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Old 04-10-2011, 01:55 PM   #1
Jamie Z OP
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Five Days Around Texas and Louisiana



Day 1, 211 miles:



This ride started out all wrong. I was supposed to be canoeing with a friend who had to cancel at the last minute. Searching for a new destination I ran into cold and rain forecast in every direction, mostly. I decided to aim southwest but didn't head out Sunday until after five pm.

Packed and on the road I realized my first mistake. My hydration pack was still hanging in my closet. It was too much hassle to turn back and get it. I'd just have to suffer. Rain started and reminded me that my rain gear was sitting next to the hydration pack back home.

I was working toward a friend's house who lives in Louisiana. I hadn't seen her in about eight years, and after agreeing by email to let me stay at her place a couple days ago, I hadn't heard anything more from her. She hadn't answered my phone calls today. It rained and I was cold.



While at the gas station a young black man asked me about my bike. He asked if I were married or had kids. He expressed concern for my safety while traveling. Later in the evening, well after dark, I stopped again to call my friend in Louisiana. No answer. I was still cold. Another young black fellow came up and asked me about my bike and my destination. He said he was worried for me and would say a prayer.

Did they know something I didn't?

I got ahold of my friend at about 9pm. She lives out in the sticks and her address doesn't appear on my GPS. She couldn't remember the name of the road I needed to turn off the highway to get to her place. This wasn't going well.

We got the address straightened out and she greeted me and showed me her comfortable living room couch piled with blankets and pillows. It was warm, too. I ate a couple sandwiches. The short ride had chilled me and I was tired.

Jamie
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Old 04-10-2011, 02:16 PM   #2
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For the looks of your first map, you at least got down to the coast and run 82 to Texas. Love that ride from Cameron , across the ferry, and West to Port Arthur.
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Old 04-11-2011, 02:11 PM   #3
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Day 2, 213 miles.



In the morning Debbie made homemade biscuits and fried up some eggs.



I supplemented her meal with some canned orange slices I had with me. I was loaded up with camp food for the planned canoe trip. Had to use it someplace.

She and her husband own a house in rural Louisiana. Her husband farms and was up and gone by 5am. Debbie showed me around her place a bit.



She does a lot of arts and crafts. She advised me that for this particular piece, she normally wouldn't use such bright and contrasting colors, but it was a joint effort with one of her nieces. I thought it was pretty cool.



Debbie lives just a couple miles from Poverty Point, an enormous ancient earthen ceremonial site, comparable in my mind to the Nazca lines. The site consists of six concentric mounds and a huge mound built to resemble a bird. The extent of the structures wasn't apparent until somebody saw it from the air. Here is the image from Google Maps.



I've been here before and spent some time exploring the museum and driving the loop road. I also hiked up to the top of the bird mound. This time around, it was clear that they were doing some major work. It appears that they've concluded that it's best to remove all the trees. It really looked awful, though I suppose it will eventually make the site more visible. When I was here before, this mound was covered in trees (as it is in the Google Maps image). The trail to the top was closed off. I didn't spend much time (nor any money) here at all.



Anyone need work on their V-twin? Spot's Cycle in Crowville, Louisiana can probably take care of it.



Memphis folks will get a chuckle out of this one. It's King Willie!



Riding along I saw a sign for "White Sulfur Springs Historic Site." I stopped to see. I found this gazebo and some picnic tables out back.



Closer inspection of the gazebo revealed the spring. It looked and smelled awful. Because of vandals and sulfur, respectively. There is a geocache at this site, and from the geocache page:
Quote:
This place was once a very busy area many years ago. It was home to hotels and a place to come visit and drink and bath in the sulphur water that used to flow freely out of the ground. I can remember when I was just a small kid riding with my grandpa out here to catch jugs of this water that I can honestly say smelled like rotten eggs. We used to drink it because it was believed to keep you from getting sick. If one of us got sick well we made a trip out here to get a big jug of it. back in the woods on now posted land is a pipe coming out the ground where I am told you can still get some of this water. To National Guard and sherriffs office is taking care of this place but still seems to get littered often. If it as not for them its not telling what this place would look like. Hope you enjoy the cach and the history behind this place.
It looked like at some point sulphur water ran from the center of the spring, and one could sit on the brick bench around it and soak your feet. Nobody has done that for a very long time, I suspect.



Further down the road I got quite a scare.



A bit closer:



Holy Jesus. Hell no. Made me nervous just riding past. Riding is dangerous.

And then cheap gas in Louisiana!



Because of my late start from Debbie's, it was getting late and time to make campe. I headed for Chicot State Park, but I found a better place along the way.



It was a strange place, apparently made up of dozens of family plots. Almost every small group of graves was surrounded by its own chain link fence. It made walking around the place rather cumbersome, as many of the fences were connected, which often led to cases of you-can't-get-there-from here.

I broke out my campstove and heated up some canned beef stew with a couple of beers from a nearby convenience store. Nice end to the day. Oh, and I found a cemetery cache after dark.

[img][/img]

Jamie
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Old 04-12-2011, 03:02 PM   #4
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Day 3, 273 miles.



Got up a bit later than I planned. The weather was a little cooler than I was expecting, and I had only a warm-weather sleeping bag. I bundled up and fitfully slept through the night.

A few miles away I passed through Mamou, which claims to be the Cajun Music Capital of the World. Too bad it was a weekday morning. I would have loved to catch a couple bands. My dad would love this, too.



Crossed over I-10 and stopped at Walmart. I needed oil for my bike. I also stripped off the extra layers I was wearing under my riding suit. For the first time on the trip the sun was out and it was warm. It wouldn't last much longer.

A few miles down the road I saw this crazy contraption, which looks like something out of a WWI battlefield. I'd see a few more of them later in the day. They're agricultural tools, but any idea what for?



Then a cool display outside a music store. Big guitar:



And what was supposed to be an accordian, though it wasn't in too good of shape.



I got off the beaten path and followed a field road up over a bridge, but ran into bayou on the other side.



Now I was in the coastal wetlands on Highway 82. It's flat and the roads aren't curvy but I found some interesting scenery.



Highway 82 is part of the Creole Nature Trail, one of the first roads to be designated a National Scenic Byway. Everything was wet from the all-day off-and-on rain. I first saw other motorcycles around here--a group of about six cruisers.



I followed a gravel road into Rockefeller State Wildlife Refuge and Game Preserve, located between highway 82 and the coast.





I ran into a retired couple fishing. They were sea-fishing, though I don't recall now which kind of fish he said they were going for. While we chatted, he had a couple of bites and when his line would twitch, he'd yank back on the pole about as hard as he could, inevitably the empty hook slinging back out of the water.

He warned me that if I'd better find shelter tonight. Severe storms were expected.



I climbed an oberservation tower nearby. My map showed the road continuing far back, almost to the coast, but I discovered a gate not far past this place.



Nearing the end of Louisiana I saw a sign pointing south reading "Rutherford Beach." Beach, huh? I was curious what that meant. Sure as hell, there was a real-life sandy beach out here in Louisiana. I didn't think they had this kind of thing. There wasn't anyone else back here. The vehicle tracks were packed enough that I didn't have much trouble.







Well past lunch I pulled into Cameron, Louisiana looking for a place to eat. Once through town I didn't find anything, so I stopped at a marina to check out my phone and GPS for diners.





I ended up at a little travel-trailer place where it appeared that almost everybody ordered carryout. I told the woman behind the counter that I wasn't from around there, did she have any suggestions? She told me she made a killer hamburger. Um, no. I'm not riding all the way to Southern Louisiana for a hamburger. I ordered the shrimpburger. I should have gotten the hamburger. The fries were good.



I met a stocky fellow wearing overalls at the restaurant. He wanted to know "why in the hell would you come to Cameron on vacation?" He told me they don't see too many visitors there. Most people are there to work. Fishing and oil is what people do. He told me he worked up the road and that I should go up there to see the boneyard. Apparently the boneyard is a place a couple miles offshore where they pile discarded oil rigs.

I rode up there to have a look, but another employee I talked to pointed out that it was much too hazy to see the boneyard today. Instead, I watched the helicopters take off and land.



I crossed the ferry west of Cameron. As I waited in line, a boat passed in front with a dolphin surfacing in front. They're a little too quick for photos though.





Cruising along 82, I found another beach. This one was a little soft. Dark sky in the distance.



And I practiced that cool motorcycle perspective photography for the first time. It'll take a little more work.



One last stop before Texas. I believe that's an oil rig construction facility. Or maybe that's another boneyard.





I was hoping to find a place to camp at either Sea Rim State Park or Sabine Pass Battleground State Historical Park. To get there required riding miles up the intracoastal waterway, and then miles back down the other side.

This was marked as the first place oil was shipped out of Texas.







It was getting late when I pulled into Sabine. The historical park had no place to camp. I found an abandoned warehouse which had an intact roof, but the walls were blown out. It had an enormous clean and dry concrete floor. That would be my place to sleep. I'd be protected from the storm, and nobody would bother me. First I ought to go get some beer in town.

In town a dual-sport XR pulled up next to me. The guy piloting the bike was helmetless and wearing a dark polo with some sort of official logo on it. He had a large radio on his utility belt. Uh oh.

"Where you riding from?" He asked. I told him I was coming from Memphis. We talked for a bit more. He asked where I was planning to stay the night. By this time I figured out that he was a fireman. I didn't want to tell him I was planning to sleep in an abandoned building outside of town, so I simply told him I'd find something before dark.

Light bulb. "Do you happen to know where I could set up a tent?" I inquired. Surely a fireman has access to places to sleep, Mmm? He thought for a moment. Nope, no parks around here. He paused.

"If you want, I've got a camper sitting in my driveway, and you could sleep there. I'll call and check with my wife."

I followed him back to the station. Apparently, this is what asking your wife sounds like, "Hey, I'm sending a guy on a motorcycle up there and he's going to sleep in the camper." Long pause. "No, he's fine. Riding across the country on his motorcycle." Another pause. Then to me, "Hey, how old are you?" Back in the phone, "Yeah, I'm serious. Just pull out one of the bunks." "I know it's raining, it only takes a minute."

He got off the phone. "Yeah, she's cool with it." I guess I have some things to learn about marriage.

He gave me directions to his house and as I rode through Port Arthur, the rain started. At the house, his wife was just putting their two girls to bed. We put my bike in the garage and she offered me some dinner and a beer. We chatted for a short time in the living room. I was happy that she was clearly not as concerned as she sounded on the phone. She had to work in the morning, so I set up in the camper. It had power, including air conditioning and heat.

My bunk:



During the night I heard rain pounding on the canvas above my head.

Jamie
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Old 04-13-2011, 10:46 AM   #5
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Jamie, The large track vehicle is a Marsh Buggy. Designed to run though all the soft stuff and used for all kinds of work in the marsh. Rutherford is a nice , not too well visited place, even down here and is one of my favorites to just go hang out at or surf fishing for catfish and flounder or what ever bites.
Funny is the Cameron ferry charges a buck going west and free going east. Then Holly Beach was the next place looked like. New building being built all the time there but under strict hurricane code unless it's just a travel trailer. As is the other little beach communities on towards the west. The Graveyards of jack up oil rigs at Cameron and the Texas border are either stacked , waiting on a job or for sale.
You really did pick the best way though Louisiana. Hope U enjoyed.
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Old 04-13-2011, 12:33 PM   #6
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Day 4, 197 miles.



First place I headed in the morning was Beaumont, Texas. A few weeks ago I'd seen a documentary about the first oil strike in Texas at Spindletop. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spindletop I wanted to check it out for myself.

I visited the Spindletop Gladys City Boomtown Museum.



It's not so much a typical museum. There's a little gift shop, and out back a reproduction of an early 20th century western town. Entry fee was $3 or $4. My change came in the form of mostly $1s.





The staff appears to be mostly retired volunteers, and what they weren't in professional historians, they made up for in friendliness.

Out front was a replica of the original drilling derrick and a monument which stated in part that "On this spot oil was first discovered..." which I knew to be false. The actual location was a few miles away.



An older gentleman wearing overalls and carrying a large valve came up just as I was getting ready to head out. "If you wait a little bit we're going to blow the well." Huh?

He explained that each day they recreate the oil strike at Spindletop by shooting water out the well. Well hell, I'd like to see that. About this time a tour bus arrived with a group of well-dressed office workers. They were all wearing logoed name tags so I figure they were on some training or a team-building exercise.

The old man warned me to move my bike since it was very windy and the water might go as far as to soak my bike. I moved it onto the other side of the building. He lined the corporate group and me up to watch the blast. He called out several times for us to keep moving up the lawn, waving his arms. "Y'all gonna get wet if you stand there," he warned. The group moved a few feet and he repeated his hand-waving and warning.



"Keep moving," and the group moved another couple of yards. I headed far away so that I could get photos without people in them.

Then he launched the well. Holy crap. You can still see the old man in the very bottom left of the photo.



For some historical perspective, here's an original shot of Spindletop as it gushed oil for nine days in 1901 and my own picture, aged, flipped, and cropped.



He couldn't have placed the group any better. A shower of water came crashing down as they scrambled. The water was so high that all I could see was that it was directly overhead, so I turned and jogged a little more out of the way.

Afterward I could see that two or three people from the group were soaked head to toe. Drenched like they had jumped in a pool. A number of others were wet on the back, up their legs and back. In the gift shop, T-shirt sales were brisk.

I wanted to see the original site, which it turns out I'd ridden right past on my way here. It's a couple miles south. Not much to see there anymore, and you can't even get all that close since it's private property. Here's a view of what used to be Spindletop Dome from the viewing platform.



Y'all remember Tiffany, right? http://www.advrider.com/forums/showthread.php?t=602602 Yeah, that Tiffany. She's ridden around the world twice I think. Last year she came through Memphis and blew out a tire. I helped get her back on the road, then I escorted her through Mississippi into Louisiana. I'd emailed her the day I left and asked if she had any suggestions through Louisiana or Texas.

She said, "Can't recommend anything as I passed through the area quickly, but my sister is in Houston for a few days."

Heh, imagine that. I was headed that way anyway. I found Sam staying with a couchsurfer in Houston Heights. I walked up when she was on the phone; she said to the person on the other end, "He must be a friend of Tiff's. He's wearing motorbike gear." We walked to a nearby deli. The chicken sandwich was excellent.



I invited Sam to the baseball game with me, but she wasn't able to make it, so we got a quick photo before I headed out.



I rode into downtown Houston.



And parked the bike. I talked the guy into giving me a spot for my bike for half price. The game was starting soon so I jogged the couple blocks up to Minute Maid Stadium.

My seat wasn't all that great, but I'd only paid $13, so I can't complain. They were playing the Red Sox in an exhibition.



Couple of things I noticed. The crowd was composed of almost entirely all white people though Houston's population is mostly non-white. When the seventh inning stretch came around, practically nobody sang along with Take Me Out to the Ballgame, though when they started up Deep in the Heart of Texas immediately afterward, everybody stood and sang and clapped in perfect unison. And I suppose it has to do with the pain of being an Astros fan, but late in the game when the 'Stros were down 8-0, a Red Sox player hit a home run over the left field fence, the crowd actually cheered.

As I left the game, I couldn't find the keys to my bike. Crap. I wondered if they fell out of my pocket one of the many times I took my phone and camera out. I searched around my seat and in all my pockets. No keys. Fortunately I carry a spare set on the bike, but I was concerned.

When I walked up to the bike I saw my keys. They were still in the lock of my topcase. Not only that, my topcase was sitting open a few inches. Downtown Houston for three hours. Unlocked, keys in plain sight. Gotta love it.



It was late and though I had an invitation to stay from Sam's host, I wanted to start heading north. Texas boasts some fantastic roads and have well-maintained rest and picnic areas spread throughout the state. I've found that especially in rural areas, they make great places to pop a tent. I located a rest area marked on my map about an hour north and headed that way. Though they're usually well-marked and quite visible, I missed this one in the darkness. Perhaps my map is wrong.

Instead I went for Sam Houston National Forest. Down a little-used gravel road to what seemed to be marked as an ORV campground. Nobody else was around and it was after midnight. I found an open area for my tent and crashed.



Jamie
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Old 04-15-2011, 01:17 PM   #7
Jamie Z OP
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I know there's still two or three of you paying attention.



Day 5, 330 miles.



I hadn't slept very well. Again. My light sleeping bag was just a smidgen too thin for the 40-degree temps. I woke up late. Packed up and got on the road about 11, I guess.

I'd gotten a few tips about places to go in East Texas from a thread I posted on ADV. Three Stooges was on my itinerary, and not far from here. Outside Groveton I stopped at an historical marker and read about Sumpter, TX. I found the cemetery nearby.



I opened the gate and followed the road back a piece. I found what must be one of the least visited historical markers anywhere. Sumpter was once a thriving community in the county, but it declined in the late 19th century and was abandoned.



The sign pointed down a grown up trail and I walked back the couple hundred yards to the original townsite of Sumpter. There's nothing to see there now, at least not in the short visit I made.



Following the Stooges, I found a small cemetery and chapel off FM 1012 for a lunch stop. I broke out the camp stove to heat up some beans and ate them with tunafish salad wraps.



Not sure how old the chapel is, but the interior had bare plank floors and the pews in each row were of a different style and appeared to be handbuilt.





I followed the road back a ways into the woods until I encountered a gate with many no trespassing signs.



A few miles later I found another historical marker at a similar-looking building, this one an old schoolhouse. The interior contained some construction materials as though some minor work was being done.



I passed this sign:



Wow! That sounded neat. I followed the gravel road back. There was some roadwork, but I didn't see any canyons.



Eventually I encountered more and more no trespassing and members only signs, so I turned around. I'm still not sure what this place is, but it's got a cool name.

Near Burkeville I took a little shortcut and found myself on a narrow gravel road.



The gravel turned to soft sand for a short while. I was debating whether the road would go through or not. I saw some people stare from their porches as I rode past.



Though last night I was intending to make it home today, it was clear that wasn't going to happen unless I rode through the night. I pulled over in Milam at dusk to look at my maps and find a place to stay.



Kisatchie National Forest was across into Louisiana and looked like a good remote place to stop. Instead, the campground was modern and just off the highway. I arrived late--sometime around midnight--and saw one other vehicle in the park.

I stopped at the pay station. They didn't seem to have camping rates posted, though there was a sign which listed a $3 day-use fee. All I had was a $1 bill, a couple twenties and a ten. Hmm. What the heck happened to all those $1s I got from the museum?

I took this shot of my campsite the next day.



(I know the title says "Five Days," but there is one more to go.)

Jamie
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Old 04-15-2011, 01:53 PM   #8
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You ran right into our major problem in East Texas and Western Louisiana. Hunting Clubs leasing land and posting it. Even when they are not hunting it, you can't go though it. Sucks.
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Old 04-15-2011, 02:15 PM   #9
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I love small town Louisiana

Fred's in Mamou: Something you never forget. Smaller than it looks in the video. If I remember right there was a live broadcast at the time.

Great fun.

Man, I wish I had a big pile of crawfish right now.

http://youtu.be/ADkl2TohHTg
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Old 04-15-2011, 09:47 PM   #10
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Outstanding presentation! Very much enjoyed and appreciated here.
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Old 04-16-2011, 12:17 PM   #11
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Day 6, 322 miles.



And finally, the ride home. Cold night again. I'd bundled up and put my rainfly over the top of me as an added barrier. It helps, but the temps dipped into the low 40s.

As I was packing up the park ranger came by. I asked him if he'd be able to break my bills so I could pay. "You didn't pay?" he asked incredulously. No, not yet. That's why I'm asking for change.

He went on a small tirade about how the rules clearly state I'm supposed to pay within 30 minutes of setting up camp. Sure, I told him, I've got cash, do you suppose you have a couple $5s or anything? He was not friendly or helpful and told me I'd have to ride into town to get change. "I don't carry money around so I can make change for people."

He told me the only reason he stopped was to ask if I'd noticed anyone drive through the campground during the night, and I told him I hadn't. He implied that my "guilty conscience" hed led me to "confess" to not paying. Whatever, dude.

I walked over to the one other camper who thankfully could break a bill. I thought about leaving an unfriendly note with my payment, but decided to just stick the money in the envelope and leave it at that.

I had a long day ahead. I'd gotten a late start, and had over 300 miles to go. Tonight I had to work. There wouldn't be much time for sight-seeing today, unfortunately.

The only pictures I took were crossing the Mississippi River on the new bridge at Greenville.



And the view of the old bridge. I'm quite surprised that they're removing it.



Thanks for following along and all the comments. It's good to know people read these things. And thanks to those who suggested places to visit in Texas and Louisiana.

Jamie
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Old 04-24-2011, 04:00 AM   #12
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Thanks for the report. I'm going to have to check some of these places out!
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Old 04-25-2011, 07:45 PM   #13
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Thanks Jamie, I know you had fun. Great report.
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Old 04-26-2011, 10:45 PM   #14
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Originally Posted by Jamie Z View Post
... I followed him back to the station. Apparently, this is what asking your wife sounds like, "Hey, I'm sending a guy on a motorcycle up there and he's going to sleep in the camper." Long pause. "No, he's fine. Riding across the country on his motorcycle." Another pause. Then to me, "Hey, how old are you?" Back in the phone, "Yeah, I'm serious. Just pull out one of the bunks." "I know it's raining, it only takes a minute."

He got off the phone. "Yeah, she's cool with it." I guess I have some things to learn about marriage.
Classic.

Hey looks like you passed through Leland, MS? I grew up there.

Nice RR, thanks for sharing!
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Old 04-27-2011, 09:07 AM   #15
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Nice report on our part of the world. Too bad that once crotchety guy was giving you the business about paying! Otherwise it looks like you met up with all good people.
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