We’re definitely not in the desert anymore. The journey east continues with not only green fields, but now the Sam Houston National Forest, the first real forest I’ve seen in a long time.
Best of all, this stop was a complete accident. We were simply following Google’s route around Houston toward Port Arthur, and ended up driving through it. We went over a bridge across a lake, and Birgit wanted to check it out. It was earlier than our planned mid-day stop, but nobody cared. Places like this are what this life is all about. She found a turn that went down to a boat ramp, which told me I would have no problem turning around at the end. We parked at the end and enjoyed a couple of hours there.
Can you blame us? This place is beautiful, and the trees provided some welcome shade from the hot sun (temperatures were in the 80s today, a far cry from the continuing cold in Quartzsite). I pulled up a chair at a picnic table next to the parking lot and set myself up there with Lister for a while. The icing on the cake would’ve been if I could’ve finished my day’s work there, but there wasn’t enough cell service to get any meaningful amount of data through. I wasn’t exactly crying. I had lunch, relaxed, and enjoyed good company with my travel buddies. Birgit and Tom even grabbed free showers at the campground bathroom.
Lister very much enjoyed the soft bed of leaves in this area. I’m not sure if he’s ever experienced this before since we’ve been in the desert for fall ever since we hit the road. He was so satisfied that he even willingly shared the shade under the table with Chase, Amy’s dog. Those two have actually come to a truce, amazingly. They’re not buddies or anything, but Lister no longer attacks him on sight, the way he’s typically done with dogs in the past.
We continued on, heading for yet another Chateau Walmart in West Orange, Texas. The geography continued to evolve, and we began driving over bridges crossing bayous. I’d never seen a bayou before, but we’re getting quite close to Louisiana, so this makes perfect sense. The driving itself has been straightforward but challenging for me to maintain speeds even close to the posted limits. My van just isn’t fast enough to do the 70-75 mph speed limit on two-lane back roads we saw sometimes. Fortunately there are frequent passing lanes, so the line of traffic we hold up doesn’t get too long.
We pulled into Chateau Walmart in the late afternoon. There wasn’t much shade to be had, but the hot sun went down fairly quickly. Birgit and I parked as far apart as we did to keep our respective tethered cats out of a nest of fire ants on the edge of the parking lot. Both cats got a good deal of time outside to explore.
Speaking of heat, I noticed that while my air conditioning still worked, it wasn’t very strong, and I was still quite warm in the middle of the day. I walked into Walmart, walked out with an AC recharge kit, and charged up my system right there in the parking lot. I mean, where else am I going to do it? It could probably use a bit more than one can, but it’s already blowing much colder air, so we’ll see how it does tomorrow and if the second can is necessary.
West Orange is practically on the border between Texas and Louisiana. The gold star is Quartzsite, where I started, and the blue dot is where we are right now. I’ve covered a lot of distance, and am more than halfway to the Tampa, Florida area. Waiting a year to do the Big Loop was the right decision. I’ve been paying less than $3/gallon on gas across Texas, and it was nearly double that last year.
Meanwhile, Lister and I enjoyed our last Texas sunset for the foreseeable future. Tomorrow we enter Louisiana, my first new state in a long time.
Having grown up in the Houston area, I can tell you that you basically hit the “southern end” of East Texas there. And as to Arizona, here in Benson, southwest of Tuscon, we’re supposed to be getting “AM Snow Showers” tomorrow morning and temps down to 25°. WHAT?!?
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Didn’t you go to Arizona for winter to get AWAY from that weather? I sure did! And I’m not regretting leaving early…
Glad you’re not cold anymore and are seeing some lovely sites (meaning not just brown anymore, lol). Love keeping up with your and Lister’s adventures- stay safe! Will you be coincidence to MA sometime? Would love to see you (and Lister)!
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Yes! Once it’s warm enough to be habitable I’m heading back to New England to clear out my storage unit in NH and visit friends up there. Consider yourself on the list!