Tuesday, April 26, 2016

New Orleans, LA to Austin, TX

The Journey

Two days' travel time. 
One night in Galveston, TX.

As you see in the map above, there are several twists and turns between cities on this journey.  This is far from the fastest way to connect the dots trough Louisiana and Texas.  But if you have the itch to roam, this meandering journey will take you from the winding shore of the Mississippi to the western shore of the Gulf Coast to Texas ranch country before depositing you in Austin.

The River Road from New Orleans to Baton Rouge is advertised as the home to many historic southern plantations.  And along with many mossy oaks, it certainly has its share of plantations, with names like Bocage, Poche, and Houmas House.

This was a road trip day for us, so there was no stopping at any of these beauties, no matter how much I oohed and ahhed and whined about it!  For details on touring the plantations, hop over to the Independent Travel Cats' guide to twelve River Road plantations!

In sharp contrast to the old Southern plantations, the largest and most prominent residents of The River Road are the industrial plants with conveyor shafts stretching over the road to slurp up their raw materials and cargo from the Mississippi.

As you approach Baton Rouge, you will pass Death Valley, considered by many the hardest place to win a football game (unless, of course, you're the LSU Tigers).  Much later in this journey, we visited the real Death Valley in California.

In Baton Rouge, we drove by the impressive Louisiana State Capital.  And we walked the steps down to touch the Mississippi, where we saw (and heard) docked river boats.

Hwy 190 from Baton Rouge to Texas calls itself "The Scenic Highway."  Some scenes along the way are Crawfish Farms (took us a bit to figure out what these flooded fields were), the painted Guitars in downtown Opelousas, and Eunice, "Gateway to the Great Southwest Prairie."  Before you know it, you are crossing into Texas.

After passing through Beaumont, you travel the long straight roads out of civilization on the elongated peninsula to Port Bolivar.  In this skinny strip of land between the Gulf of Mexico and Texas's East Bay, everything is on stilts, including the post office and the high school.  You will take the free Galveston Ferry from Port Bolivar to Galveston (runs 24 hours).  Here is our GPS navigator showing us traveling over the water as we ride the ferry.

 In our brief time in Galveston, we learned about the deadliest natural disaster in the history of the United States, the 1900 Galveston Hurricane, commemorated by these and other monuments.

One of the many attractions of Galveston is the seaside Pleasure Pier.

It is a relatively short ride (about an hour) from Galveston over West Bay to Houston.  Like a select few of America's largest cities, it is hard to fully understand the sheer size of the urban sprawl until you travel through it.  On our ride through Houston we happened to pass the NCAA Final Four hosted at NRG Stadium, home of the Houston Texans.

After escaping the urban-then-suburban sprawl of Houston, we began to pass through quaint small Texas towns.  In Rosenburg, we stopped at 2M's Malt N Burger Mart where we had a Strawberry Malt, a Coke Float, and some freshly greased French fries; not a bad snack to hold us over until Austin, TX.

As you pass into rural Texas, greeted along the way by a water logged smiley face, the road and its surroundings flatten into a vast farmland spotted with Texas wildflowers. 

If, like us, you are traveling from the Eastern United States, you will know you are entering The West as you cross the Colorado River and see your first cactus near Altair, TX.

 Austin, TX is often overshadowed by the other more gargantuan Texas cities, but it does not take long visiting Austin to fall in love with the history, attractions, and vibe of the Texas state capital.

Stay tuned for highlights of Austin, San Antonio, and the route in between...


  1. I do enjoy reading about all of your ventures!

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  3. Hurray for Austin! I've lived here for 22 years.