Baton Rouge Seems Okay

I needed a change of scenery, so today I accompanied my boyfriend on his work trip to Baton Rouge. I had been to Baton Rouge once, in 2004 when a friend accompanied me to see the Gator basketball team get beat by the Tigers. For that trip we drove right off the highway to the basketball arena and departed straight after. All I remembered of the city was the lake right off the interstate and yellowy tinge of the campus.

Today’s journey commenced after rush hour, so it only took an hour and 15 minutes– the length of one very good episode of TBTL, my favorite podcast. I heard the drive wasn’t scenic, so I was surprised when I saw this.

The view from the car window

“Hey! That’s nice!” I exclaimed
“That’s the nicest part of the drive,” my boyfriend responded.

Turns out he was right. I-10 hugs Lake Pontchatrain on the way out to Baton Rouge and this was only time that I didn’t see copious fast food chains and outlet malls out my window. (But due respect to Chik Fil A! I love you! [Closed Sunday])

Once in Baton Rouge, we got lunch at the Main Street Market, a food court that features regional farmers and local small businesses. Main Street Market is located at the bottom of a parking lot, which is impressive reuse of space. However, the rest of the downtown seemed pretty glum–there didn’t seem to be much else open.

I used Yelp to find the coffee shop I’ve posted up at this afternoon: Highland Coffee Shop. It’s at the edge of the LSU campus and so it’s much more bustling than downtown. We got off at the same exit I remembered from years ago (the lake is still there) and drove around a bit until we found our way (the campus remains yellowy.) Despite the copious amounts of LSU gear (and their football schedule written on the wall of a Reginellis, with that big W next to the tragic Florida game) I find myself enjoying the company of Baton Rougers at the coffee shop. The barista was friendly and several people helped me as I sought a plug that had power. These small gestures of kindness leave a big impression.

Looking outside from my seat at the coffee shop. Hello homeless man!

As always, I am eager to find the positive aspects of maligned towns– even ones I’ve maligned myself for containing the presence of SEC rivals. (Athens will be tough for me.) I’m sure there’s more to like about the city, but I’ll be out of here before rush hour. I know I’ll be back at some point, so please send suggestions!

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