Back in the day, two guys on extended fork choppers cruised across the west in the cult classic “Easy Rider.” If you haven’t seen the essential piece of sixties culture, you should. It’s out there. It’s fun.
I sit in in a Honda Civic packed to the gills, barefoot all over. I’ve been thinking Easy Rider. Maybe we’ve got a similar attitude, mission and unusual look about us. The two hip biker’s flair was of course bold and dramatically different from southern culture of the time. They were flaunting it. We’re looking pretty conventional from the outside of the car, just another pair of tourists. We’re on the same routes, but fifty years later. Maybe we aren’t rocking handcrafted motorcycles and leather clothes, but we’d probably get a similar reception in a small town, walking around without any flashy garb.
In “Easy Rider,” they packed a bedroll and seemed to never change out of the same leather clothes, traveling all across the warm southern USA. We are packed to the gills, as I have said, “ready for anything.” We like to sleep under the stars like them. We are both out to see America. We are both unconventional. Well, things change and they have.
There are still that string of bridges, that I remember from my last visit, decades ago. Starting a sea-level, they feel like a roller coaster climbing into the sky. We half expect to be dropped off into a free fall at the top.
As we enter Louisiana, there are a few more lanes and more traffic on the trans-coastal Interstate-10. We know that we can take this all the way home, nearly to my front door, but New Orleans is down the street.
It ain’t Mardi Gras, today. We know that we will be cooped up in stuffy clothing and not free ranging nudists, or even nearly naked beaded revelers during our visit. We’re just going to be tourists.
First, we need to get my pilgrimage out of the way. I have had a fascination with Barataria for 30 years, after a couple of past life regressions under hypnosis. It was a smugglers realm a long time ago. It still has Jean Lafitte and his associates influence plastered all over it. We can cruise these sights nude and we do.
The Lafitte museum got washed out like a hurricane during the covid plague. The swamps are swamped in tourist boats. The trees hang with droopy bows and gators hang out here and there. Each house is elevated, ready for the next ocean’s surge to lap at their floorboards.
We drive through the area of the township called Jean Lafitte and its swamps. We’re amongst the flat bottom air boats and the old channels that served smugglers as roads and back trails. We don a sundress and a kilt in a parking lot to visit a museum, but find that it is closed and unattended. We walk around for a moment in nudity, but then very soon, there are those bugs that must be outrun.
Property is eclectic here. A mansion estate sits next to a shack.
A rusty old fishing dock and boat is passed by a new Searay sports boat.
I sit and smell and breathe in a sense of Déjà vu.
I drive us aimlessly through the narrow two lane roads. We are surprised when we drive into a gathering of swamp boat tourists. They are suddenly standing all around the car, as we quickly grab the wads of cloth at our side and drape them over us. No problem, really. Nobody seems to notice, in the end.
My pilgrimage over, DF has her quest to fulfill today, Zydeco music! She loves the stuff. We HAVE to find some. It HAS to be here. We’re gonna dance and I’m going to find some dang good Cajun Food. The “old”city is open all of the time with tourists and party people. We have a list of potential from the internet. It all has to be here.
Long story short:
Unlike Easy Rider’s heroes, we didn’t drop acid and get naked in an ancient New Orleans graveyard, visit a whore house, or puke rainbows in a gutter after too many sips out of a strong bottle. The Easy Rider overlay seems to fall apart, as we get into our tourist garb and leave the car securely in a parking garage, with the forty buck fee. There is some noise in some areas and some people look to be on their way to said gutters. We’re not so rambunctious, but generally, we fit in.
The overlay is now the quest for Zydeco. We had found several bars online and walk to each of them taking in the ambiance as we go. We make inquiries with every cool bartender in town. We surely bar hop for miles on this Monday night.
After hours in search, there is NONE of it! DF is devastated. She couldn’t conceive of a trip to New Orleans without Zydeco dancing. It is like visiting Mecca, only to find the temple gone.
We do however, enjoy ourselves. A witches store keeps us very entertained. I get my Cajun food in the old slave market building for lunch.
Again my epicurean temptation is found, this time on the street, in the evening light. I’m eating on a plastic table out front, chair in a gutter, next to a Buick’s chrome grill. Jazz music blares from across the street.
We find wonderful innovative music and some jazz that has soul, so not too heady. We dance amongst the tables. The streets are filled with fun architecture and we have a drink at brother La Fitte’s old blacksmith shop.
New Orleans is pretty cool. Maybe we’ll bring a big credit card and body paint someday and party before lent.
Later that evening, we are comfortably naked and heading west again. We’re on our way to a date, sailing out near Galveston. We have decided to get that much closer to our friends and out of the expensive hotel district.
I’m fired up and drive late into the night, until we find a place outside of Baton Rouge. The internet says it is cheap. It is called “Quality Inn.” We discover no hot water and no toilet flush, but it looks nice. Too tired and late to look any further, we take a bed. Ya get what ya pay for….I suppose.
It’s been hectic. In a couple of days, I’ll finish telling our story about sailing naked. Nailing? Sailnuding? Skinny boating? Bare buns boating? Natural nauticalistas? Naticaling? Nautriale?…..
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