Wednesday, August 11th - Day 39 - Luck Run Out

Panama City Travel Blog

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Not sure where we left off... I was in Lafayette.. I was in a hostel.. I was supposed to have some Cajun Creole THERE as opposed to New Orleans because apparently the cajun made by real cajun people is awesome there. Except I took a while getting there, then it was night time, and I was blogging... by the time I was done, it was 10pm in a Sunday.. meaning nearly everything was closed. Shame shame shame. Orson of, I apologize. I have failed you...

So I went out on the town to look around. It's actually more like 11:30pm. So EVERYTHING is shut down.. practically. There's this divey Artmosphere or something where the beatnicks go just across the street. $3 cover, some live band sounding awful, and nary a soul piquing my interest in sight. I keep walking.

I pass a hotel and think to myself that perhaps the staff at registration will know which way I should go. They were very helpful, and I followed their instructions and followed the growing beat of bass kicks and crash of symbols smashing interspersed with hollared vocals to a place called Nite Town. To my good fortune, the door man was chewing and examining his finger nails and I waltzed right in... either that or it was so late he didn't care about cover. Or there was none. I'd like to believe here that I'm the next James Bond though, lol
Anyway, 2 bands opened up for Cavo, you may have heard of them? They have a new CD coming out. 
Their first one had a hit single on it and the name I will google when I have wifi again (this Budget Inn is a little worse for wear). Oh wait.. I have this fancy new Motorola Droid i1... wish I could tether the bitch, but I keep getting an error.. an error I don't feel like googling on a tiny screen. Oh iPhone.. why did you die on me?? Why why why... Oh right, I may not have mentioned that... but I shall! Anyway, I looked it up, song is called "Champaigne"... pretty catchy. 

So I hang around a little bit after the shows are done... oh I had said to some adoring fans "Ya know why they aren't doing an encore?? Because they just played all 12 of their songs!" hahaha.. oh that was a good one! They didn't think so though. Some people just don't get comedy.

Anyway, back on track, some blonde is hanging around the side tables where the bands are signing CD's and selling merchandise. I wasn't particularly interested in her but I thought if she was a local she could tell me where to get a burger or a slice of 'za cause everything looked so closed down. She too wasn't from the area but apparently was going to order Dominos at the hotel she was sharing... with her mother. A real, genuine, mountain Lion, too! Again, not interested. But pizza... that could really hit the spot!

So I'm hanging with them, and shortly some of the bands roadies are mingling in on them, and I make it evident that I'm not there for 'lightsabre battles' so I'm welcomed in pretty well and I'm hearing talk of taking the tour bus to a place called Maurice where a City Bar is still pumping, and i'm all for this because this venue has closed now at only half past midnight! 

I meet a drummer named Mark and he needs a smoke, so I go back to the bar and swindle the last menthol out of my bartender, and get it to Mark who is ever thankful and gives me a free CD! They're called AtomSmash, and it's got three tracks on it and they've recently been signed by the guy who discovered Britney Spears and signed her. I don't know what their sound is like, but apparently from talking with them it's a revitalisation of grunge... as in Soundgarden. Could be good. I'll have to listen to it sometime.

Anyway, Mountain lion is letting everyone ... I should type a disclaimer here to the feint of heart because the rest of this blogpost falls prey to the deep underbelly of the world, and as a worldtraveler I often find myself in precarious albeit interesting situations.... Continue - sign her bossum, from the guitarist, to the drummer, even to Arnold, the roadie. 

Well Arnold decides he's gonna do one better, and I guess after they make out a bit and wander into the bathroom together, he perhaps suggests he signs her somewhere else, and some screaming ensues, and people run into the bathroom, and the daughter is off to the rescue, and she hauls mom out of their.
So much for Domino's.

And quite possibly, so much for my 'In' to an afterparty. Because for whatever reason, these guys all think I'm with the two ladies. But I stay, and I guess it becomes evident that I wasn't. 

Here's a funny thing about communication, namely Assertiveness. For some reason, people have a hard time just openly communicating what they want. I'm guilty of this too. Why couldn't I just say "Hey guys, I want to go to the after party"? Well, society has determined that such a thing is intolerable. But the flipside to all this is that although I can sense none of these people want me around and have no intention of taking me to Maurice, no one is going to say it. So if I tread lightly, I may be able to ride their coat tails to an after party! 

I can remember when Mark gave me the CD, he tried to get the message across that we were now even for the smoke... and hinted at my departure. I played dumb as sticks and hung around still. 

Finally though in the end, knowing it was now 1:30am and no party nor pizza was in sight, I headed for home.

Gawd, that should be a post in itself! But there's two more days! One of which takes place in New Orleans so obviously that'll be worth mentioning! Or will it? Stay tuned...

The next morning I arise to find my new phone still not activated. Or so I thought. After some tinkering around, and dicking about with technical support I found that it was online. I did this while enjoying the AC in Borden's ice cream, where they make it fresh.. I think.. tasted pretty good though.

Decided to opt out off the Interstate path thinking the I-90 may afford me more beautiful views and scenery.... This turned out to be a massive error in judgement. 

Not only did I hit stoplights and local traffic, but also, my luck ran out, and I encountered the good Deputy Marshalls of Jeanerette.

Firstly, I'll remind the reader that I no longer believe in luck perse. Sure things are lucky or unluck, but to POSSESS good or poor luck, is something I no longer agree on, as discussed earlier; it is simply all based on perception.

Even so, the two nights before while in Houston, while helping pack up my couchhost's surplus cupcakes after White Linen Nights, I crossed under a ladder. One of the workers said "That's bad luck ya know" to which I replied "I don't beleive in luck"

So here we are, surrounded by sugar cane (I think) and I'm doing 140... kilometers per hour... and a white sedan marked 'Marshall' goes by in the opposite direction. This is after passing another police vehicle earlier, who must not have had radar on, because I decelerated so hard when coming up beside him that I felt pain in my lower abdomen from hitting my tank. This time, the police had their radar on. I looked in my mirror, Shit, this guy is actually crossing the grassy ditch acting as the meridian... Do I floor it and riska  pursuit I'm destined to lose due to lack of knowledge of the area coupled with lack of experience at high speed maneuvering on my bike, and the addition of weight in my luggage? I slow down and continue. He's behind me, lights still off, most likely to avoid startling or alerting his prey. He comes up behind me, lights go on, I pull over.

I turn off the bike, take off the helmet, and prepare the neccessary documents. I'm asked to get off the bike and put my hands on my top case... and then I'm handcuffed. Turns out 20 mph over the limit is THIS county requires immediate arrest. What? That's absurd.... but here it is. This is the Parish of Iberia, by the way.

I'm taken to the station. But on the way it's discussed about me being Canadian. The administrator at the station says they're going to let me go on this one because the judge released a Canadian in the past and wants to keep consistency. Sounds odd, but alright, fine by me. They inform me that generally a bondsman is required to free me, and that's expensive. And that generally, I have to pay my fine immediately, no court, no nothing, and that's $500. And that my bike has been towed and will also cost $99 to release.

But they're uncertain as to whether they can run my Alberta license through their computers. Strange because every body else and their dog can.

So they take me to my bike where I meet 'TT', a slightly more senior Deputy. I don't have the cash, I need to go to a bank, so they take me to a bank. Things change. Apparently they CAN run my ID and now I CAN pay the fine. $500. And the towing, that's $150 now. Althewhile, my deputy has been texting. Things he's saying don't jive, don't make sense. Is it a coincidence that this area is utterly poor, and even the budget for these marshalls looks to be lacking? I can't help but wonder how low their income is. And how tempting a guy on a $19,000 motorcycle wearing $4000 worth of riding gear must look. I MUST have a fat wallet.

The administrator is no where to be found. Seeing as he was the one that explained everything to me about me being released, and even that he himself rode bikes and 'understood' sometimes you can't help but go a little fast. Of course, I didn't admit to that and had again mentioned that it was merely an accident based on my speedometer being only in KPH. But that I can't clear things up with the only guy that seemed to have real authority leaves that feeling in my gut. The gut I trust.

It's only TT here at the station now. Him and my deputy, his subordinate. They get to talking and detailing my fine and payment. But nothing seems very official. Sure a ticket has been written out, but it never had a fine payment written on it. And they're talking about lessening the charge so that they don't have to detain me. That they're doing me a favor now to avoid me having to pay a bondsman MORE money for release. Of course I'm thinking this is to avoid paperwork for something they can't legally do. So now I only owe $240.
I request to pay via money order at a later date. This changes everything. The poker faces twitch. But they agree with the verbal promise that I'm going to send the money pronto, before the 1st of September. TT scribbles the amount owing on the ticket... just any old place, there's no box for it or anything. My deputy looks troubled. TT asks if everything is okay, and a mutterance of approval comes out. I can understand if he doesn't like things not being done 'by the book'.. but considering how everything had been handled, I think he's more disspointed about missing out on $500. I should add that the boxes "citation" and "booked" aren't checked either. 

I'm taken to my bike and dropped off. I'd heard $99 earlier, so that's what I mention. "No it's 160.." "Really? Why didn't they know that?" "Oh, motorcycles are different" as if in their whole careers they've never caught a speeding motorcycle and had this guy tow for them. "Well, where's the list of prices, the paperwork that shows my bill?" Fuck.. that reminds me, I should have demanded a receipt. Oh right, he said he was actually cutting me a deal on account of his Suzuki Hayabusa in his garage, ya know, riders looking out for eachother. I bet that 'busa just belonged to a guy who couldn't pay to get it back or something. Anyway, he said the normal rate was closer to $200. I cut my losses and left.

Fucking dirtbags... The whole thing smelled of shit.

Speaking of which, does Bourbon Street always smell so bad? Or is is it a problem because of Katrina so long ago?

Anyway, riding on, I hit the mother of all storms! So exhilerating! I was drenched! But so was my iPhone.. and my camera which has served me faithfully for 4 years...

The rain was so thick that cars, and myself were hydroplaning all over! I'd have to search out the highest point of the lane just to keep from having my feet blown off my pegs! And this is going 90 kmh passing other vehicles! Sounds reckless, but the best place to be is in front of other vehicles. Especially when their constant spray of water from their tires leaves you blind.

I was pretty choked about the phone but thankfully the night before I had transferred all the trip neccessary contacts over to my new phone. I have to text everyone and let them know my new number too. It's 337-990-2356... feel free to prank me, I have an unlimited plan!

So New Orleans.. what a town.. even on a Monday you can find 'Mardi Gras'esque parades going on. This one was sponsored by EA Sports I think, who were promoting their new NFL Madden game.. but to see thousands of plastic bags containing beads being thrown all over and often abandoned, or removed from the packages only to have the packaging tossed back down on the street.. saddening. No wonder it smelt so bad. Wait, plastic doesn't do that, sewage does that. Okay, my bad!

But before that I headed to Parkway Bakery for a 'dressed' Roast Beef Po'Boy and a Barq's Rootbeer. This was exactly how the writer in GQ's article on saving New Orleans touristry through food described to eat it. Having read that article over three years ago, I couldn't help but have a shit-eating grin on my face, finally being there! I also ordered a pecan covered brownie. That was alright.. the sandwich though, amazing.. I wish I could go back every day and try the varieties they offered.

The bartender there was really friendly and offered advice on what to do that evening in a city she was so proud to be from that she'd never left. Well Bourbon street was obviously a place to corral tourists so that the cops have an easier time detaining people up to and including hosing them down during riots. So she mentioned Frechman Street where the locals go. Sounded good to me! I'd asked about the Hurricane drink, and she said to get it at Pat O'Brien's off of Royal. I'd also mentioned the Sazerac at Gazebo, apparently, the official drink of NOLA. "No one really drinks that that anymore"

So I took off and headed for the French Quarter, first to find O'Brien's. Upon seeing Bourbon street, I was near mystified. Nearly. I liked it though, all the bright lights, the noise, the music coming from every which way. Very over the top, but that's how I like it sometimes. The idea of leaving here and going all the way to Frenchman Street on a Monday night when how many locals would be out would be anyone's best guess didn't hold much weight to what seemed to be going on down here. So I parked my bike, nearly falling over when the front wheel plunged 10 inches down into a massive gutter hole hidden by dirty water (a good samaritan helped push my bike back), and I was off to walk about!

I left the tourist area in search of Royal Street and found it quickly via Canal street. Walkng along I came upon a shop selling pralines! I was in luck! I was supposed to get some! Well after  a bit of looking around, I came across the pralines and caramel discs I'd eaten at Hruska's... "Is this the famous pralines thing I'm supposed to eat?" "Yeah! That's what we're famous for!" I placed it back. BUT, the PECANS!!! They were everywhere! Nearly a half a dozen different flavors! Rum, Cinnamon, Chocolate, and more, but I narrowed it down to the latter two. The girl working the shop didn't know which was better because she hadn't eaten either... Well seeing as I've eaten things coverend in chocolate many times in my life, I picked cinnamon. Good choice. Honey roasted with cinnamon. Can't beat it.

Continued strolling, now pecans in hand, towards Pat O'Brien's pin drop on my googlemaps. Pretty interesting place, but I wanted to hear some music so I followed the brass instruments down bourbon street and stopped in one promising jazz club. Great stuff.. only stayed for a song though. I really enjoyed the open liquor thing. Love that.

As I walked down the street, I noticed two girls following me. No, that's not my ego. I heard some pretty decent cover songs coming out of My Alibi. So I went in. And ordered my second Hurricane. 
Let's pause there. Had some one told me these things each contained 3 ounces of alcohol, I woulda stopped myself. But as they're generally made from cherry bacardi, you don't notice til it's too late.

Continue. Not before long, the girls who were following me enter. So we chat. They left Ambercrombie & Fitch to design their own shoes. So far they've designed and produced three shoes, which they have sold a limited number of for around $500 a pair. They have some pretty big investors backin them, but they're trying to figure out what every other women's shoe retailer wants to figure out; how to make a shoe that makes a woman's leg and buttock look good but are comfortable enough for an 8 hour work day. Daunting, I know.

Anyway, at the request and promise of Alpha-Chick, I pay $20 to the lead singer of the cover band to get Journey's 'Don't Stop Believing'. How suiting that it's these small-town girls from Massacheuttes and Alabama asking for it. In exchange I get two more hurricanes.

I'm only down one and a half hurricanes and a beer and it's been 4 and a half hours since go time, so i'm alright. i gotta be. I can't leave my bike down on Bouron Street. I have to squid my way back up the freeway to my motel 6. But there's this girl dancing her booty off (and she had ample to dance away) and somehow for some reason the head promoter of the bar wants some hot guy to give her a lapdance-slash-striptease. How do i find myself in these prediciments? Oh this actually occurs before the song request, so I've drank even less at this point. So I'm the guy for the job and I start up and really ham it up, and she enjoys it so much she actually falls off of the stool to get a piece of me.  What makes this funnier she's 5 feet tall and the stool is 4, so she has a long way to go, but I catch her. Sort of. Try to. And she's back on the stool and I'm back dancing. I do my little turn on the catwalk and the shirt comes off, and the place goes wild. My two new friends are enjoying themselves too. 

However, that's as far as the story goes. But I've drank two more hurricanes and i'm back on Bourbon looking for somewhere to dance. It's like Pringles; once you pop, you can't stop. Chalk me up for one more Hurricane.

After a bit of that,  I find myself pondering a Caberet show. I enter. This is not Liza Manelli's Caberet. I'm on a budget, but I find myself spending money. To curtail costs, the alcohol kind, I had to get creative. I noticed in front of me that some eager fellow off for a private dance or off to hit the hay had left a full Heineken. Sure why not. Down the hatch. Then while walking past a guy distracted with the company of a lady, I swipe his untouched full drink; gin-n-tonic tasted like. I also start smoking a stogie some guy had left. What am I doing? The night's beginning to blur. But I'm not letting myself inhale.

I close the place down. I try for ages to find my bike. Along the way I find a place still open. I need a bottle of water. And I'm hungry. The item title sounds fancy. I order it. Best grilled cheese sandwich ever.
Finally I find my bike. I am laxidasical. I'm aware, but I'm sluggish. I shouldn't be riding. I've got a helmet on, but that's it. Well, I've still got underwear on. That's a joke. But if I go down it's gonna leave a mark. I'm not even remotely close to black-out drunk... but I'm slurring my words at this point. I won't let this happen again. But I'm not leaving my bike somewhere.

McDonald's is serving breakfast now. "No Angus Wraps?!" "No, sir" It's bedtime.

I wake up. I feel like utter shit. I'm supposed to see the World War 2 Museum. Supposed to ride through the 9th ward and see how things have turned around, or have not. I'm supposed to eat a beignet at Cafe Du Mond.

None of these things happen. 

Fortunately this is the only time in the trip I've gotten out of hand. It won't happen again. But thanks Moto4Life for the suggestions in NOLA.

Even so, I like collecting funny stories. I've got a few. And now I have one more.

Pensacola is far less interesting. I am so hung over that when I finally arrive I sleep for 5 straight hours. I make myself get up just to go look around. But the ride in wasn't promising. How is this the Pensacola I've heard so much about? finally after riding around long enough I realize I was supposed to have gotten a place in Pensacola Beach. Oops. That's the trouble with planning a trip over google maps when you don't know anything about the area. And there being so much to plan. I would have had to do a few hours per place to have a more solid itinerary, but I didn't want to take that time. Sometimes you get to improvise and its fun. And sometimes you pay for it.

I ride over to the island. Wow... this is more like it. But it's Tuesday night. And not much is going on. I go to Margaritaville, ya know, Jimmy Buffet's place, and it's just closing for the night. So I head home.

Today I hit Panama City. Riding by the white sands of Panama City Beach, I wanted to take a picture. But no time. I got into town and started looking for a motel. I also got the news that The Keys isn't going to happen like I thought. That's okay though, that's life. I'll adapt and overcome. Now I get to see more of Florida just like originally planned. However, my hostel on the beach in Key West was non-refundable. That's awful of them, but I understand. I sent off a heartful plea to get the money put back on Mr. Visa... i hope they have pity on me.

Just as I was about to head off for a motel, my coffehost texts me. There was a confusion. They're also my couchhost! Awesome!

So I head over there, get out of the hot leathers, and get into my swim trunks because their mother's boyfriend is going to take us out on the water on his boat! I wish I had pictures, but I guess I'd left the camera on after uploading the pics, and the battery was dead. I pray so, otherwise, the water damage has finally gotten it. Suprising considering the time I left it face down in a puddle on a houseboat in the Shuswaps and that it worked after. Me and Canon.. we've been through a lot.

Took a few shots on the phone. But was careful as I didn't want to risk ruining ANOTHER phone. They spook so easily around water. On the way around the cove, I see my first ever live-in-nature dolphins! Three of them! A ways later I dive in the water, and it is so warm! Gorgeous! And then the dolphins come to see what's happening! Now this isn't like 'swimming with dolphins' or anything you pay for, but it was really close. I put my head under the water to see a dark blur moving about, and I could hear the rapid "t-t-t-tick" of the sonar or whatever. So cool.

After that we headed in to Uncle Ernie's for some fresh seafood. I don't know what BP was pumping in the water, but this shit sure tasted good! I had Red Fish and scallops. And finished it off with their 'world famous' Key Lime Pie. Now I didn't come down from Canada thinking "Oh while in the area, I definitely have to get that Key Lime Pie.. after all, it's famous!", in fact, I'd never known it, and I am not sure how much weight is behind the claim, but people, I tell you this and I tell you now, as a lover of desserts, this was the bets Key Lime Pie ever.

Tomorrow, Tallahasse. 

Take care, ride safe

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Panama City
photo by: LeeFox