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A few years in North, Central & South America
By Jeff Kruys - (contact)

Feb. 10, 2010: near Bridge City TX to near Hayes

Wednesday February 10, 2010, 133 km (83 miles) - Total so far: 74,308 km (46,172 miles)

Cold again this morning, one degree below freezing in the tent in fact. But the wind wasn't quite as bad as yesterday. Still it had me packing up slowly and at 8am I finally got moving very slowly into Bridge City, where I stopped at the only shop in town, Wal-Mart, to buy a pair of thermal underwear. North of here, the four-lane highway lost its nice shoulder, but rush hour was over already so it wasn't a big problem. The small city of Orange, the easternmost city in Texas, had a couple of interesting old buildings (the usual, a fancy house built some some rich railroad tycoon or cattle baron in the early 1900s or so). Then I made my way up to the I-10 for my first Interstate HIghway experience since I've been back in the USA. Nobody tried to prevent me from getting onto it, and in fact it was in a bit worse shape than most of the lesser highways in Texas that I've seen.

I made a stop at the Texas Travel Information Center right near the Louisiana border, because they are supposed to have free wireless internet, and I was hoping they'd have electrical outlets because the computer battery was down to zero. They had the outlets, but I couldn't get on the internet. There was no password to connect to the wireless service, but every web page I tried to load was redirected to a username/password page. So I was now 0 for 2 in my attempts to get free internet from the Texas Dept of Transportation.

I moved on to the Louisiana info place, which was just on the other side of the border. No internet was promised here, so I didn't try. I got a free road map and a list of camping places in the state, although it fits in a little pamphlet so I imagine it is not a comprehensive list. But at least they say the price ranges for each one. Some of these RV parks are charging like $30 a night minimum. What a racket. A guy in the parking lot came over to my bike and made the very nice gesture of handing me a plastic bag full of leftover barbecued meat, haha, very thoughtful, and I spent some time in the picnic area eating it with some bread I had. I imagine this is not the last time that something like this will happen, especially down here in the southeast USA, and since food costs so much, and I'm not particularly rich, I will make it my policy not to refuse it. I'll be vegetarian when I'm feeding myself though.

I got off of the I-10 in favour of highway 90 with runs roughly parallel to it into Lake Charles. The 90 had no shoulders but the traffic was light, until I got close to Sulphur which is a town merging into Lake Charles. I sat down on a bench somewhere and tried my luck with wifi, but there was nothing unsecured. Then I studied my GPS and made what I thought might be a smart move, hopping onto the I-210 which kind of bypasses the city center and would take me to highway 14. The I-210 went over a long bridge with four lanes and no shoulder, and the traffic was pretty wild by now. Well actually there was a shoulder about a foot and a half wide. It climbed quite a bit at a 5% grade so it was slow going, but I only heard one vehicle out of hundreds honk angrily at me. My biggest problem was these metal grill strips at every joint in the bridge surface which were very good at swallowing bike tires. I had to step off the bike and gingerly roll over these to keep the wheels from going into a gap and then slamming into the corner as it popped back up out of it. Not sure if I'm describing this well, but I'm sure all you city cyclists know more or less what I'm talking about.

It was mid-afternoon and schools were letting out, so traffic was a nightmare for the rest of my passage through this city which was much bigger than I thought. I reached the junction with the 14 and headed south, four lanes with no shoulder at first, then two lanes with no shoulder. I'm seeing a disturbing pattern to Louisiana highways; none of them have any shoulders, except interstates. Oh well, traffic thinned out the farther I went. It was just flat farmland out here, although this highway is designated as a "scenic byway". I'd hate to see the non-scenic roads. Once I got past Bell City and Hayes, the farmland gave way to swamp with occasional farms. Near dusk, I was getting desperate for a place to camp, and then a tractor trail appeared, following a canal of some sort, and just ending a few hundred meters from the highway. There was a strange metal tripod structure, about 15 feet tall with a chair on the top. Maybe for fishing in the canal?? Whatever, there was a little cleared area at the end where I could set up camp for the night. This morning's forecast called for rain overnight, so hopefully I don't wake up tomorrow in the swamp.

End coordinates: -92.85121,30.06370

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Campsite in the hunting ground, bridges in the distance

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Looking the other way

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Hunting ground entrance

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Looks like they twinned the old bridge, but didn't bother making the new one as high above the water

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First view of Louisiana

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No shoulders

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Wow, there's one of those southeast USA houses like you see in the movies. There's even one of those swinging benches on the porch.

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"Welcome to the Swamp"... they need that much seating just for a high school track field, wow. High school sports are huge here.

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End of the canal trail, where I camped

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Swamp

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West to east.

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Minimum elevation: -28 m.s.l.
Maximum elevation: 35 m.s.l.
Total climbing: 488 m
Total descent: 475 m
Graphic and stats from http://utrack.crempa.net


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"A few years in North, Central & South America" Copyright © 2006-2014 By Jeff Kruys - (contact). All rights reserved.
Page was created on February 11, 2010 08:52 PDT, last updated on February 14, 2010 08:39 PDT
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