May 30, 2008
I am leaving Houston and will be making my way to Baltimore. I plan on exploring Louisiana and Mississippi on the way. My only constraint is that I need to be in Baltimore by June 11th, so I can fly out of BWI on June 12th to go to my niece’s wedding celebration.
I started off later than expected yesterday, and planned on spending the nite in Port Arthur, home of Janis Joplin. With apologies to anyone with family and friends in Port Arthur, but ahhh, I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. You know how there is a section of town that you don’t want to stop in? Well, the whole town seemed like that.
Pretty much, the downtown area is abandoned, except for gov’t buildings, which seemed new or newly refurbished. It was 5.30 and not a car in sight. I could have stopped in the middle of the street and left my car to look around.
They have received money somehow since there seems to be a new performing arts center, a new multi purpose building, and as I mentioned above, the gov’t/city buildings look new.
I needed directions and decided on a certain gas station to ask. Inside there was an older woman, younger woman and an older man scratching off Lotto tickets. I asked how to get to 82 and there was a conference amongst them and the younger woman started rattling off directions a mile a minute…talking so fast and with an accent, I couldn’t understand a word she said except Valero this and Valero that. And then there was more discussion between them cuz they decided that I would get lost that way. I did manage to understand and they actually got me where I needed to go. I am going along hiway 82 which hugs the coast/Gulf of Mexico.
Port Arthur goes on my worst cities list, right next to Manchester, NH.
So….being in the oil and gas business, especially production offshore [Gulf of Mexico], I have heard for years of various places where the gas/oil hit the beach. So, I drove along this 2 lane road near the coast and went by places like Johnson’s Bayou, Sabine Pass, Holly Beach… and saw all these plants, compressor stations…that I have heard of for years. I had a nerdy blast!
It seemed the only people on this road was myself and guys in big white trucks [going to/from work]. There are just 2 lanes coming up out of the bayou/water. There is NOTHING along this highway. Nothing, besides oil/gas infrastructure. No gas stations, no bait and tackle, no 7/11’s, no grocery stores…nothing. Now and again there would be housing, which means it was either trailers/trailer park or these really expensive, huge houses built up on 15’+ stilts. Johnson’s Bayou had a school, and a health clinic. That’s it. Nothing was at Holly Beach. I was so glad that I stopped to get gas before Port Arthur, cuz without a doubt, I would have run out of gas. I drove for 2 hours in this area, which they call Cameron. I would have kept thinking there has got to be a gas station sooner or later. Yes…in Lake Charles! I didn’t see anyone on any of the beaches, no one anywhere [except the white trucks]. Pretty much deserted.
The area smelled like how a new shower curtain smells.
In the middle of all these plants/refineries….is a pelican sanctuary.
At times I thought it was raining, but it was really just bugs splatting on my windshield.
I saw a sign that mentioned “ferry”, I turned the bend…and the road stops. So, the ferry took me over to Cameron. The ferry lady told me…duh…that hurricane Rita took out everything. That is why there are no stores/businesses. She said it was pretty dumpy before Rita, so it was nice that Rita came and wiped everything out, but now they are rebuilding with expensive homes…which is quite the opposite of what was there before…so the whole feel of the place is slowly changing.
I then headed to Lake Charles to spend the nite. It was much later than I had planned…I checked into a hotel and it was 9.30 and I hadn’t eaten dinner yet.