Louisiana, Gulf Coast.

July 4, 2010

4th of July, independence day it is. Independence… Strength, resolution, power, freedom.

I arrived in Louisiana yesterday from Houston.

I rode through the biggest, wettest, scariest thunderstorm of my life on the bike. Coming out Houston it just hit like a hammer. Cars were going about 20 MPH on the Interstate. A wall of rain, thunderclap so loud, I thought I had been shot. Lightning zaps and the rain comes down as if the storm is trying to drown us all.

I was wearing my new rain gear the “Frog Togs” and new boot covers. I am praying they hold on. They did.

This bike and I are now one. I am going through this carefully but I am not scared. My engine purrs, I hold on the bars lightly. We move forward, always. Some idiots try to speed through this lake and create an incredible spray of water behind them like a motor boat on a lake. I’ve never seen this. The motor’s temperature is so low, the needle did not even go up into the band. This is close to swimming. I feel some drops go down around my neck, down my chest. And the rain goes on like this for quite a while.

Hwy 10. People are mad. As the rain subsides the speed increases and the race starts. It is always a race on the freeways. Cars, trucks jockeying for position between the semis and the slow pokes. It is indeed tiresome. Not fun. The traffic always create all this turbulence. I have to ride like the bike like a race horse hiding behind my minimal windshield. I try to always find a spot where I have a safety net of space in front, behind and to the side.

Here, the ability to speed is an ally, people like to cluster, they tailgate each other with mere inches to spare, urging on the car ahead of them as if the devil was at their tail (maybe he is, it’s the bible belt after all…) On a bike, a car cluster is not a good place to be as drivers don’t care if they slam their brakes on at 80 MPH, they feel safe, protected, fools… they don’t give a second thought in their insulated air conditioned, sound systemized, plumply seated motor vehicles. The unreality of being in a car. You are alone in the world. Greedy, impatient and utterly disconnected from life, the world, other beings, the reality of the harshness of pavement or the wind.

There is a sort of relationship, an unspoken language that exists on this road. A communication that speaks through speed, brake lights, intensity of engine hums and the changes of that hum and much subtler signs that I have become incredibly attuned to. It feels like reading minds. You can practically see in the air the big L of “loser” being applied to any driver that slows down. Scary maneuvers seem to be Ok if you have a slick vehicle to do them with. Status.

So far in Texas I don’t know if I’ve seen 10 bikes total. Someone told me it was because of the rain. They stay in. Some guys stare dangerously swerving over my lane, some women give me the thumbs up. I am a bit of an oddity.

But the Freeway game gets old really fast. Like when the guy pulling a boat in the fast lane refuses to move over, creating this steaming line up of impatience and anger behind him. Or when the tourist bus takes literally 15 minutes to pass another car creating the same trail of temper behind him. That’s when the crazy shit starts to happen. My policy : Glide. Slide between the cars, the anger the impatience, the loopies and the sleepy ones and go alone. Create space.

We get onto a massive overpass like construction : Louisiana!

I explode in a whooping and hollering fit that surprises me : WHOOOOOOOOOOO HOOOOOOOO!

I realized I really, really wanted to see Louisiana. I stop at the visitors center immediately, I am laughing “yessing” my success, I made it! The attendant there, an awesome lady who even spoke French with that beautiful Cajun accent fills me in the places to see. Then back on the bike where Ken, an employee there started to flirt with me. “You’re HOT” he says… about 10 times… Then at some point in the conversation the name Adam had been uttered… He started to go on about Eve. “Eve is weak, she is the weakest, she had to eat the apple. Adam was the strongest, he did not eat it. That is why Eve is punished with the monthly period” Argh… here we go. Still in the bible belt I am.

New town new friends...

The wildlife int he area

Don’t get me going on that. Women and religion. Demeaning… controlling. Ah well, this Eve is riding her motorbike across America and that Adam is wielding a trash picker upper sweating on the lawn of a visitor’s center. Sayonara baby!

I decide to go see the Gulf of Mexico. Never, ever been there. Exit 20 down to the coast.

On the bayou

In my head, strangely enough, strains of Cajun and Acadian music stream freely, I laugh I feel good. It’s “hotter than hell” as they say here but it’s all good.

The Coast.

Gulf Coast of Mexico

I get on a ferry to cross one of the many, many waterways and meet my first bikers in a long while, well pretty much the first ones since meeting Stormy. Again, they are Harley riders and are kind of standoffish as I ride not a Harley. Oh well.

On the ferry with other bikers

On the ferry

Some gas and back on the road.

The scenery is both foreboding and idyllic. You see buildings that were decapitated or had their faces ripped by one hurricane or another, then a beautiful scenery of birds, lush greens, water, huge sky. But if I look to my right, the Gulf and it’s power looms. Houses are build on stilts. Who would risk everything like this?

house on stilts

There are the brand new buildings built like fortresses side by side with buildings that have been abandoned their windows like gaping mouths, raped by winds way too strong for them.

The reeds look happy and at home. The trees look like they are constantly bracing for violence.

As I go forward I start seeing the typical on the trees, all sorts of new birds, and wildlife.

dead bearded tree

Speaking of wildlife, I have never, ever seen so much roadkill…. Coons, deers, cats and dogs, squirrels, and unidentifiable beasts… I send a little prayer each time.

I finally stop, I am starving… I don’t see any restaurants. I figure that restaurants here must be in places that don’t look like restaurants… after going through a good number of small towns I have not seen a single one… I steel myself up and continue. The sun is starting to go down, and by now I have already missed two of the roads that were supposed to take my back north.

Damn, I am doing it again, the night will come and I don’t know where I am, hungry and tired.

Gas, need some gas. It’s getting low. Stop, turn on the GPS and try to see where the heck I am. Some people stop by and ask : Are you OK? I answer: “Yes, I am kind of lost but I’ll figure it out.” The man says something else indicating forward, but I have earplugs and helmet so I don’t really hear what he says…

GPS : follow the pink line.

I get to a gas station. Try as I may, no gas comes out of the pump, I go back & forth between the pump and the cashier 3 times and I start to get pretty aggravated. OK, go across the road, there is a Shell there. Same scenario. What the F??????

I know. The Gods are telling me to stop. I am so tired. With all the fuss at the two gas stations it’s now pitch black outside. I am not too happy with that. Follow the GPS. Motel 6. I finally get there, it’s is just an awful place. It looks like a prison inside. There is no food. I am breaking down. My head feels like it’s being shaken right to left (there was a lot of wind today) as I am standing still.

Time to stop. I will be a danger to myself. Right across from the Motel 6 is a Comfort Inn… I go there. $70 for a night… damn…. really not in my budget. But the alternative is to roam around in darkness exhausted and the little voice in my head says : don’t do it. So I pay up. Food is the other thing. The only people who will deliver are a pizza place and just looking at the photos make me ill. No… is there any REAL food around here? Not after 6 PM…. There are two places up the road and they won’t deliver. Could I walk there? I ask. Walk???? You can’t walk there! Was the answer. I’d have to drive but I am too scared to ride. My internal warning system says don’t do it.

I get in my room. I am so hungry… I start to cry. Funny sometimes. I feel just empty and hopeless. How did I manage to do this to myself again? But then my mind kicked in. Oatmeal. I got oatmeal.. raisins, nuts… OMG! And there is a microwave in the room. I go out to the bike get the food. I make the oatmeal in two cardboard glasses furnished by the hotel. 2 minutes. I eat. OMG… Food. Food. OMG… I finally let go. There is a bath. OMG… it’s so good. The water. I let it all go. All is well. All is always well. I am learning to face it all. By myself. I thought : wow, I would have been such a pain in the butt to someone else a few minutes ago… But then if there would have been someone else, I probably would have been off the road hours ago…

We create it all. Full responsibility. Yes sir.

Love you all.


2 Responses to “Louisiana, Gulf Coast.”

  1. Duane Thorin Says:

    Going foodless is Soooooo Southern Louisiana. Happened to me. Watch out for Kansas, too. Few and far between. Drove all night through some off roads, bogs, bayous, past sugar cane mills, through dusk and it got dark..no accommodations, so I turned off where there was a universal sign for campgrounds. Some sort of private road thing with a bunch of towed trailers and a shack. Pulled up in the dark, no attendant. But woke up at dawn, and I had parked right on the edge of some water, and was surrounded by a haze. I turned the radio on, and there was Linda Ronstadt singing Blue Bayou, a brand new version at the time, first I’d heard it…..and as the mist lifted, before me appeared an amazing blue bayou, Spanish moss, croaking frogs, jumping catfish. No kidding…… I showered quickly and left before anyone else awoke. It was an amazing, backwater place down there. Pretty wild at night, with those Cajuns and Creoles driving around with beers in their hands, including the cops. Different. I sent Phil your link for this blog, and told him to start from the beginning. Several of us Coffee Gallery riff raff are following your journey epic.
    Hey, the new stage went in today, july 4th….right in front of where you sat and sang in the Gallery window. It was utterly exciting, and looks as though it had always been there…because it should have been there all along. There is a little vortex on that very spot that attracts and augments and amplifies magical avatars, and you were one that was there and felt it. No kidding again.

    • What a cool story! wow… yeah,
      yeah, the blog, I got record views 104 one day! I don’t know who they all are but it’s pretty cool. Congrats on the stage. I plan to come back around your neck of the woods, don’t know when or how but I will. I find myself missing the West and the coast.
      Thanks for keeping in touch. Means a lot. hugs d

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