Saturday, January 31, 2015

Southern Swing, Part Two - Louisiana

When you hit the road as newbie fulltimers going places you've never been, especially in a motorhome with a tow car, it is common to want to stay on the big Interstate highways and overnight in the large RV parks with full hookups. There is a feeling of safety in such a plan, not to mention it is very convenient.

Even though we spent the majority of our first few months on the road traveling off the major highways, we still find ourselves getting sucked into traveling in "convenient mode".  We actually have to make the effort to get ourselves off the beaten highway and on the road less traveled and it is still kind of daunting to us.

What if we get ourselves on a road with a low bridge? What if we make a wrong turn and can't get back to where we need to be? What if? What if? What if?

Our swing through Louisiana presented us with a few of those unwanted challenges, but in the end, we persevered.

Tickfaw State Park

Tickfaw is a fantastic state park, but getting there is dicey. It is somewhat off the beaten path, and if you haven't done your research (we didn't) getting there requires some faith, particularly if you are using your non-RV GPS, as we were. It's located a few miles off Interstates 55 & 12, but that few miles will leave you wondering what the heck you've gotten yourself into. The requisite roadside trash is abundant, as are the low-hanging branches and skinny roads with no shoulders. We thought we heard dueling banjos at one point, but we kept going anyway. Suddenly, there it is, the entrance to Tickfaw State Park. And it's worth the trip.

Tickfaw is a small but very popular park in the swamps of Northern Louisiana, close to the town of Springfield. It only has 36 or so RV sites, but plenty more large rental cabins. When we arrived only the camphost was in the park, but by the weekend, the place was jammed with families. It seemed every rig had some kind of elaborate outdoor cooking set up and the smells were amazing.

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After a few days alone, families began to arrive        We added Louisiana to our map, Yay!

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Our secluded spot at Tickfaw                                   Lots of very cool walks around the swamps

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This is why we like being here in the winter :)              It was a little brisk when we first arrived

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These magnificent swamps were basically within a few steps of our campsite!

There is a fantastic nature center and lots of boardwalks that wind through the swamps. Of course at this time of the year, there are no bugs or alligators to worry about, and I have to be honest and tell you we would never, ever be here during the hot months of summer when those things are abundant. Our timing was perfect. The weather was sunny and we enjoyed our daily walks through the swampy goodness.

Bayou Signette State Park (New Orleans)

Our trip to Bayou Signette State Park, our home for a week as we explored New Orleans, should have taken us about an hour, but it ended up taking us about five hours. And we weren't even traveling off the beaten path! We got ourselves into a hell of a jam just trying to get on I-55 not far from Tickfaw! The sign with an arrow pointing to "New Orleans" is positioned on the road directly before the turn onto the service road that parallels I-55. The actual entrance to the Interstate was about 20 yards further down the road. We did not know that, and we found ourselves cruising down the service road. Okay, no problem, we'll just get on at the next entrance. Only, there wasn't one. Without warning, the service road dead-ended, and there was no turnaround. Whaaaat???

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This is the end, my only friend, the end.

Worse, we had come to a stop at a wonky angle, which meant unhooking Toadie Hopper was nearly impossible. This happened on a Sunday, right when the Seattle Seahawks were battling the Green Bay Packers for the championship. We had left in plenty of time to get to our next stop and get set up for the game. The best laid plans . . . oh, WOE is me!!

Steven got out the hammer and went to work trying to separate Toadie from Scoopy while I walked back up the road to scout a place to turn around. After much banging, cursing and gnashing of teeth, he finally got Toadie unhooked. I reversed Scoopy back down the narrow service road until I got her turned around, then off we went on our intended route. Even at this point we could have made it to watch the second half of the game, but no, it was not meant to be.

Somehow, we, and our GPS, got totally confused as we approached Bayou Signette State Park. Because of this, we'd head one way only to decide we needed to be going the opposite direction. We were in a town, in a major shopping area, and I wheeled into a parking lot and did a seriously scary turnaround. Whew. Then, a few miles down the road, we determined I had been going the right direction in the first place. Tempers flared. More cursing and gnashing of teeth. Another scary U-turn.

As all this was going on, Zoe and Tara were texting the game scores and highlights. It was difficult to concentrate on making serious U-turns when the Seahawks were blowing their chance to return to the Super Bowl. I was a mess!

We finally got checked in, only to realize we were right next to the restrooms and playground. Ugh. Steven made a call to the office and we were given a list of available sites. Off we went on foot to check them out. We picked one we liked and moved. Once we were in place, Steven made a mad dash to hook up our Direct TV so that we could watch the end of the game. At this point, the girls were lamenting a certain loss by our beloved Seahawks, and I wasn't all that interested in watching the game. And then a freakin' miracle occurred and texts from Tara started flowing!! O.M.G. I was sitting outside on our deck screaming, and Tara finally hooked us up with a visual of the game via Facetime. We watched the final, glorious minutes of that jaw-dropping Seahawks comeback on my cell phone. Steven had the TV ready to go for the overtime win. Wow!

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Toadie flew her Seahawks flags all the way from Tickfaw.

We had a fabulous time in New Orleans, and as luck would have it, my dear friend Dana was in town on business. As we always do when our paths cross, we met for dinner and enjoyed a great meal and each other’s company.  This is the second time we have met up since we started fulltiming, the first being during our stay in Usery Mountain State Park in Mesa, AZ. Who knows when we will meet up again, but it's a given that it will happen, as Dana travels constantly in her job. We look forward to the next time!

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New Orleans has fabulous cemeteries!                     These codes are a grim reminder of Hurricane Katrina

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Beignets at Cafe Du Monde in New Orleans.             Got Beignets?

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Lots of color on the buildings of Downtown New Orleans and plenty of cool shopping!

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Let’s have some HAB at the BAH :)                           Big personalities in the Big Easy

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We saw plenty of wildlife in and around Bayou Segnette State Park

Breaux Bridge and the fabulous Poche's Fish -n- Camp

One of the first things we noticed about Breaux Bridge is that there is very little roadside trash which was a relief to our eyeballs. So, YAY! for civic pride in Breaux Bridge!

Poche's Fish -n- Camp is a popular stop for RVers, and it's easy to see why. Right outside our windows we were surrounded by water. It was so nice and relaxing. We got in tons of walking and exploring. In addition to taking time to relax and recover from our busy days in the city, we also took a day trip to Avery Island, home of Tabasco Hot Sauce. I did not partake of a single sample, as I am allergic to all things peppery. Still, we had a great time there and even managed to get a Gator Selfie. Now that was scary! He doesn't look all that big in the photo, but I guarantee you that if he had made a move, one of us would be limping.

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We loved our campsite at Poche’s Fish-n-Camp. Water was all around us

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We were perfectly positioned for all the action and didn’t have to step outside Scoopy to see these sights!

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A great day at the factory and the beautiful trail.      Who can resist a selfie with a huge bottle of hot sauce?

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Before                                                                      After (The Chouters were never seen again)

We also took a tour with Cajun County Swamp Tours, which, if you find yourself in this area, is an absolute must! Our guide, Shaun was great. He was extremely knowledgeable, opinionated and had plenty of corny jokes up his sleeve.  I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story, but suffice it to say that we both enjoyed Louisiana way more than we thought we would. I mentioned to Steven that the weather was so perfect, it was like a Seattle summer. Simply glorious!

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The swamp tour got us up close and personal with all sorts of slimy things

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It was a good day for wildlife spotting and a treat for us to see this very cool looking owl!

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Shaun, our guide for the day, kept us entertained and educated

Up next, Southern Swing, Part III - Texas. 

4 comments:

  1. Hogndogs (Beasley's)March 22, 2015 at 4:53 PM

    We're going to follow your lead...New Orleans here we come. Thanks for the preview.

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  2. I agree you were down there at the right time of year! Love the caption on the dead end....we're big fans :-) I wondered if we really needed the RV GPS system, but I think now it's a must-have before we launch. The pics from Scoopy at the Camp are amazing. There are so many "sides" to New Orleans, looks like you captured a lot of them. I'm looking forward to seeing them next year!

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  3. Your challenges getting to Bayou Segnette made me cringe. We've all had those experiences (or worse). Looks like you had a great time in Louisiana -- we were surprised by how much we liked the state, too. If you're ever in New Orleans in April, check out the French Quarter Festival. It's fabulous.

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  4. We love the Bayou area. Swamp tours are great.
    Thanks for the reminder of Nicks writeup on us in the Tumbleweed blog. We had intended to put it in the blog then forgot. Http://tumbleweed-jimdee.blogspot.com.

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