This get together had been planned for a week or longer. I again waited until the last minute to flip the switch on it. Al showed up with only an hour's notice. Mark awaited with both of his steeds poised for action depending on the criteria of the ride.
Al and I arrived at Mark's at about 9:30. He rushed out of the door and did a Hopalong Cassidy mount onto the CRF 250. I told him, "Wrong bike," which spurred a reverse Hopalong Cassidy dismount followed by a forward Hopalong Cassity mount upon the 750 Nighthawk. That over, we exited his property with few words shared between us though I did see Al and Mark whispering. I ignored it and motored on. My target was Eola. I don't know if they suspected that immediately.
Up through the country we rode, faster than usual since I've geared all my bikes for ultimate speed and performance. I glanced at Al, his long flowing beard hanging over the edge of the gas tank as he tucked in to smooth the air flow over what could be an impressive obstacle. Mark faded to the rear as he is fairly new to following me. Al has tainted his mind with stories of my abrupt U-turns for which he is cautious, rightfully so.
The first highlight of my tour was to take them down the historic railroad rich district of Ville Platte. Al's first question was, "What town is this?" which was good because I'm not very practiced at having an information hungry group along. He reminded me to lay the slab before building the house. We saw the old depot and discussed the possible and probable shell game that the local communities were playing amongst themselves. Several of our little towns have historic depots, but not their own. Lafayette has the Iota depot, Eunice has the Midland depot, and Ville Platte has the Elton depot. The Bunkie depot is the Bunkie depot only because it's big and made of brick. Step back Geraldo, this is not a railroad write. We were after 'rooms.
From Ville Platte we went up the Chicot State Park road which is a green snaking tunnel after the park entrance. We then headed east on La.106, stopping at the north landing where good hunting had been reported by Dr. D. Fontenot, DDS, a distant relative of Al's.
For the Al admires in the reading audience, Al was wearing
a gray jump suit, augmented by slip on rough neck boots.
He has updated his hair style to a giant Mohawk-Afro which
seems to be slimming. The Mohawk-A is not original, Mark has
worn one for a while as it is considered fashionable among the folks
with which he hangs.
I cannot report on the room find as removing rooms from a state park is illegal.
We were on to La.29, where we went north turning west on the Eola Rd to Eola, aptly named. That is where we'd do the main hunt. If you like creosote flavored rooms this is the place.
After the hunt, Al demonstrated his retentive balancing skills.
Our next stop would be Bunkie. I've decided to do a page
on Bunkie, then one on Cheneyville, our next after the next
stop. I'll use this trip's shots on those pages since they are
impressive and improbable by most standards. The next
page is ready.
We slowly, and with some confusion, moved on to Bunkie. I've been familiar with Bunkie since I was 6. I, for 12 years would travel its main street, US 71, 8 to 10 times a year. It was a landmark on the South La. to Shreveport pilgrimage. Cheneyville and Bunkie were where my parents slowed to look for antiques. Cheneville was the first town to sell out, then Bunkie. I don't think there are any more antiques to sell in either place. Still, Bunkie has not fallen, as has Cheneyville, and it continues to display remnants of its greatness. One, in particular, I'll show you on the next page.
I brought Mark and Al into Bunkie from the south. I wanted them to see where the old T&P had entered Bunkie. That branch went all the way to Crowley at one time. I stopped in a safe place to explain the rail set up and its significance. I prepared myself for a question and answer session. Since there was no place to stop safely in the vicinity of the rails, I told them what they missed, which I'm sure is why there were no questions afterwords. Or, possibly the hunt back at Eola had slowed their responsiveness. There may have been a question. It may have occurred after we departed. Also, they are old and I overheard the word "nap" shared between them.
Mercy, this is a great picture. Sometimes the
camera sees so much more. It is also not
worried about being hit by a semi tractor. This
is looking south from US 71 in south Bunkie.
Turning around and looking toward the UP main line,
you see this, the junction of the north arm of the wye.
This is looking south from the south wye. Rails and lumber
have been partners for a long time.
Turning around, this is the south wye meeting the UP main.
From there I brought them to where the T&P-Marksville
Branch began. Bunkie was a heck of a railroad town. I know some
stuff and drew on my strengths in trying to enlighten.
Again, there were no questions. I was good with that since
I don't know if I had any answers, not knowing as much as I
led on I knew.
I had been looking for the mill, below. I think it was gone.
The rails had gone right by those doors.
My tours are different. I wonder if I could fill a Greyhound?
Maybe if I took them to the casino later and served free
I next stopped in front of the depot. It is such a grand
building, my group did not recognize it as a depot. I saw
their jaws drop. I really do need to hold a class on depot
identification. First, it might be a depot if a caboose is next
to it. Second. It might be a depot if it is next to the tracks.
Third, If being by the tracks, and it has the town name on both
ends, it might be a depot.
These are earlier pictures.
Obviously, some of these pictures are from a past visit.
I was too busy to take many new ones because I had been
constantly concerned about my guests ever since Eola.
Maybe this was an old theater. That's not important.
Where my bike is located is important.
The cracks in the road are important.
Mark, this is the alley I showed you after we left the hotel.
Without a doubt it was a siding. Had it gone to the hotel?
Was it a past part of the T&P set up going south? That
is the Bailey Hotel which we'll visit on the next page in the
Here are a few more shots around Bunkie.
A drugstore with neat mural.
A real service station.
Denominations are easily identified.
Farm supply on north side of town over the rail overpass.
Though in Central La., the French connection persists.
You don't get more Cajun than Marksville.
The United Nations has its winter home here. Get a grip
and ID those flags. If you don't know them, shame on you.
More later as we three retire to our hotel, talk to the genteel
proprietor who quietly explained, w/o emotion, his feelings
on the state of the country, state, parish, town and hotel.
I will plead with you to visit with him and save this place.
CLICK HERE TO VISIT THE BAILEY, our next stop.