Sunday, September 20, 2009

Open Containers

Sandy and I decided to drive to New Orleans on Saturday. But Saturday was also the day of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette vs. Louisiana State University football game, a traditionally bitter contest that draws an enormous throng of football fans from all over the state. In fact, the stadium seats over 92,000 people, which is about 2% of the entire population of Louisiana. So we decided to avoid Baton Rouge, where the game was being played, and took the southern route along the coastal bayou region.

We passed lots of these little “truck stop casinos,” which are only permitted to offer slot machines. Large casinos can offer table games, but we only saw a couple of those.


Another peculiar thing we saw were these little drive-through Daiquiri stands. Yes, you heard me correctly.

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In Louisiana, you’re permitted to drive with an alcoholic drink that has a cover, which is considered to be a sealed container. If there’s a straw in the drink, it’s considered to be an open container. So these Daiquiri stands sell you a drink in a plastic cup that has a plastic lid with a straw poking through a hole in the lid. If you get pulled over, all you have to do is remove the straw and you’re legal. If you leave the straw in the drink, you’re busted.

You can also walk almost anywhere with a drink in your hand in Louisiana, as long as it’s not in a glass bottle. It’s technically illegal, but the police don’t enforce it, particularly in New Orleans. If you’re drinking from a bottle in a bar and you want to leave, the bartender will give you a “to go” cup and pour your beer into it.

Another strange thing you see here is the bartenders. The drinking age is 21, but you can tend bar at the age of 18. So lots of bartenders are too young to drink the products they sell.

When we arrived in New Orleans, we didn’t travel through the areas that were devastated by Hurricane Katrina. But you do see some houses that are in rough shape, possibly as the result of neglect. Others are just old.

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We took a walk though Jackson Square, chuckling at the fortune tellers and street performers. But it was a brutally hot day, and cold beer started to seem like a good idea. Bourbon Street is only a couple of blocks away. We found a place called Huge Ass Beers with a guy holding a sign out front. I gave him a couple of bucks to let me have this picture taken.

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The beers are served in huge, tub-like plastic cups. Here’s the bartender, standing by a tip jar labeled “Huge Ass Tips.” Sandy and I wondered why she didn’t have a huge ass, which would make perfect sense.

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I used the bathroom, which I’m sure has been the site of some awful events. The walls were covered with the usual obscene graffiti and crude anatomical drawings, but also bore this testament to the success of the bar.

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Just down the street is another bar that hasn’t managed to think big enough.


It occurred to me that there’s a business opportunity for someone to open “Ginormous Ass Beers.”

When we left New Orleans, we drove north across the Lake Ponchartrain bridge, which is 24 miles long. It’s a marvelous feat of brute force engineering.

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In our efforts to avoid Baton Rouge, we circled north around the city, eventually arriving in the tiny city of St. Francisville. An automobile ferry crosses the Mississippi River at this point, which costs one dollar. The ferry runs every half hour. Here’s the ferry landing. You can just barely see the ferry approaching from the other side in the twilight.

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The ferry is a wide boat with a wheelhouse in the center. Cars drive on from the side of the boat, circle around the wheelhouse, and exit from the other side.

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The view of the mighty river during the crossing was breathtaking.

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Unfortunately, the oncoming darkness proved to be too much for our navigation skills, and we got lost in the rural back roads of Louisiana for a couple of hours before finally finding our way home. Worse, the University of Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns lost to LSU. They’ve never beaten LSU. In fact, they haven’t scored a touchdown against LSU since 1924, a streak of bad luck that they were unable to break that night. I’m not a football fan, but it seems as though everyone else in Louisiana is. That means our customers, who live in Lafayette, will be unhappy about the loss on Monday. The good news is that Bernie is doing the training, so they’ll take it out on him.

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