We arrived at IAH at 1030 this morning for A’s flight. Mine doesn’t leave until 2055, so I’ve had ample time to bring this tale up to date, and to think about how it ends.
Houston isn’t far from Sulphur, so A. suggested we drive to Lake Houston Park for a hike before diving into the city to find our last hotel.
I was driving, so there are fewer photos. I can say that as we started west the landscape looked like Louisiana, swamp and cypress beside the road, and it continued to look like Louisiana even after we crossed into Texas, except that there were more Lone Stars and American flags, and fewer mentions of ‘Cajun’ in business names. Although there are still Cajun restaurants in Houston.
Gradually the trees changed. More long needle pines, some cottonwood, no cypress. No Spanish Moss hanging from any of them.
Our faithful steed for 1500-odd miles.
The park map was a trifle sketchy, but to be fair we think new paths are created and die more quickly than they can be recorded. There was a slow tea-coloured river flowing across sand banks.
It was remarkably quiet under the trees; we walked for over two hours during which time we heard one squirrel and saw another, heard and saw about four birds. Despite carefully and quietly surveying sunlit banks and bridges I saw only two dark lizards that weren’t much more than blurs as they whipped into cover.
We did see a lot of disturbed ground, path margins and patches of undergrowth that looked as though they’d been lightly dug over.
We’ve never seen anything quite like it and were at a loss until A. said ‘pig?’ and as is often the case (alas) he was probably right. There was no one to ask as the nature centre was closed, but the internet told us that feral hogs are a widespread nuisance across most of Texas. On the Atchafalaya Al mentioned the same thing: there is no closed season on hogs because they do so much damage to crops and wildlife habitats.
We did see some interesting plants, including the virulent purple American Beautyberry, which looks to me as though it’s either poisonous or the feedstock for Thrills chewing gum.
But apparently it’s edible if very astringent. An extraordinarily spiny thing with fuzzy orange fruit proved to be the trifoliate orange, introduced from Asia. It’s the hardiest citrus relative, surviving -10 to -20F, and makes an excellent hedging plant.
We sat in the rocking chairs on the porch of the nature centre and ate our lunch.
The last of the moon pies we bought in Vidalia (I was curious). We watched a sheriff’s car drive 50yds to the toilet block, then return to a spot in the hot sun and sit with the engine running, presumably for the AC on full. Very strange; we park in the shade, AC or not.
Then we returned to the car and used the phone’s GPS to be sure we found the hotel. And this morning we took the car back, and now I’m in Houston and A. has just messaged me to say he’s landed in Toronto.
It’s been a good holiday, in fact better than I’d expected. Possibly three days too long – we were ready to go home three days ago – but we can’t think of anything we would have been willing to miss, save perhaps Lake Houston Park. Usually our major holidays centre on ‘wild’ or scenic natural areas; this was the first time we’ve spent time on semi-cultural things such as music and food. And it was both interesting and enjoyable, although when A’s knee heals we’ll be better able to earn the food by walking.
Speaking of food, this is what we’ve eaten where, with totally subjective three-star ratings. I’ll do TripAdvisor when I’m not typing on the phone!
New Orleans: Eat New Orleans ***
New Orleans: Three Muses, Frenchmen St **
New Orleans: Bamboula, Frenchmen St ** (but the music was ***)
New Orleans: French Market Café **
Natchez: King’s Tavern *** an’ a tiger for house-made bread, superb beer and a kitchen tour to see and talk about the wood-fired oven.
Natchez: Cotton Alley Café ** Trying far too hard; if it doesn’t come naturally, you haven’t got what it takes.
Alexandria: Wildwood Café ***
Morgan City: Suzie’s Seafood *** It is what it is, a bit rough and ready but the fried seafood is delicious. Well worth the indigestion 🙂
Morgan City: Rita Mae’s *** home-cooked Creole, utterly delicious.
Morgan City: Eastgate Barbecue ***
Lake Charles: Rosita’s *** home-cooked real Mexican. I ate nopal! It was excellent!
Lake Charles: Quaker Steak & Lube *.5 What can I say, it was Sunday, there were only two places open and the other one didn’t serve beer.
Houston: the hotel bar*.5 ordinary but hey, easy walking distance and beer.