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Published: July 13th 2019
Well, we made it through the storm zone. When we left the hotel this morning at 7 AM and 81 degrees, the air was as thick as it often is, when a huge storm is brewing off the coast. The skies were brimming with black billowy rain clouds and the humidity was just hanging in the air like a wet blanket. We were under the outer bands of a storm and it was a familiar feeling, having been through more than our share of hurricanes over the past 20 years. We drove through a number of rain bands on our trip across Alabama and Mississippi and into Louisiana, but by the time we got to Lafayette, the skies began to clear and the rest of the day was partly sunny. The gamble paid off and we are now clear sailing.
Along the interstate today, we saw several convoys of trucks driving along the puddled roadways…electric company trucks…loaded down with all kinds of equipment, presumably staging a recovery, should there be a disaster in this area. One group was from Gainesville, FL. And we saw a long convoy of army vehicles…sand colored dump trucks, camo armored vehicles, bobcats, and all sorts
of equipment. I have no idea where they were going, since they were west of Baton Rouge and moving westward. Interestingly, on this humid 87 degree day, the drivers were all dressed like they were going to war, with flack jackets, gloves and combat helmets. I don’t know where the war is. Perhaps they are headed for the border of Mexico. Or perhaps just a training mission. But this convoy was having an impact on the highway, as cars were slowing down to take a look at this odd sight. All I can say is, these are good men doing an important job and I was glad to see them carrying out their mission.
We made our way over and through the iconic bayous of the gulf coast, on old raised roadways that spanned as long as 20 miles at a stretch. With water and marsh all around us, there was little relief from the monotony of the hackneyed cement, dirtied by years and years of road soil and rusting rebar. The road hovers close to the water, rising occasionally to cross a river or lake and the failing cement pavement made for a bumpy ride. But it carried
us to Mobile and Lafayette and Baton Rouge and onward to the west. We had expected a lot of traffic from evacuating residents of the lowlands, but were surprised not to find much at all. It seems that the residents of Louisiana are hale and hardy folks and most remained to weather the storm rather than running from it.
When we got to Westlake, the horizon became filled with monstrous tangles of steel piping and sooty chimneys. Oil refineries are everywhere and they cover the landscape for miles and miles. We turned the car south toward Holly Beach and, with the exception of some nicely located houses on stilts sitting by the gulf shore, we saw even more of the refineries littering the sky. And injected within them were the occasional natural gas plants with their chimneys afire with burning fuel. There are a lot of jobs here. And we followed many of the workers up the road as their shifts were ending and they were heading home, many in the same direction as we were, toward Beaumont, TX.
We arrived at our hotel around 5 PM and settled in for the night. Tomorrow, San Antonio.
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