Monday, May 21, 2012

Swamp talk and an Esther update

Swamp talk

Port Arthur is a little bit Texan and a little bit Louisiana. We’re proud of our swamp heritage, and I just got a chance to get right in the middle of it. Capt. Lee Gomez lead tour through Blue Elbow Swamp and the Sabine River from Airboat Rides Inc. in Orange. It’s the place with the mossy swamp-monster along Interstate 10 in Orange.

So we saw a little baby gator in the water straight away, but Gomez quieted the engine to glide up to an impressive grown one, all stretched out on a sandy bank. As a few of the 16 passengers stood up to snap photos and the whole gang was causing an excited ruckus, Gomez asked if we thought that statue-still gator was real. Well we all sat down thinking, “they got us,” setting up a big rubber gator by the dock.

“It is real,” Gomez said as that posed gator got into action, showing some teeth and scuttling over to the water side.

There were plenty more where that one came from. Gomez said he spots gators on nearly all his outings, and the brave hearted can try a night tour. In the moonlight, visitors can pack flashlights to reflect reptile eyes and “adult beverages,” as the brochure indicates.

Gomez went slow, stopping for history and nature lessons through the cypress knees. Then he sped up to 50 miles an hour into Lake Sabine. Get some friends together and go through

swamps where the Atapaka Native American tribe lived and past the old Orange Navy Base. He’ll snap your group’s photo if you smile and say “Gator bait!”

Esther update

Esther Benoit loves Port Arthur and she shows it with gumbo. Since Hurricane Ike took out Esther’s Seafood and Oyster Bar under the Rainbow Bridge, she’s been making her famous gumbo for fundraisers, and family. Oh, that lucky Benoit family.

Benoit says she always wants to see her city reflected as the best it can be. She recalled an example from a man from Australia who came to Southeast Texas on a sail boat. He’d planned to stay for two weeks.

“He wound up staying a year. He loved the people down here,” she said.

Benoit and her husband, John, have been traveling and recently cruised to Barcelona. We’re glad they’re back.

Do, Dream, Discover

The Beaumont Children’s Museum’s annual meeting was a science experiment. Guests were asked to attend with the heart of a child and had fun with science demos after getting an update on this signature project of Junior League of Beaumont. It’s in the beginning stages at Crockett and Neches Streets in downtown Beaumont. A Rotary club will build a handicap-accessible playground next door. For details, call Beth Schreck at 409-651-8435.

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