Monday, August 09, 2010

Heading south on I-10

The Superdome as viewed from Thalia Street, New Orleans.

I went to Baton Rouge today.  I like that Baton Rouge means "red stick" in French.  Aside from memorizing it as Louisiana's capital I've known much about it.  I spent three hours there and I can't say I learned much.

The Louisiana Capital Building is a concrete, art deco skyscraper that is the tallest building in town.  That doesn't speak well for the economy.  Neither did the abandoned storefronts in the city's center.  I wasn't in New Orleans anymore.  I knew that already.

I drive a very small motorcycle.  I hate to take the highway.  I had business in Baton Rouge though so I took the highway, a straight shot through swampland with nothing to look at but bayou and cypress trees until I go to Baton Rouge.  Not much to look at there either.

I've got nothing against "Bat Rue" as those in the know like to call it.  I had no trouble parking and no traffic and it was easy to navigate.  The streets were a lot smoother and emptier than those in New Orleans.  Heck, it felt like a ghost town abandoned to all but bureaucrats, bless their souls.

On the way homewards, I crossed the St. Charles Parish line and there, on the furthest shore of Lake Pontchartrain, I saw, off in the distance, far away past a flat landscape of flat water and flat grasslands and a few stubby trees, New Orleans Central Business District silhouette; skyscrapers cut hazy, blue profiles where the atmosphere converged with whatever water and vegetable much is at sea level.  I thought, "That's where I live!" and I leaned down over the gas tank to reduce my wind resistance.  The motorcycle picked up five mph, ten, fifteen.  I couldn't get there fast enough.

Before I knew it, I was in familiar territory.  I was home.  I tootled down Tulane Avenue to and fro.  I took a right, I hung a left, I hung on through stop signs and travelled all the way to Gen. Pershing Street.  I noodled around a few blocks, crisscrossed, doubled back, rattled my equipment over potholes and around traffic cones.  Yes, home.  New Orleans, not Baton Rouge.

I was in Louisiana all day but home is where the heart is.

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