Wednesday, January 16, 2008

A recent excursion...

As I was explaining to Robert in the comment thread below, I recently took a very tiresome road trip with some good friends. (I say "good friends"...we all have our faults. Two of them happened to be Alabama fans, a grotesque blemish indeed, but forgivable nonetheless.) It was one of these two friends who happened to get 4 tickets to the 2008 Independence Bowl, starring (for the second year in a row because they seem to have some trouble making an appearance in a respectable BCS bowl)....yep, ALABAMA! Make no mistake, I am a University of Florida fan. But I also love, and I do mean "LOVE" the spirited competition, rivalry and raw talent that permeates the Southeastern Conference and will always cheer for an SEC team against outsiders, even crappy teams like Vanderbilt and Ole Miss....unless it affects Florida's BCS standings, of course (I'm no fool).

Anyway, 6-6 is hardly a season to cheer about, but when deciding which SEC team to invite to the Independence Bowl...well, Bama does bring the fans. And a rowdy bunch they are, let me tell you. Loyal too. You gotta respect that much if nothing else. Having never been exposed to Alabama fans "en masse", I was treated to a spectacle like none other. One of our buddies owns a full-on "Big Al" mascot elephant costume, complete with stubby elephant feet. The feet leaving no dexterity and making it quite difficult to consume the $6 stadium beer, our pal decided to forego the bottom half and stick with the big elephant head. I told him it was stupid. I later apologized to him, for I was WRONG. VERY WRONG!

The man was a friggin' "god" in that ridiculous elephant head. A "god", I tell you! People stood in line to have their picture taken with him. Everyone loved him and, by virtue of being in the party of the polyester too. No one is allowed to stand at the rail during play at a football game. It impairs everyone else's view. Not so with my buddy. No sir! He was granted a pass because he was wearing a damned elephant head! ESPN featured his big mug during a commercial break. Colorado's "official" mascot even came up in the stands to tussle with him. We were quite popular to say the least.

All in all, a fun day. Colorado got their buffalo butts tagged and bagged and everyone had a great time. Great, that is, until our 8 hour trek home in the dark and fog through "Deliverance land". No joke, I think I heard banjo music! Suffice it to say that we took a little less direct route home for the sake of staying on the Interstate and making the 60 mile longer trip just a little easier to drive in the dark. Yeah, well that didn't work out so good. Seems the great state of Louisiana doesn't find it necessary to advertise that the Interstate you're on, is about to intersect with another. They also got a crafty little trick to get you off the beaten path so to speak.

I-49 ends at I-10 in Lafayette. At least it's supposed to, according to the map. In reality, however, it doesn't "end" at all. It just sort of morphs into Hwy 90. One minute you're on the Interstate, the next minute you're at a red light on a one way street and you haven't exited or turned at all. That's when the banjo music starts. Convinced we could not have possibly "missed" Interstate 10, we continued down the road hoping it would appear. When it didn't, I pressed the little "On Star" button on the rear view mirror to ask where in the heck we were. No help at all. I think "On Star" is in on the whole conspiracy to trap unwary travelers in small Louisiana towns that no one can pronounce. I shit you not...the man told us to make a U-turn then turn left and then left again. Draw that on a piece of paper for yourself. You're heading east, then you make a U-turn, then turn left, then left again. What do you get? Yeah, you get EAST! I just wanted to get to I-10! So we stopped....for "Deliverance land" the dark foggy swamps of southwest Louisiana. Only one man spoke coherent enough English to converse with. And he convinced me that it was nearly 45 minutes quicker to continue east, into the dark foggy swamp than to go back to Lafayette and get on the Interstate. Did you catch that? The seven foot tall cajun in overalls, "convinced me" through his mouthful of Beechnut and coonass drawl that I should continue into the swamp. Very happy that there were two guns in the vehicle, (one of them on my hip) we courageously continued our eastern course until, after one more stop for directions, we found our way to the Interstate....on fumes, I might add. The fog didn't lift until we hit the Florida line.

Mind you, I don't feel at all "cultured" or "well traveled" to have driven the "scenic route" through that state. Having formerly resided in south Louisiana, I certainly don't mind telling you that I don't miss it one damned bit. I haven't lost a thing in Louisiana. I hate Louisiana. With all the chemical plants and oil refineries and dead skunks on the poorly maintained swamp's the dirtiest, stinkinest, backwoods, mosquito infested state in the union. If you live in or are from Louisiana and I am "offending" you, swallow it and move along. I hate your State. Feel free to hate mine.