90,000 Miles to Me

13,235 Miles • Gaining Purchase on Louisiana

Just a quick update, in Houston I finally got my new water pump and installed it eagerly. I was very happy to see that it is indeed a much better quality pump, though we’ll see how well it works long-term.  For the last week and a half, I’ve been making do by pouring water from a one gallon jug or a water bottle over one hand, switching, and washing the other hand, or pouring a little stream over a dish or two to clean them awkwardly with one hand. I’m very glad I started out with a foot pump, and hope this one will last the next two or three years.

A few last Texas signs:

  • “Longbottom Furniture”
  • “Coffee Insurance Agency”
  • Fort Boggy State Park
  • Town: Uncertain, TX
  • Road: “Pumpkin Vine Road” – This made me smile.
  • And the gem in the picture above was in Longview, TX. Okay, if it were faded out, the red line through the middle would be faded, too. Sooo…what is it saying ‘no’ to? No. Just NO.

Signs upon entering Louisiana:

  • First billboard after crossing the Louisiana border: “Alligator Park”
  • “Crank Tax Collector”
  • “Crook Music Services”

I visited some church friends in Shreveport, LA, for about a week, and it was really good to catch up. That is one of my intentions for this journey, to strengthen connections with people who are important to me. And it was lovely waking up to this view every morning:

Good morning, St. Nicholas.

While there, I visited the Louisiana State Exhibit Museum. The building is a big circle, with outdoor gardens in the middle of the circle, so that while in the building you can go right or left and always end up back at the front entrance, but you can’t cut across from one side to another. There are a few exhibits on display lining the circle, and the two I found most interesting were a collection of signatures by famous people and a series of dioramas of Louisiana trade and industries in the 1940’s.

The dioramas featured scenes of people farming, sugar cane production, raising beef, poultry, and sheep, of salt mining, oil extraction, cotton mills, paper mills, and more. Blacks were doing most of the work while whites mostly sat on horses or stood around watching as overseers. The workers all had looks on their faces of contentment and job satisfaction that I can’t imagine was true to reality.

The collection of autographs of historical figures was quite impressive: documents signed by George Washington, John Adams, John Jay, John Hancock—a lot of Johns—Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Robert Lee, Daniel Boone, Voltaire, Roosevelt, etc. I especially found Daniel Boone’s interesting. They had on display a short letter he wrote in a very fine hand. Not what I was expecting for a rugged outdoorsman and explorer, betraying my own prejudices. Looking up a little about his life, he indeed seems to have had little formal education, but the education of that era often focused heavily on handwriting and literacy, skills he seems to have mastered.

Sorry, photography was not allowed.

And sorry for the title of this post, I couldn’t resist. I didn’t see much of the state, just a bit of that northwest corner, nevertheless I quite enjoyed my first visit to Louisiana. The people were friendly, and, what especially matters to me, living in a sheet metal box, was that it was not nearly as hot and muggy as Houston, and the mosquitoes not quite as big.

Still, it’s been in the high 80’s and low 90’s, with upwards of 80% humidity, so the fan has been on pretty much constantly and doors open as much as possible. Which lets the bugs in. And this is just the start of summer! What I really need is some gigantic, full-door mosquito netting so I can leave the side and back doors wide open to get a good cross-through breeze without letting in the bugs.

And a route north. You know, those snowbirds are pretty smart, both the RVers and the aves. Go north in summer and south in winter. That was my original plan, but then I changed it around to visit Houston, and since I was already south, I made this other plan to stay south and not waste the time and gas, but…

But I don’t have to view everything in terms of efficiency. I can make a big loop to go north and then west, and circle back around this way in the fall or winter when it is not tear-your-skin-off-sweltering-hot. I can enjoy a nice, slow progress northward, and see a lot along the way.

I still want bug screens, though.