The Trans America Challenge 2018

27 May - 17 June 2018



JUNE 2, 2018

Jackson to New Orleans

Easy does it

To borrow from and to paraphrase Johnny Cash and Nancy Sinatra, we got out of Jackson “Hotter than a pepper sprout” this morning. But an 8.30am start and the lack of live music last night gave today's start a much more civilised feel and the Interstate on the doorstep didn’t do anything to upset this.

Within a few miles though we were back on the signature Natchez Trace Parkway for another easy few kilometres.

Curious raccoons and lumbering tortoises, keeping to their very own time schedules, ran along beside us but soon it was time to leave them behind and strike south to the first Regularity along Hoodtown Road complete with a couple of speed changes and a few tricky timing points. Gravel, tar, light and shade. This section had it all and it was great to see Michael Eatough in his Mercedes, now on his third Trans America, enjoying it as much as if was his first.

Once the crews were out of the woods, so to speak, the Time Control in Hazlehurst gave them a chance to grab a snack and a cold drink before the long pull though the Southern countryside to the second Regularity along Jack Loftin Road which also had another couple of speed changes. Given that they also had to keep an eye open for critters crossing the road in front of them, the crews had plenty to think about this morning in the deep dark woods of Mississippi.

The lunch Time Control in Columbia gave everyone a chance to refuel and to cool down before the third Regularity along Mays Creek which, had only one speed change. By now the temperature was 35°c though and the open car crews were baking as thoroughly as last night's oysters.

Further along the road, the magnificent 40km Lake Pontchartrain Causeway led us over the water and straight into the Big Easy and on the voyage over some of us had cause to reflect that it’s not often you’re in a car and out of sight of land. By the mid point we wondered whether to put the Garmin into marine mode.

Safely delivered to shore though we anchored opposite our base for tonight and tomorrow’s rest day. The Marazin Hotel is a quirky and delightful boutique hotel deep in the French quarter and is steeped in the culture and history New Orleans.

As we pulled up to the door it was good to see out old Friend John Layzell (Peking to Paris 2013 and Road to Mandalay) who’s flown in with Celia his wife for a bit of a meet and greet session.

Jeff Urbina and Chris Pyke unfortunately aren’t with us this evening as they’ve stayed behind in Jackson to fit a new clutch to their Ford but we fully expect too see them again in Texas.

The top three on the leaderboard have kept their placings today. Jim Gately and Tony Brooks maintain their first place ahead of David and Jo Roberts, with Mike and Lorna Harrison just behind them in third place. The gap between these two is now down to one second only. Deep in the South the heat is on, physically and metaphorically.

There’s plenty to do and see on the rest day tomorrow might and tonight the jazz bands are tuning up. This might be just the thing to let the crews chill out a little.

Syd Stelvio



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