(C)  2002-2014 J. Watson       All rights reserved  
Gulf Coast to California-along the border

It would be hard to top this route.  

You’ll visit plantations of the "Old South", bayous, add birds to your “life list”, see oil rigs,
tour the nation’s largest ranch, board WW2 warships, go into “Houston Control” — and
that’s before you leave Texas.  You pass ranches larger than most towns.  

Then you’ll tour massive caverns, see the “home” of flying saucer sightings, and visit
many structures made by earlier civilizations.  As you drive on, there are cliff dwellings,
adobe buildings, and you’ll see hogans as you visit the Navajo Nation.  

Nature has done a job — volcanoes, black lava fields, white sand dunes, and
underground you’ll  go into the guts of a copper mine.  Cactus, mesquite, sagebrush
cover the desert floor.  You’ll find more as you amble along.  

As you read this you may wish to trace the route on your road map.


Mobile.  The USS Alabama is here.  This WW2 ship is also on
our “to see” list.  Then on I-10 west to…


Biloxi.  This is probably the largest concentration of casinos
along the Gulf coast.  We have not been here but understand the
beaches are excellent and there is good action at the tables.  
Then continue to...


New Orleans.  (Our last visit was before Katrina.)  The year-
round non-stop partying peaks for Mardi Gras which is the
celebration before Ash Wednesday.  There are dozens (yes,
dozens) of street parades, etc.  The city overflows.  New Orleans
is famous for the French Quarter’s cuisine and some people go
there solely to enjoy the fine dining.  Take a riverboat to see the
levee that protects this city, which is below water level.  Enjoy the
French heritage – there is much to see and enjoy.
 The National
WWII Museum
is on our to see list.  Continue east on I-10 just
past Baton Rouge to exit 153 and head south on Route 1 to…

White Castle.  The Nottoway Plantation is a grand antebellum
plantation home on the banks of the Mississippi River.  There are
numerous plantations from Natchez south along the Mississippi.  
Many are open to visitors.  If you have time to visit only one
plantation this is the one to see.  It was spared during the war
and is a splendid example of the “good life” enjoyed by its
occupants.  It was the plantation that David Selnick wanted to use
when filming Gone With the Wind, however, he was unable to get
permission from the owner.  To give a sense of the magnitude of
the home there are sixty rooms.  The furnishings are in keeping
with the period.  The property had 7,000 acres before the Civil
War and hundreds of slaves.  Now, it is privately operated as a
tourist attraction as well as providing accommodations for
overnight guests.  Then head west to Lafayette, exit 108 on I-10
and go south to…

St. Martinville.  We went to this pleasant town because it is the
location to which many Acadians settled after they were forced to
leave Nova Scotia.  Their travails are similar to the uprooting of
the Cherokee Indians in the US Southeast who were forced to
move to Oklahoma.  A museum describes their plight as well as
the story behind Longfellow’s
Evangeline.   A nearby Longfellow-
Evangeline State Historic Site
provides additional insight of their
way of life.  However, to us the highlight of the area was our visit
to nearby
Lake Martin.  (Take Route 353 west of town about 5
miles).  Lake Martin is said to be the largest roosting area of
water birds in the US — Little Blue Herons, various Egrets, and it
is white with White Ibis.  As a bonus we saw dozens of Roseate
Spoonbills – never saw so many at one time.  Then to the

Avery Island.  Here you can observe the bottling of Tabasco but
more interesting is the nearby
Jungle Gardens with its expansive
property and the part that most appealed to us was a platform
over the water with a couple of thousand roosting egrets.  

From here continue down along the scenic shore of the Gulf.  As
you travel along the bayous you’ll be able to visit bird refuges,
walk on the beach, and observe offshore oil platforms.  

Continue west to …


Entering Texas on I-10 heading west from Louisiana head to…

Deer Park.  The San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site is
the location of the
USS Texas (BB35). This was the second
oldest battleship in the US Navy to be in combat during WW2 and
is the oldest surviving one.  [The
USS Arkansas (BB33) was the
oldest fighting ship in WW2 and was sunk as part of the A-bomb
test at Bikini Island in 1946.]  It saw action in both World Wars.  
During WW2 it was in both the Atlantic and Pacific theatres.  
Older battleships, like the
USS Texas, were used to soften
beachheads before landings.  Also at this location is the site of
the 1836 battle that gave Texas its independence from Mexico.  A
museum commemorates this.  Then go south on Route 134, east
on Route 225 and south on Route 146 to “NASA Road 1” to …

NASA Space Center.  This is the location of the control center
of the US space agency.  There are extensive displays and
exhibits of interest.  You will have the opportunity to sit in the
former VIP seating area of “Houston Control Center” and view the
space simulators used by the astronauts.  Then south along the
coast through productive farmland on Route 35, to the south
(see alternate) or go west to San Antonio (below)...


    Aransas National Wildlife Reserve.  This is located on a
    flyway of migrating birds and in season the flocks are a
    “birder’s” delight.  It is noted for the whooping cranes that
    winter here.  At any time you will enjoy the location.  Take a
    boat tour from Rockport to get the best view.  Then
    continue south to …

    Corpus Christi.  The USS Lexington, a WW2 aircraft
    carrier, is on display, photo.  Padre Island National
    Seashore can be reached by going east to the Gulf coast.  
    From here go south to …

    Kingsville.  The King Ranch is the largest ranch in the
    world and tours are conducted daily.  See the ranch, view
    some of the famous livestock and learn of the scope of
    their operations.  It is so large there is a schoolhouse for
    the children of employees.  Then head west to Big Bend
    National Park by way of

    Seminole Canyon State Historic Park,  near Del Rio,
    with pictographs, photo (rock painting) by pre-historic
    people,  or north to …

San Antonio is an outstanding small city, which was the scene of
the Alamo.  Four other missions are open for visitors.  Take time
to go to the
Paseo del Rio (usually called the Riverwalk).  This
was a depression era works project that transformed a simple
river to a landmark with planted riverbanks and even small boats
that provide tours and dining.  If you happen to be here the week
of April 21st enjoy the Fiesta San Antonio,  which is a non-stop
event with parades, concerts, dances, etc.  North of San Antonio
is “hill country,” see side trip or head west on US-90 to Marathon
and go south on US-385 to…

    SIDE TRIP:  Go north on I-10/US-87 and then US-87 to …

    Fredericksburg.  This small village has the National
    Museum of the Pacific War – a superior exhibition of  
    Admiral Nimitz's WW2 exploits.  We consider this a “must
    see”.  Then east to …
    Johnson City.  The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic
    Park is located here.  Return to San Antonio and on to …
Nottoway Plantation faces the Mississippi River
Jungle Gardens at Avery Island
USS Texas reminds me of the USS Arkansas, on which I served
Planes are exhibited on the flight deck of the USS Lexington
Lake Martin
Aligators lool on the shore at Aransas
Are pictographs idle graffiti or artwork?
Travel Letters
whooping cranes at Aransas
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