We left out of Scott Louisiana (The Boudin Capital of the World), just after noon on highway 10 heading west toward our next destination of Houston Texas. As we travelled along, we were greeted with our daily monsoon of rain. Fortunately, it didn’t last long and we were able to make good time.
As we passed through Lake Charles Louisiana, a looming cantilever bridge appeared to extrude from out of the ground, shooting straight to the sky. It was remarkably reminiscent of a mammoth roller coaster ride you might see at Six Flags. As we began to climb, I couldn’t help but think of three things. First, “clack, clack” as the roller coaster ride begins. Second, the old story of the train that could, “I think I can, I think, I can”. And last, the most unpleasant thoughts, “I hope this bridge is safe!” The side rails feature crossed pistols as decorative commemoration to pistol duels of years past. They brought in iron workers from around the country, to create the works of art, that many cross over never realizing are there. There are over 10,572 such pistols helping support the structure. The overall height of the bridge is 135 ft. and just over 1.3 miles in length . It crosses over the Calcasieu river between Lake Charles La. and Westlake La. It provided a beautiful birds eye view of the river and surrounding area. With no troubles encountered crossing over, we began looking around at the sites. My mother had spoken of a donut shop that some friends of their’s, Mark and Mary Montgomery, enjoyed each time they visited Lake Charles. I thought it would be easy to pick out the location, as, “how many donut shops can there be in this area”. We quickly learned that between Lake Charles and Houston Texas, there are dozens of donut shops along the way. Shipley donuts seemed to be the most prevalent. In every shopping center, corner location and free-standing buildings, seemed to offer their version of the best, hottest donuts! We did not stop at any of them though. Maybe on the way back through…
Crossing into Texas, I was excited to see that things really are bigger in Texas! The local speed limit was posted at 75 MPH. Ordinarily this would have meant, you can go 80 without worrying about a ticket. However, still working on the new mind set of “slowing down” and enjoying the journey, we maintained a steady 65 MPH.
About 20 miles outside of Houston, traffic became very congested. We navigated using the GPS to arrive at Bernard’s cousins, George & Verta’s home around 6:30 pm.
They are situated in a very nice area that was built up during the 1980’s oil boom. They have a nice home, and offered to let us stay with them for the night. George fired up the grill and threw on some hot dogs and sausage dogs. We enjoyed eating and visiting with George and his father who was also there visiting. They were heading out in the morning for a fishing trip in Alaska. It was fun discussing their plans, with all of us having been to Alaska before. Verta was off for a girls night out, with her friends. Angela and I felt privileged that we were given the futon in a room with its own bathroom. I wonder if it is really a good idea to partake of such nice accommodations so close to heading down to a third world country in a roof top tent…..hey, why not?
We got a great nights sleep. Up the next morning, we decided to run some errands in town before heading to my friend TJ, on the other side of Houston. Angela and I noticed a Whataburger on the way. This is a fast food restaurant that we have not had in Georgia since I was in high school. I have fond memories of leaving Hephzibah high school around lunch time and heading to the local Whataburger for a burger with grilled onions. Angela had heard me talk of this in the past, so seeing an opportunity to reminisce, she said “Go ahead, let’s get a burger”. We enjoyed a fresh grilled, onion burger, before moving on to our errands. Mmmm…almost as good as I remembered.
We left George’s house around 3:30 headed toward TJ’s house. The GPS said we should arrive in 38 minutes. We optimistically thought we would easily be there within that time frame. However, the GPS does not account for the Houston traffic! We slowly made or way. Out of the corner of my eye, I noticed a 4Wheel parts store. I have always seen the advertisements and parts list in my favorite off-road magazines. We made a quick detour and Bernard and I were like kids in the candy store! They have driving lights, winches, tires, wheels, and plenty of off-road goodies. Angela, called after us as we entered the store, “keep it within my budget”! She is tough. She has been keeping a running tally of all expenses along the way. I found numerous things that I “needed”, however settled on purchasing only a Jerry can for extra fuel.
We soon arrived at TJ’s house, aka “The Urban Treasure Hunter”. He has a show on Youtube that you can check out here: Urban Treasure Hunter We met Laura his wife aka “Camera girl”, who greeted us like old friends. Her and Angela immediately hit it off and went into the kitchen to work on decorating cupcakes for TJ’s birthday, that we learned, was that very day.
He had quite a few friends stop by and wish him Happy Birthday. After catching up and swapping stories of each of our adventures throughout life, we realized it had been 28 years since we had actually saw each other. It’s a great friendship when you can just pick up right where you left off, that long ago! We talked of the early years when, as 12 and 13 year olds, we crawled on our bellies through tunnels under the old barn in our back yard of Arkansas. Little did we know that would be what gave him his start as the Urban Treasure Hunter. Later on, TJ pulled out the game of Monopoly, introducing me to my later chosen profession of real estate. Its interesting, that we could pinpoint our future interest down to that very day, long ago in November of 1984.
TJ, like his father is a phenomenal cook! He had prepared a sausage and chicken gumbo, along with shrimp etoufe’ over rice. TJ and Laura were masters of hosting, making each of us feel like a king. Then it was time for the cupcakes. Boy were they good! There was more calories packed in those little suckers than you should have in a day! They featured Swiss cake rolls stacked on top with “treasures” of other goodies like sprinkles, gold chocolate coins, etc. I thought that was pretty impressive that the girls whipped those up that quick. As it got later, we were offered accommodations for the night. TJ likes to keep the house cool. When I say cool, I really mean, freezing! It must have been 59 or 60 degrees in there. We slept great digging deeper into the covers and dreaming of Central America to keep warm.
The next morning, TJ was up early making cinnamon french toast. That was just the ticket to prepare us for the day of treasure hunting lying ahead. Angela rode with Laura, hauling the state of the art metal detectors. TJ rode with me, while Bernard followed behind. We drove to Kendleton Texas to an old settlement where Santa Anna passed through carrying his treasure. As we got closer, we were blessed yet again with a heavy down pour. We pulled up to the county museum on the property and ran in quickly to avoid getting soaked. The ladies met us at the door. “Oh we didn’t expect to have any visitors in this weather!” We were asked to sign in and then she recognized The Urban Treasure Hunter. He had some artifacts that he wanted to donate to the museum, and they always welcomed his contributions. This time was no different, as he brought several items that they documented and prepared for display. After a grand tour and history lesson of the area, all said goodbye and we headed back to the vehicles to start the treasure hunt.
After finding the perfect spot to stop (near the river not too far from the 1800’s cemetery), we got our first lesson on how to use the state of the art equipment. We were told to “scan” the area listening for the sounder and then pinpoint the spot. It was only a matter of a minute or two and I had a hit! We marked the spot, began digging and pulled my treasure from the saturated ground. Lo and behold, it was identified as a square nail, used by settlers to build their homes. It was exhilarating to be able to find something so quickly. All of a sudden Bernard burst out in a solo harmonica melody commemorating the archeological find. We all laughed and continued on. Almost immediately, Bernard got a hit! Man this land was furtile with artifacts. This time it was some type of metal rod approximately 10″ long. About this time, we noticed people were starting to watch what we were doing. Bernard played another victory tune on the harmonica, which prompted a guy in a Chevy truck to approach us. He said, “My name is Daniel, what are y’all up to?” We introduced him to The Urban Treasure Hunter, camera girl, and the CAO expedition crew. He was intrigued by the making of the show that we were working on filming, and how Bernard learned to play the harmonica so well. He was fascinated to find out that Bernard learned to play from watching youtube. He was equally fascinated that he would be able to watch himself on The Urban Treasure Hunter show on youtube.
While they were talking, I continued my search for treasure, scanning the ground waiting for the “beep”. It wasnt long, and then I heard it. We dug down, and quickly discovered that we had unearthed an old flint from a rifle. Wow! You talk about exciting. We didn’t have to move more than 50 yards radius to find these items and we hadn’t hardly even begun. The humidity was becoming unbearable. Sweat was running down our faces. Camera girl was a life saver with her pre-planning. She went back to the car and got everyone a bottled water and hand towel to wipe the sweat from our heads and faces. There was only time for one last duet between Bernard and Daniel on the harmonica’s. It was bittersweet, but it was time to head down the road to the next adventure. We planned on driving to San Antonio, where we had been invited to couch surf with a local couple. There seems to never be a dull moment on this trip and we havent even crossed the border yet!