Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Cajun. Country.

Bonjour!  And greeting from Cajun Country.  Since we last posted, alot has happened, as usual..... we spent the rest of our time in New Orleans soaking up some culture and doing some hard-core relaxing; the New Orleans Museum of Art (free-day!) brought us Faberge eggs, Buddhist statues, Gothic paintings and even some of my favorites- Joan Miro and Picasso!  The New Orleans Film Festival taught me about their charter school system and the sometimes-corrupt politics, and we stayed with one of my closest friends from childhood, Emily Steffan, who was a lovely and fabulous host- thank you!!  Then we delved into the good stuff-  White Russian daiquiris, po boys, muffalettas, beignets, boudin, zapp's potato chips, Abita beer, BBQ, sausage, and red beans n rice.  The Live Oaks, the Spanish moss, The Garden District, the streetcars, and the French Quarter at night all made it hard to leave.  We were making friends by the end of the week, but had to be on our way....

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.

More pictures to come... the public library computers are slow :)

We finally tear ourselves away from Toby's around 2pm, make it 40 miles with some rain, headwinds, and a lunch stop in an old train car.  We camp behind the community center in Plaucheville, luckily under a pavilion so our stuff stays totally dry while it pours through the night. Luck strikes again!

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

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