Bripi makes us French Toast for breakfast, knowing that it's one of my favourite foods, and then we sit together on the couch in her living room, which is rich in sunlight and poor in space, and speak about life.
At some point, Bripi complains how she hasn't got out of New Orleans for months. Always interested in hiking and the outdoors, I suggest we got to a nearby state park. So we crack open my laptop and bring up the area which is how, when zooming out, we make a discovery. Florida's like… right there. Bripi looks at me, “Can we go there?!” “I think so…” We hit the appropriate buttons and Pensacola turns out to be within about three hours of New Orleans. In my mind Lousiana and Florida are not near each other, so I'm shocked. But there it is.
Because it's Bripi and I, we don't get going until later than we should have.
Mississippi and Albama slide right by. Mobile Bay's not even an impediment.
My ears been hurting, so in Albama we make a Target stop for supplies to clean it out (a pump, some hydrogen peroxide), along with various things Bripi wants. On the way in, I leap-frog one of the stone pillars which are apparently set out to prevent someone from homicidally driving their car through the front of the store. The antic earns me applause from a group of girls having lunch in the store's cafe. Pleasantly affirmed, we find the supplies we need, and head out again.
By the time we get to Pensacola, it's late evening. We pass over a very long, very high bridge and descend onto what is, in essence, an extraordinarily large sandbar covered with expensive hotels and bars.
We both want to see sunset from the beach, so we turn in that direction, only to find that its miles down the road. Looking at her gas gauge, Bripi apologises profusely: she's almost out. We turn around.
But, no worries, we find a gas station back near the bridge and I buy some sandwiches and the gas. It's a good moment for me. For months I'd been watching my finances slip down towards zero as I paid off student loans even without being employed. And now I've built up reserves to the point where I can just pay for us to go to Florida if that's what we want to do.
This is freedom.
Or at least one kind of freedom, but it's one that makes me happy. I like being able to say, “If that's what you want, then that's what we'll do, and I'll make it happen.”
Fueled, we go back out to the dunes. The road's fine at first, and then becomes somewhat obscured by blowing dune sands. Finally, we come to the end of the bar and park the car and wander out into the dunes.
Somewhere in the Gulf, an oil drilling operation's recently gone horribly, horribly wrong and all the Gulf States are in fear of what could happen.
We got first down to the ocean and walk out towards it, not knowing where the land ends and the water begins. The sound of waves. We follow the beach a while and eventually turn inland and wander among the dunes.
It's a surreal experience. The moon above is nearly full and, wherever we go, it's as though there's a spotlight on us. The sand around us in a five foot radius seems to be gently illuminated and it's easy to see bushes, sticks, and the like. But, outside of that radius, the landscape is dark and mysterious. We wander around it for a long time, finding ponds in the dunes and making other discoveries.
One of which is a big wall.
Which we dutifully climb.
This leads us back to the car.
Driving out of the dunes, we see the slits of an old fort on the hillside, and stop to read its interpretive sign. We end up going up to the gun boxes and looking out over the beach and sea from them. Afterwards, we dare each other to go into the dark ammo rooms.
Satiated, we drive slow back out of the dunes, through Pensacola, and all the way to New Orleans, where we arrive after midnight.