Certain parts of Houma, Louisiana, remind me of “Blast Corps”

Yes, I had been fascinated by radio electronics since toddlerhood, but around the age of eleven, I had begun to cultivate an interest in video gaming. And it would be that way from the ages of eleven to about fourteen. From the ages of eleven to fourteen, most of my free time and a good bit of my spending money was allocated to video games. My two favorite gaming systems were the Nintendo 64 and the Game Boy Pocket/Game Boy Color. I also would download lots of free computer games and save them on floppy disks. In the Summer of 2001, I had discovered console emulators and ROM files for more vintage games. During this time of my life, video games had priority over all my other interests, dare I say, including flashlights.

I lived with my nuclear family in Raceland, Louisiana, but we spent a lot of time in Houma, Louisiana, especially going swimming at the Bayouland YMCA.

In the process of the commute between Raceland and the part of Houma in which the Y is located, one would have to travel through the Northeastern Outskirts of Houma, through suburbs such as Bayou Blue and the neighborhood of Coteau. Traveling through these areas, reminded me of my second favorite Nintendo 64 game, Blast Corps. I had posted maybe once before on how I thought that the Northeastern outskirts of Houma, Louisiana, had always reminded me of that said game but in this piece, I intend to do a detailed and in-depth reporting of that.

Blast Corps was released by Rare Ware in 1997 for the Nintendo 64.

Other games that I enjoyed were 007 Goldeneye (my all-time favorite video game) and Jet Force Gemini was also created by Rare Ware.

I first played a rented copy of Blast Corps in the Summer of 1998 and loved every aspect of the game, especially the parts with trains and canal boats.

On the rented copy, most of the levels had been beaten and I would simply play the levels with trains and canal boats so I could operate them for fun.

I was not into playing [most] video games for their main objectives, but rather for either shooting/fighting enemies or operating cool machines. For the record, I did not “foam” in Mario Kart as the MEME suggests, but I would watch either my friend, Joshua Vinet, or my brother Devin Monier, play all the games for the objectives, and then I would do the other stuff that which I considered fun. This is probably why I outgrew video games at the age of fifteen and went back to my radio electronics hobby and later discovered writing. Finally, at the age of eighteen, I got fully back into flashlights.

Now there are no longer any railroads in Houma. There haven’t been since 1991.

However, there are several busy navigable waterways and there is also some heavy machinery in use either for oilfield support operations, highway maintenance, shipbuilding, or agriculture.

Sadly there are no giant robot suits (Thunderfist, Cyclone Suit, and J-Bomb), dune buggies (Skyfall or rocket cars that fire missiles (Ballista) as of yet. Maybe if America became more dystopian I can see heavily militarized SWAT units deploying such machinery.

Also, the Sideswipe seems like a pointless vehicle, but I digress.

And given the current situation at the time of writing this piece (March 2022), I don’t think the nuclear deterrent warfare arsenal will be reduced anytime soon, much unlike the entire theme of Blast Corps. And if the nuclear arsenal is to be reduced, I highly doubt that the nuclear weapons will not be carried to a safe detonation site on automatic vehicles that cannot be stopped or have any obstacle or obstruction lest they detonate upon any impact. Again that is the main theme of Blast Corps.

From the ages of 31 (when I left my now ex-wife) until 34 (when my apartment was destroyed by a wicked woman named Ida), I lived in an apartment on the northeastern outskirts of Houma, Louisiana in a community known as Bayou Blue. I did well there aside from having one or two Karens as neighbors.

As one leaves the City of Houma on New Orleans Boulevard then it transitions into a two-lane highway there are some tank farms situated on the right side of Highway 182 FKA Highway 90. These tank farms are in between that Highway and the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway which at this point is also taking a northeasterly course. I do remember in certain levels of Blast Corps some similar tanks filled with flammable fluids that were situated along the canals in Blast Corps. I also, in the latter parts of 2018, wrote a very short story about a terrorist blowing up these tank farms. There are also some shipyards nearby, though some are currently vacant as of now. I don’t recall any shipyards in Blast Corps (that would have been cool if there were) but some of the equipment used in shipyards (such as cranes) was there.

There was a glitch in the game where a car bearing the American flag had a Dixie horn. That could be potentially offensive to some players. Another car was a hot rod inspired by Starsky and Hutch. There was also an A-Team van whose horn would say, “outta my way” in Mister T’s voice. My brother affectionately called this vehicle the “Mister T Van.” There was also a police car that was modeled after the Crown Victoria from the 1960s, such as on Adam 12.

As a very young child, I played a lot with Matchbox cars and now I have a modest collection.

Moving on. There used to be a traffic signal that the intersection of Highway 182 and Williams Avenue Extension/Hollywood Road, but now it has been converted to a traffic circle or roundabout. I believe this was a foolish idea on the part of all involved. On a slightly related note, there is a gentleman who is faithfully dedicated to the cause of Christ and he is working with churches in my area across all denominational lines he requested that certain churches pray for certain gates around the City of Houma. He considers this roundabout to be the “Restoration Gate” and has assigned my church to pray for the restoration of Christians to the joy of their Salvation and restoration to everyone else of all that was lost due to Hurricane Ida, especially when we travel through this junction. I respect this gentleman tremendously for his Kingdom work and am totally on board with praying for this. While passing through this intersection the shipyards and tank farms give way to wilderness, then one comes to a junction with Coteau Road AKA Highway 660. For those of you who are wondering, Coteau is French for “Ridge” and yes, this area of land is on a ridge. It is quite high and therefore flood resistant. And because of that, even modes properties in this area come at a premium price. Making a left on Coteau Road, one will come to a business known as “FrogCo.” This company rents out heavy amphibious equipment, mainly for use in marshes. These machines are so obtuse that when transported, they require “Wide Load” clearance and also an escort from a state trooper. These state troopers love doing this job because it is easy, safe, and pays much better than their normal wages. These machines remind me of some of the machines featured in Blast Corps, like the “Backlash”, but bigger and bulkier. Continuing west on Coteau Road would eventually bring the driver back to civilization, so I’ll instead talk about going back to Highway 182 and instead of going East on Coteau Road. The Gulf Intracoastal Waterway also makes a turn to the East in this area, so Coteau Road runs a course parallel to that said canal. If facing east, there are some houses, actually some nice quaint houses, and a fire station on the left-hand side of the road. I don’t recall any fire apparatus in Blast Corps, but the game would have been even cooler had it included these. On the right-hand side of the road, if facing eastbound, there are more tank farms with even bigger dome-shaped tanks filled with oil and gas, and there are also heavy industries including more shipyards situated on the GICW. This is mostly the case until Coteau Road terminates with Bayou Blue Road AKA Highway 316.

So let’s go back to our junction between Coteau Road and Highway 182 and continue northeast on Highway 182.

For a few blocks, it is mostly wilderness, when one crosses the Saint Louis Bayou, which used to be navigable and quite busy in bygone times. I’m talking before there were railroads and highways and it is from canals such as these that people from the rest of The States assumed children in South Louisiana commuted to school on a boat. This Bayou can still be traveled on a very small boat but nothing else. I remember one time in that Summer of 2020, I a friend and former neighbor of mine was hanging out by this bayou fishing. I was testing out my then-new tactical flashlight, a NiteCore i4000R, and shining it at that bayou on high-powered mode. There suddenly was a reflection from the water and it was moving a quite swiftly-the eye of an alligator! And that eye had a very much intimidating appearance that all I could do was stand, frozen in time, and stare at it until it swam away. In 2010 some teenagers met their demise in that bayou when the driver of their truck fell asleep at the wheel and veered off the highway and plunged into the water and they drowned. This was a tremendously heartbreaking moment for the City of Houma and surrounding communities. Immediately after Saint Louis Bayou, there is a huge scrapyard where the automobiles and other items containing considerable amounts of metal from days gone by are broken apart and sold for scrap. And at this point, we come upon the community of Bayou Blue, which is named after a body of water that traveled from Bayou Lafourche to the GICW and possibly even to the Gulf of Mexico at one point. Now though, it is more like a really big ditch and doesn’t cover as much mileage as it once did. For most of its current course, Bayou Blue runs parallel to Highway 316 AKA Bayou Blue Road. I remember being thirteen and for the past four prior years memorizing road maps. I also happened to be a fan of the World Wrestling Federation. So, while traveling to the YMCA with my dad and brother, I remember crossing this highway many times. There was a certain reference to the wrestler Stone Cold Steve Austin and, while I now know this is potential blasphemy, there used to be a slogan tied to that wrestler called Austin 3:16. So, jokingly I would call Bayou Blue Road, “The Stone Cold Highway.” This went on during the Summer of 2000. I think my dad attempted to explain the real meaning of 3:16 as in John 3:16 a time or two but my heart wasn’t ready for it yet. Four years later, though, it was ready and I did indeed surrender to Jesus Christ! Bayou Blue, Louisiana is also on a ridge and comparable to Coteau at that, but somehow, land and house prices in Bayou Blue are much more reasonable. I would only go east on Bayou Blue Road, not west because it is only in the eastbound direction and far down there at that where I see some similarities with Blast Corps. So turning east onto Bayou Blue Road from Highway 182 are many residences (including my former apartment) a few shops and several churches including the one I currently attend and love it there! There are also at least two fire stations and in Bayou Blue, the fire trucks are painted blue! Some also have blue lights in addition to their red lights. Bayou Blue Road then intersects with Prospect Boulevard Extension AKA Highway 3087. There used to be some pipeline compressor stations in this area and while I don’t recall pipelines or pipeline compressors in Blast Corps, they would have maybe been a neat addition. Most of these compressor stations were removed after the oilfield downturn of 2016. Bayou Blue road continues traveling a southeasterly course, then crosses the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway. There is a cool pontoon swing bridge that carries Bayou Blue Road over the GICW and there are many heavy industries in this area. To me, I wish there was a place to hang out with a scanner and listen to marine traffic and all the supporting operations and not be mistook for a terrorist. These dockyards have cranes for loading and unloading barges. Other heavy equipment is here as well, some of which is loaded onto barges from here. There were machines loaded onto barges that were similar in appearance to the “Ramdozer”. There are yet some more shipyards in the area. Highway 316 then runs a course parallel to the Barataria and Lafourche Company Canal (another waterway that predates the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway by over 100 years) and terminates with Highway 24 in Bourg Louisiana. My childhood friend Joshua Vinet was employed in these shipyards sometimes providing security and sometimes wiring the electronic equipment on the ships until he became stricken with seizures. I plan on buying a vehicle very soon, so I plan to visit him. I haven’t seen him in approximately two years and that is due to this wretched virus that has plagued humanity. If you, the reader, are wondering about my brother (the other one of whom I watched play video games) he is doing very well and recently had a son with his wife.

Let’s go back to our junction between Bayou Blue Road and Highway 182. From there let’s continue Northeast on Highway 182 for about a half-mile Highway 182 continues through the community of Bayou Blue. It is mostly commercialized here, though these businesses have been hit very hard by Hurricane Ida. Then we cross The Hollywood Canal, which, as Saint Louis Bayou, used to be heavily traveled before the advent of railroads and highways. Timber from the forests near Schriever and Thibodaux was loaded onto barges and shipped down to the Houma area via this waterway. How it now only sees small personal boats. I’ve heard on my scanner that there is a slip for this canal in its convergence with the GICW known as Hollywood Slip. The Hollywood Canal is no longer navigable. Shortly after this crossing Highway 182 becomes a four-lane highway and travels northeast towards Raceland. Just before its junction with the new Highway 90, there is a shooting range owned by the Lafourche Parish Sherriff’s Office but open to the public, so there are several police cars (either Crown Victorias or Explorers, both made by Ford) there and there is also a garbage dump nearby in which some garbage trucks travel in and out of. It would have been cool to have garbage trucks in Blast Corps.

This is all of the geographic areas that I wish to cover because it would take you into Raceland, Louisiana, and it does not remind me of Blast Corps save the extreme northern parts of the community where the BNSF Railway Lafayette Subdivision mainline traverses and most of that area is off-limits to the public.

I get it that some levels in Blast Corps had trains but most of the levels with trains were located in mountainous terrain and South Louisiana is as flat as the summer day is long.

Had I not outgrown video games at age 15, I probably could have come up with more examples of actual places that remind me of Blast Corps levels.

But I don’t necessarily regret outgrowing video games and graduating to radio electronics, especially scanners. With scanners, I can tune in many times what the operators of such heavy equipment are saying to each other, although I have yet to hear someone say, “Time to get moving!”

A favorite past time of mine is to bring a scanner or two and take up a position either by a railroad mainline or navigable waterway and tune in the communications of either trains or boats, respectively. I also would like to take a receiver that is capable of tuning in CB Radio transmissions and tuning in the truckers, especially if I am near a main highway. Due to the disabilities that I and stricken with, I cannot qualify for any job in the transportation of people or freight and operating of heavy equipment sectors and that breaks my heart. But I have tremendous respect for those employed in such jobs and I like to tune them in on my scanners. I have a little cousin who is highly fascinated by all sorts of machinery and I cannot wait to teach him about scanners and tuning in truck drivers, boat, and train crews, that is if they are still usable or legal by the time he comes of age.

I hope this piece has been amusing because I have desired to write it since some point in 2020, but it was from some comments in a Facebook group I belong to about the Nintendo 64 gaming console that was the catalyst for me writing this.

Those of you who are familiar the area I described will appreciate this post more than most and those of you who are familiar with the said area and appreciate the game Blast Corps will appreciate this post even more.

I guess this concludes the piece, so may God richly bless you.

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