- J.F. Rowan
My Cup Is Filled To The Rim
We depart Lafayette LA early in the morning with residual showers lurking around the city. The roads are riddled with large puddles that look like they could swallow a small car. This, coupled with the fact that most of the roads in our part of town are under construction and make the mornings driving a rocky and rolly proposition. Oh wait, there's a fruit stand, considering we are low on anything "green", naturally we stop. I park and I wait while my co-pilot runs into the market hoping to score some fruit and maybe a vegetable or two. Fruit is needed on the road. It keeps your insides healthy and it helps stabilize your system when you are sampling the local fare here and there. Also needed but sometimes forgotten, water. Remembering to drink lots of water is easy when you have a co-pilot who normally drinks about half her weight in water every day. I make a mental note to purchase a life preserver. She makes her way back to the rig and the look on her face says it all. Scores! Fruit, local honey, and cajun peanuts just to name few.
We decided on a route that would take us south, back to the coast where hopefully we would be able to drive within visual contact of the ocean. Our destination would be a quiet little place called Sea Rim State Park. We are lured there partly because of the online description of on-beach parking and camping with beautiful ocean views. The trip from Lafayette is hardcore-back-roads travel through a constant stream of slumbering winter rice, whose fields look like cold dark saturated mud patties. The water from the fields seems to come right up to the shoulder of the road and a steady hand on the wheel is all that keeps us from becoming a possible comedic relief for the locals. Yvette is on her Ipad with two nav apps open because the trucks nav system main screen is not showing any roads. Again, I refrain from ranting about the "My Link" system here, but soon my friends, soon.
It's close to lunch and a bathroom break, we spot a store with the right size parking lot and pull over. "Larry's Super Foods" is the name of this medium-sized grocery store. The coolest grocery store I've seen thus far, and the locals seem to love it as well. Clean, cheap with lots of local in-house goodies everywhere you look. My meat eating urges guide me to the butcher area where I spy a dozen different smoked cajun sausages. Potty break and meat purchase, check and check. Quick lunch inside the rig and off we go. Sugarcane trucks are the only other traffic on the road as we continue. The Egrets and Herons dot the fields now as we're next to the ocean, yet we only know it's there because of the map we just can't see it, yet. Then the tidal inlets come and we go over a bridge about every ten miles or so. Whenever we can see the water we see more wildlife, if only for a moment. Then out of nowhere, we make a long sweeping corner and I catch a glimpse of a sign that says..."Ferry"?
Ferry On Ramp from Cameron Mississippi side.
"What the flock? There isn't supposed to be a ferry here?" I pull over and look at the map. Yvette looks at here Ipad and then to me. We're a bit baffled. There's nothing on the maps that says there's supposed to be a ferry here. "Well, what's the worst thing that could happen, they won't take us and we go back." But "back" will mean backtracking and re-routing about 100 miles or so. So, I pull up to the Ferry's ramp and here we go. The man at the ramp raises his hand as if he wants us to stop. My window already rolled down and waiting for the forthcoming humiliation, I speak first. "Can you take our rig, and our trailer?" He looks back at the trailer and then to me, "Sure, we can take you, no problem." Then I ask, "How much?" he looks back at the trailer again, "That'll be a dollar." I look at him, " A dollar? Like, ONE dollar?" He smiles. I quickly give him a dollar before he changes his mind and on the ferry, we go. I feel like I've one the lottery and I look at my wife, "Look hon, our first cruise together!"
The Marsec. Ferry in Cameron Mississippi
Across we go and continue our way to Texas. The coast finally gets close enough to the road to be able to enjoy it. The sun keeps hidden. Yet, it peaks out on the ocean's horizon and that's enough for now. Through our travels along the coast, there is a presence of hardship. All of this "Prime" real estate isn't consumed by Land Rovers, perfectly manicured lawns, or four thousand square foot houses. Instead, there is poverty. And where there is the doubt of poverty, there is hardship from past storms in the form of fifth wheels and travel trailers where houses previously stood. There are debris piles along the sides of the road every mile or so. Mattresses, clothes, old grills, propane bottles, unusable lumber of every size and plastic. As the coast of Mississippi fades behind us, Texas begins to appear.
At some point, out of nowhere, we see what's known as a flare, or flame stack that stabs up from the horizon. A "Flare Stack" is a tall pipe or chimney that is used to burn off excess methane during the petrol-refining
process. The burn-off flame can vary in size and this one seems about one hundred feet in length. Fairly impressive looking when we get closer. It's mesmerizing. As we get closer, the refinery begins to reveal itself on the horizon. It's big. Big as in the size of a small-town kinda big. It's also next to an inlet to a body of water which empties into the gulf called Sabine Lake. A bridge takes us over the outlet of the lake called "Sabine Pass" The outlet ( or is it an inlet?) is large enough to accommodate tankers and barges on the largest scale. Ironically today, we see a large freight ship the size of a small tanker, coming into the pass with giant windmill blades consuming its deck. Over the bridge, we cross and finally into Texas.
Leaving Mississippi and coming into Port Arthur, TX., over Sabine Pass. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Bridge
Valero Refinery, Port Arthur, TX
We turn left once at the other side of the bridge and make our way through the refinery. We weave our way right through the middle of a mass of pipes, and valves.
There is steam being released at various points close to the road. I suddenly feel like I'm in a "Mad Max" movie. When we clear the refinery, we hug Sabine Pass for ten miles where the road takes a hard right turn and we follow the beach taking a moment to stop and walk in the sand about 5 miles before the state park.
There are no houses or other evidence of human existence here accept the birds, the beach, and the sky. It is all worth it. But what will tonight's accommodations be like? We can only hope it will be better than last night experience. We shall soon see.
Sea Rim State Park, Sabine Pass Tx.