Port Allen, LA (West of Baton Rouge)
This was a “stopover” for a couple days so that settlement papers could catch up to us for the property in Florida.
We are now property owners in FL and are looking forward to going back next winter to build a house.
Sulphur, LA (West of Lake Charles)
The drive across Louisiana from Port Allen to Sulphur was interesting. For a distance of over 20 miles, the highway appears to be “floating” in a bayou. We bypassed New Orleans and Baton Rouge simply because we can’t see everything the first pass around the country. Besides, George and Carol will be catching up next year!
Just west of Sulphur is the starting point for the Creole Nature Trail – National Scenic Byway. This nature trail winds it’s way through a number of Louisiana towns including Hackberry, Holly Beach, Cameron, Creole and Lake Charles and encompasses a number of refuge areas. Along the way, the highway runs parallel to the Gulf of Mexico.
The wildlife is absolutely incredible!
The first refuge area that we explored was the Sabine Wildlife Refuge. We have never seen so many different kinds of ducks, egrets and cranes. No matter where you looked there was something to see.
Check out the link on our home page – “evidence that the south will rise again.” This picture was taken at Holly Beach, LA. Later in the day we spoke to someone in Cameron who confirmed that this was a rather rowdy beach town in the summer; certainly not for us that this was not a summer beach town for grandmothers and children. Holly Beach was our first opportunity to drive on the beach. The sand is so hard that you don't need 4-wheel drive and the you can barely detect tire tracks.
As we drove farther east along the coast, we noticed that there was NO traffic traveling in the opposite direction and that thought it strange since it was a Friday afternoon. All of a sudden, the truck traffic just wouldn’t quit! About six miles down the road we found out why – there is a ferry that carries traffic across the waterway that connects the Gulf to Calcasieu Lake. This canal is used to move barge traffic to and from the Gulf of Mexico to the refineries on the Lake.
For our friends with motor homes – if you have an opportunity to travel to LA and want a campground sitting on the Gulf of Mexico, check out the Cameron City Campground. We found it as we were driving around to find a place to have lunch. This campground has all the attributes that we look for – water, 50 amp power, a view to die for and inexpensive – a mere $10 per night. (ps. . .the dump station is on the street on your way out)
The harbors in every town along the Gulf are filled with shrimp boats and just about every restaurant serves shrimp “right off the boat.” We found one of those places on main street in Cameron and had the best seafood chowder and shrimp po’ boys that you could imagine.
As you drive through the towns, you get a sense poverty and prosperity all on the same street. You see beautiful brick homes built just acres away from one room shacks. We saw run down homes sitting along the Intercoastal Waterway where the value of the property far exceeds the value of the house sitting on it. The one constant in our travels was how friendly the people are. This is certainly a part of the country where “southern hospitality” is valued.
As we continued our drive
through the Creole Nature Trail, we drove the levy at the Cameron Prairie
Refuge. We saw even more animals and
birds than we hadn’t seen earlier in the day.
On Saturday, we drove the western end of the Acadian Trail and unfortunately were very disappointed. There is very little to see in the towns along the way in the western part of Louisiana. The area east is steeped in Acadian history and has a very strong connection to Nova Scotia and the banishment of the French from that Canadian Province. The Longfellow poem entitled “Evangeline” . . . .
On our way back to the motor home, we stopped at the Sam Houston Jones State Park and discovered a campground and picnic area nestled back in the woods. The trees in the swamp are being killed by the river overflow. The fish and wildlife are abundant.
Two days later on Sunday, we took a drive a little farther east to the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge. This is the refuge where we “played” with Otis (see Otis the Otter on the home page) for the afternoon and enjoyed a great picnic lunch while watching the wildlife on the pond. Lacassine was established in 1937 and supports one of the largest concentrations of wintering waterfowl of any refuge in the National system. Over 2100 acres of plants and crops are also maintained to supply adequate food for all the wildlife that calls this refuge home. In past years, concentrations of up to 800,000 ducks and geese have been observed on the marsh. This refuge is also home to armadillos, swamp rabbits, fox squirrels, mink, muskrats, otters, raccoons, coyotes, white-tailed deer and alligators. The measures taken to maintain the food chain include conservation burns in areas where vegetation needs to be renewed.
Rice is one of the predominate crops in this area of Louisiana. The countryside is dotted with rice paddies in various stages of the growth process.
Our adventures in Louisiana along the Gulf Coast are certainly some of the best “see our country” experiences that have made our traveling the country a truly great experience.