Part 6: Gonzales, TX to Calcasieu Parish, LA


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The Trip

We completed breaking camp from our hog hunt and then headed east on I-10.  Our objective was Port Arthur, TX.  We spent one night at an RV park in Port Arthur then headed east along the coast into Louisiana and creole country.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

On our exit from the hunting ranch, we passed this elk buck, still with velvet, grazing in the ranch pasture.

We traveled on I-10 through Houston and passed this interesting building along the freeway.

It was pretty hot and we had not yet installed air conditioning in Thor's cab, so we were happy to reach Port Arthur, our destination for the evening.  This bridge crosses the intracoastal waterway and connects Pleasure Island, the location of our campground, with the mainland.

Our camp was right on the intracoastal waterway and gave us a great view of the passing marine traffic.  There were some huge ships that came by in the short time we were at the site along with plenty of tug/barge combinations.  Most of the traffic appeared to be in support of the oil industry.

Some of the barges were singles, like the one above, and many were doubles and triples.

We ate dinner in Port Arthur and crossed the intracoastal bridge several times.  From the bridge, we got a good view of some of the surrounding infrastructure that supports the oil industry.  Port Arthur is home to a number of large refineries and storage facilities.

There were several oil drilling platforms in the harbor either being stored or repaired.

On our way out of town heading south, I spotted this huge structure that appears to be some kind of crane.

We traveled south to Sabine Pass, then east along the gulf coast to Holly Beach, LA.  Then we headed north toward Calcasieu Parish to meet Bob and Kitty.  These LNG storage tanks were just outside of Sabine Pass, TX.

The entry into Louisiana was unremarkable in that the coastal areas are quite devoid of trees, likely due to the frequent hurricanes.

The coast road was right next to the water and as you can see above, is devoid of trees.  This road was heavily damaged the last time were here in 2010.  Note that the house above is built on stilts.

The areas along the coast were bright green and had marshes that support a variety of kinds of wildlife.

These LNG tanks were under construction the last time we were here.

There is a ton of complex infrastructure that is required to support these storage facilities.

We arrived at our rendezvous site at the Calcasieu Parish Police Jury Campground.  Yes, that is the formal name.  The place was right on the intracoastal canal, but had no shade.  This was sad since it was about 90 degrees and sunny.  The good news was that it also had 30 amp electrical service and allowed us to use the air conditioning in the camper.

Tugs and barges of all sizes, lengths and configurations passed our camp.  Note that this naked tug has a flat bow designed to mate securely to the stern of the barge it is pushing.  The tugs were actually quiet and frequently passed without us noticing them.

Bob and Kitty had arrived about the same time as we had, but were located to the east of our position.  After several hours past the appointed meeting time, we decided to call them and discovered that we were only about 100 yards apart but could not see each other.  Later, I discovered that they had texted me, but the noise of the truck had masked the text alert so we were ignorant of their arrival.  But, no harm was done and they came to us and prepared to setup for the night.  Bob's 1300L is in great shape and has an Alaskan camper similar to the one that was on our 1300.

Kathleen made carnitas from a portion of the hogs we shot several days before.  Next morning, we headed east along the cost and outside of Cameron, LA while waiting for the ferry, we spotted these less-than-prime specimens fishing from the banks of the shipping channel.  With a few notable exceptions, they were representative examples of the local population.

We were lucky and the ferry was at the dock waiting for us when we rolled up.  We only waited a few minutes before departing across the narrow channel.  While docking, we spotted this tanker barge being maneuvered onto a berth by a local tug.

Lousiana bills itself as "the Sportsman's Paradise" on their license plates.  I think this statement is true.  We saw many boats on the channels that were heading out for some fishing.  And there were hundreds of folks along the banks of the many bayous fishing and catching crabs and crayfish.  Most of the setups were quite basic, but this fellow's rig was new and deluxe.

We had lunch in Cameron, LA at the only cafe in town.  The cafe was assembled out of multiple dissimilar trailers bolted together.  It was, as they say, "the only game in town", so we decided to stop.  The food was good despite the basic facilities.  After lunch, we went to the local harbor area to check things out.  We spotted a number of powerful marine tugs at the docks awaiting work.

This platform was being serviced at the dock by the large cranes.

The good 'ole boys in Louisiana know their trucks and the combination of the 1017 and 1300 created plenty of neck whiplash.

East of Cameron, we came upon this fire which was producing a huge column of noxious black smoke.  It appeared to be a controlled burn of some kind since the local fire department was not responding.

The area along the coastal highway was frequently clear of trees, but as we got further east, portions of the road were lined by huge oaks with Spanish moss.

We headed inland and passed this cemetery with above ground crypts.  Along the coast, we noticed that all the cemeteries appeared to be new and had new, fresh headstones and memorials.  We assume that this was due to recent hurricane activity exhuming the occupants and thus requiring a reburial.  The crypts above were 90+ miles inland and despite the near sea level elevation appear to have been unharmed and original.

We tried to get a tour at Avery Island, the home of Tabasco Sauce, but were too late in the day.  Then, we went to a close-by state park and attempted to get a campsite, but the park was full due to the Crayfish Festival (whatever that is).  We finally got spots on one of the bayous next to the Atchafalaya River.  The bayou was brackish and muddy.

Despite the calm water, there was plenty of evidence of fish in the bayou and there were boats coming by at night with lights on seeing gators, frogs or whatever.

The moon was at its perigee for 2012 and was clearly visible through the brush of the bayou.  The moon was 20% brighter than normal due to its closeness to earth and was dubbed a "super moon".  My Canon 1DsMark3 with 300 mm lens does a great job of capturing such events.  The shot above was hand-held using spot metering and spot focus.

This bayou area was nice and green and a pleasure to see.  We ate at a local restaurant across the levee from the camp and the food was good.  The night was buggy, so we retired early.  Tomorrow, we will check out the lake on the Atchafalaya River and perhaps get a swamp tour.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2012, all rights reserved.
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