Hello again, this is Jared back on the blogging after Joe’s stay in Baton Rouge. The trip is now entering the final week, after a solid 87 mile effort by Joe this weekend. On Saturday, Joe set out from Baton Rouge, ready to get back on the water after resupplying and having a great time with Michael Beck. Joe would like to thank him for the great Southern hospitality and companionship after his leg from Clarksdale to Baton Rouge; everything was much appreciated! It was great to get out of the tent, especially with the warming weather and humidity, and sleep indoors.
Joe paddled 37 miles on Saturday, passing by a Carville, Louisiana. The small town was once home to the National Leprosarium, a location where patients afflicted with leprosy were quarantined and studied from the 1890’s to the 1980’s. The Leprosarium was established in order to understand, identify and treat patients suffering from the bacterial infection. There was much stigma at the time of the contagious nature of leprosy, later refuted with some of the information gleaned here. One large discovery was the effective treatment of leprosy with dapsone, an antibacterial drug first synthesized in 1908 by Fromm and Wittmann. The drug was synthesized years before Paul Ehrilich and Gerhard Domagk, both of Bayer, would learn of the antibacterial properties of various sulfonamides in the 1930’s (A great book on the Bayer discovery is titled The Demon Under the Microscope by Thomas Hager). Information on the dapsone can be found here. An interesting article about Stanley Stein, who was quarantined at the National Leprosarium, can be found here. A more in depth history of the facility can be found here, as well as information about the National Hansen's Disease Museum, which currently is located on the grounds of the old Leprosarium (official Museum website here).
Today (Sunday), Joe traveled further, paddling 50 miles down the Mighty Mississippi. There was an incredible amount of river traffic today. Barges and super freighters were numerous on the river, requiring Joe to spend time and energy avoiding the large obstacles. The weather was great though, and should continue through the week. Currently, Joe is camped around mile marker 140 in St. John the Baptist Parish. Tomorrow, Joe’s goal is to camp up somewhere in the New Orleans area, hopefully passing by the English Turn Bend. I will hear from Joe sometime at the end of tomorrow’s travels and look forward to updating the community at that time.