Day 6: 01/01/2016 – Lake Livingston, TX

Destination: Lake Livingston, TX

Route: I-10W, US-287N/US69-N, FM-1293W, TX-146N, US-190W

Mileage: 219

New state: Texas

Day6Route

 

We are back on I-10W in Louisiana! The road improves slightly west of Lafayette as the ground it is built on turns from swamp to real land. We are initially concerned after crossing into Texas because the first 5 or so miles are rough due to construction. The construction ends and the road is concrete and as smooth as glass. A true joy to travel on. Thank you Texas, thank you.

The speed limits in Texas, even on the county/farm roads, are 70 mph as a minimum. We can only dream of obtaining these speeds in Abby without the trailer; with the trailer the speed limit is truly out of reach. We push on and pull on to the shoulder to let cars pass as needed. We are quickly learning that on beautifully straight roads, good sight lines, passing zone, and no one coming, Texans are highly reluctant to pass. Perhaps they would prefer and element of danger, but it becomes annoying very quickly moving over every time a car is on our tail when we are in a perfectly viable passing zone.

We arrive at Dave’s cousin’s family’s lake house (how is that for a string of possessives?), park the RV at the top of the hill, and settle in for an evening of drinks and laughs with family. The drinks are strong and everyone is having a great time, even the dogs who get to participate in some off leash frolicking. Someone happens to mention the model train set and that is okay to try and run it. Thanks to the liquid confidence, Jess decides to try. There is some success! Two trains get moving and Alex provides supplemental sound effects with ‘too too’.

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Dave with his vodka cranberry by the lake.
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Jess and Alex running the train set.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just before Alex’s bedtime, we realize his portable crib is still at the RV, and the hill is awful steep. Lake house gator to the rescue! We drive to the RV, collect Alex’s bedtime gear, manage to misplace his pajamas along the way, and return to the house to tuck a little boy in. A few more hours of relaxing, then we get to carry Alex (Jess) and his crib (Dave) back up the hill.

Day 5: 12/31/2015 – New Orleans and Lafayette, LA

Destination: Lafayette KOA, Scott, LA via New Orleans

Route: US 98W, FL 281N, I-10W,

Mileage: 379

New states: Mississippi, Louisiana

Day5Route

We finally made the right turn to head west! And thanks to that stationary front, we enjoyed more rain. With Google Maps providing the directions, our route includes FL 281N and we pay a $7.50 toll to travel 1.5 miles. We knew we would be on a toll road, but weren’t expecting to be subject to highway robbery.

We join I-10W, which takes us out of Florida and right back to Alabama, then into Mississippi. It is amazing how smooth a road can be without frost heaves. Our romance with I-10W quickly hit rough spots in Louisiana, but nothing we couldn’t tough out. We are looking forward to our lunch stop with our friend Serene, who moved to New Orleans 9 months ago. We chose to meet at City Park because of the large parking lot available and the relative safety during day light hours.

Driving to City Park is eye opening. It is shocking how parts of the city clearly haven’t recovered from Hurricane Katrina (2005). The dichotomy of adjacent neighborhoods is striking. The roads especially reflect the hardships of New Orleans. We struggle to find a direct route to our meeting location in City Park due to road closures; those that we did travel on were in such disrepair the concrete had turned to gravel.

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Abby parked at City Park in New Orleans.

Serene is kind enough to drive us to Brown Butter Southern Kitchen and Bar a restaurant serving southern style food. There is no way we can find parking for Abby and trailer in the city streets. Dave is thrilled to try the poutine sandwich. (If you are unfamiliar with poutine, a trip to Canada, specifically Quebec, is highly recommended to get this delicious frite dish smothered with cheese kurds and gravy. Just devine.), Serene orders a pimento cheese sandwich, and Jess has the buttermilk chicken and waffle sandwich. Alex decides to apply his culinary license to create an open faced sandwich by stealing one of Jess’ waffles.

After a leisurely lunch, we return to the RV so we can push on to our destination for the night; Serene has a long night at work to report to. On the road again, I-10W, even in its poor condition, is a relief from the streets of New Orleans. This relief is short lived because I-10W quickly becomes a teeth-rattling, bone-jarring road where the concrete joints are emphasized every nine feet. We drop our speed to 45 mph from to ensure that we arrive to the KOA mostly intact. Genuine relief is felt when we arrive at the KOA. The unexpected speed reduction has added significant time to our travel day.

The Lafayette KOA is technically in Scott, LA and is only 0.1 miles from I-10; a more careful inspection of the map would have revealed this and we may have selected a different campground. The sites are very cozy, typical of what one would expect from a commercial campground and small enough that large rigs may have trouble getting in or out of their assigned spot.

Our spot is near the laundry and restrooms. Even though we have been on the road less than a week, Jess decides seize the opportunity and wash our accumulated dirty clothing. Bathroom facilities were clean and there was hot water and plenty of water pressure. With New Year’s Eve came the fireworks set off by the other campers. Rain, now welcomed with open arms, arrives to puts a stop to the fun. Well done rain, well done.