Sea Rim State Park, Sabine Pass, Texas

Sea Rim State Park

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Sabine Pass Light

Sabine Pass Light

Remember how I said I couldn’t get close enough from the Texas side to get good photos? Yeah, this is pretty much the best photo I got—taken with my digital of course, because I don’t have long lenses for any of my film cameras. I hardly ever need them, because I don’t take photos of things like wildlife. I prefer to get close to my subjects. I could try to crop out a bit of the foreground, but I don’t know how much that would improve things; you can only do that so much until things start to get grainy, in a bad way. Too, I find something kind of interesting in this photo, the old wrecked lighthouse in the distance, at the end of a cracked and littered pier.

I could have gotten a little closer if I’d walked to the end of the pier, but there were about 20 no trespassing signs scattered about, hand-scrawled on pieces of plywood in a script I think of as “redneck murder font”. I may have attempted it anyway, but there were people fishing right nearby, and for all I knew it was their property. I don’t want to get shot over someone thinking I’m trying to steal their moldy lumber and desiccated tire scraps.

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Sabine Pass Battleground, Texas

Sabine Pass Battleground

I drove to Sabine Pass a few weeks ago, just for the day, it was the first time I’d been in Texas since driving out to Louisiana from California in 2010. Interestingly, this is right in the area where my mother grew up; although my maternal grandmother’s family has lived in the same area of south Louisiana for several generations, my grandparents lived in Port Arthur, Texas for many years and their three eldest children were all raised there. I think Sabine Pass was its own town when my mother was growing up, but now it’s within the city limits of Port Arthur.

I primarily wanted to see the Sabine Pass Light, which is actually on the Louisiana side of the Pass. But all the online directions I found direct you to the Texas side, I think because there’s no longer actually any road on the Louisiana side. The Light was de-activated in the 1950s, and the last private owners donated it to Cameron Parish in the 1990s, and of course they haven’t done shit with it. If a hurricane came along and wiped out the road any time since then, I doubt they bothered to fix it. But I may try to get there from the Louisiana side, or at least see how close I can get, because I couldn’t get close enough to get any good photos from the Texas side.

However, I don’t count the day wasted, I drove around and found some other interesting things to photograph. I like that drive too, it’s straight down LA-82 (and then TX-82) for most of the way. It’s a highway, but it’s a 2-lane rural highway with pretty scenery, and to get across the Calcasieu River I took the Cameron Ferry. Louisiana used to have dozens of ferries; nowadays I think there are 8 of them left. You can take I-10 to get there, but it goes so far out of the way that it doesn’t actually save you any time.

One of the places I found was the Sabine Pass Battleground. There was a Civil War battle fought here. I liked the contrast between the little shell-scarred bunker, and the weird modern machinery hulking in the background. Sabine Pass is like that, it’s very rural but surrounded by refineries and everywhere you look there’s refinery towers or oil-drilling equipment looming over you.

I recently read a book called Visit Sunny Chernobyl, in which a journalist, inspired by the titular trip to Chernobyl, decides to visit the world’s most polluted places. One of those places is Port Arthur. (If the Keystone XL Pipeline ever gets built, the American end is going to come out in Port Arthur.) But even with all the refinery crap cluttering up the scenery, it doesn’t really LOOK polluted, at least not in Sabine Pass. The sky was blue, the vegetation was all healthy, and there were birds everywhere. Not all pollution is immediately visible, I guess. It’s not anything obvious like oil spills or smog, but you know it’s there when you look at the cancer rates for the area. Chernobyl is beautiful too, according to the book I read. The flora and fauna are all flourishing in the area. But people who go there have to wear radiation detection badges, and can only stay so long.

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