[Pictures will be posted later and be sure to read all the way to the IMPORTANT ADDENDUM.]
A friend of mine is in town visiting from Minnesota. I am known amongst my friends as "the cruise director." If we want to plan a night out, everyone looks to me for ideas for where the good bands are, where the good drinks are and where the good (and preferably new) restaurants are. In other words, I am a Beaumont nightlife specialist. Until Susan arrived, however, I had no idea I knew so little about Beaumont day-life.
Lucky for me, Susan had done a little online research. I do that every time I go out of town, even if only for a day, because I'm afraid I'll miss something. I guess, since I've lived in Beaumont for twenty years and southeast Texas my whole life, I thought I had plenty of time to see everything and never really studied or looked for things to do.
Southeast Texas is an outdoorsy sort of place and I'm not an outdoorsy kind of girl. I don't boat, ski, fish, ride horses, golf or hunt. I read, watch television, play on my computer, work, shop, gamble (in Louisiana), sit on the deck of a beach cabin (in Crystal Beach) or drink and watch bands. I realized I was suddenly like so many other people who live here who wonder, "What is there to do in Beaumont?" Luckily, Susan had some answers.
We started out with a delicious lunch at the Spindletop restaurant on Crockett Street followed by a quick tour of our work-bound friend's office. From there, we hit a couple of resale and antique shops on Calder Avenue. I'm ashamed to say I had never toured the McFaddin-Ward house which is what we did next.
The McFaddin-Ward house tour was absolutely incredible. I've toured many plantations and historic homes and I am usually a little disappointed when I go inside. The homes always seem so small inside compared to how they look on the outside. The McFaddin-Ward house was fantastic and I highly recommend a tour. They take groups of six, so I recommend giving them a call before you go rather than just popping in.
From the McFaddin-Ward house, we took a quick trip out to the mall. At the mall, there was one of those little traveling carnivals which I wouldn't have given a second glance to. Susan, however, is a carnival ride buff and cotton candy connoisseur, which made for a very interesting walk amongst the carousel, ferris wheel and Tilt-A-Whirl. Inside the mall, she even stopped for a quick 10-minute Chinese massage. It's easy to entertain someone when they are enthusiastic about everything. I highly recommend that sort of friend.
When we left the mall, Susan suggested Tyrrell Park and the Beaumont Botanical Gardens. Once again, I'm embarrassed to say I had never been to the Botanical Gardens. By the time we got there, the buildings were closed. However, we could walk through the gardens which were beautiful and which should be even more beautiful in a couple of weeks when more of the stuff starts blooming. At the back of the gardens, we watched a family feed turtles in the bayou or whatever that was that was flowing back there.
We also took a look at Cattail Marsh which I didn't even know existed. It is a 900-acre constructed wetland which includes more than 375,000 plants and attracts more than 350 bird species annually. We pulled up, walked up to the top of the levee and, as we crested the hill, saw hundreds of ducks swimming on the pond. It was amazing.
We ended our day at Luby's where I had a delicious bacon cheese steak and asparagus almondine which was a good as any I have had anywhere. It was one of the biggest surprises in a surprise filled day.
Susan, thanks for a great day. I can't wait to come to Minnesota!
I just got a call from Jack, the previously mentioned work-bound friend who is back out with Susan today at the also previously mentioned Cattail Marsh. Jack, being the manly-man all purpose southeast Texas wild game hunter and tour guide, managed to give Susan an up close and personal encounter with a 5 to 6 foot alligator!
Thank God, I didn't come upon a 6 foot alligator with Susan yesterday because I would still be running like Forest Gump and would probably be in Lake Charles by now. I don't run very fast.