Did Hurricane Isaac have you feeling the pressure? Were you suffering from tropical depression? Rest assured you weren't the only one. Monday evening before Hurricane Isaac, as more Pigeon Townies began flying the coop, Uptown became an eerie sort of empty.
After seeing that even my toughest looking neighbors were coming out as members of Hurrication Nation, I became sufficiently creeped out enough to follow suit. There were two places I considered evacuating to while I was in search of road treats for Fuzzeh and friends.
When you think of Natchitoches (pronounced NACK-uh-tich), you might recall a small southern town featured in the off-broadway play turned movie, “Steel Magnolias." Or maybe you’ve heard legend of the town’s tasty turnovers – crispy meat pies, bulging with pork, beef and onions, slightly reminiscent of empanadas.
These antebellum appetizers were crafted in plantation kitchens long before Robert Harling was a thought and at least a couple hundred years before the Toyes were caught faking it.
Nestled in the crook of the Cane River, this quaint city is populated by an unexpected amount of wisecracks. When I think of Natchitoches, it’s impossible to forget the old man who brought me to Papa’s Bar & Grill (604 Front St., Natchitoches; 318-356-5850) during my first visit. From Front Street, we watched the river warble by abandoned railroad trusses. We walked through torrents of rain before stopping into Papa’s Grill accompanied only by his fables and our rain-soaked shiverin’. This is the place where I discovered the wonders of chasing sweet tea with Abita Amber.
Two years older than New Orleans, Natchitoches is the oldest European settlement in Louisiana Purchase territory. It is also the state’s only city, outside of New Orleans’ French Quarter, to boast a historic district.
I think it’s perfect for a hurrication for four reasons:
1. Its historic district is like a quaint version of the French Quarter. The iron work and hanging ferns will have you feeling at home 275 miles northwest of the Big Easy.
2. It’s close enough for convenience, and far enough for safety. You can reach it by state highways, hopefully avoiding traffic that tends to clog up the main arteries of I-10 during evacuations.
3. If clogged arteries is your bag, grab a world famous snacky-poo at Lasyone’s (622 Second St.; 318-352-3353). They gotta lotta spicy meat pies.
4. Natchitoches lies in close proximity to Kisatchie National Forest where you can watch tropical rain roll in from sandstone hills underneath branches of old growth pine.
If you’re not a big fan of rain, head for the hills – more specifically, the ones in Texas where a devastating drought has been searing soil for the last few years.
Here in Austin there’s enough TexMex, night life and recreation to distract you from just about anything. While in Austin I knew I could…
- Stop by Flipnotics (1601 Barton Springs Road; 512-480-8646) for an Irish Bomber, a delicious mix of Guinness, espresso and mocha.
- Try the fried avocado taco at Torchy’s Tacos (1311 S. First St.; 512-366-0537) located in the Trailer Park & Eatery, a gravel lot home to four trailers serving anything from TexMex to cake shakes.
- Watch a Rangers game projected across the entire expanse of a warehouse from the back of Bar 96 (96 Rainey St.; 512-433-6604) while playing corn hole or giant Jenga on the bar’s astroturf lawn.
- Swim in Barton Springs pool (2201 Barton Springs Road; 512-476-9044), a clear-watered channel of Barton Creek the city of Austin has fenced off for public swimming.
- Climb Mount Bonnell for a scenic view of Austin’s skyline while the blue moon rises.
So, in the end I chose to high-tail it to Austin with Sally and Audrey where, aside from Fuzzeh’s pantless table dance, we’ve had a healthy helping of good, clean, Texas fun.
I wrote this from the patio of Flipnotics. Our houses were still off the power grid, but regardless of the state of things, work beckoned. We were NOLA-bound early the next morning.