Day #41. Exploring Indian mounds

LOCATION:  Delhi, Louisiana – in Northeast part of state.  Not far from Mississippi
CAMPGROUND:  2nd night at Poverty Point Reservoir State Park
WEATHER:  Another gorgeous day.  Sunny.  High 76

George decided to see if he could find the source of our leak. He moved the truck parallel to Joy, then precariously set up the step stool on top of the back of the truck in order to climb up.   I could hardly watch.  He could not find any place where the rain could be coming in.  Hmmnn

We visited the World Heritage site of Poverty Point, about 15 miles from our campground.  It is North America’s largest hunter-gatherer site from about 1700 BC. 

We took the self-guided driving tour, visiting several of their big mounds.  Archaeologists don’t know how they used the mounds, but they are not burial mounds.  We climbed this one that was designed in the shape of a bird.

This is the view from the top.  They had to move about 150 million tons of earth to build these mounds, using small bags.  An amazing feat!

Based on their artifact findings, archaeologists think they were a very advanced civilization.  These circles (reminded me of Stonehenge) are where they found huge holes where poles had stood for some ceremony.

I asked where the name Poverty Point came from. It doesn’t have anything to do with the Indian mounds. In the 1800s, a European settler had a plantation here that went bust.

Our state park owns a nice golf course and marina, in addition to the campground.  We decided to check out the golf course’s bistro for a drink and to use their wifi. 

DINNER:  On the stand-up grill, George made a nice fire and grilled the last of the frozen tuna (the free steaks that a fisherman gave us from the Gulf a few weeks ago).  I made a wasabi/soy sauce to drizzle on them.  Sides were ramen noodles and carrot sunomono. (Sunomono means vinegared foods in Japanese.  They are common side dishes.)  I made this by cutting carrots in tiny matchstick pieces and marinating them all day in a sauce made with rice vinegar, soy sauce, and a bit of sugar.  I sprinkled sesame seeds on top to serve.   We had a glass of sake to pair with the meal. As they say in Japanese…Ooishii! 

Day #40 – Loving Louisiana State Parks!

LOCATION:  Delhi, Louisiana (not India!)  About 1 hour west of Vicksburg, Mississippi in Northeast Louisiana. 
CAMPGROUND:  Poverty Point Reservoir State Park.  These Louisiana state parks keep getting better and better.  This one is situated on a beautiful lake/reservoir with a beach and fishing pier.  Cabins and lodges for rent, too.  Water and electricity at sites.  Sites are paved, level, and long.  Squeaky-clean bathrooms with laundry. Fire pit, stand-up grill, and picnic tables.  Sites are very spaced out.  We have the place almost to ourselves.  And the best part…..with our senior discount…$14/night.  5 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Perfect for camping.  Mostly sunny.  High 72
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  1.5 hours

We just had a short drive between state parks today.  We stuck around Lake Bruin, taking our time  packing up.

We followed the Great River Road for most of the trip.  Unlike most Louisiana secondary roads, it has a shoulder, and doesn’t just drop down into a deep water-filled ditch…Thank goodness – as we encountered 5 houses being moved and 4 huge pieces of farm machinery.  They took up both lanes and I had to squeeze way over on the shoulder.  What is it with moving houses here? 

After getting set up, we went in to town to find a grocery.  (They are hard to come by in this part of the country).  We stocked up, as we don’t know when the next one will be.  People are very non-compliant with mask-wearing here.  The sign on the grocery store said that masks were required.  All the staff were wearing masks, although some were being used more like chin decorations.  Only about 25% of the customers were wearing them. 

Back at the campground, we took a hike on some of the trails.  This is the first time in a while that we have been able to do this, as trails have been flooded  or muddy.  These bear signs are all over!  But…we didn’t encounter any.

We drove around the park. In addition to the RV section, there are several lodges and cabins. These cabins appeal to fishermen who can tie their boat to their private dock.

DINNER:  I revived some of the frozen leftover jambalaya by adding sauteed onion, garlic, andouille sausage, and bouillion.  Side was steamed,  fresh green beans.

BOOK:  “Mistress of the Ritz” by Melanie Benjamin.  This is a non-fiction historical novel inspired by a true story of an American woman who married the manager of the Ritz Hotel in Paris, and their lives before and during WWII.  5 stars out of 5

Day #39….What is that big yellow ball in the sky?

LOCATION:  In Northeast Louisiana, south of Vicksburg, MS
CAMPGROUND:  3rd night at Lake Bruin State Park
WEATHER:  Back to the good stuff!  Mostly sunny.  High 72

What is that big yellow ball up in the sky?  Oh!  It is the sun!  It’s been such a long time, that I didn’t recognize it!!!    🙂

Since there aren’t any other campers nearby, we have been sleeping with our curtains open.  This morning, we were awakened by a big ball of welcoming yellow streaming through the windows.  Great!

We had our regular Sunday morning routine….We watched “CBS Sunday Morning” while George made his famous grits and eggs.  This morning, he did a switch….he added some boiled crawfish to the grits. Kind of a twist on shrimp and grits.   Quite tasty!

Today’s “CBS Sunday Morning” show was dedicated to travel, about how people really have the itch to get back to it. They said currently it is mostly  the “grey wave” – meaning we old people that have had the vaccine are the biggest group traveling.  We are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to go to France this fall.  The show had an interview with one of my boyfriends – Rick Steves – who talked about how he is getting through a year+ of the pandemic without any traveling.

The sun is shining on Joy, and she is a happy camper, like we are!

I took a nice walk around the campground.  There are a lot of pretty flowers around, including these yellow wild flowers.  There are lots of birds, too – red cardinals, red-headed woodpeckers, and blue birds.  Sounds and looks like spring!

Rain –> standing water + warmer temps = mosquitoes.  They are pretty bad, so we set up our screened tent.  We have been carrying this around for more than 2 years, as sort of an insurance policy.   If we have it, it seems that we don’t need it; when we have it, we don’t need it!  But today, it was great to have.  It took some time to set up as we were out of practice.  We placed it around the picnic table. 

I spent several hours inside the tent happily bug-free, reading a good book.

DINNER:  George got a fire going in the stand-up grill.  All of the recent rain has caused dead tree limbs to fall from trees, so we scrounged a lot of wood to use on the fire.  I had him saute some Italian sausage, onions, and garlic in the iron skillet over the fire  (so I wouldn’t have to do it inside) to make a meat sauce. Then, I made a pasta casserole with the meat sauce, ricotta, and parmesan.  It is nice to have an oven for dishes like this.   Side was steamed broccoli.  A nice change of pace!

Day #38 – Lakeside living, Louisiana-style

LOCATION:  In Northeast Louisiana.  South of Vicksburg, MS
CAMPGROUND:  Lake Bruin State Park – 2nd night
WEATHER:  Cloudy all day.  High 62

We welcomed the day with NO puddles on the floor.  Yay!  The rain has mostly stopped, but it is gloomy. 

There isn’t much out here except the lake.  It is nice and peaceful.  A group of fishermen got out early for a fishing tournament. 

We really like Louisiana state park campgrounds.  They have all been well-kept and with good amenities – either full hook-ups or at least water/electricity.  Great fire pits and stand-up grills.  Sites that are spread out and are paved/level.  Very nice bathrooms.  Wifi. They give us seniors a 50% discount, sweetening the deal.    And…unusual for a state park – laundries.  We were told this reason…..Louisiana experiences a lot of bad weather, including hurricanes.  FEMA brings in temporary housing for displaced people.  When they no longer need the FEMA houses, they take out the washers and dryers and donate them to the state parks.  Brilliant!

I took advantage of the laundry and washed/dried all the wet towels and rags we have been using to mop up from our leak.

Many of the state parks also have “splash pads” which must be popular on a hot, sunny day in the summer…

There is one restaurant in the area so we checked it out for lunch.  It is actually in a gas station/convenience store/bait shop.  We shared a crab cake sandwich on a ciabatta roll (surprisingly good).  George ordered a side of onion rings.  Wow!

We drove around the lake, which is quite large.  It used to be part of the Mississippi River.  There are no commercial businesses around – just houses with private docks. 

We walked around the campground and watched the fishermen do the weigh-in for the tournament.  We had to leave early, though, as the mosquitos/gnats were ferocious.

George built a fire, mostly to make smoke to keep the bugs away. 

DINNER:  When we were at the Cajun Fest, there was a lot of leftover food.  Not wanting it to go to waste, I took plastic containers to each evening meal and filled them up.  Tonight was leftover etouffee to which I added more crawfish and onions.  I see several more Cajun Fest meals in our future! 

Day #37: Rain – Enough already!!!

LOCATION:  In Northeast Louisiana, not far from the Mississippi.  South of Vicksburg, MS
CAMPGROUND:  Lake Bruin State Park.  Nice sites; some right on the lake.  Full hook-ups.  Beautiful bathrooms.  Very spacious.  Fire pit and stand-up stove.  Picnic table.  Wifi.  $18/night.  5 stars out of 5
WEATHER:  Yuck.  Another day of rain, all day.  Cooler.  High 62
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  5 hours

To the blog reader who recommended Fairview-Riverside State Park……Don’t feel bad that you recommended the park – it is a beautiful park, one of the nicest we have stayed at.  We just were unlucky with the weather.  Maybe next time!

It rained several hours again during the night, quite hard, and we were saddened to find another puddle of water in the kitchen area.  This time it was deeper and biggger.  I had to take out all the stuff in the cupboards under the seats as the area was flooded.  We called the Airstream factory to schedule a repair date.  The first available is the end of August!!!  George thinks a seam must not be sealed correctly on the top side of the camper, allowing water to seep in behind the refrigerator.  For now, we will get a tarp and hang it up whenever rain is predicted. 

The state of Louisiana is shaped like a boot.  We have been in the “toe” part of the boot and today headed north and west.  The trip could have taken about 2 hours, had we taken the Interstates, but since we were not in a hurry, we stayed on country roads.  The trip took us through a corner of Mississippi, and then back into Louisiana.  It was slow-going, as we went through a lot of tiny towns, many of which only had a Baptist church.  Lots of 4-way stops, too. It was an enjoyable drive.  We had the roads almost to ourselves.  Lots of flowers and cows. 

One bad thing about country roads is that they usually don’t have picnic areas or rest stops.  Today, we pulled in to an empty lot in a deserted town, and had our picnic lunch.  As we were leaving, we saw these signs all over the lot….

We crossed over the Mississippi in Natchez, MS.  The last leg of the drive was on the Great River Road, almost paralleling the Mississippi.  We have “done” the northern part of the Great River Road, and now we will do the southern part.

This park is situated right on the lake.  Most of the other campers seem to be fishermen.  Our original site was right on the water – a beautiful view, but wet due to all the recent rain.  The lake is quite high.  So, the host moved us to a higher section.  It is quieter, and we like it.  We will be here 3 nights.

DINNER:  Something different…a panini.  I had seen this on a menu in a restaurant, and thought I would give it a try, needing to  use up the French bread loaf that we had bought in a Cajun bakery.  I made the panini with mushroom brie, smoked turkey breast slices, and a mix of sauteed onions and mushrooms.  I grilled the sandwich on our George Foreman grill.  Side was sauteed yellow squash.  All quite nice!

Day #36. Rain, rain….go away!

LOCATION:  On the north shore of New Orleans’ Lake Ponchartrain
CAMPGROUND:  3rd night at Fairview-Riverside State Park
WEATHER:  RAIN!  Finally nice in late PM

I don’t think I have ever been in a thunderstorm that lasted as long as the one last night.  It absolutely poured all night with thunder and lightening crashing all around.  It lasted at least 12 hours.  Normally, the rain noise on the Airstream is very pleasant – creating a nice, cozy atmosphere inside.  This time, however, it was so loud that we could not hear each other speak.  And, it went on and on….

To make matters worse, we awoke to find a puddle on the floor.  We have had this issue once before in another hard rain.  Rain is coming in somewhere behind the refrigerator, and then seeps out under the refrigerator into the kitchen area.  We sopped it all up and turned the space heater on to dry the floor.  Very concerning….

When the rain let up a bit, I walked over to the closed “wet” side of the campground.

This is the site we were supposed to have… And – this photo was taken AFTER the water had receded…

The speed limit and “no parking” signs were under water…

What does one do when the weather is miserable?  Go to a brewery, of course!!!  We checked out Abita, the largest and oldest one in Louisiana.  I tried one of their experimental beers – a double-hopped IPA, and George had a Dunkel. 

From there, we went to their restaurant which used to be their brewery before they outgrew it.  We shared a portobello sandwich, which was very nice.

Back at the campground, the sun came out.  YAY!  We scrounged some firewood that another camper had abandoned and George made one of his good fires….after the wood had a chance to dry out.

We partially hooked up so that we wouldn’t have to do it in tomorrow’s predicted rain (big sigh here!) 

DINNER:  I re-purposed some frozen fried chicken – adding sauteed onions, mushrooms, and squash – to make a chicken curry sauce.  I served it over couscous. 

Day #35. Feel like we are on Noah’s Ark!

LOCATION:  On the north shore of New Orleans, Louisiana
CAMPGROUND:  2nd night at Fairview-Riverside State Park
WEATHER:  Rain, rain, rain.  High 74

This is the “dry” part of the campground where we moved to last night… Ha!

We haven’t seen many Airstreams on this trip, but there are 4 of us here today.  An Airstream couple next to us took a photo of Joy before the rain forced us to move last night…

And this is their Airstream before they had to move. They were watching the water rise…

I checked with the office to see whether we needed to move again or not.  Sure enough, someone is scheduled to come to the site where we rushed to last night.  I agreed to help out the camp host.  She gave me a list of the sites availablle for the next 2 nights, and I went to check them out and to report which ones were being occupied temporarily.  A lot of the sites were too wet or muddy.  We found a site and moved….again.  We (the other Airstream lady and I) were rushing around to do this, as another downpour was predicted to start at 9:00 AM

It continued to rain most of the day, off and on.  Overcast and gloomy.  The highlight of the day was going to a brewpub in town.  They had just smoked some ribs and chicken, so we shared an order of smoked chicken wings….delish!

We checked out the little town of Madisonville, where we are located.  The riverfront is nice, with a lot of  beautiful homes along the shore, and some cute little cottages tucked back on side streets.

With some good internet, I made some camping reservations for the next week or so.  We are going to hang out in northern Louisiana for a while, since we have never visited that area before, and since we don’t t want to go North too soon. 

Nice and cozy inside, we popped some popcorn and watched a DVD movie. 

DINNER:  Leftover shrimp/bean stew (my brother’s recipe).  I toasted some French bread and warmed up some corn-on-the-cob (left over from the crawfish boil.) 

BOOK:  “The Cat Who Saw Stars” by Lilian Jackson Braun. This is an old series that I used to listen to with books on tape.  Very, very light.  This is a paperback that I picked up at one of the campgrounds – where campers trade their books and DVDs.  4 stars out of 5.

The sun set was pretty in the clouds…

Day #34 – Time to evacuate – a flood!

LOCATION:  On the “north shore” of New Orleans – Madisonville, LA
CAMPGROUND:  Fairview-Riverside State Park.  Water/electricity on nice paved site.  Trees separating sites.  Firepit and stand-up grill.  Picnic table.  Beautiful showers/bathrooms.  $15/night with senior discount.  Some sites have river views.  5 out of 5 (except for the weather/rain) – see below
DISTANCE DRIVEN:  4 hours

About 6:00 AM, many of the big rigs at the Cajun Fest started up their noisy diesel engines and let them idle, waking the rest of us up.  Most cleared out by 8:00 AM.  Many of them are huge, like this one.  Their “toy hauler” is bigger than Joy!

We said good-bye to our friends, the Glanvilles, as they headed west, back toward Texas. 

I walked around the resort.  The swimming pool here is beautiful.  It has a swim-up bar and a “lazy river” for floating.  We just didn’t have enough time to enjoy it.

The road conditions were terrible,  just like most of the other Louisiana roads we have driven on.  It rained almost the entire trip.  We stopped at a roadside stand for a snack – boudin balls.  This is a Cajun favorite.  It is a sausage that has some rice filler.  We bought a crawfish one.  It was tasty, but had a strange consistency.

George drove the last hour – through the outskirts of New Orleans, and then across Lake Pontchartrain, on the 25-mile causeway, the world’s longest.  The rains were torrential, and we could only see a few feet ahead of us – very stressful.

This state park is not far from the lake, and is on the banks of the Tchefuncte River.  It is very picturesque with large oak trees all around the park.  We have a “premier” site near the river. 

We got settled in, in between rain storms.  After dinner, the park host knocked on our door, and told us that we had to move.  We looked outside.  Yikes!  We were in the middle of a lake that was getting higher by the minute!!!  The host told us to to move to any vacant site in the other section of the park.  We, and all of the other RVs, found new sites.  A small Casita trailer sat alone in the “lake”.  Its owners must have gone out for dinner.  I hope they return soon, or the Casita will be swept away.  The park has enough sites to accommodate us, but I wonder what they would have done if this had been during the weekend, when the park is completely full.  Tomorrow, we have to go to the office to figure out whether we stay in this new site, or need to move again.  Unfortunately, heavy rains are predicted for tomorrow and the following day.  I was told the flooding was a result of several factors – hard rains all day today, plus high tide, and the winds blowing the water from Lake Pontchartrain to the Tchefuncte River. 

DINNER:  Time for leftovers.  Tonight was leftover Cajun pork steaks.  I cubed the meat, warmed the chunks in a skillet, then topped with a walnut/parmesan cheese crumble.  I sauted the potatoes left over from the crawfish boil.  We had some tomatoes that needed to be used so I made a caprese salad, substituting pesto for fresh basil.  It was actually quite tasty.  We will be eating leftovers for the next week or longer! 


Day #33 – Even more crawfish!

LOCATION:  Last day of Cajun Fest/Rally in New Iberia, Louisiana
CAMPGROUND:  5th night at Isle of Iberia RV Park
WEATHER:  A repeat of perfect temps – sunny.  High 82

A reader asked me about Joy, our Airstream, and about our budgeting system……Joy is a 2018 Flying Cloud – 25-foot with a queen rear bed.  Just the perfect size for us! 

For a budget…..We carefully monitor our expenses versus income (pension, social security).   When it is just the two of us, we rarely eat out.  If we do, it is lunch at a brewpub; never for dinner.  We ALWAYS share a meal – cheaper and we just don’t need all that much food.  We try to stay in state parks, national parks, national forests, or Corps of Engineers parks.  With our senior discount, this means they are usually $8-15/night.  We don’t like commercial RV parks, but sometimes they are the only option.  We also stay in a lot of Harvest Host sites – free accommodation, but we repay their hospitality by buying something  – beer or wine, usually.  We don’t have a lot of “stuff” – no solar panels, no generators – just a good battery that allows us to dry- camp for about 5 days.  So, our expenses are mostly food & drink, gas, and camping fees.  These last few days at the Cajun Fest have been a splurge.  Sometimes you just have to do that!    Let me know if you have any follow-up questions.  Thanks for being a blog follower! 

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George and the Glanvilles drove to a town a few miles from here, in search of some good French bread.  Since it is French area, we thought there would be several bakeries.  They found a historic bakery and bought a loaf, but they were a bit disappointed in not finding croissants or anything for breakfast.

While they were out, I spent 3 hours (2.5 hours on hold; 1/2 hour actually speaking with someone) on the phone with Orbitz, trying to redeem a flight cancellation and to make a new booking.  I was finally successful, but it was very stressful!

Since their breakfast trip was not successful, we headed out for an early lunch to a diner that had been recommended to us.  It was all locals, and absolutely packed!  We had some red beans and rice (a Cajun specialty on Mondays.)  Rob enjoyed a milkshake – the great old-fashioned kind with real ice cream.  Happy guy!

Then, we visited America’s oldest continuously operated rice mill  – located in New Iberia.  We bought some rice products and went on a tour.

From there, we headed to the Tabasco factory, in nearby Avery Island.  This is the factory…..closed to tours due to Covid.

We hit up the country store to buy some Tabasco-related things – T-shirts, hot sauce, pickled okra, and bloody Mary mix.  They sell many different kinds of Tabasco that you don’t find in a regular store.  Also, HUGE bottles of the stuff!

Their restaurant was also closed, but it has a good reputation of serving foods infused in interesting ways with Tabasco. 

As I was walking on the grounds, a bird started peeping at me furiously.  She spread her wings and started chasing me!  I realized that she had just laid some eggs and was protecting them from me…

We did the driving Jungle Gardens tour.  The original owner of Tabasco built this estate and lush gardens in the 1800s.  It is full of beautiful oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, bamboo, camelias, and azaleas.  There are also a lot of interesting birds and alligators.

We drove around New Iberia, in search of inexpensive gas.  This house was being moved  –  right in front of us!

DINNER:  Tonight was the culmination of the Cajun Fest – a big boiled crawfish feast.     It was catered by Cajun Claws – the place where we watched them sort the crawfish.

We were each given a 3-pound pile,  along with boiled corn and potatoes.

By pound #2, we were pretty tired of eating them, so just sucked the heads and snapped off the tails – to be peeled and eaten later.

Then, the last night of dancing with a live band. We gathered once again near the swimming pool, in a bandstand-type of area.    This band was Zydeco – featuring a different kind of accordion.  It is more the Creole style, rather than Cajun.  The main singer/accordion player is apparently widely renowned.

Day #32 – Crawfish, crawfish everywhere!

LOCATION:  New Iberia, Louisiana at the Cajun Fest
CAMPGROUND:  4th night at Isle of Iberia RV Resort
WEATHER:  Another perfect day!  (We have been so lucky!)  Sunny.  High 79

Today was another full day of crawfish “stuff”.  Fun!  We took off toward a tour of a crawfish sorting plant with the idea that we would find a little shack along the way.  Alas, the 2 restaurants we stopped at were closed (probably due to the strong Catholicism here.)   We ended up at Cajun Claws, a fun place with lots of crawfish served many ways on the menu.

We shared a grilled crawfish po’boy.  It was great.  Sides were Louisiana-grown sweet potato fries.

Boiled crawfish is super popular at this restaurant.  We saw families with huge piles of the critters – either 3 or 5 pounds per person.  (George and I previously shared one pound and thought that was plenty! )  The restaurant  thoughtfully provides sinks so you can wash your hands after your messy meal.

We walked around to the back to the building where the crawfish sorting takes place.  First they are placed in a big bin to wash thoroughly.  Then, they flow down a big machine that divides them into 4 sizes.  Men along the way do quality control to make sure they get in the proper bag.

Each bag represents a different size.  The biggest go to restaurants to be boiled and peeled by patrons. Others go to plants where they are shelled.  The smallest ones end up in dishes like etouffee. 

Some of the little critters tried to escape!

We talked with the owner/distributor (the guy who was badmouthed yesterday by the farmer).  He said that the crawfish industry here has saved farmers’ lives.  Previously they barely made it planting just rice and soybeans.  Now with crawfish, their standard of living has gone way up.  Just in this area, more than 150 million pounds of crawfish are raised.  Outside the building that we toured were rows and rows of refrigerated trucks prepared to take these critters away. 

Back at the RV park, George happily watched the end of the Masters Golf Tournament.

DINNER:  Another community dinner.  Tonight was jambalaya.  I’ve had better before, but this was pretty good with sausage and chicken. 

After dinner was another Cajun band playing music on the swimming pool deck from 7:00 – 9:00.  Pretty good for dancing.  Very good for toe-tapping!