2014 Western Road Trip Day 4, Thursday May 8th

It was a gray morning as we pulled out of Monroe, LA. Where most places have a local weather report, Monroe’s weather is called the “hunting & fishing” forecast. My cold is still driving me nuts so our first order of business was to search for a place to buy some Coricidin cold tablets. The first place that I spotted with a pharmacy at a place named Freds. Freds is a cross between Safeway, Woolworth, Rite Aide, and Home Depot. You could spend half the day in there marveling at how much junk that one can stuff into one store. Amazing!

I think that the best part of tripping all over hells half acre in search of National Park stamps is the variety of things you get to see along the way.  Today most of our route was along the El Camino East/ West Corridor.

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Our route took us through all manner of agriculture, pine forests, oil wells, chain gangs, and tailgating by an State of Louisiana inmate transport vehicle.

Our first stop was the Oakland Plantation which was founded in 1785 by a gentleman named Jean Pierre Emanuel Prud’homme after receiving a Spanish land grant. The property remained in his family until 1994 when it was designated as a National Historic Land mark. The family donated it to the National Park Service with all furnishings and equipment and it was established as Cane River-Creole National Historic Park. All of the buildings were the ones originally on the plantation and not relocated to the property. One of the nicest things about the park is that you are free to roam about the property on a self- guided tour and take as much time as you like. Truly a unique place that gives you a great perspective on the size and complexity of a plantation.

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Oakland Plantation Manor House

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Manor house

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Rear of manor house

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Plantation store

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Plantation store

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Overseers House

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Multiple layers of original oilcloth floor covering

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Giant Live Oak trees were plentiful

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Two other plantations Montrose Plantation and Magnolia Plantation are nearby. Montrose plantation is run by a non-profit and is not part of the National Park system.

The Magnolia Plantation which is part of the National Park service, is in the process of renovation and is not open to the public.

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Our next stop was a three hour drive away in Texas. It started to rain  and is coming down at a good rate. Our GPS is taking us on a route that seems to be like “going around Robin Hood’s barn” but is in fact the most direct route. You have to love Texas, two lane narrow road, 75 MPH speed limit.

We arrived at our destination, The Big Thicket National Preserve. We arrived in time to view the movie and look around the static exhibits before the visitors center closed. Big Thicket has forests, arid sandy land, wetlands, bottom land, and swamp. It is inhabited by snakes, bobcats, alligators armadillos, and all kind of bid and insect species. Had the area not been designated a National Preserve, all of the natural resources would have been depleted for commercial purposes. We would have taken one of the short hikes but the rain kept coming.

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static swamp display with alligator

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Armadillo display

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Model of insect eating plant

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We left the Big Thicket and our plan was to head toward Padre Island, spending the night somewhere close to Beaumont, TX. As luck would have it, our GPS took us via the Houston, TX route. After getting stuck for over an hour going 10 miles in rush hour traffic, we ended up pulling off at Sugarland, TX just south of Houston and getting a room at a Drury Inn for the night.

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Houston Freeways look like Los Angeles

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Houston skyline

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Joel’s Mega Church

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Stopped traffic as far as one can see

Tomorrow we continue to Padre Island, TX.

Babs Says: My 55 year old love affair with Houston has come to an end.  Its demise began with the move of the Oilers to Tennessee and was finalized today by smog, sprawl, and sameness. Houston will always have a place in my heart as the new, modern city built by risks, oil, and dreams of space.

 

 

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