Gabriel is sitting at a small workbench in the corner of her living room, hand crafting a ring for a friend of hers. Her boyfriend, Dakoda, has been sitting in one of the two overstuffed chairs in their tiny home, telling me stories about his last trip to Burning Man, but now he’s making breakfast.
I left the town of Jennings shortly before 9am yesterday, pointed towards Lafayette, forty miles up ahead on a flat road. I’m still traveling Route 90, passing through small towns, stopping when I do to take a break from my bike seat.
I met Kalie and Steven on this particular Sunday morning in front of a country market. These two young boys had loaded their wire mesh saddlebags with sugar; a half dozen cans of soda, chips and pockets full of candy.
Within minutes of making my way into the downtown section of Lafayette, I was met by Glenn and Maya. They too are pedaling coast to coast. I last saw them in Arizona where we had camped together on the grass at a Casino. Maya had told me about the Festival De International, a free event that’s held each year, attracting thousands of people to the city in search of art, world music and cajon food. Lafayette is in the heart of French Louisiana.
The streets are lined with baby strollers and people shuffling their feet. It’s the hottest day on record this year. The humidity level mixed with the alcohol consumption has everyone looking like axe murderers; red eyed and sweaty.
The Portland based, March Fourth Marching Band takes the stage as the final act. On the brick building beside the stage, Robert Dafford’s “Premier, Dernier, et Toujours,” or “First, Last, Always,” mural is beautifully painted. You can see a few party goers taking in the sites and sounds from the roof-top.
Maya introduces me to Jen and Andre who have a bungalow in downtown where they’ve invited Jo and I to stay. But I’ve already met Gabriel and Dakoda who have invited me over to their place to BBQ and make some new friends. They have a vintage Volkswagen and an old Toyota RV for camping in. I pitched my tent on their lawn instead, not aware of the impending hurricane force storms that we’re building in the west, headed in our direction.
At 8:30 in the morning, I woke up to the sound of the wind whipping through the trees and thunder cracking overhead. Rain was blowing sideways, finding its way into my shelter. One of the stakes that holds the tent down dislodged itself and immediately things started flapping out of control. Looking out from the bug screen window, it looked like it was the middle of the night and it sounded like war. The street light illuminated the water and debris that was flying through the air.
And then I heard a voice hollering from the house. It was Dakoda, yelling at me to hurry up and get inside before Jo and I drown in their yard.
With storms being talked about on every news channel throughout the region, I’ll be keeping my eye on the weather and deciding, where in the world next.