119. Heading North and East from Corpus Christi

Got a decent morning start this Monday morning and headed thru CChristi and its refineries towards Houston and its even more refineries. I didn’t think mid-day Monday traffic would be too bad through downtown Houston but it was major congestion. On the north side, I picked up Interstate 10 and headed east. I planned on stopping around 3:00 pm at the Cracker Barrel in the refinery town of Beaumont. Instead I arrived at 4:40 pm. The last 15-20 miles took nearly 2 hours. The Interstate was throttled down to two lanes narrowly bounded by concrete barriers on both sides. Zero shoulder. Complicating it was (I found later) was a single car roll over about 1/4 mile from the end of construction. It blocked the right lane and with the concrete barriers/no shoulder it was a further squeeze past the police and the tow trucks. Everyone seemed to stay relaxed as there was absolutely no place to go.

Corpus Christi and the towns north including Galveston and Port Arthur have deep water channels accommodating oil tankers.

Tugs heading to the Gulf to bring an oil tanker in

Tuesday, March 9, 2021

Great quiet night’s sleep. Got a reasonable start heading east.

Heavy, heavy winds out of the south making for a crosswind the entire drive. Easy to tell which 18 wheelers were pulling empty or lightly loaded trailers as the trailer would abruptly shift sideways a foot or more before the driver would correct. Weighing probably only 40% or so of a fully loaded semi, I certainly felt the wind and had to work the wheel – made more difficult on restricted lanes in construction zones.

Some posts ago (#114) I wrote about “color” as I transitioned from arid brown to green grass and then to white snow. Today was color again. Blue as in blue roof tarps. The last 10 miles in TX and first 50 miles in LA were obviously in the path of a fairly recent hurricane. Interstate 10 runs through a fairly heavily forested area but trees were flattened or leaning and stripped of foliage. In some areas there would be a concentration of twisted trees evidencing a spawned tornado. The world’s entire supply of blue roofing tarp must have been used here. The attorneys have been busy. About 1 in 5 billboards were from lawyers advising the reader how this lawyer or that lawyer could help with one’s hurricane claims. It would appear that the one in question was Hurricane Laura in late Aug 2020, the strongest hurricane making landfall in Louisiana in 150 years.

I decided today would be a short day and headed for Louisiana Welcome Center some 100 miles across the state line. The Atchafalaya Basin Welcome Center west of Baton Rouge to be specific. It is a very large welcome center encompassing both sides of I-10 with several cross overs under I-10, if that makes sense. It is part of the massive Atchafalaya National Heritage Area and Atchafalaya Natl Wildlife Refuge. The Basin is the nation’s largest river swamp and the Welcome Center showcases a variety of exhibits showcasing the unique local flora, fauna, and cajun cultures.

On the north side of I-10 is truck parking while exhibit space, car parking and RV camping spots are on the south side.

The Welcome Center has about a dozen dedicated long and very wide spaces where RVs are welcome to overnight. I pulled in to one, large enough to accommodate the motorhome with my slide outs extended, as well as the car. So I’m having a restful afternoon, I took a couple of walks through their gardens and past a couple dozen gazebos and I have a loaf of bread baking in my convection oven.

What follows are some pics of the rest area including some of the many animal sculptures placed around the property and walkways. Amazing what all happens in a freeway rest area, right?

In the ‘when it rains, it pours’ category. I received a phone call this afternoon from another Michigan State Park offering the camp host position for a month. Too bad, it was also for June and another early bird got this worm already.

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