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Thursday, March 08, 2012

Travelogue: Driskill Mountain and the Psychadelic Wanderings of a Weirdo

Do you know how many out of seven billion Earth citizens awoke Tuesday morning and thought, you know what, I am going to drive to the highest point in Louisiana and climb right to the top of it?
3/6/12 was a special day for me, and not just because of its mathematical enjoyability. On that day, I was the only Earthling to climb Driskill Mountain. How do I know this? Three easy reasons: I saw zero other people. I signed a guest book on a page that contained only my name. You weren't there, so you have no choice but to believe what I say, and also that I saw a brontosaurus. I usually don't do Travelogues for just one day, but considering the amount of sheer miles I covered, here you go.
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The sun rose beautifully over Glynn's mysterious Arbroth forest.
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Well, not that mysterious anymore.  People, stop moving here! The more woods you cut down to build your houses, the closer the world becomes to one giant, fugly suburb.  Thanks a lot, human race! I HATE YOU! YOU ARE A STAIN OF RAVISHING DISEASE ON THE EARTH!!!  BURN IN THE FIRES OF
You know that thing where you think you want to eat at McDonald's, but after you do you feel like you just ingested ten pounds of dirty aquarium gravel? Well, I do. I gave a brief thought to visiting New Roads very own McDonald's, but then I remembered I am really awesome and went to the LA Express in Batchelor, Louisiana, where a nice old lady cooks breakfast every morning.  Also, I didn't misspell "Batchelor." That's the way they spell the name of their town, and they have breakfast, so.  The fryer the old lady borrows cooks Krispy Krunch Fried Chicken during the day, so the bacon on my biscuit kind of tasted like fried chicken, and that was awesome.  Also, I did misspell Krispy Krunch. Sorry.  Actually, the correct spelling is Chrispee Chrunch.  My bad.
I'm hungry all the time, though, so a bacon, egg, and cheese biscuit isn't enough, and I got some other things, too.
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What's more important? That this picture is off center, that I am making my O face, that that biscuit is larger than an obese Pomeranian, that cheese grits is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy, or that apparently Frito-Lay did special edition Grandma Cookies for Christmas and in March the LA Express in Batchelor is still carrying them? Their importance differs, but these cookies were so delicious and awesome that I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really need to find out a way to get more of them.
The Ginger & White Chocolate Chip was particularly incredible, and I actually stopped at another gas station down the road so that I could get some milk to drink with them. And actually get some gas. With all of these food stops out of the way, I re-convened my four hour drive. How come both "four" and "hour" don't sound the same? "Flour" and "hour" sound the same. Is it the "l" that makes the difference? But we don't say "hlour." Why, English, why?
I knew beforehand I was going to be in for quite a trek, so a few days before 3/6/12, I hit the clearance bin at FYE and bought some random CD's I had never heard. I bought this album called "Dancing Echoes/Dead Sounds" by some band called Codeseven which was released by Equal Vision records. Equal Vision used to be a metal label, so that's what I thought I was purchasing. After a few seconds, it was clear that wasn't it at all, and that it was something entirely different and during its second track I realized it was pretty good stuff and that its singer sounded kind of like that dude from the Juliana Theory and I listened to it like four million times and I really like the second track and it has a music video with a guy in a bunny suit and but it doesn't allow you to embed it so here is a link to it it it it it it it it it it it it it it it it
The car ride was a good jamming time, and I drove through the majestically monotonous Kisatchie National Forest, which is loaded with a large variety of trees: pine trees, tall pine trees, short pine trees. Still, pine trees are better than no trees. I arrived in the middle of God's nowhere around eleven, seeing zero humans in any kind of proximity. Driskill Mountain is fronted by an old abandoned church and cemetery, but there are fences everywhere, so I didn't even try to take a picture, so leave me alone about it already.
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If you look close down the trail, there is a locked gate with barbed wire atop it blocking the path.  For some reason, they really don't want you to hike up this mountain.  Thankfully, you can just walk around the gate, which I did, and it was awesome.  There are a few of these gates in the early going, just in case you airlifted a car after the first one.  Then you'd find yourself stuck and looking silly, even though you are extravagantly wealthy enough to airlift a car up on top of a mountain.
What mountain, you dummy? you might be thinking. I don't see any mountain in your dumb pictures.
Well, you might be right.  Driskill Mountain is not a true mountain, but a 535 foot tall hill.  Then again, when your state's average ground level is about seventeen feet below sea level, (if I was an uncreative, wannabe clever person here, I would finish the sentence with "Driskill Mountain is like the f***ing Himalayas," but since I AM a creative and clever person) Driskill Mountain is like the fricking Himalayas.
The climb up this tall hill is actually pretty gradual.  There are a few places where you actually have to go downhill for awhile, but then your ascent finally grows steeper.  The hike to the top only took about twenty minutes or so.  However, my extremely eloquent description of Driskill Mountain's elevation in the above paragraph is quite apt.  The view is absolutely excellent.
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I hung around in this spot for a long time, climbed a tree until I realized if I fell, no one would ever find my body, and climbed down.  The top of Driskill Mountain is entirely peaceful, and looks upon another tall hill called Jordan Mountain, which as far as I know is inaccessible, unless you want to trespass across a whole lot of land.  Fortunately for the landowners of Bienville Parish, I only wanted to trespass a reasonable amount, and hey, there weren't any private property signs.  I promptly climbed down.
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Dang, it was steep. My legs are still sore.
When I started to get closer to the forest floor, I started seeing pretty things, though.
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After wandering around these mysterious, thick pine woods for a couple of hours, I started coming upon signs of humans. I found a deer shooting station, and then an automated machine gun. I pulled my knife on the machine gun, which frightened it into a non-shooting mode, as I slowly backed away.
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After this, I came upon a turkey tent and a bag of urine, and started hearing low rumbling noise that could only be a black bear or a big dog in the middle of the woods, and a big dog in the middle of the woods is probably a big mean dog in the middle of the woods.  I decided it was time to wander back to the mountain and make the arduous trek upward.  It wasn't quite as fun as going down, but whatever, it felt good to do some work.  That sentence was perverted, y'all, I'm sorry.
I made it back to the top and hiked back down to the cemetery and my car. Immediately, my stomach made the executive decision to head into the ten-mile away metropolis of Arcadia.  The ancient Greeks thought of Arcadia as something like this,
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but really it looked like this.
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Apparently, Bonnie and Clyde were gunned down here 78 years ago, so good job, Arcadia.
I ate at some quaint Italian place called Luigi's, where there were so many other customers that I had the choice of any seat in the entire restaurant.  I enjoyed my spaghetti and meatball lunch, reading my copy of Updike's Rabbit is Rich while an intense episode of Law and Order: SVU blared overhead on the television.  It was one of those episodes where Benson yells at a rapist for being disgusting.  I think I had seen it before.
Well, the day couldn't end in Arcadia. I had wandering in my blood, and I had to honor it.
So I did what anyone would do.  I hit I-20 and drove to Ruston.  There was nothing in Ruston but hipsters, tattoo shops and hair salons, but I wanted peaches and milkshakes.  Ruston, I thought you would be cool.  I thought you would have peaches and milkshakes.  But you had neither peaches nor milkshakes.  Ruston, you were not cool, and you need to work on it.
Then I drove through the incredibly futuristic panopticon of Monroe, LA, surrounded on all sides by a barren desert of bleached bones.  It was terrifying, and I barely made it out alive.  At this point, I decided to go where no man had gone before: Sandy Bayou, Lousiana.  This is one of the most beautiful places in the world.  It was like the product of someone locking a rutting Louisiana into a pen with a Tennessee in heat.  Sorry to be vulgar, but what do you want me to say? "It's like Louisiana and Tennessee had a baby?" That doesn't make any sense.
Huge mossy cypress trees lined wide, steep-sided bayous amid thick hardwood forests and tall hills.  I don't know how this region came to be in Louisiana, or how there are virtually no people here, but I think it is gorgeous.  I didn't get any pictures because I was too busy driving and gawking, and trying not to run off the road.  This is a very remote area, but well worth visiting if you have a full tank of gas.
Eventually the road ended, and I had to cross a river on a two car ferry. Awesome. I hadn't seen people in hours, so a two car ferry was just what I needed to feel safe.
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The ferry actually had to come from the other side of the river or bayou or whatever it was to get me.
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Man, it was beautiful.
I drove through hill and dale, river and valley, until darkness came and I finally reached the mythical Highway 15, which sits directly atop the Mississippi levee. The moon rose full and ripe over the slow pulsations of the river, and I had to pull over to attempt to capture it with a cheap digital photograph. Almost.
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As I drove leisurely around the high curves above the valley below, gazing at the stars, I clicked on the 98.1 broadcast of the LSU baseball game versus Tulane and let Jim Hawthorne take me home. 5-0 Tigers, and home by nine.  What a day.
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Here is a map of my 3/6/12 travels, my trip highlighted in red...roughly.  I used only a Louisiana map for my trek.  GPS is for sissies and takes all the mystery out of the journey.  How come nobody wants any mystery anymore? Mystery is the thing that makes life beautiful, and life is beautiful.  Be happy and do stuff you like.  People aren't going to do the stuff you like for you, so you have to do it yourself, and if you have the resources at your disposal, you don't really have an excuse to be unhappy. I mean, this is a universe in which Thin Mints exist. It's easy to dwell on the stuff you don't have, but that's just lame, guys.
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14 comments:

buck09 said...

Sounds like an awesome day. Those hunters are going to get a kick out of you pulling a knife out on their trail camera however. Haha. Great title to you short story also.

Nicholas said...

I know, man. That motion sensor was having a field day.
Haha, thanks, Buck!

laurenthevampireslayer said...

Hey...I have a cd by Codeseven and it's awesome! Chris used to make me listen to this one song over and over again. I mean...it was a good song.

And geez...where are the cemetery pictures??

laurenthevampireslayer said...

Hey...I have THAT cd by Codeseven! I had no idea that's what it was called. haha.

buck09 said...

I just got that Codeseven CD yesterday. Took me two listens but now I really do like it as well. Nick, I strongly suggest checking out that Case in Theory album that decoy recently reviewed. I have been listening to it over and over the last week or so. A very Dredge-like vibe as mentioned in the review. I also really love the instrumental element to it.

Glad you can appreciate the little mounds of mountains you have over there. We have 14,000 foot mountains in my backyard, thousands of them that I would need ropes and gear to climb to the top of. I probably take it for granted growing up in a 4,000 foot elevation town surrounded on both sides by 10,000 foot walls of granite to make 14,000 footers. (highest in the continental US)

Nicholas said...

L: Codeseven for the win! Obviously looked them up after enjoying the CD. They have been on a seven year break, but just came back! Awesome! I wonder what song he kept making you listen to.
B: Checking out that Case in Theory right now. If only Dredg had quit after Catch Without Arms. Hopefully this can take out some of the sting (The Codeseven definitely helped. "All the Best Dreams" is probably the best we'll get to "Same Ol Road" again). I like real mountains, but no matter where I am away from home, I end up craving the swamp. I'd dig being surrounded by big mountains for a while, but I think eventually I'd get a little claustrophobic, just because I'm used to being able to see the horizon whenever I need it.

Nicholas said...

Case in Theory was alright. Vocally and lyrically, they didn't do it for me. I needed more Dredg-like mysticism, I guess.
That's probably why I liked the three instrumentals the best. Where the heck is Maverick II?

buck09 said...

Never even noticed that, maybe that's their version of being mystical. But I too enjoyed the instrumentals the best. The Mavericks are very cool tracks. I also was listening to Dredg Leitmotif on my way to work this morning. I just started listening to the band this year, and really like it. Ya I grew up an hour from Yosemite and have never visited the park since right out my back door was similar mountains and trails that didn't have the crowds of people, which, like your story, I tend to avoid crowds and go where there is less chance I will see another person. Lived in the Owens Valley, California, which is pretty breathtaking to say the least. It's better than living in Northern California in the redwoods forest. The tall trees make me claustraphobic. :)And I find myself craving the swamps when I listen to music such as the Drive-By Truckers and any southern style music, when in fact, I've never set foot anywhere near them in my life. St. Louis Missouri is the closest I've gotten.

Nicholas said...

Have you heard El Cielo yet? That one is my favorite Dredg by far. I used to get bad sleep paralysis, which is what that album is about, so that probably helps my appreciation.
Sounds like some really beautiful areas where you grew up. Only been to Southern Cal, though the woods northeast of San Diego (west of Oceanside?) were pretty gorgeous. I really do like that sort of terrain, I just get nostalgic for this crazy, 100% humidity all the time landscape after a while.
Dude, thirty and never been to the South? You gotta remedy that. Just don't come between June-September. I don't know how the first settlers survived here.

buck09 said...

Haha, ya, my family never travelled at all when I was young and now I am a little strapped down with a mortgage and family and not much left over financially to travel. One of these days. Ya, the Owens Valley is where all the people that live in Southern CA come and infest every summer for the hiking and camping, and every winter to ski at Mammoth. I was 45 minutes away from Mammoth Mountain, which in my mind the best ski area on the west coast. The humidity in Bishop, CA is zero, you would turn into a prune the minute you set foot in the 100 degree zero humidity climate. And I the same would be covered in sweat in the South. One of these days Nick, one of these days. :)

buck09 said...

Oh, and to answer your question, YES, El Cielo is my favorite as well. Absolutely brilliant!

Charlie said...

You are holding that knife like a yankee

laurenthevampireslayer said...

It was 'Alt. Wave'
And he would dance all seductively to it while driving. It was one of about 3,000 songs that he danced like that to.

Nicholas said...

Charlie: Haha, that was my intention! I hope it comes across that way when they look at the pictures. Also, I hope there is a bear behind me or something so it gets put on yahoo news as a hot news item: IDIOT DOESN'T SEE BEAR.
Lauren: One time he had a series of farts that were kind of rhythmic and he did that dance to it.
That song is pretty good.