Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mexican and Another Motel 6

About 20 miles south of Alexandria, Louisiana Route 71 narrows to two-lanes. This, we hoped, would be where things would become interesting. The plan had been to get on the road early so we could explore the lesser byways all the way down to the Big Easy; what we hadn’t counted on was our search for a motel room turning into Jason’s quest for the golden fleece. Who knew Shreveport was such a popular Memorial Day Weekend destination?

By now we knew what the journey was about: offering ourselves to the whims of the road and taking whatever that gave us. So when we heard the music – ‘Check it out,’ Jon said, pointing at the four-man band on a flatbed trailer parked in an empty paved lot – we knew it was time to pull over.

‘We’re celebrating the Grand Opening of Karen’s Kitchen,’ the folks sitting under the white canopy explained. ‘You guys hungry? Go get yourselves some lunch. Good home cooking!’ That it was Mexican food instead of Cajun or Creole or a crawdad special wasn’t so much a letdown as simply a shrug-the-shoulders moment. The whims of the road… (Karen does make a good enchilada.)

By the time Bert, Ronnie, Jason and Chad finished their song the crowd, consisting mainly of Karen’s extensive family tree branches, was listening to Jon and passing around a chunk of the WTC rubble. ‘We’re Police officers,’ said Chad, motioning to Jason. ‘So this really means something special to us.’ After having Jon climb up onto their stage to say a few words, Chad thanked him for bringing his project to their small town (named Bunkie by the way) and the band fell into a rendition of John Cougar Mellencamp’s ‘Pink Houses’.

I-10 passes over long stretches of Pontchartrain water and wetlands before diving straight into downtown New Orleans. After the fiasco of the previous night we’d gone ahead and reserved a few rooms at the closest Motel 6 – by now our default choice what with a German shepherd in tow. This happened to place us just down the road from the church we’d be visiting in the morning, but it also put us several miles from the French Quarter –presenting us with a strictly practical and not at all moral dilemma.

We drove back into the center of town, but failing to find anything within financial reason ended up back at the Motel 6. This worked out well, as the necessity of having a designated driver brought with it the advantage of having someone we could count on not to oversleep. We’d need some time to set up before 10:00 Mass, you see.