Sunday, February 14, 2010

A fork in the road

We are at a familiar Wal-Mart in Beaumont, Texas (map). We have been here twice before, and all three times we have been visiting our friends here. Their house is on a street that has a canopy of low-hanging oaks, so this is about as close as we can get.

We nearly did not make it out of Baton Rouge yesterday. Just before we got rolling, I noticed another RV come into the lot, but thought nothing of it. As we rolled past them, another three or four cars had gathered around them, and it had the appearance of a tailgate party. Many of the folks were sporting purple and gold colors, and what immediately came to mind was some sort of LSU game -- never mind that LSU is miles from downtown.

As we rolled out of the parking lot, casino security was at the entrance, stopping and directing every car, which I also thought strange for a Saturday morning, when they had done nothing of the sort on the very crowded Friday night. As we made the turn onto River Road, we spotted Louisiana State Patrol cars blocking every entrance to the Capitol, blue lights ablaze. That's when we noticed the hundreds and hundreds of cars lining the road on both sides.

We had, of course, stumbled right into Baton Rouge's Mardi Gras parade. It had not started yet; we passed the floats lined up at the beginning of the route. But every street that could have led us to I-110 was blocked off, and we had to slog our way south through town with parade-day traffic, dodging poorly-parked cars jutting out into the travel lane. Lots of folks sporting beads and other paraphernalia waved as we rolled by, and it felt like we were one of the floats.

It took us a good half hour or so to roll less than five miles to the bridge, where we were able to widget our way on without having to cross the parade route. But, wow, I have never seen so many people in downtown Baton Rouge. It occurred to us that we had just left behind an absolutely perfect parking spot for the parade, as it would have been just a short walk to the very beginning of the route. And at a good ten degrees warmer than the previous night in New Orleans, plus the sun shining, it might even have been comfortable viewing with enough warm clothes on. But as tempting as that might have been, we could just imagine what it would be like trying to get out of the city after the parade ended. As it stood, we were driving against the traffic, and it was still a slog, but we'd be driving with the traffic if we had waited. We satisfied ourselves with having seen the floats and most of the revelry, and were glad to be on the bridge and under way at a decent hour.

We wanted to be in Beaumont in plenty of time to spend an evening with our friends here, so we just rolled I-10 the whole way. Routes on either side are more interesting and relaxing, but add probably an hour to the drive. We made one rest stop, at the Texas Welcome Center just inside the state line. There we were amused to find the little "Ahorn Camp" class-B from Germany that had been parked right next to us in Titusville for the first launch attempt. Small world.

Today we will have lunch with our friends and then hit the road. We had two routes mapped from here -- one south, along the Bolivar peninsula, across the ferry, and along Galveston Island, which we have not seen since those communities were devastate by Hurricane Ike. Long time readers will remember that we worked the Ike relief operation, but in Florida and then Louisiana. This route will eventually take us in to San Antonio. The other route would be north on Texas 105, in order to stop in Austin, possibly to pick up some equipment or materials from the Red Cross warehouse there for our meeting in Tucson. We need to make the decision here, which is something of a fork in the road. At this point, it is looking like we will not need to go to Austin, as the warehouse there will not even be open until Tuesday.

Photo by Mike Freyder, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. Stop at the SKP Coop in Benson and say howdy.


  2. My husband and I lived in Galveston at the time of Ike. We were in the thick of it, stranded there for quite some time. Horrible situation. I hear they have yet to finish cleaning up, even now, over a year later. Many places are still as they were after Ike.


Share your comments on this post! We currently allow anyone to comment without registering. If you choose to use the "anonymous" option, please add your name or nickname to the bottom of your comment, within the main comment box. Getting feedback signed simply "anonymous" is kind of like having strangers shout things at us on the street: a bit disconcerting. Thanks!