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Marooned
Written By: OC Fotoguy
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Orange Beach has become my first stop going west from Florida.  It’s a resort which the tourist masses are discovering, but there’s still lots of local seafood restaurants.  I was attracted here by a Bizarre Foods episode that featured one of them.  I couldn’t find it, so I settled on Doc’s Seafood Shack, a diner-looking place, near where I decided I could park my nest (slide-in camper on a pickup truck) overnight.  The food was good and the staff very friendly, so I went back this year.  I’d ordered steamed oysters last time, but the cook put Old Bay on them, so I couldn’t taste the flavor of the oysters.  This year I said NO Old Bay before and after I ordered!  They were delicious and I’d wanted steamed oysters for the two months I was in Florida.  There they didn’t seem to know how to steam seafood and wouldn’t.  Eating raw oysters is iffy at best, although delicious, so no thanks.  There are miles of open beach with no buildings or people here. 
I went west from there.  As I got out of the truck I thought I should take my umbrella, but it was less than fifty feet to the restaurant door, and I was getting a carry-out muffaletta, so I didn’t take it.  As I waited I looked towards the truck and it was pouring buckets of rain!  Today proved what I’ve been saying, “the weather is in charge.”   I will go where it allows.  I was looking forward to going south of New Orleans and check out Houma, ride up and down all the back roads that go towards the water, and look for someplace I can get some fresh alligator meat.  I’m sure I could’ve found a bunch of good places to eat, drink a slew of ACBs, and a place to park my nest overnight.  That got cancelled for this trip, Adventure XVIII, since the weather forecast said 50% rain for today and 100% rain for tomorrow, plus possible severe storm warning containing high winds, flooding and hail.  My thoughts switched to escaping the storm by driving swiftly west, then south away from the storm, which meant bypassing the alligator meat.  Maybe I’d have seen the TV alligator hunters weighing in their days bounty.  Not this year.
The next morning, March 9, I found the local schools were cancelled and a big orange storm on the weather radar was on the way.  I’m parked in the megamart parking lot in Sulphur, Louisiana, not a place I’d choose to spend some time, but I guess I’ll be here for the day.  I’ve never found a good restaurant, except Novrozsky’s Deli, a chain place, where I got my delicious Muffaletta, so big it’s not only a two-fisted sandwhich, but also two meals for $9!!!  For a couple hours I lost my wifi connection.  This is the first megamart I’ve ever been at that has wifi.  I’d been waiting for the rain to hit, but it hadn’t so I decided to take a walk.  I drove 8-10 hours the last two days and I’ve been in my nest since last night about 7pm.  I walked to the front door of the megamart and a lady told me they were closed.  I asked why?  She said a transformer blew.  That explains the loss of their wifi.  I walked to the Burger King, I saw it was dark inside, then I saw a cop directing traffic at the light.  There was a local power outage.  I guess this storm is serious.  I was parked in the auto servicing area last night, which recessed into the building, so I had walls on three sides of me, so I don’t know what the storm did, but the ground was relatively dry this morning.  
I’ve spent the day watching the weather radar show the storms that caused cancellation of school and most everything else today pass to the west of here.  This is a strange little town; away from the center of town there are no sidewalks and many businesses that appear to be marginal.  I’ve seen several small casinos, so there’s liberal gambling laws, but there’s almost no bars.  Hmmm?  Then I walked by an old building in disrepair, that I could see several neon beer signs inside.  It was a bar!  I decided not to go in.  There wasn’t a sign, that said “locals only”, but the one that flashed in my brain said “locals only.”  There was another place that appeared like a White Coffee Pot, but the sign said Quaker Oil and Lube.  Above the back door was a big sign that said “BEER.”  I looked in the window and the several tables of customers had coffee cups or glasses in front of them; no beer mugs.  I may walk back down after while for a closer look.  There’s a Chilly’s about a mile away by interstate US10, but there’s no sidewalks and lots of traffic.  Maybe HH will be here in the nest, with an early rise tomorrow, and on to south Padre Island. 
The storm has gone west and north of where I am in Sulphur, Louisiana.  If I had gone towards Houston I would've been in big trouble.  Here there's little rain, but the wind is gusting from 15-25 mph and that would've made for crazy driving a pickup truck with a slide-in camper in the bed.  I haven't moved the truck except from one side of the building to the other.  No crabs or seafood market today.  I moved to get a better wifi connection, but I'm about to go back to the auto service area which is recessed into the building to get out of the wind.  The truck is pitching around like a boat in rough seas!!!  But it's warm, dry & safe in my nest.  I'm going for another short walk.  Maybe I'll find a restaurant other Burger King.  I'd rather cook or go hungry than eat fast food!!!
Other years I drive the Creole Trail, a scenic road and area along the Gulf of Mexico, buy some huge blue crabs and oysters on the way for a very reasonable price, maybe even park for the night on the beach, enjoy the scenery (one year there was a flock of spoonbills), walk the beach, watch the sunset, then sunrise in the morning.  Not this year though, who knows what the storm did to the roads.  The long range forecast for Big Bend, Texas, is 80-90s and sun!!!!  I can wait.  I could've got my taxes done today.  Maybe someday.  Back in my tent camping days I'd have never known this storm was lurking ahead of me.  Now, with wifi and weather radar I know/watch what Mother Nature is doing!!!  Some of this damn technology comes in handy!!!
 
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
more photos @ www.picasaweb.google.com/o.c.fotoguy2009
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