Over the years of traveling I-10 I’ve crossed this bridge countless times, going east and west. Usually, it is a slow crawl as it is only 4 lanes and heavily travelled. So there is time to glance out and take in the view of the Lake, the homes surrounding it, and the city of Lake Charles, Louisiana. I’ve watched it grow and change as the casinos moved in, but always thought to myself that I would like to have time to get off the freeway and find out what was down there.
Every year in June there is a dog show in Lake Charles, but it has never worked out for me to go. This year there was no reason to prevent me, so I placed the entries for two days and made arrangements for my house sitter to stay with the non-attending dogs. The next step was finding a hotel that was pet-friendly and reasonable in rates. And, within easy driving distance of the show venue. Usually this is easy; not so in Lake Charles this year.
The hurricanes that hit Louisiana last summer did considerable to Lake Charles and many hotels are still closed. Needing a pet-friendly hotel complicated the search. Not surprisingly, the ones in the show’s information were already booked. When I found one in Orange, Texas that was reasonable and pet-friendly with a low dog fee I booked it. No problem, I can handle driving the 35 miles over to Lake Charles.
As it turned out, the commute wasn’t too bad as I was going over just after the morning rush. The hotel was great and very accommodating for pets, putting us on the ground floor next to a side entrance. Lots of green space for doggie “business” and general sniffing! And, staying there gave me a little time to check out the Orange County Courthouse.
So, let’s go ahead and talk about driving now. I-10 west of Lake Charles is just nothing but construction. Here, there, and everywhere. Freeway and frontage roads. Not only was it a lot of creeping along, but also navigating lane closures, sudden lane changes, and going through rows of barrels. It took 2 hours on the trip home to travel the 35 miles from Lake Charles to Orange, not the way to start the drive. At one point traffic stopped for 20 minutes. But, no problem. I cleaned out my purse, combed my hair, put on lipstick, discretely counted my cash, and enjoyed watching impatient people at their finest. I was thankful for air conditioning and the fact that the total stop wasn’t longer. Bogie was sound asleep in his crate, belly up, and I thought to myself, “how nice to be napping through all this mess”!
On top of the slow drive going over, the commuting back and forth, driving around in Lake Charles and Orange, then the extremely long drive home I was exhausted. I usually enjoy road trips and driving in the car, but this one just about did me in! Enough about traffic. We’ve all been there!
Unfortunately, my plans to spend an afternoon exploring around Lake Charles were not what I had hoped. It was very hot and very humid, after all, it is Louisiana! The wind blowing across the Lake was strong, but did nothing to make the temperature comfortable. And, I had eaten a chicken salad sandwich just before heading out and I was sure that chicken salad and hot weather were not a good combination. But the time wasn’t wasted. What little I saw was just enough to make me want to return, but in cooler weather for sure!
There were several parks around the Lake by the Civic Center, but sadly many were closed and/or under repairs. I saw one with lovely gazebos and little boat piers, one of which that had collapsed on the water’s edge. The Lakefront Promenade was open and was a quiet place to walk and enjoy the view of the lake and watch the wind kicking up the water. Only one boat was out that day, looked like a grandpa with his grandkids having a little ride!
In spite of the heat, there were a few people walking, running, or fishing. A large playground area, Bord du Lac Park, was full of children playing on the playground equipment.
We walked for a while, but I knew the heat (and the chicken salad sandwich) should not be tested, so we turned around and walked back to the car. Along the way there was a clock sitting on the ground, with its “clock-less” pedestal. I haven’t found any information on it and its story, yet. It appeared to be new or at least in excellent condition. Each side of the clock face was named for the parish it was supposed to face, Calcasieu, Cameron, Beauregard, and Jefferson Davis. One of those intriguing things I love to find!
From there I followed Lakeshore Drive on to see the homes that I’ve long admired from the bridge. They did not disappoint. Lovely architecture of all time periods, with only a few still showing storm damage or possibly, just unrepaired wear and tear. The lawns were a lush green, an enjoyable sight to someone used to the burning heat and dryness of Texas. Most had an abundance of flowers and I’m sure they had gardeners who maintained the grounds.
I made my way into downtown Lake Charles and wished fervently that it wasn’t so hot as there were just too many old buildings that needed exploring, nicely preserved buildings serving the community. I was pleased to see that the businesses were drawing a good crowd of people that afternoon.
My exploring time in Lake Charles was short, but still sufficient to see a few sights as I drove around. Even with the frustration of slow travel to and from Louisiana and with the heat’s limits on activity, it was good to be out on the road and going someplace a little far from home. COVID is winding down and life is winding up, let’s go travel!