May 22nd, 2009

Louisiana Day 1

and so my mini-vacation to louisiana began uber early friday morning... 3:45 am to be exact. got to ontario airport around 4:30am and took off at 6:30am, still super sleepy. the time i didn't spend sleeping i was reading valis, by philip k. dick, a sci-fi novel that is waay too heavy to be comprehending at that time, but it happened anyway.

landed in houston around 11:30 am. i had to walk soo far just to get outside of the damn airport, it's so huge. i could see outside of the window my friend's dirty green jeep and i smiled, knowing the craziness that would soon ensue. after getting lost briefly in the construction around the airport i finally found her, and we were off in that jeep, bumping the hip hop on her crazy loud stereo system on the highway. it took about 2 and a half hours to get to lake charles where she lives, and the ride was pretty good. no traffic, got mcdonalds along the way (sheesh as soon as i get to the south it's all about forgetting the healthiness), looked at all the billboards for nearby casinos which were legally required to display the gambling addiction hotline at the bottom, and saw a guy with a tattoo in a pickup next to us that said, “the south would have won had i been alive at the time.” oh yes, i have arrived.

the 2-lane highway is a lot different than what i'm used to driving on back home. not much around except fields and fields and the random cows and horses. we drove over more bridges over swamps the closer we got to lake charles. the first thing we did once we pulled into town was go to an ambulance station so my friend could finish writing up some tickets (she works as an emt, quite the exciting job!) i met some of her co-workers, one of which who was sleeping on a chair (they work hard there) and was introduced as “stacey from los angeles,” which subsequently became my name for the rest of the trip. her co-workers were friendly and joked about murders in l.a. and to watch out for the madness that is new orleans (more on that the next day.)

after she finished up her tickets, we drove to her friend's apartment, which is where we would be staying for the night. her friend is an elementary school teacher who teaches in a little part of town called brentwood, the ghetto area. i thought that was amusing, as i also teach in an elementary school in brentwood, but in california it's the rich area. anyway, her friend was a bubbly person hopped up on crazy energy after working with children all day, and she was pretty exciting for the afternoon. we put our stuff down and then proceeded to drive to a gas station to fill up and pick up some beer and a styrofoam ice chest... for we were about to go FISHING. FISHING, yes, that's right, what they do for fun, and which i was excited to do actually. i hadn't gone fishing since 4th grade, the last time i was in the south (alabama... space camp... cough).

turns out the ponds we were gonna go fishing at was actually part of a menonnite religious ground. the mennonites own the ponds and rent out gear to locals or whoever wants to fish. the people there looked like freakin pilgrims, and i felt very very brown, nonetheless, i was eager to catch what we could. unfortunately when we arrived it was 5pm, and it was closing at 5:30pm because of school activities, so i was a bit bummed until i saw my friend walking off into the distance, chatting it up with a father and son. i walked with her friend and the two of us caught up with her and found out that she had asked these strangers if we could borrow any extra gear to go fishing for 30 minutes, since it wouldn't make any sense to rent out gear for such a short period of time, and also the staff was pretty busy cleaning up. to my surprise, the father and son team not only let us borrow extra rods, they baited the hooks an casted the lines for us and everything! all i had to do was stand there and hold the damn thing. apparently “my friend stacey is from los angeles and she's never ______ before” would work wonders several times over this weekend...

the father and son team were really polite and answered all our questions with “yes ma'am” and it really was a shining example of southern hospitality. they had already caught a whole cooler worth of fish. we talked with them and we stood waiting for the fish to bite. found out the boy (who was only about 10) was really into texting his little girlfriends. the three of us were amused by his antics, but his dad seemed pretty unfazed. “yeah, he texts them all the time... even the older ones in middle school...”

didn't catch a damn fish the whole time, though i did get a couple bites now and then. my friend and her friend managed to catch tiny ones but they ended up throwing them back into the water because it was hardly worth cleaning and frying up. around 5:45 the mennonites kicked us out, we said thanks to the father and son and headed out in the POURING rain. it was only sprinkling when we left the pond but as we drove down the highway i could swear another hurricane was on its way.

it cleared up after about 5 minutes though! our next destination was the firehouse, where my friend said we could get some good jambalaya. since she works as an emt, she's really familiar with all the servicemen in the area. when we got to the firehouse the firemen weren't really doing much except hanging out, so we went directly to the kitchen as one of the firemen was cooking up a big pot of the BEST jambalaya i've EVER had (granted i havent really tried all that much but DAMN IT WAS GOOD). while we ate, we talked to him about his drinking stories in mexico. good times. there was a call in the middle of the eating, and so most all of the firemen left. once we were done, i got a couple pictures in front of the firetruck, woo!

mm jambalaya... the good food did not end there! we went to a crawfish stand soon after and picked up 10 pounds of freakin crawfish, which were mini lobsters, or giant shrimps, however you want to look at it. my friend used her “my friend stacey from los angeles” excuse and so we got to watch the teenagers in the back boil up the crawfish in huge barrels. we took the 10 lbs back to her friend's apartment along with lots of corn and potatoes and after i learned how to peel crawfish (took me a couple tries) we were DEVOURING THAT STUFF. SO GOOD. it's just so damn satisfying ripping off the head and peeling off the shell... you just keep going and going until there was almost nothing left of those 10 lbs... amazing.

i don't really know how we were able to move after all this. it was around 10pm, but we were still going on strong. we went out for a night on the town and went barhopping to a couple divey places were i drank some woodchuck cider, a nasty shot of crown royal, some other iced tea vodka shot (ughh) and some zinfandel wine at an old people's bar called guys and dolls where the bartender stared us down wondering why the hell we weren't at the bar next door (don't ask me, my friend took us wherever alcohol was to be had). finally, we ended up at a bar called the wharf which had some good music and dancing and i was already pretty drunk... still ended up drinking half a jack and coke anyway, and soon, we found ourselves on a PARTY BUS with a very wasted girl named desiree who proceeded to grind upon the grossest dudes i've ever seen. how we ended up on this party bus is still hazy to me, but i think my friend saw her friend who knew a friend on the bus, blah blah, the point is we were on it, the music was loud and i HAD TO PEE SO BADLY. thank god it was going to another bar called yesterday's, where i then tore myself off the bus and practically ran to the bathroom. here we hung out a bit, got to meet the owner of the bar, had another free shot, then drank another one, oh my god how i didn't have a massive hangover the next morning is beyond me but the next thing i knew i was back in the bathroom again with my friend taking pictures of me on the toilet and there was not a damn thing i could do about it.

around 2am or so we were back at her friend's apartment. i passed out on the couch. lake charles is awesome.