Friday, January 15, 2010

Day 66: Praying to St. Tammany

Lorraine to Mandeville. 19.8 miles/1169.4 total

Friday, January 15, 2010

I'm starting out from U.S. 190 near Lorraine, headed through Covington and Abita Springs to I-12 a little north of Mandeville.

Right now it's cloudy, temperature in the low 40s, expected to get up near 60. Rain is expected later today. It would be nice if it held off for the whole walk.

At about a mile and a half I leave Tangipahoa Parish and enter St. Tammany Parish. On the other side of the parish line sign it says that U.S. 190 here is designated as the Ronald Reagan Highway. I suppose there are a few worse people for a highway to be dedicated to--like Jefferson Davis or Robert E. Lee.

St. Tammany Parish has an exotic sound to it, like I'm really getting into a different world. It turns out that it was named for a Lenape Indian chief, Tamanand, who made peace with the English on the east coast in the 1600s, in what is now Pennsylvania. He had nothing to do with this area. In fact, St. Tammany isn't a Roman Catholic saint at all--that's just what white people in Philadelphia started calling him, along with King Tammany, during the 1700s. By the time of the Revolution there were St. Tammany groups, like lodges, in several eastern cities, including New York's Society of St. Tammany, out of whose hall the Democratic machine operated in the early days. It was President Madison's delegate to the newly-annexed Florida Parishes who, in 1810, gave St. Tammany Parish its name. So if anyone is tempted to pray to St. Tammany, don't bother. You won't get jack.

The accent of many of the people hereabouts is less twangy and southern than it is in Mississippi. It has a gentler sound. This might have to do with the influx of so many people into this area from outside over the decades and centuries, and with the fact that these folks weren't all Scots-Irish doofuses who slithered down out of the hills.

In case anybody's wondering, the terrain is flat and wooded, with the predominating trees being the tall southern pines, whose dead relatives stand alongside the road holding up utility wires. Also various southern oaks, especially the water oak, and an occasional blackjack oak, which, like the water oak, has an elongated unlobed leaf, shiny on top, that is wider at the end than at the stem. Only the blackjack oak's leaf is considerably wider at the end, so that when held with the stem up it is bell-shaped. I'm getting these names out of my little tree book, but I wouldn't be surprised if the local names for these oak trees were different.

The first little town I pass near is Goodbee, where I stop in at the Goodbee Quick Stop for a cup of coffee. I must say that these gas station convenience stores are my favorite places to stop on my walks.

So far the drivers in Louisiana are not very attentive to pedestrians. They very rarely yield when they should, or even look both ways before pulling out of driveways. So I am on the lookout not only for alligators but for motorists down here. Also, I haven't had any ride offers yet.

Well, practically no sooner had I said that than I get my first ride offer. It's from a young guy of about thirty named Abe, a former Ohioan who grew up Amish. Very nice fellow, with red hair and freckles and an exceptionally pleasant personality. I wind up spending fifteen or twenty minutes talking to him through his truck window. If you're reading this Abe, thanks again for offering me the ride, and for taking time out of your day to chat.

At 8.6 miles I take the right fork onto the business route of U.S. 190, down into Covington. I pass a cemetery, Pinecrest Memorial Gardens, one of those places with all the grave stones flush with the ground. I usually don't wander through these because they're not that interesting. But off in the back part of the place is a section with the above-ground vaults and mausoleums, too. I take a look around to get a sense of the ethnicity of the folks, and the surnames are about evenly divided among French, German, and English. And that reminds me that I read once that there was an influx of Germans into this part of Louisiana.

Covington is the seat of St. Tammany Parish. It's a city of about 8,500, which was named for Brigadier General Leonard Covington, a guy from Maryland who was mortally wounded in New York in 1813, during the War of 1812. The City of Covington and St. Tammany Parish have increased in population since people began moving up here after Hurricane Katrina. The parish is now pretty affluent and burgeoning.

I'm well into the city now. Past Los Sombreros Mexican Restaurant and the CVS Pharmacy, the sidewalks begin and the pine trees give way to the more stately and urban-appropriate oaks, whose limbs spread out wider than the trees are tall. The buildings in the old downtown have high second-story balconies overhanging the sidewalk, vieux carre-style.

I take the local road out of Covington over to Abita Springs, a town of about 2,000, with a traffic rotary and a couple of gazebos. Also some cutesy shops.

I head off to the south on Louisiana 59, toward Mandeville. The shoulder is treacherously narrow and the traffic extremely heavy and I have about five miles to go. At about 3:45, as I'm on this last long rather uninteresting suburban part of the walk, it starts to sprinkle. I have been fortunate that the rain held off this long, and it's still not too heavy as I walk under Interstate 12, approaching the Winn Dixie parking lot where the motor home sits.

It's been a good day for coins--I've found three quarters and a few of everything else. Already I'm up over $2.00 in Louisiana. What the motorists lack in courtesy on the road they make up for by tossing me money. Thank you.


Anonymous said...

I finally got around to trying to locate yourself on a map. Had the darndest time finding a map detailed enough to show towns like Abita Springs--finally looked a a map of the parrish St. Tammany and saw that you are over in the southeast corner of the state slightly above Lake Ponchartrain. Lake Ponchartrain--my nephew worked at a hospital in New Orleans and had to travel for the longest time over a causeway to get from his home in an upscale suburb into the city every day--could it have been Lake Ponchartrain? Anyway its a big, big lake--will be interested to hear what you have to say about its size--can you see acrossed it? I lived on Lake Michigan and you couldn't see across that--
Nice picture of you and Muddy----Art

ConstructionArchitect said...

You just passed my home. Madisonville and on the river of the swamps.
Drop me a line. Mel
constructionarchitect AT hotmail DOT com

Peter Teeuwissen said...

Mel, can't remember seeing you among the commenters before. Are you new? If so, welcome and glad to have you reading.

Art, it is the very same Lake Ponchartrain. I will get a glimpse of it from the far eastern side when I finally get down below Slidell, in a day or two. I'm in the upscale suburbs now, and the causeway is definitely the way to go if you drive, but not on foot.

Marie said...

Wow - what a journey. How many days do you expect it take to reach your destiny?

Peter Teeuwissen said...

My destiny? That's unknowable. My destination, several more months. It remains to be seen whether I will get to LA before the desert gets too hot. Don't recognize the name Marie offhand. If you're new to the blog, welcome and thanks for reading.