I just love hangin' out down in the land of bayous 'n banjos; where the food is zesty, the folks are mighty friendly, and the good times are always rollin'. The ridin' ain't exactly the same as it is in the mountains; although, they do have some fun roads very much worth crusin'? but, I'm getting a little ahead of myself here?
This story all began while I was in Oklahoma waiting to hook-up with some of my Florida buds, who just so happened to be on their way to the Grand Canyon. Well, whenever I get this itchy feet sensation, like I did a couple of days before their arrival, sittin' still and such gets downright difficult for me, so I hauled off 'n took a little side trip to Indianyaner? then I spent the next four days catchin' up with my pals.
I finally did rendezvous with the group out in southern Colorado, and over the following three days we toured Mesa Verde, Four Corners, the Grand Canyon and the Petrified Forest together. We had a large time doin' all that; but, I wasn't all that keen on returnin' to Florida this time of year, so I said my farewells and headed off all by my lonesome to Show Low, Arizona.
I awoke one morning in Show Low with the realization I had no place to go and absolutely no plan at all. Dang, even a committed gypsy like me occasionally needs at least some spot on the horizon to shoot for. I scanned the atlas for inspiration? Nothing? I finally decided to just ride up to Utah, since I hadn't been there in quite a spell, but I still remembered how diverse and interesting that place is. OK, now I had a plan for Ali, Valerie and me?
Plans are always a bit tentative and often downright fluid for me, and this certainly proved the case here. As I was mentally preparing myself for a visit to that really curious place where some guys actually have multiple wives (I've never been able to figure out why they would willingly do that), I got this message on my Voicemail. Dang! It was one of my best buds just checking in with me? I was so pleased to here from him, in fact, that I decided I would just swing through Alabama on my way to Utah and buy that rascal a brew or two? Heck, it ain't that far out of the way nohow?
We'd made it as far as Arkansas, when I received this e-mail thingy from another friend down in Texas. OK, we'd just make a little jog down there, I reckoned, and then maybe we'd continue on to Bama? or not. Besides, it ain't like Utah won't still be there in another week or two? Maybe I'd better go have a word with those fellers out there about their peculiar ideas on matrimony and stuff first chance I get.
Our visit to Texas was good, as it always is, but hangin' out in one place just ain't my style these days. We rode off one fine morning just to get my knees back in the breeze and my spirit back in that special place we all know so well? Nothing like being on the road to clear ones mind and put everything into proper perspective?
As we approached Houston from the south, I had to make a route decision: The city straight ahead (no way, no how!), or the Sam Houston toll road west to I-10 or east to I-10. By this time I was unsure if we'd actually continue on to Alabama or maybe just wander off on a different detour? on our way to Utah of course. Heck, we just happened to be in the lane that would take us east, so that's the way we went? Often the route to serendipity comes upon me just this way?
A bit later as we approached Winnie, TX, I figured it was long past time for me to take on some people fuel. I knew there would be some grits and thangs just off the highway there, so that'd be a good way for me to regroup and consider what might come next? you know, so I could allow for gas stops and all, not to micro manage or truly 'plan' or anything.
As my fork was steadily passin' back and forth between the vittles on my plate and the input end of my digestive system, this downright upright notion popped into my thinker muscle: They were doin' a ride over in Louisiana the next day accordin' to the posts I'd read that mornin', and I had plenty of time to make it there! How 'bout that?
I was figurin' to just show up at the meet place on Sunday mornin' and surprise my good Cajun friends: But, at the last minute I got cold feet. If the meet location or time got changed, I could end up feedin' the skeeters in serious solitude out yonder in the swamp, and that always has a more than modest dampening effect on my enthusiasm, so?
I called Strider when I arrived in Lafayette to let him know he had a potential party crasher on his hands; mercifully, he seemed inclined to tolerate that. In fact, he said he'd be by the motel within the hour so we could share a barley pop or two? which we did? He even did me a kindness by picking up an aluminum basting pan for catching the old oil from ALI when I got around to changing that now overly murky fluid.
We rode together up the road a ways towards Wranglers Bar, where Punisher and I had left a few brain cells on a previous visit; but, alas, a return to that grain beverage emporium was not to be? they were still closed that early in the afternoon. On the way up, however, we'd spotted Charlotte's Lounge that had had many cars parked all around it. Now we're talkin'! Nothin' like havin' a good fall-back option or two?
There was this pool tournament thing in progress when we arrived, but fortunately there were still a couple of stools at the bar available, which of course was a good thang, since we were needin' to take on some social lubricant real bad sos we could catch up on stuff and all? Ain't life grand?
Seated all alone directly across from us along the other leg of the horseshoe bar was this pretty little gal sippin' a longneck? and our eyes met. Dang! Could she be my next ex, I wondered, as my ol' heart did a butterfly kick? Well, after while she ended up standin' next to me as she was participatin' in that tournament, and we exchanged pleasantries? another butterfly kick? She won her game and proudly proclaimed I must be her lucky charm? yeah, gettin' lucky was also on my mind right about then, too?
Anyhow, indications were lookin' downright promisin', when Strider up and announced he had to go mow his lawn. Given my druthers, I'd naturally prefer to continue doin' what I was already doin', so I wished him well and let him ride off alone? However, I did write a thoughtful note on a cocktail napkin to his spousal unit excusing him for bein' tardy and all?
Esther eventually lost out in the tournament, but she didn't hold it against me? the loss that is. In fact, we even danced some, and? well? more butterfly kicks! I invited her to join me astride ALI on the ride with our group the next day, and she gleefully accepted.
I'd asked Strider before he left to please have an extra helmet on standby? you know, just in case. Turns out Esther has her own skid lid, though, so things were definitely progressin' along a path that could delay my arrival in Utah for some time? No matter, I ain't exactly a stickler about agendas and such anyhow?
Now I gotta fess up here and admit things were going way better than my expectations, and it did make me wonder if it could last? my concern was soon put to rest. An old acquaintance of Esther's and apparently a regular at Charlotte's crossed the entry threshold, and Emil received a welcome that would have made Norm at Cheers blush with envy. Esther even got up, ran over to him, and jumped smack into his arms; hers around his neck with her legs wrapped around his waste. Emil caught her OK, but soon his legs began to quiver a bit, and then he fell over on his back with her landing on top (I'm not making any of this up).
Well, it turns out he was just gettin' over a broke foot, and that's why nobody had seen him in a while. Of course none of us knew any of that at the time, so I was just sittin' there thinkin' it had been a pretty impressive take-down, and I might better keep that ability of hers in mind?
Ended up bein' a moot point, however, as Esther's right foot had lodged up under Emil's derri?e during the impact of the crash, and she was now displayin' unmistakable signs of serious discomfort? We picked her up and placed her on one stool with her foot on another, and first aid was then rendered in the form of a bag of ice. Yep, everyone agreed her ankle was probably broken? right along with my heart? I carried her out to a waiting car so she could be transported to an ER for whatever came next? and to bid her farewell forever.
After her departure another local and I were chatting, and I was informed that he was rather surprised about Esther's and my goin's on earlier. It was a hot rumor there that she was a? well, the general consensus appears to be that she plays for the other team, if ya know what I mean. Hmmm, my instincts had told me that was most definitely not the case, but who can know these days. Oh well, another moot point anyhow, as she was now out of commission in either case. Besides, I had important work to do in Utah, so I couldn't stay around and try to win her back to the 'straight' and narrow?
It took both the wake-up call I'd requested and my travel alarm clock to finally force me into prying my weary headbone from the pillow the next mornin', but somehow I managed it. I suppose the thought of all those fine Cajun folks waitin' for me plus the knowledge strong coffee could probably improve my delicate condition combined to seduce me into hoisting my tired ol' bod into an upright position and beginning the process of ride readiness? Dang? it didn't used to be this hard? can't be age, though, maybe my diet needs some tweakin' or sumthin'? I made a mental note to increase my grits and BBQ intake.
ALI was ready and rarin' to go, so after the cover had been tossed back into the room, the three of us headed out for the Atchafalya Basin and another serious social event? It always happens that way every time I hang out with these amazing Cajun folks? good feelings, celebrations of life, belly laughs 'til it hurts? Dang! Of course fab food and sprightly riding are always included in the mix too?
ZCajun and Strider were already there at Butte La Rose when ALI, Valerie and I arrived to begin the next chapter of this little adventure. By the way, ALI is my Valk Tourer, and Valerie is the stuffed dragon I was presented at Dragons On The Beach last November, and we're inseparable traveling companions nowadays.
Warren and Roger appeared well along in their Cajun ride preparation, that necessarily includes some rigorous talker muscle warm-ups for all the yarn swappin' sure to follow. Knowing these folks the way I do, this seems a sensible precaution to me? sort of like a jogger doing stretching exercises before a run?
I'd barely got my kickstand down when Rick and Chick pulled up. I'd met these two before, and I must say I was mighty glad to see them. Not only do they own a trailer for any emergencies (they had to haul ALI to the Honda shop last time we rode together); they also happen to be really fun folks to hang out with. Dang, this was really startin' to shape up into something to remember?
One more stop to add Highlander (LA) and EverReady to our group, and then we arrived at Bird and Moonshine's place for conversation and the addition of the remainder of our crew. It was then that I noticed Highlander (LA) had an accent unlike any Cajun twang I'd ever heard. Heck, near as I could tell, he sounded more like a Scotsman than anything else. Turned out he was originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, so I felt much better about my dialect discernment after learning that?
We had a great ride! Oh, one important point I need to make here. Bird has to be one of the best doggone riders I've ever seen in my entire life. The way he maintains control of his Interstate while Moonshine crawls, twists, stands and moves all around taking pictures and pointing out cows and other items of interest is simply amazing! They could easily have a huge career as stunt riders for the movies someday when they grow up?
Speaking of points of interest; as we were entering a rather sharp right-hand curve (no really, they do have some!), Moonshine began pointing off to the right. Hmmm, I thought, I'm sure everybody can tell we're in a serious curve here? But no, she was actually pointing to a Statue of Liberty in some guy's yard. Dang! It was about fifteen feet high, and it looked just like the real thing? Sort of made me feel like we were part of the huddled masses?
We visited the Cajun Village, had lunch in Morgan City, then rode over to Jefferson Island where we learned about the oil company that had drilled into a hollowed-out salt dome and caused an entire lake to drain. No kidding, that lake, along with barges, boats, nearby houses and all, had just completely emptied like somebody had pulled the plug out of a bathtub?
We ended the ride at the Biker Barn just north of Lafayette. I'd been curious the whole time to see how one of our couples on a Harley would hold up to the rather long day? As soon as Rachael and Warren dismounted and removed their helmets, though, the look of sheer delight on their faces answered my question far better than words ever could have? Everybody, in fact, was beaming; so in we went for a jolly session of big-doggin', back slappin', and beverage sippin'? And we all lived happily ever after? them down in the swampland, and us three on the way to Utah.