Is that train moving? – Tough arrival in New Orleans

“Is that train moving?” Steve asked repeatedly.  After peering behind us I replied that it was moving – toward us!  That blaring horn was telling us to get out of its way.  “Let’s get out of here!” Steve yelled in exasperation, while I nervously signaled oncoming car traffic to stop.  They were not slowing down nor giving us enough space to enter the road with 60′ of RV/car.  But we had to get out of the way or risk getting crushed by the train, which would have definitely put a damper on our weekend.  With a tiny bit of clearance we turned left and Steve stepped on it.   Whew!  Holy smoke that was close.

So, you might ask, how the heck did we end up here?

It all began 25 miles west of New Orleans.  As we were merging onto I-10 East we noticed cars pulling over and backing down the onramp – not good.  Crazy drivers!  Then we saw the backup that we could not avoid and proceeded to sit there for 2 hours waiting for a fiery crash ahead to be cleared from the road.  We may be retired and not in a hurry, but when you are in this situation you get agitated and antsy.  But there was more excitement ahead!


When the jam cleared and we were approaching the Huey P Long Bridge, traffic was again heavy and cars were weaving in and out in front of us.  Some drivers here are really baaad!  Understand that we are now heading into Friday afternoon traffic due to the huge delay we had just experienced.  There was major construction underway on the bridge, and the two available lanes were literally not wide enough for Betsy and a truck to travel side by side.  So Steve drove right down the middle – let them honk, we want to live!

More traffic

If you plan to come into this area from the west very soon, we suggest you call your destination and get directions over the phone until maps are updated.  We thought we were prepared by having printed and GPS instructions.  However, the construction here is so recent and hugely changed, there are no current directions that we can find.  At the foot of the bridge we didn’t know whether to go straight or make a turn.  So we turned and soon noticed that phenomenon where the trees start closing in and the streets begin to get narrow.  Oh, we’re getting busy now!  If we had been driving a car this would have been easy, but with our size the stress sets in.  It turns out we would have gotten lost if we had gone straight ahead, too.

As we saw the river up ahead and the oncoming traffic we made a best-guess turn.  Ok, this looks better, we’ll follow the road under the bridge and get right back on track.  I grab my laptop and open Google Maps to find out where we are now (GM doesn’t know about the new roads, either).  We start re-plotting our course and settle down a bit.  What else can go wrong?  Then there’s the TRAIN…

Steve pulled up to an angled busy intersection with a RR crossing, with a train sitting a ways back at our right rear – almost impossible to see from inside the RV.  We stayed behind the crossing line as long as possible, but had to cross it to turn left onto a road.  Steve pulled up to the intersection when he saw a break, but a speeding motorcycle killed our opportunity.  Steve kept asking, “Is that train moving,” and for a while it wasn’t.  Then it was.  Right at us.  But the cross traffic was relentless, and of course nobody wants to stop for the train, even though the conductor was laying on his horn now.  I was signaling through the window for people to stop, but they either didn’t see or ignored me.  Finally, the traffic stopped and we “jumped” through that intersection as quickly as possible.  Sorry I didn’t get pictures, we were a little busy at the moment.  Would the train have stopped for us?  Probably, he was barely moving.  But I don’t want to ruin the suspense of the story!

Welcome to New Orleans!

After wiping off the sweat, we arrived safely at Bayou-Segnette State Park.  To calm our nerves following what was easily the worst driving day of our adventure, we explored our new digs.  We chose this State park after seeing a good rating from Nina of Wheeling It.  It is just a thirty-minute drive or a free ferry ride across the Mississippi River from New Orleans.

Bayou Segnette State Park

At the park, all sites are long and paved, and have either a wood deck or cement patio with table and fire pit.  Sites are widely spaced with lush grass.  This is the second state park in Louisiana we’ve been to where laundry is FREE and wifi is available (but a bit slow).

As we explored further around the park, we noticed miles of levees, floodwalls, floodgates and water control structures.  They have been busy here indeed since Katrina showed up in 2005, and the construction continues throughout the area.

Flood Gate
Steve examining the flood gate.  That’s about 2′ of concrete with a bank vault-looking door!
Flood wall
Miles of flood wall
On top of a levee, with the flood wall behind.

We will be hanging out here for about a week to see the sights and food of New Orleans.  More to come!




  1. That is Stress with a capital S! The park looks quite nice. I hope the rest of your stay makes up for the poor introduction to the area!

  2. Son and I ran into construction and crazy driving as well in NOLA, but we were fortunately in a little car….lots easier for sure. The RV Park looks really nice. Enjoy!….be sure and visit a graveyard and do a swamp tour.

  3. Wow how scary! I am glad everyone is ok, physically anyway. I am sure many of us readers would have to go to change after that. train drama.
    Can’t wait to hear about New Orleans, I have never been there, but definitely it will be on my list of one of the cities to visit. The park does look really nice.

  4. My heart is still racing! We thought the drivers in Dallas were crazy as we moved through TX but I can’t imagine how your experience must have felt. While we were at San Elijo State Beach this past winter we heard a huge explosion across the street from the campground. A tow truck driver, stuck on the railroad tracks, was hit by an oncoming train. What a tragedy it was! So glad to hear that you are both safe.

    • We survived Houston with no incident. NOLA was a little tougher to navigate. Thanks God we made it safely. For a moment imagine my face at the passenger side glass window flagging oncoming traffic.

      • I cannot begin to imagine how scary that was. After the train accident in Encinitas, when we heard the explosion across the street and saw the smoke and debris, for the remainder of our stay, every time I heard a train whistle and saw the crossing arms come down, I felt almost physically sick.

  5. I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw the photo of you at your campsite. What an awful chain of events! Glad you are ok. There’s snow in AZ again – and coyotes howling – come back! 😉

  6. Yikes! I was going to suggest you vist Cafe Du Monde for Coffee Au Lait and Beignets but on second thought a Hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s is probably more in order.

    Really, glad you are both OK – Enjoy you vist to New Orleans.

  7. Nothing like getting my heart pumping this morning. I knew you were alright because you were writing but that didn’t help as I read. So glad all worked out.

    Great park! Free laundry…wow!

    I like the route you are taking east. We may follow this when we return west next April (2014). We want to visit the same areas. We will be traveling east in July and winter in FL again then return west.

    How long will you be east? Do you plan to get to the northeast at all?

    • Glad it did work out at the end, imagine the conversation inside that rig in that moment. We will be watching you as we will be wintering in FL after going as far as Nova Scotia (at least thats the plan for the moment.)

      • We love Nova Scotia! We did it once on our motorcycle and then in the motor home. If you have time stop in St. Andrews, New Brunswick on your way. Amazing little town. This is area is where you have those huge tide changes. We have blogs on St. Andrews in July of 2011. We did Nova Scotia the summer before we full timed so we didn’t blog.

        Any idea where in FL?

  8. What a crazy, crazy arrival. New Orleans was some of the worst traffic we saw in the RV too! So happy you like the park (cheers for the mention). Enjoy your stay!

  9. Wow, I was feeling stressed out just reading it. When in N’awlins make sure to ride the street cars. They are cheap and really neat to ride. The St. Charles line goes by some fantastic historic mansions, great architecture. Not sure where your RV site is but we would park the vehicle at a place called Riverbend and take the St. Charles line streetcar in to walk the French Quarter and Bourbon St. Have fun and eat! The food there is awesome.

  10. Oh wow … what a way to arrive in NOLA. Looks like you landed in a very neat park. We’ll be in NOLA in a few weeks, so I wil be looking forward to reading your adventures … when the internet connection permits.

  11. I guess that will teach you to complain about ice breaks in the Alaska Highway!

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