|God Bless Texas! Part 3: Lafayette to Corpus Christi|
Lafayette, LA to Corpus Christi, TX (Map) - 466mi/750km
There are people who are above abandoned elementary schools, motels & fast food joints.
I am not one of those people.
When I woke up next to an abandoned Ramada Inn, I couldn't help myself but to go over & check it out. It's a good thing Nailhed stopped visiting BRN when I compared Fort Worth to Europe, because this is even lower.
The rest of my friends know that I'm peculiar and would hit an abandoned shed.
(An abandoned shed? Is that the most boring abandoned building I can think of? Even that entices me in that there may be neat old hoes & sickles inside...)
I had to go inside, because really, that would be the final nail in my readership coffin if I only posted exteriors of an abandoned Ramada Inn.
The black mold & the promise of insects kept me from venturing very far inside. I didn't feel like I was missing much, as this motel was identical to hundreds that I've stayed at all across the United States.
Instead of taking the interstate from Lafayette back to Texas, I decided to first go south to the Gulf Coast, into thicker bayou country.
I snapped the above picture as the highway elevated over a shipping channel, which was the only elevation gain along these backroads, save the couple of feet I would have gained if I climbed one of the river banks.
This marshy land was ripe with birds & abandoned houses. I wasn't wading into the swamps to get to the abandoned houses, but I was pulling over for the Great Egrets and the large pink birds, which both flew away quite quickly. The pink birds could have been Flamingoes or Roseate Spoonbills, but they were gone so quickly, that I couldn't manage a picture. Flamingos are quite rare down here, so my money would be on the birds being Roseate Spoonbills.
There weren't many cars joining me on these rural roads and I noticed the birds were skittish with any car stoppage.
I found this route interesting through people's stubbornness. I presumed this route would bring me into desolate lands, lands uninhabited since some historic hurricane drove people away. Instead, there was a good number of gas stations & homes.
This would change as I went further & further south though, closer to the parish seat of Cameron. There were more abandoned homes, abandoned businesses; and the businesses that were open were in trailers.
Cameron was first destroyed by Hurricane Audrey's 12 foot waves, which killed 300 people. The town was more prepared for Hurricane Rita in 2005, but significant damage still occurred; and while the community was still rebuilding from Rita, it was hit with Hurricane Ike in 2008 - which brought a 22-foot storm surge that destroyed almost all of Cameron, except for their water tower & their courthouse (above). Ike's storm surge was so great that it inundated the entire Cameron Parish - an area bigger than the State of Rhode Island.
I drove around the town & lives seemed to be taking root, but there was still a temporary feeling. Stricter building codes & insurance spikes have kept a number of the former residents away.
Cameron is only a town of 400 people, so after driving around for a few minutes, I lined up to catch the ferry across the Calcasieu River. There was only 1 other person on the ferry & the cost was minimal for the 5-minute ride.
In addition to allowing me to drive through a much more interesting part of Louisiana, I also found the ferry cost was well worth the 15 minutes I spent watching the Brown Pelicans, Great Egrets & Laughing Gulls surrounding the boat.
The ferry dropped me off in much nicer lands, as I was now on the Gulf Beach Highway, with a sandy shoreline to my left. This was still February though, and the temps had fallen considerably since that 87° day, so I decided to admire the beach from my car (I drove beside this beach for 15 miles anyway).
As the Gulf Beach Highway pulled away from the gulf beach, I was driving along and almost gave myself whiplash, when I noticed this hawk sitting beside the highway, unconcerned with the passing traffic. I almost didn't pull over, but after driving about 3 minutes, I decided that I better.
Shockingly, as I returned to the hawk, he didn't care about me, my car or my camera. He was a big bird, so I wasn't getting out of my car for close-ups, but I was pulled over within 10 feet of him & he couldn't care less.
The problem is that it's hard to tell what type of hawk this is from this angle. If only it flew away! Maybe I should have exited the car & harassed him? I guess there's always next time.
Equally as scary was the guard cat at Fort Travis near Galveston.
The fort was closed for repairs & normally I would have quickly hopped the fence, but not with this guy on duty.
Almost directly across from Fort Travis is the Bolivar Point Lighthouse. I couldn't get past the fence at this one either, but that's all right because the two former lighthouse keeper cottages are now private residences.
As for history, a lighthouse was located here in 1853, but Confederate troops dismantled that one to make cannonballs for the war. The above lighthouse was erected in 1873 & was slightly more attractive back then.
During a legendary hurricane in the year 1900, 120 people found shelter inside the Point Bolivar Light, mostly upon the spiral staircase up its 116-foot innards. All of these people survived the hurricane which killed 8000 of Galveston's 30000 residents at the time. In 1915, 60 people had the same idea & survived yet another fierce hurricane.
The mosquitoes were ferocious at the lighthouse, so I didn't stay very long (and then I spent the next 5 minutes killing mosquitoes inside the rental). I rushed from there to make my second ferry of the day, the much busier & much more popular Galveston-Port Bolivar ferry.
Galveston has been on the list of American cities that I've wanted to see for a long time & this was a unique way to enter its city limits. The ferry doesn't drop you off downtown, but you can't complain about sitting outside with the grackles & the gulls, watching the skyline & the shore of an anticipated city come towards you...
I didn't have any solid plan for Galveston, so I punched in my one GPS target & rumbled down random streets.
Driving down 14th Street, Gresham's Castle stopped my car so quickly that I had to check my tires. It was spitting & dreary outside, but not raining nearly hard enough to keep me from admiring this Victorian beauty.
Built between 1887 and 1893, Gresham's Castle was built for Walter Gresham, a railroad magnate & member of the Texas House of Representatives. The AIA (American Institute of Architects) has the mansion listed as one of the 100 most significant buildings in the United States. I've never seen said list, but if there are only 100 buildings on it, they all have to be incredible.
Walter Gresham died in 1920 and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston purchased the house in 1923. This is their Sacred Heart Church which is across the street; as they purchased the mansion to house their bishop at the time (the mansion is also known as Bishop's Palace).
I had no idea at the time, but I was exploring Galveston's Historic East End by stopping at Gresham's Castle. I didn't plan to do much besides snap a picture of the mansion, but beautiful structure after beautiful structure kept distracting me from returning to the car.
I explored two or three streets lined with amazing houses, before the rain picked up & reminded me to get back to the car.
I went downtown & marveled at the architecture, none of which I snapped any pictures of. The rain was coming down steadily & it wasn't very inviting to stroll about. I had to get going on my way anyway, so there was a combination of factors in my decision to leave Galveston.
Geordie has always wanted to visit Galveston, so hopefully I'll return one day (well I'll return either way, but hopefully Geordie is in tow).
The GPS point I had entered was for the Galveston South Jetty Lighthouse. This was a twin lighthouse to that Angel's Gate one I did in Los Angeles, but it had been abandoned to decay for years. A plan was underway to move the lighthouse to a park & restore it, by getting the light off of its rusty piles & onto land, but unfortunately the barge was a few days away when a hurricane hit, a hurricane which finished off the lighthouse & dumped it into the gulf.
The lantern room was salvaged & put atop a decorative base at Galveston College (above).
Anyway, today's storm didn't seem to be going anywhere, so I drove by the skatepark unimpressed. I then drove by a tasty abandoned building, but I was further unimpressed with the thought of leaving all of my valuables in a car in said sketchy neighbourhood.
I had a 4 hour drive to Corpus Christi and this was enough of Galveston. I can see Galveston being a lot better, but that day will have to wait.
The rush was on to get to Corpus Christi by 7pm puck drop! I had seen a hockey game in Biloxi 2 years ago & couldn't wait for more hockey in the South! I sped into town & took some overpriced mediocre motel just to drop off my stuff, before speed walking through a landscape of vacant lots on my way to the arena.
Walking up to the ticket windows, some employee was giving away Corpus Christi Ice Rays tickets for some reason, so I saved myself $15 with this free ticket! Score!
Unfortunately that was highlight. This arena was completed in 2004, so it didn't hold any kitsch appeal. I was surprised to find chili cheese dogs on the menu, but after ordering one, I found a terrible hot dog in foil with 2 of those 2 oz. plastic containers with chili & cheese. The hot dog led to only purchasing one beer, as the beer selection was awful & I was sour about the terrible dog I paid arena prices for. Last but not least, I could tell the people around me were definitely people who simply received free tickets & couldn't care less about hockey (away from the one dude who was teaching his kid about Mario Lemieux - right on!). I decided to move over to an empty section, but apparently this section was reserved for the one dude who was scouting the game, as an usher came & told me I had to leave that section after 10 minutes.
That's what I remember about hockey in Corpus Christi, Texas.
Biloxi Hockey > Corpus Christi Hockey.
(Aside: This is an exterior picture from the next day.)
I had plans for eating and/or shooting nighttime exteriors and/or a building the next day, but I wasn't feeling any of these things as I returned to the Bayfront Inn in a ho-hum mood.
Unlocking my door with their strange 1960s card with holes in it (metal pieces in the door lock would trigger if the holes on the card matched the lock pieces?); I sat down & my mood instantly skyrocketed as No Country For Old Men was on the television!! I had been kicking myself for not bringing the movie which made me want to visit West Texas (I did bring the book), so this was just a fantastic coincidence.
I should have already cheered up just because I was in Galveston, but this righted the ship. It wouldn't be an early start tomorrow, as I was relaxing & watching this entire film.
Onto Day 5...
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1 - Calcasieu River - Wikipedia
2 - Cameron Louisiana - Wikipedia
3 - Point Bolivar Lighthouse - TLC - http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/point-bolivar-lighthouse.htm
4 - American Bank Center - Wikipedia