Travel Guides and Tips from Nerds on the Road

The Marshy Road to Somewhere

destructohouse
destructohouse

Louisiana has been one of my main goals of this trip and we finally made it late Saturday night. Of course this was after a surprise mechanical failure or two. We only drove the RV twice during our stay. Prior to our new u-joints in El Cajon we had a similar vibration so we called a couple Sears in town to see if they would check and maybe guarantee their work. Both places ultimately refused to check out the RV because it wouldn’t fit in their garage, so they claimed, even though the garages are probably the same at every Sears and we fit fine into the El Cajon one. Either way, we ended up having to go to Firestone instead who agreed to check it out while we went to get some food. When we came back they said the problem was most likely related to the rear differential, and/or our transmission. While Ross was talking to someone about the risks of driving with a bad differential, I checked the tranny fluid to find out that it was about a full 3 quarts low. This was a surprise since we didn’t need to check it till California last time – for the first time since we bought it in August. It had suddenly started going through tranny fluid really fast. We put in a partial bottle and made it to a nearby auto parts store for some tranny stop leak and several more quarts.

We didn’t get out of town till after 4 and still had many many hours of driving left. Luckily.. our Alternator stopped working before we even got out of Texas. It wasnt quite dark yet which was good because our headlights didnt have enough power. When the engine started to sputter as the spark plugs lost power, we tried to pull into a gas station but instead of a safe place to park we stalled in the entrance and had to roll back into the emergency lane of the highway. We parked there for an hour while we charged the battery with the generator and watched some saturday night live on the gas stations internet. After a charge we moved to a real parking spot and took off the engine cover to check out the alternator. A large black wire was completely detached so we found our problem easily enough, at least we didn’t have to wait all night for a mechanic or worse – several days like we did in Tonopah Nevada the last time we have Alternator problems.

We got into Louisiana about midnight – I think – and headed south as per the GPS to the town of Creole. Now.. we made a bit of a mistake, as per our random and hopeful nature, in heading south from the main freeway 40 miles in search of a place whose number was disconnected and had no reviews online. I wanted so bad for there to be an RV park in a tiny little “town” called Creole in the Louisiana Bayou. Once we arrived to some supposed location and found only houses on stilts (which was awesome), we looked again at the maps and found another possible RV park in the next town to the west. While driving that direction, a 27 mile drive, I noticed something odd about the road. It stopped as soon as it got to a river that connected a lake to the Gulf of Mexico. GPS was telling us a ferry was up ahead, something we didn’t at all expect. I looked it up on my iphone and it turned out that it runs 24 hours a day and connects southern Louisiana commuters to Texas. We then had the worry of whether or not they would take a vehicle our size but we imagined they probably would and continued on. The alternative was a 110 miles drive completely about the lake so we took our chances.

When we arrived at Holly Beach, we drove in circles in the 3 street town looking for any signs of an RV park. A good number of people in the area lived in trailers and 5th wheels, their property set up like a personal RV park with hookups and a driveway for their truck. I imagine they all work on the ships and factories in the area as there certainly weren’t any other business around. Some lots were abandoned with things strewn about as if they’d left in a rush. When hurricanes are an almost yearly thing, having a motor home or trailer is probably the smartest thing you can do. Weather gets bad – take your home and family to Baton Rouge – your land will still be there when you get back and much less of a mess to clean up if you don’t have a building to pick up. It was already 6am by the time we stopped looking for the park and we were both getting fairly sick. Our colds started in Austin, but driving and a change of climate did us no favors and I went to bed with a sinus benadryl. We parked at the end of a dead end road next to a fire hydrant hoping to get a few hours of sleep.

The area really reminded me of Salton Sea. In Holly beach especially, there were lots for sale on the few roads – one directly on the beach. It looked pretty much like Salton City minus the desert. But in Holly beach there is no motel and not even a proper store. One trailer had a coke machine outside and a sign, it vaguely looked like it might be a store but not enough to go check.

We woke up at 11am with a vehicle directly outside our door. I pulled back the curtain to see a work truck – I hoped not a tow truck – running with no one inside it. While we scrambled to figure out what to do and who it was they started to leave. It was a fireman, although not really a fire truck, who may have been checking to see we weren’t blocking the hydrant or possibly if the RV was abandoned. Really odd since the hydrant wasn’t even anywhere near any buildings and it was muddy and wet out so a brush fire was unlikely. Either way, no ticket, so we were glad.

On the drive east towards prospective RV parks – along the coast/marshes, other towns had brick buildings that looked fairly stable although I saw a highschool in Cameron with bricks pulled straight out of the wall – just holes where they were. Minimal damage compared to what probably happens to the people who have built in a week style houses and buildings, some even not on stilts. The towns looked more like giant construction sites with their office trailer buildings except some with boats and 3 flights of stairs to the front door. The houses themselves were giant car ports for boats and trucks. I still wondered what people did with all their cars when the flooding came. Their house might be safe but what about all the stuff under their house? I guess they just move it all early enough. One lot was particularly depressing because everything left outside was fairly valuable – a nice weight set, kids bike, basketball hoop and huge generator. They obviously left in a hurry. There was a tire swing on the tree that survived the storm and must have been an interesting thing to see flapping in the wind. Graveyards seemed about every 2 miles at times, some with the concrete grave boxes sticking half out of the ground and disheveled. Of course branches and logs everywhere you looked, making the already cluttered swamp even more of a beautiful disaster area. Having a dog is a great reason to take photos as a dog chenas age pees pretty often – digital photos here and film coming soon!

We got into Baton Rouge at 1am the next evening, stopping at an Equestrian park that happened to have RV hookups but was no RV park. Early morning we moved to Night RV park and so far its been a genuine Baton Rouge experience with a neighbour named Butch and an invitation to a Super Bowl party.

ross cemetery
ross at the cemetery



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