Thursday, May 28, 2015

A Harrowing Night in Louisiana

I have to admit that Louisiana has never been a state that has conjured up anything particularly positive for me. It's the thing in between me and Texas (which is the thing in between me and Mexico), although it's not Arkansas so it does have that going for it.

It took us a lot longer to get to our campground in LA than we thought and for some reason traffic snarls were a-plenty on the interstates so we didn't get in until about 10:30. First we stopped for dinner at a place called Boudreaux & Thibedeaux Cajun Cuisine. The decor was cute, but the food was fairly worthless. I imagine that we ordered the wrong thing - most of the people there seemed to have big silver trays filled with crawfish and buckets to throw the husks in. We ordered other things and ate every bit of them because we were hungry. I took a picture of the place in case I ever got deluded enough to think I should go back.

Our GPS, who hates us, sent us 16 miles down a dirt road. Just when we were starting to lose hope we found the entrance to the camp site and, luckily for us, the gate was open so we drove in. When we got to the site we had reserved, the tent pad was an island in a flooded marsh. So, we pitched our tent on the paved driveway and called it in for the night.

The frogs were cantankerous and I wore my ear plug to block out the fierce poetry they were reciting at the very tippy top of their amphibious lungs. The ear plug wasn't enough to block out the sound of the howling wind and the explosive thunder. At 1:00 in the morning, the whole tent started to shake and sway; the ceiling moved over to a position that would normally be occupied by a wall and the center of the inner canopy collapsed. The wind sounded like the roar of the fans at a world cup soccer match and swirled around our little tent like a tidal wave. The kids were asleep on either side of the tent and we were in the middle and it was only the weight of our bodies that prevented the tent from disappearing completely. I imagined we would awake to find ourselves stripped of tent, clothing, and possibly the out layer of our skin.

In short, it was terrifying.

The next soggy, sloshy day I had a cracking headache for the entire day. I spent it sitting on the dock behind our campsite, rubbing my temples and watching the alligators pretend to be logs. One of them got caught by an alligator trap while we were out watching. An orange pool noodle that must have been bated with catfish suddenly snapped its steel trap shut and the alligator twisted it around in its effort to perform the dance of death. Unable to free itself from the ghastly metal works, the alligator floated away with the pool noodle oddly bobbing just above it. It seemed a tragedy, but I couldn't exactly say why.

The alligators were beautiful, I thought they would just be a muddy green but actually they were golden with black spots and stripes and eyes like amber. They seemed vaguely interested in us, in other words you could tell that people had fed them before. Once they didn't receive any enticing gestures of food throwing, they turned lazily away and continued floating around the rivers. We also saw a water snake pretending to be a stick floating in the stream...except that the water was flowing in the opposite direction of his movement, so it didn't fool us!

Jack immediately became best friends with the children of the people at the next camp site, Violet studiously avoided speaking directly to anyone despite being desperately interested. The camp hosts who had a silver airstream in the lot across from us had a string of hummingbird feeders and the diminutive fliers were busily sucking down nectar and chirping obstreperously.

In the evening, we ate with our neighbors who had been kind of enough to take our kids fishing and had caught enough catfish to share their dinner. None of us knew what the weather was going to be like, so they invited us to knock on their camper door if things turned ugly. Luckily, it was a peaceful evening.

When I get hot and humid, I go a little crazy. Louisiana in the morning was everything I hate about the summer time and so rather than eat breakfast, I set about immediately packing everything up to get us out of there. It's lucky too because it turned as dark as night and hail began to pound the earth - the winds were gusting at 60 mph when we left. We were concerned that we would only just get away from this storm in time to be caught in the flooding in Austin, but that had largely resided and the majority of our trip was sunny and easy.

My brother's trip home wasn't as easy as our and his flight, which would have gotten him home just after midnight last night, was cancelled and so he didn't make it home until 11:00 this morning. We spent the day working and in the evening ordered some great food and complained about local real estate prices.

Just before bed, we all gathered around to listen to Rammstein and Outkast while the kids danced, their 14 month old Vivien can really rock out. Now, it's late (10:00) and I'm ready for bed. I'm reading Lolita by Nabokov and it is intensely creepy, but hopefully it won't bother my dreams. Tomorrow I may go the gym (and pigs may fly)...

Good night!

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