We got to Baton Rouge and spent two nights with Emerson's friend, Noah, who put us up and showed us a good time. Big Man (Emerson) usually goes to bed by 9pm when we camp, but he managed to stay out late two nights in a row, talking to a pretty lady... :) A party with a fire, s'mores, a few beverages, and the next day we are on our way. We left Baton Rouge feeling less-than-peachy, but made it about 45 miles before looking for a camp spot.
We peaked over to the other side of the levee, and I see this navy blue SUV coming toward us, kicking up tons of dust and for a minute I think it is my Uncle Phillip, a farmer in Arkansas. I wouldnt be terribly suprised to run into my uncle in these parts, he'd probably say, "Damn Hollie! What in the hell are you doing on those two wheels?! I'm coon-huntin'" or something to that effect. Anyway, it wasn't Uncle Phillip- it was a man named Toby Simmons who has a heart of gold, not unlike my uncle. Toby was giving us advice on where to camp, but before we know it we are at an authentic Cajun Gumbo party down on the banks of the river. HELL YES! I had hoped something like this would happen to us, but you just can never plan this type of adventure. We meet Patrick, a self-proclaimed "crazy Cajun" (who was hard as heck to understand with a combination of country and french accent), but welcomed us in like family. I think they figured if we were crazy enough to ride our bikes from Tennessee, then we were crazy enough to party with them! They had a CAULDRON of Gumbo, I kid you not, and were roasting a whole hog. Cochon de lait is one of Acadiana's most famous and most delectable dishes -- marinated, pit-roasted pig. Not a bad way to spend a Saturday night... The stars were bright, the gumbo was hot, the cracklings were fresh, and life is good!
The next day more good fortune arrives, as Toby feeds us bacon + tomato gravy over rice, then takes us out on his boat and proudly shows us some secret spots on the Old River outside of Morganza, LA. He was born and raised on this river, and after 31 years in the Navy mostly on a submarine, you can tell he loves every minute of this fresh air, this land, water, and all that depend, enjoy, and thrive from it. We see alligators, herons, cranes, cypress, swamps, and fish. I am elated- Alligators yeah!
|Toby Simmons, our gracious host.|
In the middle of the night, I wake to what I think are chainsaws in my ear. Then I realize it is Emerson's snoring, as he has caught a small headcold, with his late-night carousing and the change in weather. In addition to his recent foot odor, I curse him repeatedly in my grumpy sleepiness, and think perhaps he is a bad tour partner. I finally doze off, only to awake in the morning to him cooking bacon + eggs and a cup of coffee for me.... I take the cursings back, realize that Emerson is great, and honestly I am not sure I could ask for a better tour partner. We laugh alot, eat alot, ride alot, talk alot, and have fun ALOT. And to sum it all up, we are having the time of our lives. We're on an adventure that we can't quite stop long enough to fully contemplate now. We only know that we are lucky, healthy, happy, and seeing the country from the best seats in the house.
The Gulf Coastal Plain has been good to us, and we hope to cross the Texas border tomorrow.
Yours until the Mississippi River ceases to flow,
Hollie and Emerson