I’m getting ahead of myself. Two more pre-Austin stops.
Lake Charles, LA. Distinguishing features: lack of coffee, bullet holes, empty storefronts, car accident right next to us.
And then there’s Beaumont, Texas, which might be the most striking and eerie of the many post-sprawlpocalyptic ghost cities we encountered, its beautiful art deco downtown utterly deserted during our mid-afternoon visit. Where were the 110,000 residents? The 15,000 students of Lamar University? They certainly weren’t anywhere in evidence in the blocks and blocks of empty skyscrapers making up the city center, or in the spooky, carnival-esque (and equally empty) entertainment district. The only signs of life seemed to be in the few offices in the high rises (legal and “executive services”), the interstate commercial strip, and the huge expanse of industrial (oil refinery?) structures surrounding the metropolitan area.