Travelling the roads of America bombards the senses with something ‘new’ constantly……the brain is always trying to process the last image before the next image escapes your conscious….there’s a bright yellow school bus with a rear axle that seems too far forward for balance – I’m always expecting them to tip backwards…next, a huge advertising sign for Loves travel stops, quickly followed by a sign listing 5 reasons that we should stop in Ponca City, Oklahoma..the trees with most of their leaves out after a cold winter….the cattle look contented and the grass is verdant green. Lunch was a gas station turkey and cheese sandwich with horseradish mustard and sweet relish, a handful of jalepeno chips and pretzels and a couple of mandarins (for balance).
We’ve been in Louisiana for a couple of days….after a stormchase in Texas we decided to go and stand on the shores of the Gulf of Mexico, and perhaps get another stormchase in on the way. What we didn’t expect to be doing was chasing in the bayous of Louisiana near Lake Charles, dodging trees draped with old man’s beard, mosquitoes as big as battleships and bolting lightning stabbing the ground around the oil tanks next to us. Imagine the adrenaline rush of being on the metal ladder climbing up the side of the tanks at that point…I can only imagine it – I was in the car…..
We scored torrential rain, majorly panicked a couple ‘parking’ underneath a tree on the dead end road by yelling to them as we shot past that they should tidy themselves up and take off before the supercell to their southwest got there and grabbed photos of some weird ‘steamnadoes’ from factories under the wallcloud as it passed over them….not the sort of things you deal with during an ‘average’ stormchase on the Plains.
The next morning we headed south through the factories and the bayous towards the location of Holly Beach…I call it a location because it was wiped off the face of Louisiana by a hurricane 10 years ago, and it’s still being rebuilt. These candy coloured holiday houses stand high above storm surge level now, and one was named the “Alleman Party Palace III” which gives you an idea of the history of the place…we’d seen these sort of homes on television and were amazed to see that the colours are real!
The mosquitoes down there are huge and they bombarded the car as soon as we pulled up on the beach..fortunately it was cool enough to wear a jacket and not have to lather ourselves with Aeroguard in an attempt to escape them. For a while we watched brown pelicans surfing the mud brown waves, terns swearing at each other and a large fishing vessel not far off the coast which seemed to be the origin of the ‘waves’ of brown pelicans parading past. We stopped in the middle of the road on the way back to the highway to chat with a couple of locals who had spotted our weather station and aerials and had followed us down out of curiosity…they aren’t used to seeing stormchasers there out of hurricane season, and definitely not ones from DownUnder!
We turned east on Highway 27 – the map showed the highway as a continuous line…until you zoomed right in…and then it said….”ferry”….I hadn’t been on a car ferry across a river for tens of years and that was before I could drive, so this was an exciting novelty. We joined another 8 cars and 2 trucks on the ‘Acadia’ and spent 10 minutes on the water, accompanied by a pod of dolphins!!! Felt like a kid all over again, perched up on the centre console of the car taking photos out of the car window (‘cos we weren’t allowed out of the cars)…… I haven’t “oohed” and “aahed” as much as I did that day.
If you haven’t had the opportunity to ooh and aah over something new and novel for a while……go find something you haven’t seen or done before and do it soon….and you’ll feel the wonder of being a kid all over again!!