Wednesday-Thursday, October 26-27, 2005
We got to Lake Charles in the late afternoon and as my mother surveyed the damage, my father settled into his recliner and began watching TV as if nothing had happened. Our next door neighbor had contacted me a few weeks before about clearing the two trees in the front yard and he had made good on his word, although the stumps were still there and waiting to be grounded down.
In preparation for the trip I had searched on line for available hotel rooms but the closest I could find was a Super 8 in Natchitoches, about two hours north. My initial plan was to drive to Natchidoches on Wednesday and then be able to have pretty much a full day in Lake Charles on Thursday. However, my mother wanted to get to Lake Charles as quickly as possible so we got into town on Wednesday but were only able to spend a couple of hours looking around before having to leave again for the drive back up north.
My father doesn't handle driving after dark very well and becomes quite agitated in the back seat, constantly asking, "How far???" and responding to any explanation, no matter how reasonable, "Too far!!!" The drive is made even more unpleasant by his insistence on cranking the heat up, regardless of the outside temperature. When he insisted on going to the Super 8 in Lake Charles, we drove by. The large pile of storm-damaged carpet and furniture in the parking lot should have satisfied my father, but in his diminished mental state, he did not seem capable of completely understanding the situation.
We stumbled in to Natchitoches around 10PM. Since my father insists on having three meals a day, regardless of the schedule, my mother and I had to go to a grocery store and pick up some nasty sandwiches. Upon returning to the hotel, I declined the evening meal and went to bed.
As we drove back down to Lake Charles the next day, we jotted down the names of some promising looking hotels along the way that were closer to home. The extensive commute left us with very little time, but as my mother ran some errands around town, I tried calling a number of hotels in the Lake Charles area. Around half of them were closed due to storm damage and the others were booked solid for weeks with evacuees. Thankfully, the Stagecoach Inn in De Ridder (about an hour north of town) had available rooms and I booked a few nights.
One of my mother's nephews had agreed to consider coming down from Missouri to do the repair work on the house. He drove in on Thursday to scout the house and went back to DeRidder with us that evening.