crossing Louisiana

On Saturday we left New Orleans early and continued westward through Louisiana. Following the historic Old Spanish Trail HWY 90 was the plan so that we could see more of the real area rather than the artificial world of the Interstate. The real world of Louisiana is certainly not a place I need to see again, and the rough roads made it feel like I was riding a bucking bronco most of the day. Took hours and hours to go just 150 miles and the day was supposed to be an easy 300 miler but at 3:30 in the afternoon there were still 15 0 miles to go. Not a fun thing when it’s windy and trying to find the RV park and set up in the dark. After watching many miles off trashy trailers and garbage and dumpy stuff along the old highway we bailed and got on I-10. What a relief that was! The trash gave way to open road and scattered off ramps with the general generic stuff, but at least it was clean.

A bit of a bright spot in the morning included several miles through the swamps off the gulf coast. Found out that the difference between a swamp and a marsh has to do with trees in the water versus herbaceous plants in the water. The swamps were endless, with bayous appearing occasionally. Also found out that the official definition of a “bayou” is a small waterway off a larger waterway with slow moving water. The bayous we passed were trails winding off into the swamp, but didn’t see any boats or people in them, and more often than not there was floating trash. Sad.

Stopped in an historic town called Morgan City, looked for the Visitor Center which for no explainable reason was closed even though it was listed as open. Christmas, I guess. Wandered through the town to search for historic buildings, and found a huge seawall holding the river back all along the main street, which actually had nothing off interest at all. Maybe the view of that huge blank seawall was the draw, who knows. Found an alternate bridge over the river that looked pretty scary, in bad need of a paint job and left the burg behind as we continued west.

Keeping to the HWY90 route gave the opportunity to travel to Avery Island, another bright spot in an otherwise fairly dismal day. Avery Island is the home of the Tabasco Plant, and consists of thousands of feet of old salt dome that forms a hilly landscape that stands out dramatically surrounded by Louisiana flat wet fields. Took the factory tour, watched the video, walked the lovely grounds, and checked out the Tabasco Country Store. While there a couple of guys showed up on bicycles who left San Diego about 20 days ago. Hmmm, same as us in a motor home! They were headed for Florida and it was fun visiting with them for a bit. Tabasco sweet pickles, silk scarves, tee shirts, and recipes filled the store and tasting Tabasco flavored vanilla ice cream is an experience quite unforgettable. I didn’t buy any.

Leaving Avery Island, however, takes you back into the Louisiana boring flat dirty stuff, so getting on the freeway again was a good thing. Finally crossed the state line into Texas at sunset, and it was one of the longest sunsets I have seen. The glow just lasted forever. We both laughed because the minute we crossed into Texas things started feeling better, more familiar somehow, more western, more open. Amazing that even Texas could feel good. Drove by Vidor when my sister used to live and opted out of a side trip to the gulf coast because of her vivid descriptions of smells and trash on the beach. I have seen enough good beaches that I didn’t need to waste time to find out about this one. Thanks Sal.

The campground we chose from the CampClub USA book was right along the freeway, was open, was very small, called Turtle Bayou. The proprietor was a very friendly older man full of helpful conversation and offers off assistance as we set up for the night. The space was right at the front of the park, a pull through so we could get going fast in the morning, so it wasn’t until we left the next day that I saw the really pretty bayou right there in the park.

Author: kyotesue

Soil scientist/mapper working for 35 years in the wild lands of the West. I am now retired, enjoying my freedom to travel, to hike without a shovel and a pack, to knit and quilt and play, to play with photography and write stories about all of it.

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