~Catalina State Park, Oro Valley, AZ (near Tucson), November, 2017
I am excited to add a new bird sighting to my Life List. Number 388, a cute Dusky Flycatcher.
This Dusky Flycatcher, migrating south, visited our RV site, at Catalina State Park, for several days; continually searching for insects in the Mesquite trees.
I am writing this post from Lafayette, Louisiana, arriving today after spending three nights in Beaumont, TX. The birding at Cattail Marsh in Beaumont was wonderful! We met some expert birds while out on the pier, giving us some great advice on birding along the Texas and Louisiana Gulf Coasts. Wouldn’t it be fun to attend a couple “Birding Counts” in this area?
Hopefully, next winter we can spend a few weeks down on the Texas Gulf Coast birding. Yeah!!
I am so far behind in posting; hopefully I will catch up soon. I have a few more photos from Catalina State Park to share, and photos from Rock Hound State Park in Deming New Mexico; South Llano River State Park in Junction, TX; McKinney Falls State Park near Austin; and Cattail Marsh in Beaumont.
Howard and I are enjoying our journey…. meeting with friends along the way, eating some delicious food (we had Crawfish Étouffée for lunch) and persuing our hobbies as best we can on the road. I even got to play a couple hours of Pickleball with friends in Austin, which made me extremely happy.
We haven’t seen rain for many, many weeks; I bet we will see some very soon!
If you are ever traveling down Highway 49 near Alexandria, Louisiana, consider stopping at River Cities RV Park in Boyce, LA. It is new, it is nice and clean, it is convenient. Notice the security gate in and out.
After leaving Boyce, Louisiana we traveled Highway 49 to I10 heading toward Madisonville, Louisiana (all interstate travel today) .
We crossed the Atchafalaya Basin, traveling on the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge. A little information about this unique area taken from the web.
The Atchafalaya Basin, or Atchafalaya Swamp, is the largest wetland and swamp in the United States. Located in south central Louisiana, it is a combination of wetlands and river delta area where the Atchafalaya River and the Gulf of Mexico converge. The river stretches from near Simmesport in the north through parts of eight parishes to the Morgan City area in the south. The Atchafalaya is unique among Louisiana basins because it has a growing delta system with nearly stable wetlands. The basin contains about 70% forest habitat and about 30% marsh and open water. It contains the largest contiguous block of forested wetlands remaining in the lower Mississippi River valley and the largest block of floodplain forest in the United States. Best known for its iconic cypress-tupelo swamps, at 260,000 acres, this block of forest represents the largest remaining contiguous tract of coastal cypress in the US.
The Atchafalaya Basin Bridge, also known as the Louisiana Airborne Memorial Bridge, is a pair of parallel bridges in the U.S. state of Louisiana between Baton Rouge and Lafayette which carries Interstate 10 over the Atchafalaya Basin. With a total length of 96,095 feet or 18.2 miles, it is the second-longest bridge in the US and fourteenth-longest in the world by total length.
A few photos, I took, out the window of the RV….
After exiting the Atchafalaya Basin Bridge we crossed the Mississippi River in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
We arrived this afternoon, under cloudy skies, at Fairview Riverside State Park in Madisonville, LA. We have enjoyed visiting this state park many times. Here is our site for the next three nights.
Howard and I enjoyed a late lunch today at a New Orleans style restaurant here in Madisonville. Howard had a Shrimp Po-Boy and I enjoyed what is called a Southern Thing, which includes green-fried tomatoes, shrimp and coleslaw with special sauce, all on french bread (a Po-Boy). Yummy!
Leaving Copper Breaks State Park we traveled on state highways under cloudy skies to Cooper Lake State Park. It was a nice ride. We drove through small towns and in between, as far as the eye could see, hilly, pastoral, acres filled with cattle and horses.
White rail fences and cleverly designed entryways surrounded huge ranch houses proudly displaying their ranch name, something like the Lazy R Ranch, dotted the landscape. Some of these ranches had even larger Show Horse Barns. Gorgeous!
Unfortunately, we were at Cooper Lake State Park for only one night. Under cloudy skies we walked around some of the park and what we saw we liked. We felt we were the only campers in the park, which is filled with lots of trees and scrubs. This park is also designated as a Dark Skies park and believe me it was dark. Just after our walk it began raining and it poured all night.
Monday, We traveled in the rain……
Again choosing to travel down the back roads we made our way to Boyce, Louisiana. We drove through eye pleasing towns with American flags proudly flying, beautiful murals covering the sides of buildings, and well taken care of landscaped city parks on corners.
Every once in a while a truck would pass us with deer legs sticking out of truck beds. Not cute. Hunting season is in full force.
We are stopped tonight in a town near Alexandria, Louisiana, called Boyce at River Cities RV Park.
They are very efficient, I called them on the phone this morning to make a reservation, they sent me a text with the security gate code and our site number, we pulled in, entered the gate code, drove to our site and settled in for the evening. Perfect! But, still raining.
We are heading to Madisonville, Louisiana to visit with friends for two days, then to visit family in Purvis, Mississippi. While in Madisonville we plan to indulge in greatly missed, delicious, cajun food! Grilled Oysters on a half-shell with butter and parmesan cheese just to mention one. C’est Si Bon!
What does, a salt dome, pepper pods and a 200 acre jungle have in common? A trip to Avery Island, Louisiana, and a good time!
The salt dome extends eight miles beneath the earth’s surface and its protruding “island” part of the formation rising above the surface is Avery Island.
The pepper pods, obtained shortly after the Civil War, are special capsicum peppers. Seeds from these capsicum peppers, grown on the Island, are exported to Central and South America, where tabasco peppers are cultivated and harvested.
The 200 acre jungle is home to the world’s most beautiful sanctuaries for the preservation and study of flora and fauna. Edward McIlhenny, son of Tabasco sauce inventor Edmund McIlhenny, was a noted naturalist and explorer and decades ago he cultivated what is today called The Jungle Gardens of Avery Island.
It all began when Edmund McIlhenny cultivated a crop, invented a product over 125 years ago and founded a company on Avery Island.
As their current day brochure states. Much of the world knows about Tabasco pepper sauce.
McIlhenny Company Tabasco Sauce Brand Pepper Sauce!!
**I want to give credit for the information in this blog to the wonderful writers at Tabasco, I used their brochures in writing this blog.
Wednesday, April 2nd we traveled to Avery Island to visit Tabasco. We always have to be conscience of the time we are away from the coach, because of our two beautiful four-legged friends. So when we drove to Avery Island we needed to make a decision on what we wanted to see as we only had time to visit one of two tours. Did we want to tour the Jungle Gardens or take the Tabasco plant tour? It was not a tough decision.
We decided to toured the Jungle Gardens. What beautiful grounds they have; we could have spent the entire day hiking around admiring these gorgeous gardens and taking photos!
The 200 acres of jungle gardens are home to a large collection of some 600 varieties of camellias, including some that McIlhenny developed, along with thousands of azaleas, acres of wildflowers, groves of evergreens, english hollies and wistaria vines, just to mention a few.
You can see Live Oak trees through out the gardens.
When I look at this felled tree, I have to wonder how long it lived and how long has it been since it died.
Beautiful Azaleas and lagoons are everywhere
Bees and Flowers
A lovely white Azalea
A bee enjoying a pink Azelea
Twisted Wisteria Vines
Wisteria Arch, Wisteria was first introduced into New Orleans around 1875.
This Live Oak tree is named for Grover Cleveland. He visited the McIlhenny family and this tree around 1891. It is over 300 years old.
The jungle gardens are a birder’s paradise! We made the right decision in taking this tour.
Over one hundred years ago, Edward McIlhenny helped save a beautiful egret from extinction – the Snowy egret. In 1895 when the snowy was being hunted for its plumage, Edward, built an aviary on Avery Island, and then captured and raised eight wild snowy egrets.
After they had raised their hatches and were ready to migrate, he released them. The snowy egrets returned the next spring and every spring since.
Today this rookery is fondly called “Bird City” where some 20,000 Snowy Egrets, plus many other species of birds, return each spring to raise their young.
For the love of the Great Blue Heron:
For the Love of Herons
Others also enjoy The Jungle Gardens:
As the time for our departure from Avery Island approached, we stopped at the Tabasco Store to look around. We enjoyed a nice cool cup of homemade ice cream, of course made with Tabasco peppers, sampled some of their flavored sauces and even purchased a few items to bring home. It was another fun day spent in Cajun Country!
Side note: On our way down to New Iberia, Louisiana and then out to Avery Island we stopped for lunch at a local place called Landry’s. They serve a different daily lunch to a huge number of hard working folks! The food was delicious!
On this drive we were impressed with the oil and gas related businesses we passed. Thousands of people employed in this industry in numerous small Louisiana towns. From, large oil companies, oil service and training companies, to local support businesses like Laudry’s all employing hard working people.
We should all thank these businesses that supply our oil and gas, and the folks that work in them. It made us happy to see the booming economy in this area, to know that America is rich in oil and gas and that Louisiana is employing lots of people to work in these industries.
We said farewell to Louisiana, for now, and drove to Beaumont, Texas!
While in Beaumont we enjoyed two full, wonderful days of birding. We met some nice folks from the Houston Audubon Society in High Island and it was a special treat meeting a fellow birder and blogger at Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge. More on meeting Judy and how we spent these exciting two days later.
We arrived this morning, April 6th, at Stephen F. Austin State Park and we will be here for several days. As I sit here typing I can even count the number of Northern Cardinals we are seeing, so many in one place!
We passed a good time in the heart of Cajun country!
We pulled into Frog City RV Resort (they all have resort after their name these days). Frog City RV is located off I10 in Duson, LA between Lafayette and Rayne. This is the second time since leaving home, in late October, that we have spent time in a private RV park. We enjoy the natural setting of state parks and stay in them when we can. Over the years, traveling along I10, we have stayed at this RV park to enjoy the Cajun food in the area. This time we decided to stay three nights to explore the area more.
After setting up camp it was time for lunch, so we drove a few miles to Fezzo’s. If you are ever in this area stop in Fezzo’s for a wonderful Cajun meal. We had a salad, a seafood pasta dish with shrimp and crawfish, and the best bread pudding anywhere all for $9.99! Here is their website: http://www.fezzos.com
Tuesday morning we headed to Palmetto Island State Park in Abbeville to look around. We wanted to see if this was a place we would like to camp. We toured around the 96 site campground and stopped at a few places to take some photos.
We were not disappointed and we will add this beautiful park to our list of Louisiana State Parks to visit. It is a little off the beaten path, so I’am thinking, drive there and stay for at least a week or more.
The sites are big and level.
While driving around we passed a trail and decided we needed a walk. The path lead us to Evangeline Pond. As we walked along the trail we heard a big splash! The little guy below must have been sunning on the bank and entered the water when he heard us coming.
Next, we stopped at the Nature Center and walked along a path above the bog.
After leaving the Nature Center we drove over to where they rent Canoes.
Across from the Canoes we spotted these two lying on the shoreline. Thank goodness, we were on the opposite side of the bank.
We wanted to eat some crawfish and hear some Cajun music so we headed over to La Cuisine et la Musique Cajun, a restaurant and cajun dancehall called Randol’s. We enjoyed their early bird special – three pounds of boiled crawfish for $12.00!
Along with our spicy, delicious crawfish we had boiled corn and potatoes, and a dark local Abita Brewery beer. Every night a Cajun band plays beginning at 6:30. They have a nice stage and a huge dance floor. The band is called the Bayou Boys and they were great.
I tried to include a video I took of the band and some couples dancing, but I couldn’t get it to upload. Seems WP won’t take Mov files.