Looking at maps and brochures of Louisiana, as we plan our activities here, one of the things we learned is that the state has its own distinct lingo. You don’t cross boundaries from one county to another–counties are called parishes. Sometimes you do cross rivers, but other times when you think it’s a river it’s actually called a bayou.
St. Tammany Parish, where we spent the first part of the week, has an interesting historical footnote. It was one of the Spanish-governed West Florida parishes that was not included in the Lousiana Purchase of 1803. In September 1810, residents revolted against Spanish rule and created the Republic of West Florida. The republic lasted 74 days, raising a new flag and electing a president, before being forcibly annexed by the US in December 1810.
Unlike the days that we had spent along the Gulf Coast in Florida, Alabama and Mississippi, the weather this week promised sunny skies, giving us the opportunity to spend some time camping.
For two days we were at Fairview Riverside State Park on the banks of the Tchefuncte River. The nights were quite cold, but since the days were sunny, we enjoyed being able to move our camp chairs to a sunny spot after breakfast and warm ourselves up before beginning the day’s activities.
Boardwalk at Fairview Riverside
Tchefuncte River at Fairview Riverside
Fairview was a small park, but was a good base camp for doing other activities in the area.
We rode our bikes on the Tammany Trace bike path, doing a north section one day and a south section a second day. The trailhead in the town of Covington has a small park which felt like being in a small Iowa town for RAGBRAI.
Leaving Covington and crossing Bogue Falaya River
The Trailhead after Covington is another small town, Abita Springs. A pavilion here had a statue and plaque dedicated to the Legend of the Abita Princess.
Words on the plaque:
“Many years ago a dying Choctaw princess was brought to drink from a natural spring flowing from a cypress stump and then fully recovered. The healing properties of the Abita Springs have been famous ever since, as Abita Springs remains a favorite destination for those seeking the cool, pure waters and the ozone air of this very special place.”
Cherokee Rose in bloom along Tammany Trace
At the Bayou Lacombe Trailhead on the Tammany Trace. This was an interesting stop because the bridge that the bike path crossed was actually a drawbridge–can you believe it, constructing a drawbridge just for a bike path?
Another two days of camping was spent at Tickfaw State Park. Whereas Fairview Riverside was close to an urban area, Tickfaw was way out in the swamps. We were a bit apprehensive about going there because of posted warnings that some of the tent sites were under water. It certainly was a wet area and we had to carefully look at all the sites to find one that wasn’t too muddy or too far from the bathrooms. The first night only one other tent site had campers and the second night we were the only ones in the tent camping area. But it was quiet and peaceful and as long as I didn’t let my mind wander to thoughts of something from the swamp crawling up into the tent at night, it was fine.
Campsite at Tickfaw (it looked better when the tent was set up)
Roadside view driving through Tickfaw
River Trail at Tickfaw
Boardwalk Trail at Tickfaw
Tickfaw was the base camp for our excursion yesterday into the Big Easy. We couldn’t be this close to New Orleans and not take one day to play tourist.
Tonight we are in a motel in Baton Rouge. The weather forecast calls for rain tomorrow so we decided to forgo another day of camping. We now have to decide whether to head west on Interstate 10 into Texas or to go further north exploring other parts of Louisiana before driving into Texas.