Travel Log – Southern Louisiana and Mississippi, March 2019

We traveled from Galveston, TX to Lake Charles, LA on March 9, 2019.

Mar 9

Lake Charles

Sam Houston Jones State Park

Sam Houston Jones State Park’s campground was crowded and sites are pretty close together. However, it was still a nice place to stay while we explored the area. We met the Patterson’s from Alberta. They have been traveling the U.S. for the past five months and will be heading north again pretty soon, as they have to return to Canada by the end of six months. They are in the small trailer with tent extension seen below.

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Some sites had sewer hookups as well, but all were 50-amp with water. Lots of trees made it both beautiful, and tricky to navigate with a big rig.
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The park is next to the West Fork of the Calcasieu River
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Scooter and I enjoyed a walk through the forest between the river and swamps, mud notwithstanding.
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There were many beautiful homes on the opposite side of the river
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We went to church at First Baptist Church, Westlake

Creole Nature Trail

I apparently forgot to take pictures during the two days we explored the Creole Nature Trail. The trail is a scenic byway road that takes you through a number of remote, small towns and marsh/wetland areas, culminating in a string of beaches along the Gulf of Mexico. We downloaded the Creole Nature Trail App and listened to the audio descriptions of the various stops along the way. We decided to break the 180 mile trip up into two legs, following the eastern leg on one day and the western leg on another. We also chose to eat seafood at Steamboat Bill’s in Lake Charles, but I didn’t take pictures of that either!

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Map showing the total route of the Creole Nature Trail.

New Orleans

On March 13 we moved to the New Orleans area, where we spent eight days exploring the region using Bayou Segnette State Park as our home base.

Mar 13

Bayou Segnette State Park

This is a small, urban state park which is surrounded by the westbank community of Westwego, just across the Mississippi from New Orleans. It had the campground and a HUGE picnic area with what looked to be over a hundred picnic tables. There’s a wave pool and canal boat launch as well. The campground was fairly busy, but the other picnic area and pools only open during the summer.

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The campsites were spacious and level, situated around two loops.
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While at the campground, we picked up some freshly boiled crawfish from a nearby market. Darlene’s not a fan, so she had her leftovers from Steamboat Bill’s and I ate the crawfish!

Houmas House

While in the New Orleans area, we chose to purchase a Sightseeing Pass to cover the admission to multiple tourist attractions. One that we chose to see was Houmas House.

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The plantation was the center of a large sugar cane empire owned by John Burnside. The property is currently owned, inhabited (third floor) and operated by local businessman Kevin Kelly.
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The gardens had many beautiful statues, flowers, and fountains.
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These turkeys were “guarding” the entrance to one of the buildings and were quite insistent that we turn around and go the other way!
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The tour guides dress and act in period speech and costumes
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This entryway had these intricate marshland murals painted by one of the previous owners
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The ladies’ reception room had a beautiful grand piano and harp, among other elegant furnishings.
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This spiral staircase connected the 3 floors of the house
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This bedroom and many other areas were featured in the old movie “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte”
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Behind the cute, young couple, notice the alley-way of trees. These used to extend all the way out to the Mississippi River, but about half had to be destroyed in order to build the levee

World War II Museum

I did not take very many pictures at the National World War II museum, but it offers a very large and complete look at the war. We were not able to see everything. They do offer a second day pass for a good price, but we didn’t take that option.

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This is a model depiction of a section of the ships as they approached the beaches of Normandy on D-Day
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I was not aware (which isn’t saying much) of the use of gliders to drop troops and equipment behind enemy lines.
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I was interested in learning a bit more about the battle of Peleliu, where my uncle (Dad’s brother) died.


I learned that Bob Hope did this show on August 12, 1944 from Puvuvu, where the troops were training for the Peleliu engagement. It is quite possible that my uncle was in one of these camera shots!

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We had lunch in “The American Sector” restaurant on the WWII museum campus. Darlene had excellent Shrimp and Grits!
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I enjoyed by Fried Oyster Po-Boy!

Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour

We did a swamp tour in the Barataria Preserve portion of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Jean Lafitte NHP is actually broken up into six different areas across southern Louisiana. In addition to this swamp tour, we also visited the main visitor center in the French Quarter of New Orleans and the Chalmette Battlefield as part of the riverboat cruise (see below). One thing I liked about the swamp tour is that, being in National Park boundaries, there was an emphasis on ecological preservation and no feeding of the alligators, as we’ve heard some tours on private areas do.

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There were six tour boats like this one which all left at the same time, but dispersed throughout the bayou
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We probably saw a total of 20 or more alligators during the 90 minute trip
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This is a reproduction of a trappers cabin which might have been here in the past
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This gator was staying between the boat and that bush behind it. Our guide suggested it might have a nest with young there
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I had a picture (I thought) of a gator on a log and a nutria wandering along the bank behind it. I’ve never seen nor heard of a nutria before this tour.
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Our guide said that the length of an alligator (in feet) can be estimated by the distance (in inches) between its nostrils and eyes
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A great blue heron
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Our guide (Darrin) holding a live alligator. No, I chose NOT to hold it

Creole Queen Paddlewheeler

Another excursion with our Sightseeing Pass was this river boat. We sailed downriver for about 30 minutes and then disembarked at the Chalmette Battlefield, where the Battle of New Orleans took place at the end of the War of 1812. I didn’t take any pictures there, though.

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We were near the end of the line to get on board!
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Darlene and I chose to sit in one of the main dining areas and have lunch there.
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Note the beads. It is New Orleans, after all!
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The lunch was a buffet (one visit only) of various local dishes, including gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice.
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The Mississippi was busy with cargo ship traffic and tugboats
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Another big ship

French Quarter

We wandered around the French Quarter and saw (heard) 3 different jazz ensembles. I tried uploading a video, but it didn’t work.

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This group was right outside of Café Du Monde. We had our coffee and beignets at the location over by the riverboat.
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The National Park Service also operates a visitor in the French Quarter for the New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park. We sat in on a lecture/demonstration by a jazz pianist talking about various jazz piano styles. Again, the video didn’t upload.

 

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We shared a GIANT Muffaletta sandwich at the Market Café near the French Market.
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Typical architecture in the French Quarter
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Statue in the Louis Armstrong Park

Biloxi, Mississippi

On March 21 we left New Orleans and drove to the coastal regions of Mississippi.

Mar 21

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On Sunday we attended the First Baptist Church in Pascagoula.

As soon as I posted our church attendance site on Facebook, I had several people ask if it’s where Mississippi Squirrel Revival took place. I had never heard of it. Enjoy!

Shepard State Park

We stayed in Shepard State Park for four nights. I REALLY liked this campsite and the park had a surprising number of activities available (of which I only participated in one).

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What I liked was the seclusion offered by this particular campsite. It was first in the campground and was far away from all the others. Lots of trees (shown in front of the Beetle) acted like a “fence” that allowed Scooter to explore a bit off leash without easily roaming too far. The area behind those trees was open (with a few scattered trees) and had a firepit and picnic table and a large space of open ground. 50-amp electric and water for $18/night! 
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There was also a hiking trail right next to our site that led to …
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… a disc golf course! I played all 18 holes, starting at #13 and ending at #12, right back at our campsite!

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This state park was also fairly close to the Davis Bayou area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore. We visited some of the Florida side of this park back in December.
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We had catfish and shrimp at Catfish Charlie

Beauvoir

In Biloxi, we visited the last home of Jefferson Davis, the first and only president of the Confederacy. Biloxi and this property were severely damaged during hurricane Katrina in 2005. They are still trying to rebuild and restore what was lost.

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The ceiling in the main entryway is hand painted to look three dimensional, even though it is flat.

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The house as it appears from the Presidential library.
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We spent a few minutes just relaxing at the beach in Biloxi

 

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