DAY 114 – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 30

VIOLET TO BELLE CHASSE We ran from the Arlene & Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation at Docville Farm in the rain. Another ferry ride at Scarsdale, Louisiana—not our first nor our last—bringing us over to Belle Chasse, Louisiana. We marked our landing spot there at the docks and drove on to the Government Complex nestled deep within the town. Stepping out of the rain into the Plaquemines Parish Government Office, we were immediately greeted by James Madere, our gracious organizing partner and Special Projects Coordinator at the Parish. He took us right in to meet Parish President Kirk Lepine along with his Director of Administration Crystal Taylor, Director of …

DAY 113 – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 29

NEW ORLEANS TO VIOLET Tom ran from Audubon Park across New Orleans, Louisiana on Tchoupitoulas Street. It was very rainy in the early morning hours, but lightened up for our run. The route took him past the New Orleans Port and through downtown and the French Quarter then into Crescent Park and out of town toward Violet. We landed there on an oak tree-lined section of St. Bernard Hwy right at Docville Farm, a property of the Arlene & Joseph Meraux Charitable Foundation, but before our meetings we had time for some lunch and some wandering. The rain was still coming down heavily, but we attempted to drive …

DAY 112 – MONDAY, OCTOBER 28

NEW ORLEANS LAYOVER We started our day at New Harmony High School, part of the charter school system in New Orleans, Louisiana. Unlike some of the other charters, New Harmony isn’t a franchise with a strict, rules-based, college-aimed focus. This school is rooted in its surroundings, approaching interactions with students, curriculum itself and the entire focus of the school through the lens of New Orleans and Coastal Louisiana, how people live in this place, how people learn to survive even. The vision statement on their website says “students graduate as individuals who practice resilience and understand ecology—the interconnectedness of people, land, …

DAY 111 – SUNDAY, OCTOBER 27

KENNER TO NEW ORLEANS (AUDUBON) We had to drive around the highway to get to the Seventh Ward. It seemed to cut right through a neighborhood, abruptly disconnecting the landscape. We parked along the street and walked to the second story entrance of Angela Chalk’s home. The door was slightly ajar, but we knocked. A voice from the back of the house called out for us to come in, so we made our way inside and waited. The TV was on in the living room and all the lights were lit as we waited for several minutes, and then Angela …

DAY 110 – SATURDAY, OCTOBER 26

KENNER LAYOVER We spent the night in the Emergency Operations Center bunk house. This involved trying to fit two people on one bottom twin bunk for several hours before resorting to splitting up between two bunks. This also involved vision-impaired trips to the lobby bathroom in the dark, with badge key to enter and exit sections of the building. (I thought roaming the national forest in my nightgown was weird, but this may top that!) Over night the storm intensified into a tropical storm with widespread power outages and trees down throughout Kenner. We were probably in the safest building …

DAY 109 – FRIDAY, OCTOBER 25

NORCO TO KENNER It was a stormy day. We started our run at the Corps of Engineers station at the Bonnet Carré Spillway. It was dark when we started and seemed to keep getting darker during Tom’s run. I stopped for a bathroom break as I drove ahead and found that the power was out at the gas station. I knocked on the door and they let me in—navigating my way by cell phone flashlight. As we ran, the school busses were out in full force on the River Road. Their bright white flashing lights looked like lightning, but fortunately all …

DAY 108 – THURSDAY, OCTOBER 24

RESERVE TO NORCO (ST. CHARLES PARISH) We ran down the river from Reserve, Louisiana to Norco, Louisiana, running mostly east along this stretch of river. We thought the levee trail would be paved the whole way to New Orleans from here, but there was still a good bit of gravel to navigate. As we approached the Bonnet Carré Spillway, we found that the road on the back side was closed to through traffic. I ignored the road closed signs and ran the two mile stretch to the Corps of Engineers station at the far end of the spillway. Now the road is greatly damaged …

DAY 107 – WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 23

CONVENT TO RESERVE (ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST PARISH) We arrived in Reserve at Our Lady of Grace Church, a historic Catholic Church Sanctuary now used as to house Historic Riverlands, a nondenominational Church which also offers tours focused on the Church’s history in African American life in Southern Louisiana as well as tours on the “Soul River Musical Journey,” chronicling the history of African American music which we would learn more about later in the day. Robin greeted us as she shuttled some young children over to the adjacent preschool center for photo day. We received our instructions for our first …

DAY 106 – TUESDAY, OCTOBER 22

ST. GABRIEL TO CONVENT/LUTCHER (ST. JAMES PARISH) We left St. Gabriel, Louisiana on bike. It’s forty miles to Convent, Louisiana and it’s all along the River Road which follows the levee downriver. Normally we like to leave a town and enter a town on foot, but today we needed to cover some miles and there’s not really a “town” of Convent. Wikipedia does describes it as a census-designated place, though. After arriving in Convent, we drove on to Lutcher, Louisiana to meet with some locals from St. James Parish. The format was across-the-table interviews. We were set up at an old home on Main Street and …

DAY 105 – MONDAY, OCTOBER 21

BATON ROUGE TO ST. GABRIEL The rain came earlier than expected. We thought we might be able to get an early start and stay dry, but it wasn’t in the cards. Tom took off down the levee from LSU—already soaked just by walking from the van to the top of the levee. The view of the Mississippi River from the levee was good. It’s a wide river here with barges, ships, and workboats moving up and down. Refineries and industry are common along this stretch—and surprisingly, so are cows. Cattle ranches on the dry side of the levee are abundant. …