“Hello there”… “HEY!”
I peered out over my hammock through blurry eyes towards a slim man with greying handle bar moustache. He was wearing crisp khaki chinos and an uber important looking mint green park ranger shirt. My “good morning” was abruptly cut off with a “who gave you permission to be here.” I explained last nights late 9pm entry and apologied etc, and then he cut me off again, “WHO gave you permission to be here?” I repeated my last explanation without any more success.
After a time we got to the nub of the problem. It wasn’t that we couldn’t camp, it’s just where we’d chosen to camp… outside the camp ‘komandants’ parking spot. He gave us thirty minutes to pack up and go, we were gone in twenty.
The sun wasn’t up, the early morning light was still, warm and quiet. We made our way to the closest service station to freshen up and then headed northwest towards Deweyville and the boarder.
We crossed the boarder and everything changed.
Not so much a hard boarder, but a bridge crossing another nondescript southern creek. On the other side, the road narrowed and the landscape changed from woodlands and pasture to wetland bayou.
Massive buttresses of ageing swamp cypress, secure footed drove themselves skyward from the still and muddy waters beneath. Large flocks of Snowy egrets disturbed by our presence raised themselves and slowly, lazily swooped between the branches deeper into the warm and humid interior. Moving take time here. Doing the minimum is a prerequisite to survival.
We continued down roads scattered with abandoned shacks and trailer homes. But in the shambles there is community, and it’s old and buried deep in the woodland. We met locals who have never left this parish. It’s not that they can’t, it’s just they don’t seem to want to. It’s just the pace of things here. ‘To last, you have to move slow.’
Everyone kept telling us, ‘Ya’ll just go east, east is where you “ fine dem Coonass” (Cajuns). So east we did.
We made it DeQuincy by 5pm and pulled up parched, outside the only bar we could locate: ‘The Iron horse’. Not really what you expect, more of an industrial shed on an interior back street, but we were desperate for a drink.
He found our bikes before he found us. Sirus was a solo bike tourer on his way from Toronto to Fin de Mundo (the very bottom of South America). He’d already been riding for six weeks, telling us he just decided to go so just… went. You are a legend Sirus. Good luck.
A night at the iron horse
Four hours after entering the Iron Horse bar, we left. With a bag full of good memories, new stories and even newer old friends. Thank you all, especially Pony (the Cajun coonass original), Liz’ the bar maid, Shane and Rod, and everyone else. It was a completely Clueless night.
Sometimes it’s the most unassuming of places that contains the most remarkable people.
Just north of Starks is a peaceful little destination known as Alligator Park. A pavilion and campground overlooking a muddy ‘creek fulla ‘gators’ and all the amenities.