Day 4: The Bayou Coast
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

I got an early-ish start. I'd found a place for breakfast on the internet that showed promise, but once I started moving it felt too good to stop. Finally I worked out of the LaFayette traffic and bummed around back roads heading south to the coast.

Houses here are strange. Often roofs are extremely tall. A one story ranch will sometimes have a roof that comes up at 45 degrees and rises two stories. There are no signs of windows or dormers or anything. It's as though it has a cathedral attic. I suspect this must relate to hurricane resistance, although it seems like such a roof would catch the force of a lot of wind. Often the houses have a basic 50s ranch appearance, with a few small columns near the front entrance. Almost all are new, even far out from the coast. This could be just growth but I wonder if Hurrican Rita brought damage that far inland.

As I move down to the coast houses are nearly always on stilts, and are all new looking, bright siding and new metal roofs. Much of the area along the road is lined with man-made small canals, all of which seem to lead out towards the ocean miles away. Towns are few, most of the road is just a line through the wet plains.

In Grand Chenier and Cameron, there are some lots with bare slabs, and a few older houses, with chunks missing and signs of stalled repairs. Mostly though it's new. These towns were obliterated from Rita. Things are generally cleaned up, although at one point I passed a minivan, marooned fifty feet off in the weeds.

There are oil rigs and shrimp boats in the distance, lots of truck traffic on the road. People are busy. Taking a ferry I get to Holly Beach, a completely exposed beach town with more stilt houses. I'm finally looking out directly over the ocean. There appear to be small sandy lots, some with RVs. There is a grid of streets but few structures. The whole thing doesn't make sense until I see the photo of what this place was like before Rita.

I press onward and into Texas things start to turn industrial, large scale. I'm well inland before I find somewhere to eat - some excellent pulled pork at a roadside trailer. I'm confused about the south. I can't find anywhere to eat. It might be that some of these small towns don't have a formal restaurant; perhaps it's just that on friday and saturday a certain trailer opens its doors, or some other improptu thing that a visitor might just fly right by.

The way the bayou transitions into inland Texas is a bit scattered. Once everything dries out a little, there are dense forests, plains, and everything in between. I'm well into the heat now, when I stop I gulp a liter of gatorade or unsweetened iced tea or water in minutes (I always have a taste for exactly one of those, so I go with it).

I end up in Bryan, an older Texas town with a classic downtown that seems very healthy. Still it seems empty. Throughout this trip, everything has seemed empty. Big restaurants with only two tables filled, towns that look clean and kept with little traffic. I'm used to towns with a modest cafe or burger joint, but here it seems I'm either going through poor working towns, off the truck routes, that can't support any restaurant, or bigger places in towns trying to go for the tourist buck, which doesn't seem to be coming. I can only guess the recession is keeping residents at home and tourists away. Constantly things seem not just overbuilt, but recently overbuilt.

A "gourmet" restaurant with good reviews shows promise but only serves dinner on the weekends. I shuffle over to a mexican place. It's BYOB; I have no B. The place is big and completely empty. It looks decades old, the walls are lined with signed photos and other assorted garage sale items. I ask if anywhere nearby has beer to sell and the owner can't think of any; he is friendly, and offers me one for free with dinner.

The food is not very good.

[ tags: audrey beach dmc-lx3 holly hurricane louisiana motorcycle rita travel ]

Day 4: Holly Beach
Copyright © Erik Pennebaker, All rights reserved

The cement stilts might date back to hurricane Audrey in 1957, which also obliterated this area.
[ tags: audrey dmc-lx3 hurricane louisiana motorcycle rita travel ]

<-- prev   |   next -->   |   current   |   random 20090901 Photo[s] of the Day: Untitled