Port Arthur has more to offer than refineries, oil rigs, and that awful smell. It's the gateway to boundless boggy adventures.

NO ONE HAS EVER ACCUSED the city of Port Arthur of being cute or mistaken it for a vacation paradise. It is home to one of the largest oil refinery and petrochemical complexes on earth, a place where rusting inventories of offshore oil rigs are stacked alongside hulking tankers and where tank farms disappear into gumbo swamps. At night the plants look unearthly: a science-fiction writer’s nightmare of a prison colony on the outer moons of Jupiter. This is not a place that beckons to the casual tourist. This is a place that says: Put your head down, flip the air conditioner to “recirc,” and drive on toward something that looks more inviting.

But if you did that, you would be

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