Saturday, October 3, 2009

Zydeco, Frogs, and Gushers

10113 - 10415

Wow. Well over ten thousand miles...

My sister Sarah claims that there is "nothing" between Baton Rouge and Houston. When her daughter (and my niece) Kate was in New Orleans at Tulane and then with Chevron, Sarah made the journey many times. But I beg to differ...

For starters, from Baton Rouge to Lafayette is the Atchafalaya Swamp Freeway, an 18-mile bridge across the Atchafalaya River and its accompanying swamp. I got in the spirit listening to zydeco music and imagining all nature of critters living down there.

Then there is Rayne, Louisiana. A large metal frog statue greets visitors to Rayne. He's even dressed up in a top hat. Besides this happy frog, there are several murals painted on buildings around town and on the underpass for Interstate 10. Rayne claims to be the Frog Capital of the World and you can tell they are very proud of their frogs.

And what about Beaumont, Texas? It is Home of the World's (3rd) Largest Fire Hydrant. Apparently it was once the World's Largest Fire Hydrant, but has since been supplanted. At 24 feet high it is still impressive! It was built by Disney to promote the re-release of the animated 101 Dalmatians, and then found a willing permanent venue in front of Beaumont's venerable Fire Museum of Texas, a 1920s-era fire station where vintage trucks, historic nozzles and firebells are exhibited.

Also in Beaumont is the Boomtown Museum. Here the world's first oil boomtown is recreated with typical clapboard buildings of the era, including a post office, a saloon, and wooden oil derricks. The Lucas Gusher Monument (25 feet tall, barely taller than the Fire Hydrant) commemorates the beginning of the world's modern petroleum industry that began with the 1901 gusher drilled by Anthony F. Lucas.

Before crossing into Texas I had stopped at the Isle of Capri Casino in Lake Charles, Louisiana to further stimulate the local economy. I had wanted to stop at Harrah's Casino, but I could not find it. Good reason: it was "Rita-sized" according to a patron at Isle of Capri: washed away in Hurricane Rita. Casinos are a good spot to find Hummers.

Finally into Houston. The setting sun against petroleum laced smog makes for a pretty picture.

I will be in Houston for a couple of weeks, so entries may be spotty. But y'all check back now, hear? The Excellent Adventure is far from over...