Saturday, September 19, 2015

Lake Fausse Point State Park

We spent Friday and Saturday at Lake Fausse Point in St. Martinville, LA. This is one of our favorite state parks. We always see alligators, snakes and lots of birds. We spent most of our time hiking the trails. This park has 3 hiking trails and we walked 2 of them.
The mosquitoes were terrible and they didn't leave us alone, even after dousing with Off bug spray. Because of that we had to walk faster than we'd like. They swarmed us every time we stopped for a picture. Normally we walk slowly through the woods while looking for alligators or snakes on the bank. Most of the trails follow slow moving bayous which alligators (and mosquitoes!) love.
Some parts of the trails have elevated boardwalks over the swampy sections.
I saw these ferns all along the trails! I love the way they look.
This is a picture of huge sycamore tree. We saw several sycamores in the park, but this one seemed the biggest. You can tell its a sycamore tree from the white smooth bark! Isn't it pretty?
Seeing this water moccasin was one of the highlights of our trip. Believe it or not, this was the only snake we saw. Usually we see plenty snakes here. This snake was laying across the trail, but as we walked closer he moved off a few feet. He sat very still and let us take lots of pictures of him. I think he was about 2 feet long.
We walked upon a family of squirrels eating pecans and this squirrel completely ignored me and let me get a picture. The younger squirrels were moving too quickly for a picture. Not long after we saw this squirrel, I spotted a black squirrel! I've never seen one alive and in the woods (up until now I'd only seen a stuffed one). Unfortunately I didn't get my camera up in time for a picture. He was really big, probably twice the size of the squirrels I normally see.
I believe this is an owl nesting box. The opening is big so I figured its for an owl, although I didn't see any owls around the box. We heard several owls hooting at night.
This is a bayou coming off Lake Fausse Point.
Here's our tent. We stayed in spot #19. There are lots of sites available, some back up to the bayou and some are in a more wooded area. I knew the bayou sites were the popular ones, so I choose a spot without any close neighbors. Each site is paved and has a picnic table, tent pad, BBQ pit and a fire ring.
David found this fishing bait in a tree close to the bayou. He's always on the lookout for baits hung up in trees and he usually finds one in every park we visit. Thanks for reading!

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Sam Houston Jones State Park

We spent the weekend at a state park in Lake Charles, LA called Sam Houston Jones State Park. The park is on the banks of the Calcasieu River. This park has a Frisbee golf course. We saw a group of guys playing Saturday morning. This is the first park that we've visited that has one. I think it looks pretty fun. The RV sites are very close together and some sites aren't paved, only gravel. We stayed in cabin #9 and it was small but nice. Even though the cabin can sleep 6, it is best suited for 2 people. It had a screened in porch and we ate our meals outside. I took this picture early Saturday morning when we went fishing. We didn't catch anything, but it was still fun. After fishing, we rode our bikes around the park. We saw several bat houses near the swamp's edge. Here's a picture of one:
We walked close to the bat house and we could hear them....they make lots of squeaking noises and they smelled pretty bad. The smell was from their guano (bat poop). Bats are beneficial to have around because they eat mosquitoes. There were tons of mosquitoes around the park; the bats probably thought it was an all you can eat mosquito buffet.
This was the only alligator we saw. He didn't seem to be scared of people because I walked up to the water's edge to get the picture. He was near a group of cypress trees. The animal we saw most frequently was turtles. I saw so many of them that I got tired taking pictures of them. I think they are called Red Ear Turtles and they are super scared of people. If they saw me walking anywhere near them, they would plop back in the water.
While walking by the swamp, we heard lots of frogs. I think there were bullfrogs and small normal frogs. I really wanted to see the bullfrogs but all I could find were the regular frogs (I don't know the name of the small frogs so I'm calling them regular frogs).
I took these pictures of Dave on an overpass on the swamp trail. This is the area where we saw turtles and heard frogs.
We saw several garter snakes. I couldn't get a good picture of them because they got scared and ran off. We saw 4-5 garter snakes throughout the park.
While we were riding our bikes, we saw a doe! David took this picture with his phone and we were able to get very close. I suspect people have been feeding this deer because she wasn't afraid of people. In addition to David and myself, there was a group of guys playing Frisbee golf right by the deer.
Here's a look at the Calcasieu River from a trail that follows the river. This trail is 1.6 miles long. We walked a little over 2 miles Saturday plus all the time riding bikes. We got lots of exercise!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Tickfaw State Park

Tickfaw State Park is in Springfield, LA near Hammond. This is a great park with lots of elevated boardwalks and a great nature center. We stayed 3 days and 2 nights at site #37. The sites on the tent loop and RV loop are spacious and have trees in between each site for privacy. Here's what our space looked like:
This is just the tent pad. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and paved parking spot. The best part of our camp site was the cat that showed up! He was so nice and tame. I think he lives at the park. He loved the beef jerky we fed him. Here he is sitting in Dave's lap.
The cat stayed with us until we walked to the nature center. Tickfaw has a really nice nature center, it has a huge aquarium in the center and a big taxidermy display.
The nature center has a trail leading off the back porch that goes through the swamps. There hasn't been much rain so it wasn't very swampy. It was so cold Saturday morning and we didn't see any wildlife on the trails except for squirrels.
Another unique feature of Tickfaw is the huge bald cypress tree called the grandma tree. The sign says it was around in 1812! I couldn't get close enough to get a good picture so I took a picture of the sign. I originally wanted to walk up to the tree and stand next to it so you could get an idea of the size, but it was in standing water and I knew the mud would suck me down and I'd probably loose my shoes. I'll try again in summer.
I'm pretty sure the holes in this tree were caused by a woodpecker. This tree was right off a boardwalk on one of the trails. We saw a woodpecker at our camp site. They have a bright red head so they are easy to spot. He was high up in a tree so I couldn't get a picture of him.
This picture was taken on the last trail we walked on. The trail is called the river overlook/bottomland hardwood trail. The bridge stretches over the Tickfaw River. I thought it looked more like a bayou than a river. That's all for this blog post. If you want to see pictures and videos, follow me on Instagram. My username is msexton1227. If you're reading this on a laptop the link will be in the top right corner. Until next time!

Saturday, June 14, 2014

State Capitol

David and I haven't been to the state capitol in years, so we decided to tour the capitol and surrounding grounds today. Its free to tour the capitol and the building is very pretty inside. I tried to take pictures inside, but I didn't have enough light and most of them didn't turn out well. Here's some of the good ones.
This is a picture of the Memorial Hall. This hall is the first area you see after you walk through the front door. I would describe this hall as opulent. The first thing you notice is all the marble, its everywhere! When you look up, you see two huge bronze chandeliers hanging from the tall ceiling. They each weight two tons. I can't imagine the ceiling framework needed to support them.
The doors were my favorite. Each section depicted a scene in Louisiana history. Each door had three to four sections like this. I think the doors were made of bronze, but I'm not sure. There were two sets of doors, one leading to the House of Representatives chambers and the other the Senate chambers. The chambers are on the far left and right of the Memorial Hall.
This is an example of the border around the ceiling. I think it was painted, but I'm not sure. It was very detailed and they had Spain and France represented on the ceiling too.
The view from the observation deck. It is on the 27th floor and is 350 feet high. I didn't like it up there, it was too high. David didn't mind at all, he was leaning over the railing looking at the people below. The center of the garden is Huey Long's grave. He was the governor in the 1930's and was assassinated at the capitol in 1935. Huey Long commissioned the present day capitol building to be built in the 1930's.
I think every one that visits the capitol takes a picture like this. The steps leading up to the entrance have each state's name and the year they were admitted to the Union.
At 450 feet, the capitol building is the tallest state capitol in the U.S. It was built in 14 months and completed in March 1932.
After we walked around the capitol, we walked a short distance to Arsenal Park. Here is a replica of the Liberty Bell cast in France in 1950. France gave every state a bell like this with the stipulation that it remain on the capitol grounds.
Near the bell is a bust of George Washington. It commemorates his 275th birthday on February 27, 2007.
This is the Old Arsenal Museum on the state capitol grounds. I think this was our favorite part, we both love history. This building was designed to store gunpowder, its walls are four and a half feet thick. Gunpowder needs to be kept dry, so underneath the arsenal the troops stored barrels of charcoal. The charcoal soaked up any moisture that snuck in. It was occupied by the Army from 1810-1885. The museum is inside the old arsenal and its free admission. They have hundreds of replica gunpowder barrels inside.
Here's a section of the Arsenal museum. There are several old pictures from the civil war. They also have cannon balls and two guns on display.
Next to the Arsenal is an Indian mound with two cannons on top of the mound. Dave loves cannons.
This is the Pentagon Barracks viewed from the observation deck of the capitol. You can't go inside the buildings now because they are used as apartments for state legislators. It was built in 1819-22 to house U.S. troops. We walked around the buildings and found this really old sign.
It says: On this site stood the Spanish fort captured by the forces of the Republic of West Florida September 23, 1810. We couldn't read what it said below that. I wish better care had been taken of this old marker.
Did you know that on April 10, 1912 the first U.S. air mail plane flew between New Orleans and Baton Rouge? I didn't either. We found this sign across the street from the Pentagon Barracks. That's all the pictures I have for y'all. If you like history, definitely visit the state capitol.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Rip Van Winkle Gardens

Today we toured the gardens and home of Joseph Jefferson. This was his winter home and it was built in 1870. Jefferson was an actor best known for playing Rip Van Winkle. The gardens are in New Iberia, LA and it costs $10 to tour the gardens and home.
One of the famous visitors to the home was President Grover Cleveland. He took naps under one of the oak trees and it was subsequently named The Cleveland Oak. This is a partial picture of the oak, it was so big I couldn't get all of it.
My favorite part of the gardens was seeing all the peacocks! They were tame and would let you walk right up to them.
When we drove up to the entrance, there were peacocks walking on the roof of the gift shop, in the courtyard, and on the garden paths.
There were several Asian inspired statues found throughout the garden.
The gardens had several types of bamboo. They were very tall and arched over the paths.
Rip Van Winkle Gardens are covered with huge live oaks draped in Spanish moss. Its rumored that the pirate Jean Lafitte buried treasure under one of the oaks.
This picture is so spooky! In 1980 an oil rig accidently drilled into a salt mine causing all the water from Lake Peigneur to form a whirlpool and drain out. The suction from the draining water caused 70 acres of land, barges, and oil rigs to be sucked in the lake. The lake sucked in a smaller home built on the lake, now all that's left is the chimney and it was attached to a second story fireplace. If you want to read more about the drilling disaster click HERE.