I’d never been paged at an airport before, but thanks to a whack address and a detour through Queens, the PrissyBitch and I got to skip to the front of the security line and haul ass through Laguardia at 5:30 a.m. And that was how the Ragin’ Cajun began…
“Butter Butter Fat Boiled Crab”
We arrived in Gulfport around 11:oo a.m. and picked up our rental car, which thankfully wasn’t a PT Cruiser. No, this time we got a Dodge Avenger. And our first stop on the tour was a gigantic rocking chair. It was…uh…big. More importantly we saw this hilarious sign —->
Then we headed toward New Orleans, on a not-so-direct route. We spent a lot of time in Slidell looking for a Best Buy (to get a car charger for our phones/GPS) and a castle on the Irish Bayou. We found the castle, but it wasn’t that interesting. We did see yet another hilarious sign, but this one was less <—-pornographic and more confusing: “Butter Butter Fat Boiled Crab.” We couldn’t decide if it was a menu, or descriptive of the way the crab was cooked.
We also discovered that you can buy daquiries at a drive-thru, but, unfortunately, the place was closed. You can imagine how disappointed the PrissyBitch was. She doesn’t like driving sober. So, we decided it was time to make a beeline for New Orleans. We came in on Route 11 over a very long, very low bridge. We didn’t quite understand how the bridge didn’t end up under water every time it rains, but did later find out that it does disappear after every hurricane.
“Beads or Bust”
We headed for my uncle’s house in the Garden District. We had high hopes of delicious Cajun food…but instead, we got Vietnamese. It was delicious but not quite what we’d had in mind. But once dinner was over we headed toward downtown, and by that I mean my uncle raced the trolley in his car and then cut it off so we could jump out and catch a ride. Then the trolley driver pointed up ahead and we had to chase it until the thing was long gone. Luckily, my uncle showed up again and we repeated the process…but this time we got out closer to a trolley stop and managed to get on.
On the trolley, we ended up behind drunk St. Patrick’s Day revelers (the streets were lined with cabbage and the trees strung with beads from a parade earlier in the day) who were making out and making the PrissyBitch want to vomit up her banh mi. Luckily, she was able to settle her stomach with a Hurricane.
We wandered around for a while, and some old drunk gave us beads for being pretty. After we finished our Hurricanes we stopped into a bar on a side street for a while. We drank a beer and then got back up to go in search of more beads. Since neither of us is about to end up on a “Girls Gone Wild” video, we chose to mostly steal and/or demand our beads.
Some bouncer forced us into his bar, but it was crowded so we sneaked out the other door. Then we found a less crowded bar and headed up to the balcony where we quickly lured in a couple of dudes on the street. I got one to flash me his boobs — or nipples, as the case may be — but his older, wiser brother chose to flash me only his ankle (and therefore didn’t get any beads). Then they asked the question all the rather dumb people on the street seemed to be asking: “How do we get up there?”
We simply said, “The stairs.”
A few minutes later the guys were on the balcony with us. The younger one — a mere 21 — was really rather disappointing when it came to his bead distribution skills. (Though when I realized I’d thrown him my cool fish beads and demanded he give them back, he did trade me.) He kept throwing beads to girls who were half naked to begin with but didn’t even come close to flashing us. That was when PrissyBitch made me laugh so hard I almost peed myself, and spilled my beer: “He’s so young he’s pre-cumming beads all over the balcony!”
As you might imagine, it didn’t take long for those guys to head out in search of girls more likely to show their boobs and/or not make fun of them. We started wandering again, got “Huge Ass Beers,” and then found our new home away from home: Lafitte in Exile, the country’s oldest gay bar. We noticed it, sitting at the quieter end of Bourbon Street when we spotted a mostly naked guy dancing on the bar (and I quickly snapped a picture to text to a the Gay Guru). After having seen girls in their underwear in the doors of strip clubs all down Rue de Bourbon we were so relieved to see a naked man, we practically trampled each other in our rush to get inside.
We found two seats, watched as the naked guy gave the bartender a reach-around and then made friends when a delightful clothing designer asked, “I just have to know, how are you girls so naturally beautiful?” Now, in any other bar we would have assumed this guy was trying to get us to flash him. But we were in the gay bar, the one place a girl can take a compliment at face value. Before the night was over, a lovely senior-gay bought us some more beer, and informed us that we would be missing one of Lafitte’s biggest celebrations. When we said we were sad we’d miss it, he said, “No, it’s no place for girls. I’ll be sucking dick on this very spot.” We didn’t see the problem, but he was adamant that we should skip this particular party.
“Unnncle Dwight, why’d ya lock th’ gate?”
Soon we realized we’d been awake for about 24 hours, and decided to head back to my uncle’s house via cab. Once there we encountered the security gate. I won’t bother to bore you with the story, I’ll just let the pictures speak for themselves:
We woke up the next morning, covered in bruises and feeling like something that had just wandered out of one of those weird, above-ground graves. Unsure as to whether food would help or hinder our situation we decided to head to Magazine Street to get caffeine and split a bagel before heading out to Mississippi.
We figured that somewhere along the way we’d find the good southern cooking we’d missed out on while at the Vietnamese restaurant. Instead, we traveled for hour upon hour without ever seeing an open, non-Sonic restaurant.
We fought through our hunger to stop in places like Kentwood, LA, hometown of one Britney Spears and a complete and utter shit hole. Suddenly, her trashiness made so much more sense. As we would learn, everything in the small town is closed on Sunday, but most of the store fronts in Kentwood looked straight-up empty. There was a Britney wing in the local “museum” which was, of course, closed. The most interesting thing we were able to find in the whole town was a crumbling building, with a toilet/planter in the corner.
We headed out of Kentwood, past a pregnant, stray dog in a Sonic parking lot, and set out on the open road toward Mississippi once again. We still had high hopes for the Magnolia state then, but it would not last long. As we would soon discover, Mississippi is dirty, closed on Sundays, and wildly segregated. Unless you’re in what passes for a city — like, say, Jackson — you are almost certainly in an all-white or all-black town. Unless, you’re in Rodney.
Ahhhhh…Rodney. RoadsideAmerica.com lists Rodney as a ghost town, but it’s not. It is, however, at the end of a long, long dirt road and is home to about a dozen people at most. There are two houses that seem to have people living in them, and a half-dozen or so trailers at one end of the road. According to the sign, Rodney was once quite a bustling little town with 3 newspapers, and about 500 residents. Then the Mississippi River changed course and a couple of fires ravaged the place.
Now, it’s just waiting for the PrissyBitch and I to find investors so we can buy the town and start our own off-the-grid community. We wandered around for a while, taking pictures of the crumbling buildings and getting odd looks from the few people who lived there. And then we met a lovely little dog/shapeshifter we named Sam. He hung out with us as we wandered around town, and he darted in and out of the buildings. We decided that if he got in the car, we’d take him with us…but then he rolled in some unidentifiable mess and we decided he looked well-fed and probably preferred life in Rodney to life in Bridgeport. So, eventually we had to get back in the car, sans Sam.
This is when things took a turn for the worse. PrissyBitch’s iPhone GPS told us we could head out of town down Rodney’s “main road” and that it would lead us to the route we needed to get to. We crossed a rickety old bridge, and headed down a narrow and often steep, dirt road. Our car was almost swallowed by a puddle as wide as the Mississippi but we made it through…only to get to what we thought was the end and find a clearing in the woods with two closed gates on either side but no road to go forth on.
I almost had a stroke.
We had to go back. This time we stopped to strategize the best way to tackle the sinkhole that had almost claimed our tire earlier. We were like Mark Twain out there, only we weren’t on a riverboat and all we had to plunge the depths of our puddle was a twig. Eventually we made it through and back to Rodney where we ignored the GPS and headed back the way we’d come in.
Hungrier than ever we set out for the Tallahatchie Flats in Greenwood, MS. We were there by dark, and having not found any food we were glad to see a tavern on the premises. We thought, at the very least, we would be able to get some liquid calories. As it turned out, they’d just closed, but lucky for us, Greenwood offered a couple dining options for us. We unpacked, checked out our flat, and headed back toward Greenwood-proper to get some food. We had gumbo, and fried pickles. Good enough.
Before heading back to our flat we stopped in at a grocery store where we bought some oranges — to fend off the scurvy we could feel setting in — and eggs for the morning’s breakfast. Once back at our flat, PrissyBitch and I did what we do best… make our own fun where there had previously been none.
As the only guests at the flats, with the tavern closed, and not a single other building within site it was up to us to entertain ourselves. We could have watched television, but we thought that was not in the spirit of things. We had a lot of alcohol — mostly Bud Light tallboys we’d bought for $1.09 — but alcohol was, at best, our frenemy at that point. So, we used the tallboys as a prop in our most awesome photo shoot to date.
Before long we ran out of funny pictures to take, and instead we decided it was time to write a song. We had a pretty extensive trip soundtrack for this particular journey, and it included lots of Reba McIntyre, John Lee Hooker, and one very important song: “Callin’ Baton Rouge” by Garth Brooks. [What ever happened to him? His shirts were awesome.] So we decided our masterpiece should be to the infectious tune of the Brooks song.
Here’s our version:
We spent this morning running through an airport to get to Louisiana
Finally got there and picked up our Avenger
Such a strange combination of castles and bayous
Such a strange situation, stopping every 100 miles looking for food
A replay of Los Banos rolled through my mind
Except now we were on Bourbon St. and that was all behind
We say a gay bar ahead so we changed lanes
Got a couple huge ass beers and met some new flames
Still looking for food
Unnncle Dwight, why’d ya lock the gate
I got a big old bruise and I need some Cajun food
Hello Mississippi dear, I hope you’ve got the soul food I’ve got in mind
Found out you’re outta fish
Stopping every 100 miles, still looking for food
We fell asleep soon after spending all of our energy on that awesome song, and were woken up by the God-awfully bright Delta sun as soon as it broke over the very distant treeline. We did our best to continue sleeping but eventually we just had to call it quits, get up, and cook our eggs. Before leaving the flats, though, we wandered around the property, picking cotton and checking out the Tallahatchie River. [Also on our trip soundtrack was “Ode to Billy Joe” which was the first song we listened to upon settling in at the Flats. If you don’t get the reference, please see this video.]
Then we got in the car and searched through our Johnny Cash collection for the day’s theme song: “Jackson.” On the way we stopped at the Big TeePee for BBQ but it was closed for remodeling so we just kept on heading toward Jackson. We once again encountered the de facto segregation we were quickly becoming used to as we drove through the city. Eventually, we found a restaurant that didn’t look like it would collapse if we closed the door too hard. We were able to get po’ boys at Hal & Mal’s and we added The CuT’s tag to the graffiti in the bathroom before working our way further south and toward Alabama.
“Good ’til the interstate.”
It was about this time that I started Googling and calling every swamp boat operator in Mississippi and Alabama looking for someone…anyone…who would be open long enough for us to take a wildly unsafe ride through gator alley. Unfortunately, the one place that offered night rides was closing early due to unsafe winds. We told them we didn’t care, that the more unsafe our ride was, the better. But they ignored us… And that is how we ended up at the Mobile Greyhound Racing Park.
We’d prefer not to relive the experience just now.
After leaving the race track we drove around Mobile, which seems to be one of those cities where people go home after work so we drove back out to Theodore, where we could see a ton of cheap hotels, a Hooters, and a bunch of other gaudy crap from the highway.
We took up the Red Roof Inn on their offer of a room for $45 and then went to Dick Russell’s for some BBQ. We couldn’t even begin to describe how awesome/ridiculous this place was. The furniture was, easily, from the 1970s if not earlier, with fake plants everywhere, a toy train, and a bearskin rug. We split a BBQ sampler which was too much food for us. It came with about four different kinds of meat smothered in sauce, baked beans, and we substituted one of the sides for turnip greens. I also insisted on ordering a side of hush puppies. Everything was good except the actual BBQ, which was just a mess of sauce, and when we asked what kind of beers they had the waitress told us, “We’ve got all the Lites.”
We headed to the Touchdown Tavern where we played Erotic Photo Hunt, and the PrissyBitch hustled me in pool — which is quickly becoming a staple of all our trips. We sat back down and the bartender asked where we were from, which of course opened up a can of worms. After we told him, the cops next to us asked. When we told the guys all about our trip, and how awful Mississippi is they let us in on Alabama’s little-known state motto: “Hey, at least we’re not Mississippi.”
Our new cop friend was horrified by the fact that we’d never eaten boiled peanuts before, and could not, for the life of him, understand why we would want to ever visit Mobile. We kept trying to explain our desire to see parts of the country we’d never been to before. He just kept shaking his head. He did tell us, however, all about the time his ex-wife won a trip to New York and he, quite against his will, visited the Big Apple and her uncle in Greenwich. Much to his surprise, he actually enjoyed his trip.
“I just never had any desire to go there,” he said.
“Really? Why not?”
“I guess I was just taught to hate it,” he said.
We looked at him dumbfounded, and then I said, “Oh my God, they’re teaching them to hate us in the schools.”
He did not dispute it. But our friends and family had been very worried about the possibility of our getting arrested (and/or killed by crazed, backwoods folk) and so it was with great relief that we watched the local police drink jagerbomb after jagerbomb and assure us, “Ya’ll are good ’til the interstate.”
By the morning we were dreading the journey back to Mississippi but we had no choice. We had a plane to catch and it was in Gulfport. We “ate” at the Waffle House and then got on the road. We spent a couple of hours on the beach — which was just as filthy as the rest of the state — and encountered a lot of jellyfish, dead and alive. Eventually we found a post office and sent our Los Banos friends a postcard, before finally returning our car and taking up residence in the empty airport. We poured what was left of our beer stash into our water bottles and spent the next couple of hours getting drunk and playing video games in the arcade.
And that was all she wrote. We got back on the plane and headed home with one valuable lesson in hand: Never go to Mississippi, any bordering state is better.