“Where are you going next?” my west coast brother asked conversationally when I had phoned him for a chat.
“Biloxi and Natchez in Mississippi, then New Orleans.”
“I wouldn’t go to Louisiana. If it were me, I wouldn’t even go through Louisiana. I’d go around it.”
“I’d be wary with your out of state plates.” Our west coast Washington State license plates had raised quite a few eyebrows as we traveled across the country and had been a conversation starter on the east coast, but in a good way.
“What do you mean?”
“The police might stop you when they see you’re from out of state. You never know what they’ll do.”
“I thought that just happened in the movies.”
“Well it still happens there.”
“Jimmy is always careful to drive within the speed limit (unlike the old days, I failed to add).”
“Well they don’t need an excuse to stop you.”
Jimmy had been watching me questioningly throughout the conversation, so I filled him in afterwards and added, “I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans. I don’t know now.”
“How far is it to go around Louisiana into Texas?” he asked. We got the atlas out and worked out it was going to be an additional and possibly unnecessary 600+ miles, added on to the 12,000 miles we’d driven since leaving Washington on the 1st of July.
The car was racking up the miles on this ‘round America jaunt and there were between 4,000 and 8,000 more to go just to get back to Washington depending on how many more times we changed our minds before then. “Why don’t you phone your other brother? See what he says.”
My Tennessee sister-in-law answered the phone. After a quick round of pleasantries with Lu I blurted, “Charles says it’s dangerous to drive through Louisiana. What do you think? He says the police are unscrupulous.” Those weren’t his exact words.
“Well I’ve never been to Louisiana, sweetie, but I’ve come across cops like that before.”
“Oh great. We’re driving through Alabama next to get to Mississippi,” I said with a chuckle, not finding the conversation the least bit amusing.
“I’ll put you on to your brother,” said Lu detecting a note of hysteria. “See what he says.”
I swore to myself when we moved to the U.S. from England that I’d never say hey and I’d never walk along the street sucking a drink through a lid like a baby with a sippy cup. I caved in on the drink thing straight away, and now, well hey. I repeated my concerns to Dick.
“I don’t really see a problem unless you’re going to New Orleans.”
“We are. I’ve always wanted to go. It’s kind of an iconic place.”
“You should be alright as long as you leave your trailer outside of New Orleans.”
“And you’d want to make sure the site was secure.”
“I would drive to New Orleans or fly in but I don’t know about your trailer.”
“It has all our worldly goods on it.”
“Yeah and if the cops stop you and hear your accent who knows what they’d do.”
It’s difficult to tell with either brother if they are being serious or winding me up, a problem I’ve experienced since, well, forever.
“Call me and let me know when you make it into Texas,” Dick added helpfully. “I have this picture in my head of your trailer over the border with 18 Mexicans living in it,” he said laughing as he hung up.
I wish I hadn’t spoken to either one of them. Roll on San Antonio, Texas.
P.S. Thanks guys. I had to take a jar to pee in when we drove through – straight through – Louisiana. Himself wouldn’t stop.
I passed this salutatory tale on by email to friends and relations for them to have a good laugh at our expense. My niece replied and let me know that her husband had been stopped by the police just over the state line into Texas. With a trumped up charge of speeding he was accompanied to the nearest ATM to pay his fine. Well that’s just dandy as Texas comes right after Louisiana.
We left the trailer near Biloxi and drove back to the:
And drove safely into and through Texas:
So as you can see I didn’t shoot the sheriff. I didn’t even see the sheriff. Has anyone had the kind of problem my brothers thoughtfully described?