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RIDE REPORT / Grand Isle, LA to Lillian, AL

January 27, 2014

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Please note: – These are “classic” Ride Reports.  I began this blog in earnest on the second long trip around the country.  Prior to that, I kept notes in my Journal and never really had the chance to post the early trips.  Visit the RIDE REPORT page for the complete archive.  I’m writing these 2009 stories from the pages of my travel journal and memory.  Enjoy.

Late May, 2009

  • Distance: 325 miles
  • Approximately 5.5 hours

PHOTO: My destination for today – Lillian, Alabama.  

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Grand Isle, LA – With a full tank of gas, I thumbed the starter button, clicked down into first gear and headed west out of Grand Isle.  The first part of this morning’s ride I was not looking forward to.  Approximately 60 miles of this ride is at a maximum speed of 35 mph.  Loooooooooooong and slow, brother, long and slow. 

I took a right at Moran’s restaurant and rolled onto LA-1 North. 

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LA-1 North turns into LA-3235 and runs through the Laurier Bayou on the left side and North Lake on the right.  If nothing else, it’s interesting riding and you have to your guard up as there is a ton of traffic entering and exiting the road across the entire length of the canal.

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Pretty soon I crossed the Bayou Laforuche Bridge, turned off of LA 308-S and onto Highway 90-E/I-10 heading towards New Orleans.

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Somehow I passed through New Orleans without stopping.  Why? Well, been there and done that – several times.  Want proof?  Check out this vintage photo.  It’s early morning in New Orleans, the day  before Mardi Gras and I’m posing for an après breakfast photo.  Sunburned, horribly drunk, wearing linen trousers, a polo shirt and a linen button down oxford.  And, apparently, attempting a Luge run down Bourbon Street on a stolen handcart.  Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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Reluctantly, I passed the Big Easy.  Somehow.  Today I wanted to hug  the Gulf coast as much as possible – even if it was not the most direct route.  I exited I-10 East into US-90 and slowly began making my way long along the coast. Over the bridge though St. Louis Bay, towards Gulfport, MS.

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Through Gulfport and onto Biloxi.  I’m running on memory here.  My journal is blank on the sights.  What I do remember was a big old bunch of Casino’s along Beach Blvd in Biloxi.  Also, I remember seeing mostly new construction along the coast.  Locals told me that Katrina did not do a huge amount of costal damage from the storm itself, the flooding and WHAT was in the water caused most of the problems.

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Still on I-90, I passed through Biloxi and on towards Pascagoula.  I rode over the Krebs Lake bridge and into Pascagoula. 

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Through Pascagoula, I picked up I-10 and turned north-east towards Mobile.  Past Mobile I turned south on to I-90 and then east into 98/42 into Lillian.  It was late in the afternoon when I arrived at the Lillian Alabama KOA.

The Gulf Shores / Pensacola West KOA was nothing special.  In fact, it had the worst bathroom I’ve ever seen at a KOA.  Apparently they were undergoing “renovations” but subsequent Google searches and reviews indicate that the “renovations” may never be completed.  Also, the area where I camped was on a steep downhill road with TONS of sand.  It was unnerving trying to maneuver a heavily laden motorcycle into the tiny sand covered asphalt campsite.  Apparently I’m not the only person with issues as Trip Advisor rates the place at 2.5 stars.

I got the bike unloaded, setup camp, and took a shower.  I walked down to the water and chatted with a few folks.  It was a pleasant evening.  I wish I would have been able to camp in the really great section of the park.  Honestly, this was a pretty run down KOA.

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A local told me about Perdido Key just down the road.  “A bit snooty but some purty good seafood”.  That was enough for me.  I jumped back on the Futura and headed for the water.

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Perdido Key ain’t pretty.  Well, I guess that depends on what you call pretty.  It’s mostly gigantic high rise condos, strips of black asphalt, and sand dunes.  The dominating feature again are the MEGA Condo complexes.  I absolutely hate these awful concrete, soul sucking, monuments to development greed.  They suck!

Enough about that, the visit Perdido website has the following facts about the Key:

Perdido Key is located in the Northwest Panhandle of Florida, between Pensacola, Florida and Orange Beach, Alabama.

No more than a few hundred yards wide in most places, Perdido Key beaches stretch some 16 miles, with almost 60 percent of it located in federal or state parks – making it one of the last remaining unblemished stretches of wilderness in the Florida Panhandle.

Perdido Key’s literal translation means “Lost Key,” so named by the early Spanish who discovered it in 1693.  Until then, the Key was the well-kept secret of gulf coast Native Americans – Perdido Key’s first inhabitants.

Bridges link Perdido Key to the Florida mainland, as well as neighboring Alabama.  Those who make the short drive across the water will agree that this “Lost” island is definitely worth discovering.

With an average temperature of 75 degrees and 343 days of sunshine, It’s not surprising the key is a long-hidden retreat that blends together both year-round outdoor activities and an authentic laid-back lifestyle uniquely its own.

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I rode around for a bit and decided to settle on The Crab Trap for dinner.

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With the occasional F-18 Hornet roaring overhead, I settled down at the bar and ordered dinner.  There was a good crowd for middle of the week and off-season.

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Dinner was excellent. The photo below contains just about everything I can think of for a perfect beachside dinner.

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I spent a few minutes talking to the kitchen staff who were hanging out on a smoke break and checking out my motorcycle.  They suggested I stop by a local Road House in Lillian.  “Great live music, pretty women and cold beer” Sounded good to me.

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A short time later I was parked at Lillian’s Cafe and enjoying a frosty cold beer listening to talented locals sing a variety of mostly Jimmy Buffett and Country songs. The Lillian Cafe is the kind of place where you share a table with strangers and sing along together.  The coolest thing was singing along to “Sweet Home Alabama” in Alabama!

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Lillian’s Cafe & Coffee House

33925 US Highway 98, Lillian, AL ‎

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They had a great method of decorating the bathrooms. Old adverts from Men’s magazines.

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I went outside and smoked a cigar and sat on the bike under the stars.  What a fantastic night.  The crowd grew into the evening and finally, after watching a flip-flop, shorts and t-shirt clad idiot repeatedly drag racing an old, beat to shit, Honda Hurricane 600 up and down the street for  the zillionth time I departed.

Back at the KOA I tossed back a few Tequila shots with the locals and stumbled off to bed.

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The next morning I woke up early – six am or thereabouts.  I felt fantastic and had the most comfortable night’s sleep of the trip – in our out of a hotel.  Relaxed, and refreshed I wandered down to the water and saw this………… stunning. 

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It was an excellent way to start the day.

NEXT: Lillian, AL to Gainesville, FL

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. James O. Springate permalink
    February 5, 2014 6:10 pm

    I enjoy Pirates Cove, a waterfront dive bar/marina in Elberta, Alabama. Close to Lillian. Best cheeseburgers on the coast!

    • February 6, 2014 10:23 am

      James,

      I just added Pirates Cove to my list! Can’t wait for this frigging snow to melt!

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