Road Warriors and the Big Easy

In Travel by Eudaimonia Comments

Last Wednesday as the clock neared noon, a great friend of mine “Minnesota Nick”, called me with some great news. He’d simultaneously been fired AND promoted at the same time. I said “What? How?” with a befuddled look on my face. He explained the situation to me, and told me he had a few days off until he would start his new job.

Enter the thought in my brain that had been percolating for the last couple of weeks – fucking road trip man! (in my best Big Lebowski voice of course!).

We’d been talking about taking off for a while now, and it just so happened that both of us were free the week before Memorial Day weekend – so the plan was hatched.

We raced to pack our stuff…clothes, caffeine, gasoline, other necessities, and by 5pm we were on our way out of KC, bound for Nawlin’s or bust.

Let me repeat that…just so it sinks in, we left Kansas City for New Orleans at 5pm.

The energy was palpable…we were on our way. Moving from the stagnation of everyday life, the universe had pulled together a string of events to propel us in the direction of the Big Easy.

As Road Warriors we jammed out to Jackson 5, James Brown, Gramatik, The Sound Defects, Sleeping in the Aviary, Chemical Brothers, Caroline Smith, Ludacris, and The Avalanches.

We even through in some old George Carlin, and this hilarious bit by Bert Kreischer called “The Machine”. (which if you haven’t checked out – well you should)

Hell, we even mixed in a few little podcasts along the way as well, namely “The Moth”, “This American Life”, “Freakonomics”, and “Citizen Radio”.

Actually, Nick has pretty good taste in music, and he happened to play the role of navigator and DJ perfectly for the duration of the trip.

Most importantly though, Nick was also relegated to navigating because quite frankly I was scared to let him drive…who knows what swamp in Mississippi we might end up stuck in?

So 8 red bulls (or Rockstars…fucking semantics), and 14 hours later we ended up in Nawlin’s just in time for the sun to rise and my air conditioner to quit working.

The sadistic little fucker (the AC, not Nick) wouldn’t work while in the states of Louisiana, and Mississippi, but magically decided to work when we crossed the Mason-Dixon line going north on the way back.

Let me just say this…at 7am when we were rolling into town, we both said “Hell this is pretty nice weather, a little humid, but not too hot.” An hour later we were grumbling about how FUCKING hot it was already at 8 AM.

But, the heat didn’t stop our positive vibe.

The world was ours and the universe was ours to construct. We were masters of our own destiny, creators of our situations, and reframers of the now. There was nothing that was going to get in the way of enjoying life.

We had just conquered a 14-hour drive through, what I must say, is the poorest excuse for a transportation system I have ever encountered.

If you’ve never driven through the south then you cannot fathom how bad the roads are. They’re not marked, they’re mostly two lane, and they’re riddled with potholes. It’s no wonder it takes forever to get anything done there.

Bad roads didn’t stop us though; we arrived and finally met our gracious host Denny. Who I had met only nine months ago at a little festival out in northern Nevada called “Burning Man”.

You see, last year I had the privilege (and I do say this with the utmost sincerity) of meeting some of the kindest folks in the world, many of which were from New Orleans. I camped with them (shout out to the Swamp Fuckits), shared experiences and stories with them, and fell in love with them after the week’s end.

If you ever want to experience love and an amazing experience I highly recommend going to Burning man…they are people of the shiny variety (a subject I plan on delving into on an upcoming post). They live their lives with reckless abandon and put a smile on everyone’s face they encounter. They’re artists, lovers, circus performers, accountants, scientists, and lawyers all playing the lives of 4-year-olds with eyes filled with wonder, and minds filled with ideas, creativity, and lots of recreational drugs.

Denny was one of them, and one of my favorites that I had met throughout the week. I was super excited to see him and meet up with some of the other shiny people.

We immediately greeted Denny and his puppy RC in midtown and after a deep stretch, and big hugs, we were welcomed into his home as if we were family he’d known forever.

Denny lives in an awesome part of New Orleans near everything of importance, but just far enough away from the amateur hour that is Bourbon Street. We crashed his couch and love seat within the second story of the shotgun house for the next five days, which somehow seemed squished into a 15-minute timeframe.

I guess time really does fly when you’re having fun.

We did New Orleans as only Nick and myself would be expected to do it.

Our way.

You see…if I’m the superego, then Nick is my id.

We’re dangerously powerful when together. Like one of those old animated TV shows in the 1980’s (think-strength of the bear, speed of the puma, eyes of the hawk), we have superpowers that are unlocked when together.

Both of us are relentlessly positive people. Myself – a little more reserved, but when in tandem, my id is released and I become entertainer Aaron. And let me just say this – entertainer Aaron is a hell of a lot of fun. Combine entertainer Aaron, and my own personal version of Tyler Durden (Nick), and it’s like a goddamn Abbott and Costello routine.

Myself and my id (Nick) killing some cajun food.

Myself and my id (Nick) killing some cajun food.

The first night out we practiced our routine of relentless positivity- greeting everyone as if we had known him or her for years. Hugging strangers and telling stories, we literally had groups of people surrounding us listening to our jokes and conversations with eyes completely glued on ourselves.

We were entertainers and friends…we were shiny. We tore up Frenchman street, listened to great music as we hopped from bar to bar and probably only bought 3-4 drinks for ourselves the entire night.

Superpowers. Never underestimate the power of positivity.

Everyone we met was a friend. Everyone we met was warm and open…I suppose a pertinent representative microcosm of the city of New Orleans.

We spent the rest of our time hitting up little local hip spots far from the amateur hour that is Bourbon Street, namely Hi-Ho, Siberia, Cooter Browns, Camilia’s, and Kajun’s.

We helped a friend, the lovely Ms. Andrea, move some of her stuff down to New Orleans from KC, and after meeting up with her we spent time at one of the coolest little bars in Nawlin’s (the Bank Street Bar and Grill).

Denny found Groot!

Denny found Groot!

After visiting the New Orleans Modern Museum of Art and sculpture on our final day we graciously helped a newly wed couple jump their car and took off for Kansas City.

On our drive back we stopped in Eureka Springs, AR to meet up with some friends…where we cruised the street side shops, and danced to the awesome music of the Norman Jackson Band. Which happens to be one of the most entertaining guitar and saxophone duo I’ve ever seen in my life.

eureka springs

Eureka Springs at Night

Serendipitously, the last time they’d played at the Rowdy Beaver Tavern I was in town on a romantic rendezvous with Ms. Julie MountainSprouts a month or two earlier. The universe works in mysterious ways.

If you give him vodka...you will have a great time!

If you give him vodka…you will have a great time!

The rest of the trip was filled with positivity and creative ideas; ideas that are being pushed into reality. We’re going to change the world – one person at a time.

A good road trip is worth is weight in gold. The mind empties and clarity is achieved. Many life changes are coming for me in the next few months, stay tuned – I’m certain it will be entertaining (possibly more than a trip to Nawlin’s).

Be well, much love to you all – and best wishes on fulfilling your dreams.

Next up: Relentless Positivity and Shiny People. Stay tuned; it’ll be a great one!