It is a rare occasion that Joe Walker takes the time to sit down and share his life on the internet. I usually think the whole social networking thing that is happening is silly. No offense to those of you who are into it, but it seems like spending a lot of time writing about your life on the internet means you have less time to actually live life. But sometimes what’s happening in your life is just too good not to share. So here it goes, Joe Walker officially social networking, take it while you can…
Over the past 2 1/2 months since we moved to Louisiana there have been many occasions where I have had to stop and say, “Where the Hell am I?” I have been all over this country and have come to realize that there is no place on earth quite like Louisiana.
Those of you who know me well know that I love adventure and seek it wherever I go. My true love is in the mountains, climbing peaks, biking up for miles and bombing down the other side, spending the night under the stars above the world, drenching my head in a cold fresh stream… And the list goes on. Unfortunately, Louisiana has no mountains. In fact, the state’s highest peak stands at a whopping 500 feet. Mt. Everest is 29000 feet.
My first reaction to a state like this is…sounds lame and unadventerous. But, “ye who seeks adventure shall find it, for the earth is wild and active” (quote Joe walker, 2012).
Let me share with you my adventurous moments from the weekend that made me stop and say, “Where the Hell am I?”
Thursday after work I followed my usual routine of taking my baby girl outside (her favorite place to be) and chasing her around. After about 10 minutes of this I let her run off on her own to see what she would do. Naturally, as any baby would, she ate about a pound of dirt, skinned her knees, and climbed everything she could.
During her valiant attempt to try and climb the fence, I noticed a brown slithering figure moving about 1 foot from where she was. I went to examine the figure. It was a brown snake about 2 1/2 feet in length with spots all over it. It looked mean. It looked angry. It looked ready to bite something.
I slowly picked up Elise, trying to not aggravate the snake. I then called by Bro-in-law Kevin who is much more familiar with Louisiana Wildlife than I am. I told him I was worried that it may be a poisonous snake so I was hoping he could identify it for me. He then proceeded spit out a long list of possible species that it could be. How many of these freakin’ deadly snake are there around here?
After speaking with Kevin I decided it was best to kill the snake just to be safe. So grabbed the spade shovel and chopped its freakin’ head off.
I sent Kevin the picture and he agreed that it was most definitely a Copperhead…poisonous and aggressive.
In my neck of the woods there is one kind of poisonous snake, a rattle snake. And there is no mistaking one. The best way to spot a rattle snake, look for a rattle! That’s it. You see one, you cut its head off. Any other snake is good to go. In Louisiana, the all carry venom!
Where the Hell am I?, I ask myself
Moving on to Saturday…
In search for some adventure, I loaded up my mountain bike and headed up north to some trails that I had heard about. They are in what is know as the “hill country” of Louisiana.
I arrived at the trails early in the morning and hopped on my bike. It is very different wilderness here. The trees are different, the terrain is different, the smells are different, the atmosphere is different, the sounds are different… It is unfamiliar to say the least. But I hit it hard none the less. As I was pumping my bike through cypress and wild azalea forests, I felt something odd overcome me and couldn’t quite figure out what it was. Then it hit me…
There is a whole new set of dangers in these woods that I know nothing about.
Where I’m from, the dangers don’t seem so dangerous because they are a part of life. Bears, Rattle Snakes, Coyotes, Mtn. Lions… I never worry about these dangers. I know what they are, I know how that act and react, I know how to deal with them.
Where I am now, the dangerous freak the Sh** out of me. Alligators, Copperheads, Moccasins, Snapping Turtles… What are these things? What do I do with them? They are so… unfamiliar.
Suddenly going on a lone ranger bike ride through the swampy hill country of Louisiana seemed like a bad idea.
But I rode on anyway.
The further I got into the woods, the more this lingering thought wouldn’t escape me.
Pretty soon I realized that I was no longer mountain biking, I was swamp biking…
What lives in swamps? ALLIGATORS!!!
I just knew that I was bound to run into an alligator in the middle of a trail. Then what?
Then, the unexpected…
Not 200 ft. after I took this picture the dangers became reality…
There they were, a family of wild boar. 4 adults and 3 babies to be exact.
As I came flying around the corner they let off a loud, ear piercing screech all at the same time. A screech that sent chills down my spine. A screech that made my body freeze up.
I flew off my bike and stood in a panic. They went running past me screeching that terrible screech.
Big bodies, fast, HUGE TUSKS!!! In case you’ve never seen one, google it.
They all fled… except for one.
It stood 5 ft. off the trail staring at me. The only thing between me and it was my bike that was gripped tightly in my sweaty hands.
We stared at each other for what seemed like 5 hours, but was probably only 45 seconds. I had to get my battle plan together. If this thing attacks, my only chance is to use my bike as a weapon. But how? Where is the soft spot on it? I have heard stories of these things being shot with a rifle and charging their shooter to impale them with their tusks.
It would surely be a fight to the death.
After an eternity, the hog and I looked at each other as if to come to a mutual agreement. We both slowly turned and created distance between each other. I then calmly hopped back on my bike and rode away, trying to not to cause too much of a ruckus.
Needless to say, that was the end of my mtn. biking for the day since the trail was already claimed.
I got back to the car, sat down on the bumper, and asked myself…
Where the Hell am I?
So although Louisiana does not have the adventurous landscape that I have sought after for so long, that does not mean it is not adventerous. It presents it own dangers and challenges that are enough to test the most rugged of adventourists.
From wild boars, copperhead snakes, and alligators, to crazy coon-asses and delicious heart stopping food!
And while it is not my ideal platform for adventure, it will certainly do for now.
Adventure is all around.