Though we didn’t exactly plan it this way, it seems our travels along The Scenic Route over the past few months have taken us from one pirate hotspot to another.
Both North Carolina’s Outer Banks (home to none other than the legendary Blackbeard himself) and Louisiana’s Great River Road (where Jean Lafitte and his band of pirates helped General Andrew Jackson send the British packing in the Battle of New Orleans) are awash in pirate history. The one thing these scenic byways lack, however, is the presence of modern-day buccaneers.
If you feel as disappointed about this chronic swashbuckler shortage as I do, allow me to point you in the direction of Lake Charles, Louisiana’s Contraband Days. The nine-day festival kicks off Thursday, May 2nd as a faux Jean Lafitte and his crew of rapscallions engage in a canon duel with the city’s defenders before “capturing” the town, running their Jolly Roger up the flagpole and making the mayor quite literally walk the plank. Throughout the festival pirates—and pirate-wannabes—roam the streets partaking of a wide variety of mischief and mayhem, ranging from bed races to a “Show Me Your Dinghy” contest. To say nothing of the countless food booths in Galley Alley, plus carnival rides and live music that only serve to liven up the festivities.
While you’re there, do take some time to travel the nearby Creole Nature Trail Scenic Byway. Aside from providing a tranquil respite from all the festival’s merrymaking, this 180-mile drive offers a look at a southern Louisiana landscape and way of life that’s fast disappearing.