Monday 11th October
I left New Orleans early, catching a ride with Jerry back onto the I10. As he drops me off he wishes me the best of luck, the past 5 days have been full of alcohol fueled debauchery but its time to get on the move again.
Its 8.30am and the wind has put enough of a chill on the air for me to actually wear a hoodie for the first time since I got to the USA. After about 90 minutes my frustration and lack of sleep get the better of me, and I retreat to the shade of the overpass to nap for a short while, maybe sitting up all night talking about philosophy women and religion has had an adverse effect on my ability to stay positive in the face of this crappy ramp. That or the wine hangover I'm nursing. I return to the ramp after dozing for about 40 minutes feeling allot better about my lot in life, it helps that the weather has changed for the better, I hope to quickly catch a ride and get on my way to Houston.
2 hours still not getting even close to a ride I decide to walk the 2 miles down the interstate to the next exit, by this point the heat has increased to such a point that I am sweating buckets hiking along the hard shoulder with no shirt on. Fortunately the next on ramp has a flyover to provide me with some shade. Its now 1pm and 4.5 hours have passed since I got dropped off, I make a mental note that hitch hiking out of New Orleans fucking sucks. Then I find out out why, my first real run in with the cops here. turns out that hitch hiking in the state of Louisiana is completely illegal - oops. Manage to talk my way out of a ticket, I think my accent and English ID help somewhat, however he tells me that if he sees me trying to signal for rides again he will arrest me, but I am apparently allowed to sit by the road. Stupid and idiotic is what I call it.
Half an hour or so later David and Jeff pick me up in their pickup full of what looks like trash, they are only going an hour down the road, and Houston is 10 hours away, but I need to get the hell out of this city before I get myself arrested. Jeff explains how he is in the scrap business - I guessed that from the busted fridge on his trailer. We discuss how society's obsessions with the acquisition of currency with currency will eventually be its downfall; finding people that agree with me is actually alarming. The guys feed me a couple of Tangerines and an apple, first thing I have eaten that day. They drop me on a scorching ramp somewhere in the arse end of Louisiana. With my new found knowledge of the illegality of what I am doing I am more cautious and decide not to fly a sign. Relying on my thumb instead.
I get a ride in an hour or so, Joe isn't going far, but I already gave up on making Houston tonight anyway. He drops me me at a truck stop just outside Port Allen, a shitty industrial town halfway across Louisiana. There is no where good to catch a ride out of here. Not that I have a choice though, make myself a sign - maybe a little reckless- and sit at the exit to the truck stop. In the rain. This really sucks. After an hour, and next to no traffic I retreat to the cover of the nearby waffle house awning to sit and read and hopefully wait the rain out, as it has got pretty intense.
Once the rain stops I go back to the road feeling slightly better and with new found resolve. My ride will come, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it will come. 2 more hours and the light is fading so I decide to spend a few of my last dollars in the waffle house and get a decent meal as it looks like I will be camping tonight, and there certainly isn't going to be any dry firewood anywhere nearby.
I end up chatting with the guys working there extensively, for about 3 hours, something about my current lifestyle seems to really interest people. After bullshitting with Francis and Ian, a plan is born. They will both quit their jobs, they hate it anyway. Then we will pool our funds and drive to California, between us we have $600, what could possibly go wrong! Francis owns a slightly beat up jeep which needs some new brakes, so he will get that sorted tomorrow and we will leave Wednesday - the day after tomorrow.
Here I am sat on the counter of Waffle House writing and reading Orwell's "Down and Out in Paris and London" ($3 - Maple Street Books, NOLA), and I feel that there is something strangely beautiful about my situation, and although I don't really believe that the guys are actually going to leave with me, their enthusiasm for the potential adventure (and a huge amount of food) has completely revitalized me. Plus I have a place to crash for a few days; and if they don't end up leaving I can always get a bus to Houston after dicking around here for a few days. I'm in no rush.
Post Script - It is now the day after I wrote this, they both quit at the end of that shift, and Francis is off fixing his brakes now after dropping me off at the library to write this. looks like I am going to be in Cali within a week. This changes everything, again.