Yesterday was our first real day on the road. We left the New Orleans Northshore headed toward the Black Hills and points west. It was not an easy day. The Hensley hitch was uncooperative at best. The weather was cool, so we didn’t need showers after that hour and a half of fun. Pink was so excited she couldn’t stop nose whistling for 180 miles, and she reminded me how much I miss print newspapers (they make a great paper switch). We missed breakfast and skipped lunch, settling for a bag of Fritos and a can of Bean Dip. The nose whistling stopped while the dip was shared among the three of us. It resumed as soon as the chips were gone.
This morning Kat and I rolled out before 7:00 to visit Fred’s Lounge in Mamou. Fred’s made the Esquire 2012 Best Bars list. Which is surprising since its home is in a nondescript building in a poor little south Louisiana village. You know a bar’s gotta be good if it’s only open half of one day a week, right? Ville Platte radio station KVPI 1050 AM broadcasts a live Cajun music show from Fred’s Lounge every Saturday morning from 9:00 to 11:00. The lounge opens an hour before the show and closes an hour or three after.
The online reviewers suggest an early arrival to get a seat. 8:15 is said to be the average last seating. We arrived at 8:12, had our choice of seats, and chose tall chairs by the bar. The band came in soon after we did. I didn’t catch their name, but since it was all in French, you shouldn’t expect too much from me. They were musical. I detected a subtle blues influence despite not understanding a word of it. They were rhythmic. They were good. The radio broadcast is all in French, except for the names of the show’s sponsors which were pronounced in unaccented English. Fred’s did not get packed until maybe 9:00. The Cajun Caravan (an Airstream group) came first. Then a dozen leather-clad bikers clomped in, sober and well-behaved as the Caravan. Then came the bikers with shaved legs, crazy shirts, funny shoes and colorful girdles: bicyclists! They crowded the place so much it was time to leave, except that just then:
Enter Tante Sue! Fred went to his eternal reward 20 years ago, but his widow still runs the place, lighting it up with a grin bright as noon in the desert. Tante Sue handed out free hot boudin and priceless smiles all around.
The day was now complete; it was time to leave. We returned to camp and hitched Mr. Hensley to the Red Sled without a snag. And it wasn’t yet noon.