Saturday, April 30, 2016

2016-9 From Jasper Texas to Opelousas Louisiana


Jasper Texas
Opelousas Louisiana 

Campground:  Sandy Creek, Sam Rayburn Army Corp reservoir.  $8.00,  30 amp elect and water.  50 amp available for a little bit more.  Multiple campgrounds around the reservoir.  Most with water view/access.  Good Verizon signal and 6+ over-the-air TV stations.

Campground:  South City Park, Opelousas Louisiana.  $11.00.  30 amp elect. And water.  Dump station available, if you can find it.  Two main areas, the grassy area with concrete pad for the camper, or up front, parking lot style, all pavement.

Texas to Louisiana MAP

Distance traveled:  80 miles

Sandy Creek, Sam Rayburn Army Corp reservoir.

From Nacogdoches I travel on through Lufkin where there are a few large semi-truck sales places and numerous manufactured housing (mobile homes) sales places all along their beltway that surrounds this small Texas town.  More than likely, indicating that this area does not have many high-paying jobs.  As I head further east and closer to the Louisiana boarder, the Texas landscape is one of thick National Forests, lakes, and small communities at each cross roads.

Thick southern accents with a bit of Texas twang are pervasive and folks are very friendly.  Including the younger generation, now that’s a surprise.  I’ve arrived at one of the many Army Corp campgrounds surrounding the Sam Rayburn Reservoir and a smaller lake to the south.  So lots of places to choose from for camping including some Texas state parks around the lakes.

I’ve mentioned this previously while traveling through Texas.  But it’s worth noting once again.  Texan’s use the paved shoulder as an additional lane, even though it is considered illegal to do so.  In the past couple of weeks traveling through Texas I’ve noted slower drivers using the shoulder to drive on, I saw one car pass another while using the shoulder and in small towns, like here in Jasper, I’ve seen a few vehicles get onto the shoulder in preparation for turning off into a side business.  It’s seems ok at first, but when you realize how close they are to the main road, it only leaves inches between you and them.  And sometimes less when towing a camper.  I’ll get off my soapbox, thank you very much.

I did go into the small town of Jasper and found the town square devoid of anything worth exploring.  All the main commercial stores and restaurants are along the main 190 or 96 highways leading through town.  So except for the local Walmart and Lowes and a few nice restaurants along those routes, the main attraction in the area is the fishing and camping around the Sam Rayburn Reservoir.

old country house near campground

This has been a great week to lay back a bit and just enjoy my campsite with a good book, enjoy some great views and warm weather.  I’ve only had two projects this week.  Vacuuming the camper (takes about 10 minutes) and putting some petroleum jelly on the hinges of a door that was squeaking.  I usually try to do one project a day, but this week I’ve had a break from that heavy schedule…. Double grin….

just having time to enjoy a little down-time and read a book....

Actually, I did have one other project, that of fixing the hose that feeds the windshield washer on the truck.  It had been fixed before I left Tucson, but the mechanic didn’t secure the new hose to the old, so it just popped off.  Isn’t it amazing how many tools it takes to unfasten a few bolts and move a battery to get to the hose.  Then one needs the right cutting tool and deciding which super glue to use to connect the two hoses.  By the time I put it all back together, I was surrounded by a bevy of tools, socket wrenches, extensions for the socket wrenches, reducer fitting so I could use a smaller socket wrench with the full size wrench, clippers, and fasteners.  Including an entire container of every type of glue, fastener, tape and twine one could ever need for a job.  It looked like I was doing major surgery on my truck.  I think it took more time to put everything away than actually perform the hose surgery/repair.

Distance Traveled:  146 miles

downtown Jasper square, the Old Jail

My last day in the Jasper Texas area involved an early morning thunderstorm that took out power to the much of the community including the campground for the entire day and evening.  Still wasn’t on when I departed the next morning.  Nice to have the solar power and the new inverter which produced enough power for me to be able to watch a little Tv, charge up my cellphone and ensure I had power to brew my morning coffee.

By 10 am, I was crossing the boarder into Louisiana and the speed limit drops from 75 mph in Texas down to 55 and 65 in Louisiana.  Much of my route today is on hwy 190 which pretty much parallels I-10.  Though it’s only a two lane country road, much of it has wide paved shoulders making it very comfortable to drive on.  Not having to drive I-10, I’m able to go at a slower pace and enjoy the country side.  As soon as I got into Louisiana, I noticed the land has many rivers, streams and ponds.  Those ponds are all filled with Crawfish or Crawdads as they also call them.  Very popular in many Cajun dishes.

water lilly

First impressions in Louisiana:  Humidity, love bugs splatting on the front of the truck and the camper, and lots of green grass and trees.  Small casinos are dotted across Louisiana in small towns that have seen better days.  Along those rural routes I’ve also seen a number of “Trump for President” signs.  Now that’s something I didn’t expect to see in a relatively low income and heavily black area.

Heritage buildings at Visitor Center

No 1, the Mary Jane

green lizzard

Magnolia in Bloom, large waxy flowers

and you know your in the south when
you see banana trees

I’ll be here waiting for my mail to be delivered before moving on.

Friday evening, I went back to the visitor center/Heritage site where they have a covered Farmers Market and live Zydeco music and dancing.  This area is noted for being the birthplace of Zydeco and Swamp Pop music.  I haven’t heard Swamp Pop music yet, but really like Zydeco music and had a fun time listening to and swaying to the music.  The locals were not shy when the music started to play as they got out on the dance floor right a way.  Toe tapping happy music made for a very enjoyable evening as the sun began to set and a warm moist airy breeze blew through the pavilion.

great evening of Zydeco Music

washboard reminds me of my friend "Ruthie Poo"

Update on the new Inverter:  

As you know, I had a new inverter installed under warranty a week or so ago. Well, the Rv repair shop wanted to charge me $701 for the labor.  I e-mailed the manufacturer and asked them to pay for labor.  Response back was they only pay for labor when the item is returned to them for repairs.  Long story short, the bad unit was not repairable so did not get sent back to them but they did of course send me a new and different unit that is repairable.  I talked to the RV company that performed removal/installation of the new inverter  and they contacted the Inverter company to see if they could convince the manufacturer to pay for the labor.  It appears the repairs will be paid by Xantrex.  Bottom line, saved me $701. Yippee!

Weather.  Expected another big thunder storm to come through this area today.  I prepared as best I could by closing a couple of the slides on the camper and hunkered down.  Fortunately, we had rain, but apparently where I’m staying was just in between the bad parts of the storm so all we got was some rain.  Missed the tornadoes and heavy rains that they got over the boarder in Texas.

The Louisiana Orphan Train Museum.  

I learned about a most unusual period in the history of the United States.  During 1853 into the early 1900’s over 120,000 homeless children from New York City were sent across country to live and work on farms and in rural areas.  They weren’t to be indentured and older children were expected to be paid for their labor.  It was the beginning of what would become the Foster Care system and in many instances the children, especially those sent out west, ended up becoming, judges, elected officials and prominent citizens in their new communities.  Others weren’t always as lucky and some became indentured servants for their new families.

I would have liked to go to the museum and talk to some of those former homeless children who ended up in Opelousas.  The museum was supposed to be open today, but apparently with the earlier rains in the day, they decided not to open up.  I’m sure the stories would be very interesting… you can learn more about it at the website links in this article.

a few shots around the historical part of Opelousas Louisiana

music is a huge part of their culture

wonderful large oak trees throughout town

the main courthouse

typical buildings downtown

French Quarter accents throughout town

more photos on my PICASA photos
Jasper photos
Opelousas photos
Opelousas photos 2

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