Sunday, April 01, 2007

Susan's Big Day

[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.


Susan in Texas! (usually St. Paul) said...

It was a great day Laurie!


ps. Pictures may take a few days unless I can figure out how to transfer them while I am here.

Sylvana said...

Sounds great! When's your next tour?

Zina said...

WOW! My friend from Minnesota is here this weekend. (He's originally from here) He's been eating Mexican food like crazy and Jack in the Box which apparently they do not have up there.

Have you ever gone to the Gulf Coast Museum in Port Arthur? It's pretty awesome. I learned a lot about Port Arthur.
Check it out!

Laurie said...

Susan - You are quite welcome!

Sylvana - Anytime!

Zina - I actually thought of lots of places I could have brought her in Port Arthur. I think I've been to the Museum of the Gulf Coast. I need to check it out (again?).

Jack said...

If people try to follow your link to Cattail Marsh, they're going to end of at the playing fields several miles away. It's actually off the loop in Tyrrell Park, as seen here (except that there's a lot more water than is shown in the picture):

Laurie said...

Jack - I fixed the link. Thanks. I still can't believe you guys went walking in that long grass. ((shivvvverrrr))

Susan in Texas, usually in St. Paul said...

It was a "BIG ASS" alligator!!! so of course my first thought after walking a bit away from it was for us to call Laurie. I had said a few minutes before that there were no alligators, boy was I wrong! and Jack was right,as he often is.

Laurie said...

Susan - "Big Ass?" You're talkin' like a true Texan now. :) I'm glad thinking about calling me was your second thought AFTER walking away. That's always a good plan when alligators are involved.

Grimm said...

Yeah, I am afraid that I would need a change of underwear if I ever saw anything that remotely resembled an alligator.

Leslie showed me so many new and amazing things while we lived in Wheeling, stuff that I normally wouldn't even consider.

Now to make our way to Texas...hmmm.

Laurie said...

Grimm - Don't worry. If you guys come to Texas, Leslie can go with Jack alligator hunting. You and I can feed the turtles a safe distance away.

laura1814 said...

Sounds like fun. What a great pair of tour guides!

I've never heard of the Botanical Gardens or Cattail Marsh, and I didn't have a clue where Tyrrell Park was. But I have visited the McFaddin-Ward house and most of the antique and resale shops in Beaumont. I want to go back to the house! It's been a few years.

Laurie said...

Laura - The McFaddin-Ward house was beautiful!

Susan in St. Paul said...

Jack and I had this lovely conversation a few early ams ago.

The progression went:
Snake farm
Snakes like the big and little one I watched go into his garage
Poisonous snakes Jack has encountered elsewhere
Poisonous snakes in Beaumont
A discussion of water snakes
Me suddenly realizing that there could have been poisonous snakes in that tall grass we were walking in and we weren't wearing boots!!!
I am bring boots next time.

I wasn't sure about continuing when we got to the taller grass, normally I wouldn't follow anyone in even if they were implying that I was a wimp. I prefer to be a live, uninjured wimp. I would have just stubbornly waited, but for some reason I did I followed him. Makes me wonder...

I wasn't especially worried about the alligators. Jack was usually ahead of me, he is bigger than I am and probably much more tasty. We weren't actually looking for alligators either. Once we saw it I started walking the other way, making sure that Jack was as well. I was very thankful that he wasn't like the SE Texan males Laurie described in an previous blog post because he isn't an easy person to physically move.

Laurie said...

Maybe I've lived in or near and been raised around people who have lived in or near SWAMPS for long enough to know of all the creepy crawly poisonous things that lurk there. Me in tall grass (especially near water) with or without boots ain't gonna happen.

Susan in St. Paul said...

Hmmm, its probably like me and what you don't do when its below zero...

Up here instead of saying "You must be an idiot to have done that!" One would say "Some guys would think twice about..."
or if it was REALLY Really stupid we would say "A guy would have to be pretty stupid to..."