Monday, June 1—San Marcos, TX to Abbeville, LA
I left San Marcos early in an effort to get some miles behind me before the temperature and humidity rose. It was another beautiful morning on the road. About half way from San Marcos to Houston I could smell the effect of the record-setting rain that has fallen over the past week or so. Standing water was everywhere and quickly turning stagnant. It didn’t seem to be very humid in Houston, which surprised me. On the other hand, I think humidity works much like a swamp cooler when riding at a reasonable speed. The evaporation caused by wind actually cools the body.
I rode through Houston on I10 at 10:10 am. After all of the wide-open space I’ve covered in the past week, the city freeway traffic and congestion seemed insane. Rather than continue on I10 well into Louisiana, I took highway 73 to Port Arthur, I10 to highway 108, and then highway 27 to the Sabine Natural Wildlife Refuge. It is a beautiful area characteristic of the bayou with sloughs and channels winding over miles of swampland. Cars were parked at each turnout near the water and their occupants either fishing or trapping.
I pulled into Holly Beach and was amused by the sign pictured here. I would later learn from the owner of the restaurant where I had dinner that Holly Beach was an inexpensive camping location favored by locals. About four years ago it was wiped out by storms and a surging tide. Now it is being rebuilt in the manner you see here…upscale compared to what existed historically.
On the road from Holly Beach to the town of Cameron I made a turn and came upon what I anticipated to be a bridge crossing the channel. In stead it was a ferry, and a back-up ferry at that. Traffic was stopped waiting for the ferry to return from the other side, so I jumped off my Harley to ask the dump truck driver in front of me how the process worked. I wanted to make sure I’d be able to get my Harley on and off without incident. That’s how I met Jimmie, a very nice Cajun man from the Acadiana area of south Louisiana. He let me know the boarding process was simple, there was no fee, and assured me that the road to Abbeville was clear from the ferry on.
The ramp up and into the ferry was about 4 inches lower that the ferry deck, and made of grated material, which is very slick. I went up patiently yet aggressively, with some trepidation. I had to “shove” the front tire up and over the lip, and hope it wouldn’t high-center on the lip. The deck of the ferry, original designed to be slip resistant, was smooth and difficult to hold onto with my shoes. So I made my way around the engine room gingerly and parked. Similarly I carefully exited, fortunately without incident. I hit the accelerator hard celebrating the fact that I was back on pavement.
By the time I got to the bayou I could feel the thickness of the air. I recalled the waitresses at the Wagon Wheel restaurant in Needles seven days earlier. They were wearing t-shirts that shouted, “But it’s a Dry Heat!” I didn’t think much about those t-shirts at the time, but they are right! Dry heat is much easier to bear than wet heat.
Hungry for oysters, I found Shuck’s restaurant on Yelp. The oysters were fantastic, as was the crawfish étouffée, as were the fried shrimp. One of the owners, Bert, introduced himself to me as I walked in the door. He used to be an owner/operator of a Golden Corral store here in town. He and his partner have done a great job with this restaurant, building on a rich history!
From their website, “…Bert Istre, and David Bertrand, both Abbeville natives and long time restaurant owners (bought Shuck’s about nine years ago). Neither one of the gentlemen was interested in changing the tried and true recipes. (They) also knew a large part of their success was holding on to the loyal employees that had served so well for so many years. (N)o menu items were changed and every employee stayed during the transition… To date, all key employees have remained and play important roles in the growth of the SHUCKS! concept.”
Route: 80S, I10E, 73E, I10E, 108E, 27S, 82E
Miles Today: 463
Time Today: 8:30
Total Trip Miles: 3,177
Weather: Mid 60s to mid 90s, overcast, light rain at the end of the day
Lodging: B/W Abbeville Inn & Suites
Gordon … I am enjoying & sort of “living through” your experience on this super ride. Although I don’t own or ride a motorcycle, I do enjoy getting in the same way in my NSX …yet don’t seem to get very far from Moraga & Orinda …thus am going to have to figure out a way to remedy that issue. Perhaps I can order some Gordon Lewis posters to keep myself motivated to get out of town & “on the road to new adventures”.
My best buddy from college at UK was born near Baton Rouge, LA & has some Cajun blood in him. He also knows how to cook these unique seafood dishes your just wrote about.
I pray for you to continue to be safeguarded by our Lord on this trip & to continue to be a fun & encouraging fellow to the many people you encounter along the way ! Rick Carter
soun ds like you gtting your share of good old Cajun food. Keep up the good work. Lee T