Tuesday, December 4, 2012

DAY 105—Finishing Up Texas & Moving On to Louisiana…

The plan today was to head east from Houston towards Beaumont, TX and then onto Lake Charles, LA.  It was raining pretty well when I woke up and I could see from my hotel window that I-45 north was a solid traffic jam.  That would be the way that I needed to go to catch I-10 East.  I decided to take my time with breakfast and getting ready for the day in hopes that when I left most of the traffic would be gone.  It was mostly gone when I jumped on I-45 with my car shortly after 10am.  I decided to wait until I was out of the Houston area before I fueled up.

About 30 miles east outside of Houston, the price of gas had dropped by ten cents a gallon.  I stopped and fueled up.  There was a guy from Tennessee that was going around to everyone at the pump asking if anyone had any cash.  He and his family were stranded and needed some help so he could get to a location of a job he found.  When he asked me, I told him I was the last person to ask because I was basically living out of my car.  He looked at my loaded up car and then God blessed me.  I’m always wary of giving people like this money because there’s never a way to verify their story.
Photo- Starvin' Marvin's Restaurant .

On down the road I went and a few miles outside of Beaumont I saw signs advertising Starvin’ Marvin’s restaurant.   They advertised that they were the best of Beaumont.  Oh, these Texans love to brag!  Well, it was lunch time and I thought what the hell.  I swung by Starvin’ Marvin’s.  I’m glad that I did.  I sat outside on their wonderful patio area and enjoyed a delicious crawfish enchilada.  Then, I had bread pudding for dessert.  Yummy! 

It was as I paid for my meal that I noticed a credit card was missing from my wallet.  The last place I used it was the gas station.  I went out to my car and looked through the seats and all through the bags and what not where it could be.  I’m getting more and more nervous as I look and it’s not showing up.  I must have dropped it when I fueled up because I couldn’t remember what I did because I got side tracked by that guy from Tennessee.  Normally, I have a system but talking to someone during the process threw me off. 

I turned back on the interstate and headed back to that gas station which was about 50 miles.  The whole time I’m praying to God that someone was honest and turned in my card to a clerk at the counter.  I never had a longer 50 mile drive.  I got to the gas station and waited a few minutes while they contacted someone in the office area of the Flying J.  I described the card and gave them my name.  About 5 minutes later a gal comes down and yells my last name.  I answer and she hands me the card.  She never even asked for ID or anything.  I quickly used the restroom and then was back heading east on the interstate towards Beaumont.
Photo- A festive air in the Fireman's Museum in Beaumont, TX.

There was a Fireman’s Museum that I was hoping to catch before it closed in Beaumont.  I made it with time to spare.  The museum is a free self-guided tour and it was rather fascinating reading about how fireman came into being.  I found it very interesting that Benjamin Franklin had a great influence on the history of fireman.  He started the first volunteer fire company in 1736.   It was also very interesting to see the evolution of the fire truck and other tools that the fireman use change over time.  I had the place all to myself and I took my time going through it.  I especially got a kick out of the HUGE black and white spotted fire hydrant in a courtyard area across from the museum.  It was very much worth the stop.
Photo- A HUGE fire hydrant in Beaumont, TX.

Next, I was heading further east towards Louisiana.  It was interesting watching the landscape change just a little more.  There was more marsh like areas with trees along the interstate.  There was moss hanging in the trees. 

I crossed the state line into Louisiana.   The speed limit on the interstate dropped from 75mph to 70mph.  The interstate widened with another lane and it was a smoother black top that seemed better maintained.  Another 30 miles, and I was going over a long huge bridge into Lake Charles.  I happily found my hotel which was close off an interstate exit.

After getting settled in a bit at the hotel, I went down to the front desk and asked the gal where was a go place to grab a bite to eat.  She asked what kind of food I was in the mood for.  I told her something local that was casual, as I looked down at my jeans.  She directed me to Steamboat Bill’s which was just up the road about ½ mile.

Steamboat Bill’s is definitely a locals place.  I walked in and was the only white person in the place; which is cultural shock after living in Utah.  There were two counters in the place.  One where you ordered prepared food and another on the other side that looked like it had fresh seafood you could take home to prepare.  I walked up to the counter asked if they took credit cards and then ordered a chicken and sausage gumbo with a soda.  The gal behind the counter gave me a number along with my receipt.  They would call that number when it was ready.  I went over to the fountain area, got my drink, and then decided where to sit.
Photo- Good Gumbo at Steamboat Bill's.

Quite a few people were coming in and picking up to go orders.  The place wasn’t very busy.  There were maybe six actual customers sitting down to eat in the whole place.  I got my gumbo and sat at one of the simple tables that have paper towel holders at each end.  The gumbo was wonderful and I wish I would have ordered the large portion instead of the regular.

It was as I was enjoying my bowl of gumbo that an older blond haired man came in.  He looked at me and said,” Awww, I see you got the WHOLE place to yourself.”  I just smiled and nodded at him.  Though, surely he could see that there were 6 other Black customers in the place.  Did they not count in his book or what’s up with that; I thought to myself?  He came over after he got his drink and noticed that I hadn’t done the crawfish which was in season.  “No crawfish?” he asked.  I laughingly told him that I was building up to that.  He asked where in the north I was from after I said that.  I guess he noticed I didn’t have a southern accent.  I said Utah.  “Oh, that’s REALLY up there!” he said.  I chuckled and wondered to myself if he had any idea where Utah was.
Photo- Christmas Lights by the Civic Center in Lake Charles, LA.

It was as I was leaving the restaurant that he asked me how long I was staying in Lake Charles.  I told him just the night and part of tomorrow and then I would head on to Baton Rouge.  He said,” Well, Miss Utah.  You have a wonderful visit.”  I thanked him and left.  I then decided to explore some of the Lake Charles area in the dark.  There were quite a few Christmas lights down by the lake area and by their civic center that were festive.

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