For Great American Roadtrip Chapter II, head here!
Horses with cops towered on top were waiting for them outside, at least that is what their drunk eyes told them. The bouncer demanded the boys’ IDs and fearing that they would get in more trouble by showing their fakes, they reluctantly passed over the real ones. Little did they know, it would work heavily in their favor now that the bar had “knowingly” let underaged boys into the bar. With shock, the bouncer did a double take at his “mistake”, passed the IDs back to Ed and Ryan and told them to leave and never come back. The boys tiptoed past the police on their stallions, unable to believe their luck. As soon as they were a safe distance, they jumped in joy, hugged it out, and sprinted back to the hotel room. With one last acknowledgment that they were not in a jail cell that night, the boys fell deeply into the beds and slept sounder than they had in years.
Not long after the girls stumbled in and fell asleep, Ryan opened his eyes in a daze to the sound of Ed by the window talking to himself and the sound of pee hitting the ground. Dismissing it as a dream, he fell back asleep. The next morning as he went to go search for his clothes that were under the window, sure enough they were soaked in urine; a byproduct of Ed’s sleepwalking.
Although a white shirt, the four laughed it off and tried to recollect the events of the night before over a brunch in the French Quarter. Still in utter bewilderment, the boys occasionally burst into laughter over the fact they were drinking coffee and not behind jail cell doors.
The day was shaping up to be beautiful. The four spent much of it wandering the French Quarters. It is unlike any place in America and it is the truest fusion of French and US-Southern culture there is in existence. The buildings boast a French colonial style facade with plenty of balconies and terraces to go around. The colors of them are as radiant as the culture itself and they all have a slightly weathered feel to them as a result of the unpredictable elements and the sheer heat in the city.
The people notably add to the diversity and thrill of the city. As the four explored without agenda, they found themselves sitting among makeshift jazz bands in the street, watching artists painting the architecture from all angles and styles, meeting voodoo sorcerers that have a cult following in the area, and talking to other locals who couldn’t help but bear a big smile across their faces while talking.
It was obvious that the people who lived here loved it here, and that isn’t always easy to find when traveling.
And then there were the actual places, which seemed to dynamically change every second. Ryan put a drop of the ‘hottest’ hot sauce in all of America on his tongue at the French Market, and it was excruciating. At the same place, the four wandered past baby alligator heads and other New Orlean delicacies. Not far outside of the market, they bumped into the banks of the Mississippi delta where couples were kissing and guitarists were rocking out at the sun began to set. And at night, they devoured more shrimp gumbo and jambalaya before heading to a jazz show, where they sipped wine and craft beers to the soothing yet invigorating sounds resonating around them. The night would prove to be tamer, yet more fulfilling than the night before, with no risks of arrests or deportations.
After soaking up one more relaxing night in the comfort of their lavish hotel room, the four grabbed a Po-boy before getting back on the road. The Po-boy sandwich is essentially anything fried between two buns, often times in the form of seafood. The name’s origin is unconfirmed, but theorists suggest it originated in a restaurant owned by former streetcar conductors. During a four month strike, the restaurant owners would serve their former colleagues free sandwiches. Referring to the strikers as “Poor Boys” the apparent association between the strikers and the sandwich ultimately coined the term, “Po boy”. Ryan ordered the biggest one, complete with oysters, shrimp, chicken and other pieces of fried goodness. However, due to the size and his inability to eat like an adult, half of the sandwich fell onto his lap and the floor.
The four basked in the sun of the French Quarter for a few hours more before getting back in the car and starting their journey further west. They would be taking Interstate-10 from here nearly 2,000 miles to California with a few stops here and there. The next checkpoint would be Houston, Texas, a much shorter five hours on the road than their previous drives.
The border crossing into Texas was very matter-of-fact. It was clear that they were in new and proud territory by the massive road sign and the miles and miles of oil refineries they passed along the way. After a smooth and uneventful drive, they arrived in Houston. Liz had a friend who would kindly take the group in for the night. Despite stereotypes, the Houston they saw that evening was very different from their generalizations. Their host for the evening took them around the trendy Montrose district, complete with plenty of gay bars and hipster dives. They landed at a bar with an outdoor garden that seemed to be the breeding ground between traditional cowboys and fashionista millennials.
The solo night in Houston was proof that travel is important to clear up cultural misconceptions. Despite the conservative, gun-bearing, power-hungry image that always represents Texas, they saw a younger, fresher, progressive side of the city. Until you actually experience the place and become a primary source, you can never fully trust word-of-mouth, news, media.
After a breakfast complete with Avocado Toast, they bid their welcoming host goodbye and rolled on towards San Antonio. The stretch of highway between the two cities wasn’t long, but was quiet, and since it wasn’t so late in the day, they decided to veer off the highway a bit here and there to see what was happening. Unlike their misconceptions and pre-judgments before, this part of the state fit their expectations; more ranches and cows per capita than people. Later in the afternoon, closer to San Antonio, they found a roadside bar with plenty of locals and country music. As the sun started to set, they drank a few beers and smoked cigarettes bought out of the old fashioned vending machines, which are deprecated in the North East.
Aiming to get to San Antonio in the next hour or so, Jess drove the other three from the bar, looking for Interstate 10. On a particularly long stretch of road, the sudden ominous flash of red and blue lights made their hearts drop. Jess, who hadn’t had a drink (or maybe had just one) pulled over and a few moments later, a police officer with a wide-rimmed hat stepped up to the window.
“License and Registration”
“Miss, could you step out of the car and come to mine?”
In silence, Jess opened the door and was escorted towards the car. The other three sat in terror and paralysis as Jess got into the man’s car.