Friday, January 30, 2009

Baton Rouge, LA: Skip Knows Jack

Miles since last blog: 13.5
Miles Total: 1861.2


The one catch about staying with The Fuzz was that he had to work early so I'd be leaving at 6 a.m. Some of you know this isn't an hour I typically see, but I forced myself to sleep and actually woke up at 4 am. The Fuzz and I sat around watching the weather channel for an hour or so, it told me I was going to be cold, 38 degrees F-in' cold. When I left the warm comfort of the Motel it wasn't long before my whole body started to shudder. I was only heading a few tenths of a mile to the local Whataburger where I would regain a bit of warmth and sit for a few hours. Being a 4 hour walk to my hosts and having 11 hours to get there left me with some time to kill.

This brings me to something I have noticed about the state of Louisiana. Store hours are really more of a suggestion than anything, and not really even a strong suggestion, more like a fleeting thought. As if someone had told them, "You need to put SOMETHING, and it can't just be 'when we get here' to 'when we feel like goin' home.'" I figured this out the other night when I walked up to a burger joint that said it was open until 11. It was just before 9 and the doors were locked and when I tried to open them the employees just looked up, shook their collective heads and gave me the 'shoo' hand signal. I found it again down the street at a 24-hour gas station, maybe they meant 24 hours a week.

By now you have probably surmised that the Whataburger was not open, despite the employees being there and it being 30 minutes past when the doors told me they'd be opening. The employees lazed about inside blissfully unaware of the scantily clad hobo freezing to death on their doorsteps and muttering anything but mild expletives.

I view my relationship with fast food as relationships with women. Whataburger is a foreign and exotic beauty that you can't predict or understand let alone depend upon. I ran across the street to McDonald's, McDonald's is my best friend, it'll always be there for me though I have no interest in forming any kind of serious relationship.

I wandered towards the front entrance and this next part could only really happen in the south. As I strode ever closer to the door I, unbeknownst to me, was nearing my epic encounter for the day. Mere feet from the door a duck, ninja like in it's camouflage abilities leapt from the dirt flower bed next to the door. I am not afraid of mountain lions, bears, alligators, boars, coyotes or snakes, but this duck scared the crap out of me.

In the early morning hours, I believe that I scared it too. We did our best impressions of each other in our startled states. The duck ran away while I flapped my arms and let out what could rightly be described as a 'quack.' What I caught afterwards was that it left about a dozen eggs and a nest in it's place. Here, two feet from the door of a busy eatery, was a duck nest. Surely anywhere else in the country it would have been moved or run off, a few hours later I got a video of it.

Now if McDonald's is my best friend, Burger King is my wife. Dependable and with all the sustenance I need, triple Whoppers are my version of a "Thursday Night" if you know what I mean. And then . . .

There's my mistress, the sweet sweet Jack. It's not always there when you need it, seriously, you east coasters have no idea what you're missing, but it will do things that Burger King and the rest just won't. While you respect McD's and BK's for sticking to the time honored burger and fries and all that, Jack's your dirty little secret. It does jalapenos poppers that make you feel sublime, it has tacos, burgers, natural cut fries, egg rolls. It serves breakfast anytime. It breaks all the rules of what a good and wholesome fast food joint does. And you always want it and can never get enough.

Not even a mile from McD's was a Jack, I saw it from far off and I couldn't believe my eyes for a moment. Was I really in Jack Country, at last? I'd been teased by my fickle mistress before when it appeared without reason or warning in South Carolina only to disappear again, an oasis in my burger world. I practically started to run.

It was everything I imagined it would be. Jack was there, and he offered me plugs to charge my computer so that I could sit and work and kill time for hours, Jack even gave me picture windows from floor to ceiling so that I could see Cherry and be warmed by the sun. Sublime. There's really no good way to explain the importance of food to a traveler who is human powered like myself, I realize that this isn't what one might expect a man on a pilgrimage to be writing about, but this was an epiphany of the stomach and nothing less, please Jack stay with me, I promise I'll leave BK.

Of course we both know I never will . . .

Why is this such a big deal? When you are walking 4000 miles, little things like the territory of a burger chain, they keep you going good times or bad.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Ah, have you considered asking for sponsorship from these food chains?