Driving and Biking in the Big City

A mystic passage home

with 10 comments

A mystic passage home

The first momentous leg of my  journey is down Farm Road 365, the old Nome and Neches highway, and one of my favorite strips of road in the world. I come in today by daylight when you can mark the change from city to country, from higher land to swamp.  I’ve driven it the other half the time by night because mostly this is a day trip for me. Drive in first thing, drive back in the deep dark.

On this road, the bayous rise to meet the pavement. You never want to veer even feet from the road because of the mush that is the shoulder. Still, everyone lets their cars roll all out on this flat, sea level stretch of 35 miles from here to there.

I let Vinny build up some speed, and we both feel young again.  We remember everything. We see everything.

Rodair Club

The Rodair Club in the big city of Port Acres was a hot spot of Cajun music, dancing and drinking when I was growing up. I remember well the wooden floors and two-stepping to Jolie Blon as a little girl and later a young teen. Although you can’t find it easily and it has been closed since 2004, it is a place of legends in my hometown and located off this road near where Hillebrandt  Bayou almost becomes a part of the roadway.

I grew up so close to Louisiana that Cajun is as much a part of my heritage as fast cars, football, cowboy boots and Hank Williams. One of my best running buddies from high school who later stood up for me at my wedding to Big Johnny was Penny Bedair who would say, “I’ll be dare in da morning, sha.” (Say it out loud now, and you’ll get it.)  I lived off and on with Penny and her aunt and uncle my senior year and experienced my first blackened whatever for meals cooked by her kind-hearted, kid-hearted aunt.

Then, there’s another spot that makes me edgy and I won’t dwell on long. But it is the site where a family of five was murdered in one of the biggest news stories of this small town. I got to the home of one of murderers before the cops got there and later interviewed the second murderer for a copyrighted story that was my ticket to the bigger newspapers. I learned a lot covering that story, mostly about me and how much I would never know.

Bayou view

I have always felt that if aliens landed, their ship would go unnoticed among the swamp gas and refinery fumes on this stretch of nowhere that was once covered in frogs one night when I came through and is routinely spotted with sea birds by daylight with egrets and cranes in the ditches. The colors from the sun and swamp are amazing in the early mornings and again on the trip back to the city, late at night, when I make this visit in a day. It is a beautiful, mystical stretch of land when the moon is full and the stars are bright.  You see aliens, feel God and commune with all who have gone before you and all who will come after on this long, lonely strip of road.

I drove this road late, late at night with my kids sleeping in the backseat on my way home from my mom’s funeral. She had died suddenly, and I was still reeling with surprise and regret. I was telling old stories and really just talking aloud to myself when I started describing to them how, as kids, we had so many fireflies come out at night. How we would catch them in jars and keep them in the closet. How it was sad that my kids had never seen fireflies, being city kids and growing up in a different time from the good old days.

Then, in the trees along the bayou, I saw a flicker. A few seconds later, I saw another. “Hey, kids! Wake up. I think I saw a firefly.” Then more. I got really excited and the kids finally looked up. Fireflies flooded the trees and the swamp, meeting the stars at the horizon in one of the most amazing sights of my life. And I had witnesses.

A sign? I like to think so. This lonesome stretch of road made me see the universe and my small place in it like no other place I’ve been before or after.


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

July 17, 2012 at 7:03 am

10 Responses

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  1. Thanks, Denise! This is great!

    Beth Lazenby

    July 17, 2012 at 1:19 pm

    • Still wish you were coming. I’m hoping to see Margie Fuller. I haven’t in 20 years.


      July 17, 2012 at 2:30 pm

      • Thanks, but I can’t. I know you folks will have a great time!

        Beth Lazenby

        July 20, 2012 at 4:29 pm

  2. Really great post, Denise. You still got it, girl!

    Tracy T.

    July 17, 2012 at 2:41 pm

  3. I always love your stories of home and family, as they are so much the way I too remember them! Would love a copy of “Flowers for Uncle Ritchie”. Love you!

    Dena Kaye Orena

    July 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm

  4. Looking forward to seeing you this weekend.

    Jamie Schexnaider

    July 17, 2012 at 4:33 pm

  5. Another awesome story! 🙂

    Pam Guidry

    July 20, 2012 at 3:37 pm

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