Monday, April 25, 2011

Do you believe in magick? A road-trip through Louisiana.

At the age of 13, my bookshelf contained the following items:
  • "Gone With the Wind" on VHS
  • A Scarlett O'Hara Christmas ornament
  • Tarot cards illustrated by Salvador Dali, a Book of Shadows, and various books on Wicca and the occult
  • "Interview with the Vampire" on VHS
  • The entire Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, including a copy of "the Vampire Lestat" signed by Sarah Michelle Gellar
It was a collection curated with love and displayed with pride.

To say that my teenage self was obsessed with the American South would be an understatement. (Also worth mentioning: at the age of 13, I had an ongoing Internet relationship with a guy I met on Cpt. Schmuck claimed to be a 14-year-old born-again Christian from New Orleans. To this day, I refuse to believe he was anything but.) It was everything Cold Lake was not and therefore, it was my idea of utopia: a land of vampires, hoop skirts, voodoo and magnolias. I vowed that when I finally graduated from high school, I would take a road trip across the states to New Orleans. Maybe I'd even meet Cpt. Schmuck.

It never happened. But the obsession didn't really fade, either. (During my undergrad, I was the only journalism student who elected to take History of the Civil War.) So in a lot of ways, buying my ticket to New Orleans was an act of fulfilling all my teenage fantasies.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Freeway Runs Through It: Beaumont, Texas

There are only two places that I can honestly say that I have no imminent desire to return to: Dresden, Germany and Beaumont, Texas.

But let me begin with a quick disclaimer: I really like small towns and cities. I like them enough that I actively seek them out in my travels. Nothing excites me more than a visit to the general store in Goodsoil, Saskatchewan or a roadside sign beckoning me to the Gopher Hole Museum in Torrington, Alberta. The dingier, the better.

And I'm from a small town. I understand small towns and cities. I'm certain Beaumont has a ton of redeeming qualities for the folks who live there--affordable (and beautiful) housing, nearby nature areas and preserves, tons of amenities and a good university.

But for the tourist, Beaumont offers little--unless you're really into box-store complexes that are only accessible via a series of confusing one-way service roads off the freeway that runs through it all.

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