I had envisioned several small groups forming up for the lunch ride but it did not quite happen that way. After gassing up in Chatham, I found myself leading a long line of motorcycles of all types stretching out behind me farther than I could see.The machines ranged from a Gold Wing to an Africa Twin and everything in between. I tried to maintain a good pace that would not leave anyone behind yet not frustrate the faster riders but the line of bikes was just to long to keep in sight in the thickly wooded, hilly terrain. Our lead group of 4 soon got separated at a traffic light and we would not see the rest of the group until we reached our lunch destination in Jena. Along the way we enjoyed some great twisties, at times at an exhilarating pace, especially the good part of 126. Somehow the whole group managed to arrive at the Caboose Cafe at more or less the same time and the multicolored machines made quite a sight lined up on Main street in front of the cafe. Everyone reported enjoying a fine meal and the service was excellent.
The lunch crowd returned to camp in smaller groups via various routes. My group had an uneventful but pleasant ride back. My GPS betrayed me and I missed a segment of Drew's route but I was anxious to get back to the park to get organized for the evenings activities. It was a great lunch ride and I think everyone enjoyed it and made it home without any accidents or "performance awards"!
Back at Cabin 12 it was time to figure out how to grill enough burgers and Cajun sausage to feed 30 at one time without anyone having to wait. The built-in grills behind cabins 12 & 13 were great but not big enough. Drew had come through with a portable pit and I set up a makeshift one. 30 lbs of charcoal and some lighter fluid and we are in business. Time to delegate some tasks! Texan Bob Burditt and Floridian Chuck Headrick, both renowned grillmasters, would each man two grills. Tammy Moss volunteered to decorate the "Christmas Tree". Santa Clause Kirkendoll quickly had the bonfire blazing and others pitched in to set up picnic and serving tables; everything was falling into place as darkness settled in. Time for a beer!
The area soon filled up with HSTAers ready to pass a good time and tame some big appetites but our team of cooks were up to the task. By the end of the evening there was little left in Stacie's gumbo and chili pots. I had over estimated the burger and sausage demand but it is better to have too much than not enough, I always say!
After the feast it was time for the infamous Cajun Christmas Gift Exchange. The 24 colorfully wrapped gifts were quickly piled on one of the tables... well, 23 were quickly piled anyway while a frantic search was made for one misplaced gift. It was soon located and added to the pile and I moved among the crowd with a pitcher filled with slips of paper number 1 through 24. A good number, the more the merrier. This year we had probably the largest number of gift exchange participants yet and great fun was had by all and some really fine gifts given AND stolen!
It was a great party but all good things must come to an end. Everyone helped clean up and pack up the gear and return the area to normal in record time. Nevertheless, I think it was close to 1 am by the time everyone had said good night or goodbye. Several out-of-starters would be leaving before dawn!
The wet weather inevitably building up from the Gulf kindly waited for us to finish our cookout and gift exchanging fun but let loose during the night with thunderous accompaniment. The rain gradually died down to a drizzle by the time Stacie and I and the Crowells departed at mid morning but I'm afraid some of our visitors had a long, soggy ride home. Nevertheless the feedback has been unanimously and enthusiastically favorable and there is no doubt that Cajun Christmas 2004 was a fantastic weekend of fun for all! On behalf of the whole Louisiana HSTA chapter, Stacie and I and Drew want to thank everyone for joining us and we look forward to seeing you all back in 2005!
It has been rewarding and great fun being State Directors in 2004. Stacie and I want to thank everyone who attended rides and events with us this year and we hope you all had a MERRY CHRISTMAS and wish you a Prosperous and Healthy NEW YEAR. Keep in touch, ride safe and
|HAPPY TRAILS, Bob and Stacie.