Sunday, October 22, 2006

Excursion: Cameron Parish

After visiting my parents over Memorial Day we headed home. On the way back we stopped at the Louisiana Welcome Center to pick up a current Louisiana state road map and a Tourist Guide. The Tourist Guide was not worth the gas to haul it to New Orleans. The road map was interesting and seemed to have been updated since Katrina/Rita, showing road closures.

As I have written we had begun looking for weekend escapes. A couple of years ago we had spent a pleasurable night a Madewood Plantation. Madewood is an interesting place located on the bayou and offers a interesting take on a Bed and Breakfast. They include dinner and cocktails in the bed and breakfast. We met several interesting people and had a very nice dinner. It was great. I was looking for similar opportunities.

As She drove back I studied the map and guide book looking for interesting possibilities. As I stared at the map, a new name jumped out at me, Holly Beach. Beach. I never associated beach with Louisiana, although I am ignorant of Southwest Louisiana. The possibilities made my head swim.

After reaching home I began to obsess over the possibilities. I searched the Internet and discovered that on the Southwest Louisiana coast is a virtually virgin beach with incredible natural beauty.

Oil Exploration in the Marsh.

I began to plan an Excursion. The areas had been rural to begin with and had been devastated by Hurricane Rita. Eventually I determined that the most scenic route would be through the I-49 Corridor to Abbeville. With a day trip along The Creole Nature Trail to the coast and back to Lake Charles. The final leg was a straight shot on I-10 back to New Orleans.

In June we embarked on the Excursion.

The trip through Southwest Louisiana revealed incredible natural beauty, with natural swamps, marshes and occasional wooded islands.

Marsh along the Creole Trail

We "discovered" a bed and breakfast in the charming town of Abbeville. The house is a charming Victorian cottage which would be right at home in many areas of New Orleans. The best thing about Abbeville is that there are several old, excellent seafood restaurants.

Abbeville, Louisiana home of the "Blob".

We chose Dupuy's Oyster Shop. Dupuy's claims to be the oldest oyster restaurant. It was established in the mid-nineteenth century. Unfortunately we visited in June. Dupuy's adheres to the age old rule, no oysters in months with no "R". Fortunately they fry everything else just as well.

Dupuy's Oyster Shop

Heading south from Abbeville generally along the Creole Nature Trail again through the incredible natural beauty of coastal Louisiana. As we progressed we saw increasing signs of the devastation of Hurricane Rita. Usually the damage was isolated as were many of the structures. the impact of Rita became clear when we passed through Grand Chenier, which was simply wiped off the map. The piles of debris had been largely removed by the time we visited. Non the less we passed many many vehicles washed far into the marsh or former building sites which were now mere slabs or bare spots in the dirt.

Grand Chenier

As we headed further on toward the areas of Oak Grove and Creole, the story remained the same. Natural beauty punctuated by brief intervals of nearly total devastation.

As we approached Cameron the scene began to change. The industrial areas became for frequent the damage became less complete. Most of the industrial installations appeared to have survived quite well. There was evidence of damage but it was limited and there were signs of repair.

Cypress Swamp

Not knowing what to expect we had planned to fill up in Abbeville and carry our own food an water with us. We weren't sure we could buy food fuel or water in south Cameron. We were too conservative. We could have gotten gas in a number of places and although no restaurants appeared to be operating we could have gotten something to eat. In any event after a full breakfast our precautions were excessive.

Fishing Boats at Cameron.

At Cameron we crossed the ferry and continued along the coast road. We were soon on the beach and it is a magnificent scenic vista. The beach is virtually undeveloped with a long slope and gentle surf. The sand is hard an easy to drive on.

Holly Beach, post-Rita

The first area of development we encountered was Holly Beach. the same name on the map which had excited this Excursion. It no longer existed. I had seen pre-Rite areal photos of Holly Beach which showed neat rows of small beach cottages. They were all gone. Nothing more than sand was left.

There are several other beach communities along the Louisiana Coast which were almost as devastated. Here and there individual structures remained. Some damaged some almost pristine. The condition of the structures correlated to two factors, age and location. These two factors seemed to coincide. the newest structures seemed to be both better constructed and further West.

The Drive By complete we headed to our accommodation's for the night. We were unable to find accommodation's we liked. Instead we ended up at L'Auberge du Lac Casino in Lake Charles.

L'Auberge du Lac

I'm sorry I just don't get Las Vegas and I certainly don't get faux Vegas. For a while I enjoyed going to Beau Rivage, which offered an enjoyable experience. Vegas and its mini-me clones don't offer anything to me except a false experience of pseudo opulence and pseudo hedonism. But then I think gambling is fairly uninteresting and relatively dull pastime.

After spending a lot of money on a ho hum room and a couple of mediocre meals we checked out and headed home.


Tim said...

Glad to see that gambling is not on your "to-do" list. Beautiful photos, nice travel log. I'm afraid we're going to have reminders of Katrina and Rita for many, many years.



mominem said...

None of the photos I publish here are mine. I search the Internet for examples of what I'm writing about.

I sort of decided that as a matter of style shortly after I started. It fits with my use of a pseudonym.

Audrey said...

Nice blog, I see you state that no pictures on your blog are yours. Bad idea . A lot of photos posted on the internet are copyright , they belong to someone. Hope you were good enough to ask permission of the photo's owner to use them.
Photographers take there photo copyright very seriously. You could end up in a court battle. I have been very upset once by use of my work with out permission. Needless to say I won my court battle. Just a friendly heads up on useing photographic work of others.

mominem said...

I believe that the my includsion of the limited images I use falls within the fair use and commentary exceptions for copyright.

I don't think anyone should mind my limited, non commercial use.