Recently I got a job in Lafayette, a small Louisiana town about 45 miles down I-10 through impossible traffic and a dense swamp riddled with critters. I use my new free time to contemplate ideas including time travel, changing shampoo or writing a blog about frightening rabbits. The creative thoughts usually come when I am in the car zooming over a marshy area at high speed or worse standing still on one of many bridges listening for banjos and counting things I see.
Due to insane traffic and much needed coffee to-go it takes 90 minutes one way. So I use three hours each day to travel to and from a town with a population of 125,000 happy, Cajun, dancing chefs. I fill up with gas two times each week usually in the morning at Exit 151 which has more than 10 fast food restaurants, a dozen hotels, two sketchy casinos and a Chevron that is also one impressive wine shop. I have seen zero Starbucks.
My numerical journey includes one bay, Whiskey Bay, a beautiful but scary place where the bodies are kept in every scary story ever told in Acadiana. I pass over the Atchafalaya basin and the Atchafalaya River, the second of two rivers, as the Mighty Mississippi is already behind me before I break for caffeine. Later there are also two bayous (Teche and Des Glaises) which I pass at a mere 60 mph to avoid getting pulled over by the two separate police cars that wait at the foot of each bridge. I also manage to pass 2 lakes, Pelba and Bigeaux (pronounced Big-Oh.)
Though the entire area is swampland, Henderson Swamp is actually drying up with thousands of exposed cypress knees popping up in the shallow pools. It takes 4 parishes including East Baton Rouge, Iberia, St. Martin and Lafayette to store all of this craziness. There is only one Wildlife Management Area, Sherburne. This refuge no doubt preserves the lives of a gazillion gator and gar round the clock. Also countless are the species of feathered friends: crane, heron, ibis, pelican and duck to name a few. Other animals I can actually see unfortunately include a daily road kill count of raccoon and armadillo with a severe lack of common sense. (Just today I spied a total of three roadside victims although one is old and may in fact just be discarded taxidermy.) If its dusk, I can see up to 7 living deer between mile markers which will remain nameless because I am not sure how many hunters read this blog with guns loaded. In addition to deer, I’ve seen three escaped cows and three abandoned dogs but not on the same day. If I dared to leave the interstate at any place other than my coffee stop, I know a place where I can see one live tiger named Tony.
The worst part is that there are no less than 10 commemorative crosses placed by loved ones whose hearts are in no less than two pieces. These hand-made crosses are created out of wood, metal and wishes and reside on both sides of the road in various spots to remind us to drive with care. Not just for ourselves but for others as well.
I wonder if I can develop a game where drivers can earn points on our commute according to the number of positive things we see each day. Perhaps some of these items, once cleverly documented, could be used towards discounts on hotels, hot air balloons or a good limo driven by a woman named Jeff. Maybe I could trade two sketches and a gator pic for a night in the Breaux Bridge Hilton to lessen my drive. Maybe room 333 could save me 3 hours of driving 3 days in a row or possibly win me a work from home visa, but then when would I find ammunition to blog?