It’s an understatement to say that we are glad to leave the state of Texas today. Now that’s no fault of Texas, rather it just so happens to be such a large expanse when you’re traveling from coast to coast like we are. We decided to try and find a campsite sooner tonight, to rest, catch up and enjoy some time in nature in the appealing looking Lake Charles resort area.
Knowing we’ll be close to New Orleans and its’ metropolitan area, I decided to look ahead and try and find a nice state park, so I was so pleased to find one called Sam Houston Jones State Park. This 1,000+ acre park was named after the state’s 37th governor and boasts hundreds of species of birds, and a mix of pine and cypress trees. Intrigued by the sounds of its’ flora, we drove toward it. We made good time and were looking forward to a peaceful evening, in spite of the increasing humidity. Being from Pacific Coast, we’ll need to adjust from the dryer, desert air, as we head East – and we may as well do so now.
We turned off for the State Park around 5pm, a good time to set up camp. I was a little concerned about finding an available site, being that it was the holiday weekend. I know in California if you try and go camping on a holiday like this you’ll never find a site without reservations weeks or months in advance. So you can imagine my surprise when we were told there were a few sites available.
We drove into the park and I felt drawn in by the sounds of the swamp cicadas. They sounded like a chorus, starting in a lower octave, and peaking at a high pitch, gaining volume as they sang. These unique sounds coincided with an opening in the heavily wooded vistas we’d been seeing along the highway, which opened up into a Spanish Moss-covered swampy wetland. The terrain was complimented by a quiet river on the other side of a road that we traveled through toward the campsites.
As the sun began its’ decent, we found the tent camping area and while a bit crowded, it did hold a few open sites. We picked one and quickly set up camp so we could take a few pictures before dark settled in. Once set up, we took a walk along the swamp, noticing a number of signs that warned us of alligators- which I was secretly hoping to see. While we didn’t spy any this time, we did see some ducks that looked unfamiliar to me – they looked like a cross between a rooster and a duck with their red, white and gray-speckled coloring.
When we returned to camp we heated up some leftover quesadillas in our frying pan and settled down at our portable picnic table, which we were glad to have with us. We took advantage of the early hour and the fact that we had electricity, and spent some time catching up on posts, with the pleasant sounds of family murmurs and cicadas in the background. (We had debated about bringing an extension cord and a fan, but were glad to have both.)
After watching the flickering campfire, where we burned the last remnants of unneeded financial papers, we settled in to go to sleep. Unfortunately as we tucked ourselves in, the families around us just seemed to be getting warmed up – and we needed earplugs to get any sleep. Oh, well – we are used to situations like these when camping, and had come prepared.
The next morning we packed up as we watched some storm clouds loom toward us. We got in a short walk before the rain began pouring down like someone had spilled a giant salt shaker from the sky onto us! Again, getting adjusted to being on the road, but our trusty Element handled it with no problem. We had planned on stopping at a Starbucks to get caught up on some personal and financial items, so this was good timing to hide out in a cozy corner like this one.
We pulled into the Starbucks down near Lake Charles and dashed in with our computers, between bursts of rain. What started out to be an hour’s worth of catch-up turned into 2 cups of coffee and 4 hours later! By around 3pm we realized we should plan the night’s sleeping arrangement, and decided upon a motel. A few minutes later on the computer, Rich informed me that he ‘found a place for us’ for the night, as he had been on FaceBook and his cousin near New Orleans invited us for the night. No matter that we’d never met her, this sounded like an intriguing proposition! I love the element of surprise that life on the road brings to us.
So at around 4pm we hit the road, greeted by clearer skies- and drove an uneventful 4 hours to Lisa’s home in Mandeville, stopping for dinner at a Shoney’s along the way. We were pleasantly surprised by their great service and food, which sustained us until we got to a Mc Donald’s for a quick ice cream before arriving in Mandeville at 10pm. Until next time, stay tuned!