“Give me a plane ticket to anywhere in the world and this is where I would want to go,” narrates Reedus over the latest episode of Ride with Norman Reedus. High praise coming from the well-traveled actor, but he has a special affinity for Louisiana that came to be while filming Tough Luck there in 2003, and his stint as Grand Marshal of the Krewe of Endymion parade in New Orleans a few years ago. “It’s a great American enigma,” he says. Being something of an enigma himself, it’s no wonder he feels so at home there.
The plan is to head east out of Lafayette through Atchafalaya Basin to Baton Rouge. Then they'll follow the Great River Road south along the Mississippi River to end up in The Big Easy. His travel companion is country boy Brent Hinds, guitarist of metal band Mastadon. They met backstage at a concert, bonding over music and bikes, but foremost a shared love of Louisiana. Hinds has ridden since his younger years in Alabama. “You’re born with a gun and a motorcycle in my neighborhood,” he explains.
They trip kicks off at local Lafayette joint Taco Sisters. Reedus, still rocking his Zero Motorcycles trucker hat, employs his usual move of asking the waitress what to order. She says their “Wake N’ Bake” burrito is the specialty. “Now we’re talking!” Hinds exclaims. “There any weed in there?” Reedus says there might be, and that it is delicious. The boys map their plans while they chow. Hinds has a tattoo artist in NOLA and he’s planning on getting a tattoo to memorialize his friend, Motörhead guitarist Lemmy. He convinces Reedus to get a matching one. Their plans squared away, Reedus gives the starting call: “Let’s hit it!”
They’re riding matching Triumph Tiger 800 series, though Reedus is driving an especially impressive custom XCx. Hinds seems less comfortable with such high-tech bikes. “I just discovered my bike tells me what gear I’m in,” he admits a few hours into driving. Since crawfish is one of Louisiana’s chief exports, the boys pay a visit to legendary fisherman Mike Clay. “How hard is it to catch crawfish?” Reedus asks. “Oh it’s easy,” Clay responds. It’s not long before they’re picking up giant crawfish. “That’s good eatin’ right there,” says Hinds, just before wailing when his catch gets a revenge pinch on his finger. Soon, they're enjoying a feast of their captures, dusted with local Cajun spices.
Next, they cruise down Interstate 10 to Atchafalaya Basin Landing & Marina, where they'll meet alligator specialist Captain Tucker Friedman for a ride in his airboat. Out on the water Captain Tucker begins speaking Louisiana French and slapping the water with a stick. “Look there he is!” says Reedus, getting first sight of a giant alligator. “F*ck are you kidding me?” exclaims Hinds.
There’s a stop at the Hollywood Casino riverboat, but Reedus is anxious to get into NOLA. “Are we close?!” he yells. First stop in town is to get ink done at Abracadabra Tattoos, owned by Jordan Barlow, who Hinds has known since his “hobo days." Reedus gets his piece done by an artist named Cornbread.
On the drive to lunch they exchange Jägermeister stories. Hinds is banned from a Hard Rock Casino in Mississippi for throwing up in a planter pot. Reedus started “puking purple” when he was a teenager after seeing a lady performing unspeakable acts with a golden retriever. After indulging in Southern breakfast staples like Boudin Balls in Creole Mustard Sauce and Eggs Florentine at a joint called Elizabeth’s, they decide to visit an all-female biker group called the Caramel Curves.
“These girls are going to smoke us,” says Reedus, checking out their 1000cc bikes. After a little group joyride, the boys break off to hit Frenchman Street in search of a Boondock Saints–themed bar Reedus vaguely remembers from his travels. In just a few moments Walking Dead fans swarm them. “How does that feel?” Hinds asks. Reedus admits that he’s been pretty lucky so far with his interactions.
Reedus decides to ditch the cameras for his final night out with Hinds. “Nothing personal,” he says. The next morning it appears that they have survived the evening and capped off an incredible journey together well. He signs off with a Bob Dylan quote: "There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better.”