Sunday, September 16, 2012

Take a Dinner Ride Through East Texas

Steve and I went on a new adventure yesterday:  we hooked up with some friends who were taking their motorcycles on a dinner ride into East Texas.  The threat of rain pushed a few of them into their cars, but a few brave riders stuck with their bikes.  We followed along in the Jeep.

We all met up at "the old Kelley's truck stop" which is now a TA Travel Center.  While we were waiting on everyone to gather I perused the aisles in the truck stop.  Truck stops are interesting places.  Much more than a convenience store, you can buy CB radios, little dog bowls for your traveling companion, audio books, road maps and atlases, mileage log books, a wide assortment of bar mix, beef jerky, popcorn, nuts, dried fruits, and other travel food, as well as standard trade paperbacks and postcards.  You could even get a "real" gator tooth necklace and some Texas shot glasses.

I bought three post cards and a coke.

Everyone was in place around 4:15 so we headed west into East Texas.  We took Highway 80 through Waskom (and I found an antique store I want to go back and check out).   The main drag through Waskom was pretty neat and I'd have taken some pictures but we didn't want to fall out of line with the riders and get behind.  I love quaint old downtown districts.

From there we turned north on FM9 and took a succession of scenic Farm Market roads that led us eventually into Karnak where we found our dinner destination, Big Pines Lodge.  Here we are!

I guess most people in East Texas have heard of Big Pines Lodge, but it was new to me.  What a colorful history it has!  You can read about it here.  The restaurant is situated right next to Big Cypress Bayou which feeds right into beautiful Caddo Lake.    There is no cell phone service there (if you're with AT&T, at least).

The restaurant began in the 1930s as a fishing camp and didn't serve food originally.  Through the years there have been cabins to stay in, an armed robbery, at least one flood, one devastating fire, nights of dancing on a paddle boat, and many, many satisfied customers.  What you see there now is the new and renovated Big Pines Lodge after a fire destroyed the building in 2009.  I loved the outdoor dining area:

Check out the great photos and videos on the website; there is one video about the carving of this tree:

Here's a closer look:

After we ordered our food I went outside and took a few pictures and explored.  You can buy fish food for a quarter and feed the fish that come up to the dock:

View from the dock:

Looking down the bayou:

I secretly covet this house right next door to the restaurant:

Loved the trees dripping with Spanish moss:

A view of the bayou from the upper patio:

I liked the alligators in the cement, and note the tree-columns:

Most everyone ordered the catfish for dinner but a couple of us ordered steak.  The waitresses brought cole slaw and hush puppies (both regular and jalapeno) to the table when we sat down.  Steve ordered catfish:

...and I ordered steak:

The food was all great.  We had a fried alligator appetizer, too.

Steve appreciated the decorator's sense of humor:

And I liked the old jukebox loaded with actual 45s:

After dinner we all went our separate ways.  Steve and I headed on over to Marshall, TX because we knew Soulfish was playing over there and it was still early.

Marshall is one of the stops on the Holiday Trail of Lights and the town is known for their Christmas light display on the former courthouse.  The old courthouse is Renaissance revival in style and is now, I think, the home to the Harrison County Historical Museum.

It's a pretty neat building:

One day we'll go investigate further and see what's inside.  It's got to be pretty cool.

There is a confederate soldier out front:

And a canon in the parking lot:

There was some sort of little festival going on downtown and as we walked around looking at buildings, killing time until Soulfish started, we could hear the band playing 80s hits.  There were a lot of people down there, and we discovered a new restaurant we want to try:  The Blue Frog Grill.

I thought this fountain was cute: water for you and water for your four legged friend:

Eventually we made our way to PJ's - an old hotel bar by the interstate.

We spent a couple of hours listing to the sweet blues of Soulfish Blues Band before heading back down the interstate toward home.

The only thing wrong with last night's adventure is that we weren't able to take the top down on the Jeep.

Good times!

The SIGIS Take a Trip Series:
Take a Trip to the 2012 Defenders of Liberty Air Show at BAFB
Take a Springtime Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden, LA
Take a Trip to Logansport, Louisiana
Take a Trip to the Lock and Dam on Red River
Take a Trip to the 2012 Barkus and Meoux Parade
Take a Christmas Shopping Trip to Second Hand Rose in Minden
Take a Trip to Grand Cane's Fifth Annual Pioneer Trade Day
Take a Trip to the 2011 Highland Jazz & Blues Festival
Take an Autumn Trip to Jefferson, Texas
Take a Fall Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to the 8th Air Force Museum at Barksdale Air Force Base
Take a Summertime Trip to Grand Cane
Take a Trip to Desoto Parish
Take a Summer Trip to Second Hand Rose Antiques in Minden
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Melrose Plantation 
Take a Trip to Ed Lester Farms and a Random Antique Stop
Take a Trip to the Norton Art Gallery and the Masters of Cuban Art Exhibit
Take a Trip to Natchitoches to See the Christmas Lights
Take a Trip to Natchitoches and Oakland Plantation
Take a Trip to Jefferson, Texas


Anonymous said...

Didn't I see that on sons of anarchy?

Anonymous said...

Shreveport area folks have been going to Big Pines for years. The last time I went was before the fire. It looks like they fixed it up nice. Need to make a return visit.