Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bye, Bye Texas...finally

The grass was frosty as I left the little town of Luling, Texas.  The owner of the RV park raises horses and there is a race track next to the RV’s where the community gathers in September.  There is a nice trail to the river and a dock. They also say that a barbeque restaurant in town has won prizes in cook-offs.  I’ll try to stay here on my way through again. 
Meanwhile, the goal today is to reach Louisiana in the afternoon.  After breakfast at Frank’s Restaurant and a discussion with  Darrell, a trucker with driving advice. He says to go straight through Houston…it’s easy.  When I told him that San Antonio was NOT easy, he agreed and gave me a way around that he prefers.  Frank’s is is a family restaurant and advertised as “founded 80 years ago”.  I think some of his help today were originals because they gave authenticity to “like gramma’s  kitchen”. 
I decided to set the GPS for “Port Arthur”, a bit out of the way but it was the first touch of water and the name sounded interesting.  For those of you who missed this school day of geography class,…as I must have…Port Arthur is on a lake, not salt water, it offers refineries and pipes and railroads, and a terrible chemical smell.  And now, students….
We are off to Lake Charles, LA…and hope for the better.  I was looking for one of several casinos and after going over the Lake Charles bridge…a bridge from hell…I limped into the tourist office on the other side.  “that’s the scariest bridge I’ve ever driven on” was all I could say.  “Everyone feels that way”  they agreed. The two  young ladies told me the casino I wanted was closed over 5 years ago due to the hurricane and never reopened.  I got brochures for two others who  are open.   Oh no, not the other side of the bridge!!!  So, trembling, I found the Isla of Capri casino.  Seemingly not an Indian casino, it has large expanses of open space and the gambling is all on a floating river boat.  However, there were not many people and a rather sad place.  Buffet dinner included my southern favorites: boiled cold shrimp, fried shrimp and catfish, hushpuppies, turnip greens, sweet potatoes…and so much more.
There is a free overnight parking area for RV’s and there are about a dozen of us here.  However, it is below that bridge and when I stopped I thought we were having a massive windstorm.   It’s just the sound of traffic overhead!  This bridge is like going up a steep ramp…like a roller coaster…and then down the other side.  It appears to me to be about the height of the Seattle Space Needle with the minimum of railings…I guess so you can see where you are about to plunge!!  Eyes ahead.  Keep driving, keep driving.  
The weather is a bit cool but the two at the tourist office promised warmer days Friday and Saturday.  They also knew all the shopping spots I’d like.   Anyway, they asked me back because I said I was a travel writer.  They said they’d love to have their PR person give me a tour!  I’d better get some business cards first.
On Friday I drove to the other casino…the L’auberg du lac Casino and Resort.  Wow, what a difference from the previous one.  Elegant building and landscaping, golf course, uniformed doormen, huge fresh flower displays, expensive dress shops.   Meanwhile I went shopping at some antique and thrift stores then back to the casino in time for the lunch buffet.  Seated near the window on the water, across the lake I could see…yes, lots of refineries with their smokestacks.  On a review of my maps I’m in an area of lakes connected to lakes with refineries and oil tankers who need high bridges so they can safely go under them.  
It’s Saturday morning and I’m off to find the real salt water. 


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