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One Night Stands: Making A Beeline South

One Night Stands: Making A Beeline South

Posted by on Feb 10, 2016 in Alabama, Gallery, Mississippi, Musings, Travel | 14 comments

We don’t like one-night stands. They’re too much trouble for too little return. But sometimes, we just have to do it.

I’m talking about our travels, of course. (You knew that, right?) Everyone who travels finds his or her unique pace. We’ve met people who stay a month or longer everywhere they go. (The longer we travel, the more appealing that sounds—except that a cross-country trip at our preferred travel rate of 150 miles per stop would take us 15 months.) At the opposite end of the spectrum, we met an 85-year old man who had been on the road with his wife for 20 years—and they moved every day. “Why?” I asked. He said, “It’s the driving part we like best.

In our opinion, moving too frequently is a big pain. It takes us an hour or two to set up (depending on how many toys we unload), and the same in reverse to prepare for moving. We’ve settled into a rhythm of staying three to five days most places; if it’s a place we really like, we enjoy lingering for a week or two. And in some very special places, we put down temporary roots for a month—or even two.

Occasionally, though, we succumb to a one-night stand. Sometimes it’s because we’re just passing through and there’s nothing that really calls to us—no hiking, no biking, no kayaking, no compelling points of interest or fascinating quirkiness. Other times, our one-night stands are the result of meandering a bit too much along our route and having to pick up the pace to get to a reservation on time. Which is precisely why we dislike making reservations.

For the most part, we avoid making reservations far in advance. We prefer to see how things unfold throughout our travels, making decisions as we go along according to the weather, our desires, and interesting things that come up along the way. If we make reservations, they’re usually just a week or so out.

But there are some places that strategy doesn’t work. The Florida Keys, for example. If you want to camp at a state park in the Keys during the late fall/winter months, you had better make reservations 11 months in advance, or you won’t get in. (Good luck, even then.) Last January, I somehow managed to snag reservations for two weeks at our favorite state park in the Keys, in a primo waterfront site beginning December 1st.

In late November, we awoke in Tupelo, Mississippi, with 1,000 miles to go and 10 days to get to the Keys—including a six-day stopover to see my folks in Apalachicola before continuing south. Which meant, of course, we had some one-night stands in our near future.

 

One-night stands really aren’t too bad if you don’t travel too far in one day. If the drive is between 150-200 miles, there’s still time for a hike (or at least a good long walk). We have friends who prefer to bite the bullet and get the miles behind them, traveling 400+ miles in a day. But we’ve found that four hundred miles is a killer day towing a trailer. We arrive cranky and tired, there’s no time for a walk, and neither one of us feels like cooking dinner. (Wine + popcorn does not make a satisfying meal.)

Even though we occasionally indulge in one-night stands, we don’t just settle for any port in a storm. We look for places that are in beautiful, peaceful locations with easy access to hiking trails. Not too far off of our route, but far enough so that it’s a quiet location, ensuring a good night’s sleep. We make every effort to get a level site so that we don’t have to unhook (if you travel towing a trailer or fifth wheel, you know how much time this saves). And we look for places that are inexpensive. Mind you, we don’t always get our desires met (we did, after all, spend a one-nighter at a rest stop in Amarillo, Texas a couple of weeks ago in the company of a herd of eighteen-wheelers), but we do our best.

About the campgrounds:

• Oak Mountain State Park, Pelham AL

At only 150 miles from Tupelo, we were able to swing through Birmingham, do a big shop at Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods, and head for the hills. Or mountains, in this case.

Oak Mountain State Park is the biggest state park in Alabama, with miles of hiking and biking trails and even a sweet nature trail—an elevated boardwalk with a half-dozen luxurious cages that house birds of prey (all suffered injuries that make them unreleasable).

Water and electric, $26 per night. Decent Verizon. The sites are pull-through and level; the outside sites on B-Loop are especially nice because they back up to the woods. Fall is gorgeous here.

• White Oak Creek COE, Eufala AL

Another 165 miles brought us to the Alabama/Georgia border and White Oak Creek campground, a Corps of Engineers site (we’ve yet to find a COE campground that we don’t like). Spacious sites—most overlooking Lake Eufala—with water and electric hookups, concrete pads, good Verizon coverage, and hiking trails, this was another place that we could have easily spent a few days. COE campgrounds are a bargain at $12 (that’s the half-off Senior Pass price).

• Ross Prairie State Forest, Dunellon FL

After six days with my folks in the panhandle of Florida, we headed for the Keys. Ross Prairie Campground was a terrific find in the highly popular Ocala area (where it can be difficult to find spur-of-the-moment campsites). Although it’s designed as an equestrian campground, rigs without horses are welcome. Fifteen pull-though level gravel sites, electric and water, good Verizon, and a horse wash rack should you need it. Nice hiking trails right from the campground. $22 per night.

• Sabal Palm RV Resort, Palmdale FL

This is why we have Passport America. Sabal Palm RV Resort was a great stop for us en route to the Keys—pull-in, hook up to water and electric (sewer if we wanted it), a long walk around the pretty park, and a good night’s sleep in a dark and quiet campground. All this, for only $15 per night at the 50% Passport America discount.

Next Up: Almost Paradise: The Keys

Making A Beeline South

Fall Colors At Oak Mountain State Park

Beautiful Hike At Oak Mountain State Park

A Slippery Slope

Sweet Little Waterfall Hike

Didn't Expect Such A Great Hike In Alabama

Treetop Nature Trail

"Princess" The Albino Turkey Vulture

Spacious Site At Oak Mountain State Park

Lovely Site At White Oak Creek COE Park

Visit From A Red-Headed Woodpecker

Nice Little Campground At Ross Prairie SP

Wearing Tropical Camouflage On The Prairie

Convenient Overnight At Sabal Palm RV Park

Friendly Horses At The RV Park

Classic Florida Kitsch

Yard Birds At The RV Park

Making A Beeline South
Fall Colors At Oak Mountain State Park
Beautiful Hike At Oak Mountain State Park
A Slippery Slope
Sweet Little Waterfall Hike
Didn't Expect Such A Great Hike In Alabama
Treetop Nature Trail
Spacious Site At Oak Mountain State Park
Lovely Site At White Oak Creek COE Park
Visit From A Red-Headed Woodpecker
Nice Little Campground At Ross Prairie SP
Wearing Tropical Camouflage On The Prairie
Convenient Overnight At Sabal Palm RV Park
Friendly Horses At The RV Park
Classic Florida Kitsch
Yard Birds At The RV Park
Making A Beeline South thumbnail
Fall Colors At Oak Mountain State Park thumbnail
Beautiful Hike At Oak Mountain State Park thumbnail
A Slippery Slope thumbnail
Sweet Little Waterfall Hike thumbnail
Didn't Expect Such A Great Hike In Alabama thumbnail
Treetop Nature Trail thumbnail
Spacious Site At Oak Mountain State Park thumbnail
Lovely Site At White Oak Creek COE Park thumbnail
Visit From A Red-Headed Woodpecker thumbnail
Nice Little Campground At Ross Prairie SP thumbnail
Wearing Tropical Camouflage On The Prairie thumbnail
Convenient Overnight At Sabal Palm RV Park thumbnail
Friendly Horses At The RV Park thumbnail
Classic Florida Kitsch thumbnail
Yard Birds At The RV Park thumbnail

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The Muse Of Ocean Springs

The Muse Of Ocean Springs

Posted by on May 2, 2014 in Art, Biking, Gallery, Kayaking, Mississippi, Travel | 19 comments

For more than 30 years, he was regarded as the town eccentric; today, he’s celebrated as the favorite son of Ocean Springs, Mississippi.

Walter Anderson Self PortraitWalter Inglis Anderson was a luminous artist—some say the most prolific Southern artist of all time. He found his inspiration and what peace he could in nature, tirelessly drawing, painting, and carving his uniquely stylized images of the flora and fauna of the Mississippi Gulf Coast. He was classically trained, and could render perfectly any image. But what Anderson most wanted was to understand nature—to become one with the bird, plant,  fish, or butterfly that he was capturing with brushes, paints, linoleum blocks, clay, or wood.

He cared nothing for fame or recognition; although he produced thousands of pieces of art,  his efforts were purely in service to his spiritual and aesthetic quest. Anderson created enormous lithographs and murals, but most of his work was done on ordinary typing paper, and the majority of his drawings and watercolors were discovered only after his death in 1965.

Anderson came from an artistic family and was encouraged to become an artist. He married, had four children, and for a time worked in the family business, Shearwater Pottery, dutifully painting pottery and producing odd little knickknacks (he called them “widgets”) that were made to appeal to the general public. (The family business still operates today, and still makes the bizarre figurines, along with some quite lovely folk art style pottery.) Anderson chafed at the restrictions of “normal” life, resented that work interfered with his art, and suffered from intermittent depression and psychotic episodes.

According to all accounts, his family was accepting of his need for solitude and his passion for creating art. (Or maybe they just realized they were better off living apart from him!) His wife Sissy wrote, “He was a painter always, a lover at times, and a husband and father never.” Anderson was a familiar sight in Ocean Springs—wearing mismatched clothing and a felt hat, riding his battered bike around the streets of town or rowing his old green wooden skiff 12 miles to Horn Island, his favorite place of solitude. “As long as he feels free, he can function in the world.” That’s what Anderson’s doctor told his family, and so they did their best to accommodate him.

As he plunged deeper into schizophrenia, Anderson spent the last 18 years of his life alone, sequestered in his little cottage on the Shearwater family compound, or on Horn Island under the most primitive and adverse conditions. On one occasion, he chained himself to a tree to experience the power of a hurricane. His daughter Mary described his mental illness as “being cracked open, vulnerable and acutely receptive to everything that comes through the senses.” In his voluminous writings, Anderson described his art as “a process, a means of experiencing the world.”

Today, there’s a beautiful museum dedicated to his work (including his bike and his rowboat on display) next to the Community Center that contains the murals Anderson painted in 1951 as a gift to the town—every square inch of interior wall space is covered with his unique vision of flora and fauna and the history of Ocean Springs. The murals he painted for the WPA that were originally in the high school gymnasium have been relocated to the museum, as has the “Little Room,” the annex to his cottage that no one—including his wife—had seen until after his death. The town flags are emblazoned with a Walter Anderson image of a pelican, and even the signs for the bike paths sport images from one of his panels.

We spent a relaxing couple of days at nearby Davis Bayou campground in the Gulf Islands National Seashore. The amenities are perfect for our interests: There’s plenty of good biking, including along the waterfront and through peaceful neighborhood streets to the pretty downtown area of Ocean Springs. We also enjoyed kayaking Davis Bayou, where green herons, great egrets, yellow crowned and black crowned night herons, great blue herons and nesting osprey surrounded us. It’s an area rich in culture, history, and nature, and our time spent seeing the world through Walter Inglis Anderson’s eyes greatly enriched our experience.

The Muse Of Ocean Springs

Walter Anderson Museum Of Art

Large Block Prints

Prints Of Pelicans And Geese

Typing Paper Artwork

Palmetto Thicket On Typing Paper

Hummingbirds

Anderson's Hat And Paintbrushes

Vases Created In 1930s

Turtle Plate

He Even Made Furniture

WPA Murals

Anderson's Boat Hanging In The Museum

Doorway To The Little Room

The Little Room

Bluejays In The Little Room

Chrysanthemum Ceiling Of The Little Room

The Community Center Murals circa 1951

Community Center Murals

Pileated Woodpecker

Bluejays In Mural

Great Blue Herons

He Painted Every Surface

Pelican Detail

Shearwater Pottery

Shearwater Ceramics

Pileated Woodpecker Ceramic

Odd Little Figurines

Pelican Plate

Salvaged From The Hurricane

Banners For Ocean Springs

Andersons Biloxi Beach Block Print

Signs For The Bike Route

Biking Ocean Springs

Mosaics Along The Waterfront

Biking Along The Gulf

Davis Bayou Kayak Trails

Launch At Davis Bayou

The Cameras Go Everywhere

Look At All Those Herons!

Yellow Crowned Night Heron

Beautiful Day For Kayaking

Heading Under The Bridge

Terns Resting

Campsite Davis Bayou

Walter Anderson Self Portrait

The Muse Of Ocean Springs
Walter Anderson Museum Of Art
Large Block Prints
Prints Of Pelicans And Geese
Typing Paper Artwork
Palmetto Thicket On Typing Paper
Hummingbirds
Anderson's Hat And Paintbrushes
Vases Created In 1930s
Turtle Plate
He Even Made Furniture
WPA Murals
Anderson's Boat Hanging In The Museum
Doorway To The Little Room
The Little Room
Bluejays In The Little Room
Chrysanthemum Ceiling Of The Little Room
The Community Center Murals circa 1951
Community Center Murals
Pileated Woodpecker
Bluejays In Mural
Great Blue Herons
He Painted Every Surface
Pelican Detail
Shearwater Pottery
Shearwater Ceramics
Pileated Woodpecker Ceramic
Odd Little Figurines
Pelican Plate
Salvaged From The Hurricane
Banners For Ocean Springs
Andersons Biloxi Beach Block Print
Signs For The Bike Route
Biking Ocean Springs
Mosaics Along The Waterfront
Biking Along The Gulf
Davis Bayou Kayak Trails
Launch At Davis Bayou
The Cameras Go Everywhere
Look At All Those Herons!
Yellow Crowned Night Heron
Beautiful Day For Kayaking
Heading Under The Bridge
Terns Resting
Campsite Davis Bayou
Walter Anderson Self Portrait
The Muse Of Ocean Springs  thumbnail
Walter Anderson Museum Of Art  thumbnail
Large Block Prints  thumbnail
Prints Of Pelicans And Geese  thumbnail
Typing Paper Artwork  thumbnail
Palmetto Thicket On Typing Paper thumbnail
Hummingbirds thumbnail
Anderson's Hat And Paintbrushes thumbnail
Vases Created In 1930s  thumbnail
Turtle Plate thumbnail
He Even Made Furniture  thumbnail
WPA Murals  thumbnail
Anderson's Boat Hanging In The Museum  thumbnail
Doorway To The Little Room  thumbnail
The Little Room  thumbnail
Bluejays In The Little Room  thumbnail
Chrysanthemum Ceiling Of The Little Room  thumbnail
The Community Center Murals circa 1951  thumbnail
Community Center Murals  thumbnail
Pileated Woodpecker  thumbnail
Bluejays In Mural  thumbnail
Great Blue Herons  thumbnail
He Painted Every Surface  thumbnail
Pelican Detail thumbnail
Shearwater Pottery  thumbnail
Shearwater Ceramics  thumbnail
Pileated Woodpecker Ceramic  thumbnail
Odd Little Figurines  thumbnail
Pelican Plate  thumbnail
Salvaged From The Hurricane  thumbnail
Banners For Ocean Springs  thumbnail
Andersons Biloxi Beach Block Print  thumbnail
Signs For The Bike Route  thumbnail
Biking Ocean Springs  thumbnail
Mosaics Along The Waterfront  thumbnail
Biking Along The Gulf  thumbnail
Davis Bayou Kayak Trails thumbnail
Launch At Davis Bayou  thumbnail
The Cameras Go Everywhere  thumbnail
Look At All Those Herons! thumbnail
Yellow Crowned Night Heron thumbnail
Beautiful Day For Kayaking thumbnail
Heading Under The Bridge  thumbnail
Terns Resting  thumbnail
Campsite Davis Bayou  thumbnail
Walter Anderson Self Portrait thumbnail

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Moving Along

Moving Along

Posted by on Dec 7, 2013 in Alabama, Birding, Gallery, Louisiana, Mississippi, Music, Texas, Travel | 6 comments

Inaively thought that given a year to travel, we would never feel rushed. But the first week of November, in the middle of Texas, we looked at each other and said, “We need to get rolling.” We had reservations for the Keys starting mid-November, but first we wanted to spend a week with my folks in north Florida before undertaking the 650-mile trek to south Florida.

That gave us one week to cover 1,100 miles—basically a straight line from San Angelo, Texas to Eastpoint, Florida. This meant packing up and moving every day, which is most definitely not fun, especially when we’ve grown accustomed to at least a couple of nights—and more often several nights—in one spot. Sometimes, moving on is preferable (like when we’re trying to get ourselves out of Texas, and we’re camped near Houston. Otherwise known as Hell). More often, we have to pry ourselves away from an interesting spot we’ve discovered, promising ourselves that we’ll return. Our list grows longer with every trip. I suspect I’m going to be dragged out of this life lamenting, “But wait! There’s still so much to do!”

Here’s how the last week of our travels to Florida played out:

• Austin, Texas: 205 miles from San Angelo, TX. We spent two nights in Pecan Grove RV Park, a funky old trailer park right in the middle of town. Many people parked their RV’s there decades ago and never left—just landscaped, stuck in a few pink flamingos and neon palm trees, and called it home.

We walked everywhere from Pecan Grove—Zilker Park is a couple of blocks away, with miles of walking trails along the river, a botanical garden, and an herb garden; toured the Moody Theatre, home of Austin City Limits; and went both nights to the Continental Club, a 1957 dive bar that’s considered the place to go for live music—we peeked in and found the downstairs bar to be deafening and overly grungy, but the lounge upstairs was great—we enjoyed world-class jazz and a relaxing, albeit shabby, ambiance. The motto of the town is “Keep Austin Weird,” but we didn’t see anything weirder than is considered normal in Ashland. Except maybe the shop with Elvis memorabilia. We don’t have an Elvis store in Ashland.

• Tomball, Texas: 140 miles. We were trying our best to dodge the vortex of Houston and ended up in a private RV park somewhere slightly north of the city. It was hot, unbearably humid, the traffic is a nightmare, and we couldn’t wait to get out of there. If there was an easy way to completely avoid that part of Texas, we would.

• Lake Charles, Louisiana: 180 miles; stayed at Sam Houston Jones State Park—a decent state park, but muggy and buggy. And it rained. Ugh. Nothing is appealing in that kind of weather. I have no idea why certain areas of this country were ever settled. Eric wants to come back to the nearby Atchafalaya Swamp, where the birding is phenomenal. So are the mosquitoes.

• Tickfaw, Louisiana: 175 miles; stayed at Tickfaw State Park, a well-kept state park in the middle of a swamp. The boardwalk through the swamp is nice if you trot along at a brisk enough pace to stay ahead of the mosquitoes. We stayed here last year because it’s convenient, but one night is plenty long enough.

• Ocean Springs, Mississippi: 125 miles; stayed at Davis Bayou Campground in Gulf Islands National Seashore. It’s a lovely campground and only $15.00 per night (half price with the Senior Pass). But it’s first-come, first-served so you need to arrive early. Lots of nature things to do in the National Seashore (hiking, birding, kayaking) and the little town is intriguing. We want to return to do more exploring; we only had time to walk a few short trails.

• Silverhill, Alabama: 75 miles. Stayed at Blue Moon Farm for an event at The Frog Pond (www.thefrogpondatbluemoonfarm.com).

This was sweet, one of those wonderful serendipitous events that happens if you’re okay with unconventional camping experiences. This was one of many venues for the Frank Brown International Songwriter’s Festival, an annual event that we stumbled upon while staying in nearby Pensacola last November. Cathe, the delightful owner of Blue Moon Farm, invited us to park our trailer on the farm while we enjoyed an afternoon and evening of talented songwriters/musicians. We’re hoping to return; she hosts Sunday evening music events year-round (the cost was a mere $25 for 6 hours of fantastic music). (Here, a music clip from the event: The Frog Pond At Blue Moon Farm).

• Santa Rosa, Florida: 115 miles; stayed at Grayton Beach State Park. Pure white sugar sand beaches, miles of coastline, great birding, great biking, pretty little beach towns.

• Eastpoint, Florida: 105 miles. Finally arrived at my folk’s house in beautiful Eastpoint!

Moving Along

Pecan Grove RV Park

Hasn't Moved In Decades

Neon Landscaping At Pecan Grove

Austin Skyline From Zilker Park

Herb Garden Zilker Park

Botanical Garden In Zilker Park

Downtown Austin

Austin City Limits

Willie Nelson Outside Moody Theatre

Moody Theatre Tour

Stage For Austin City Limits

Austin By Night From Zilker Park

So Far Out

Airstream Turned Cupcake Wagon

Inside Chuy's Tex Mex Restaurant

Elvis In Austin

Fantastic Jazz At The Continental Club

Swamp Mural At Tickfaw State Park

Boardwalk Through The Swamp

Campsite Davis Bayou

Snowy Egret

Salt Marsh

Trail At Davis Bayou Campground

Camping At Blue Moon Farm

Backyard At The Frog Pond

With Cathe On Frog Pond Stage

Getting Ready For The Music

Afternoon Set

Musicians At Frog Pond

Frog Pond Stage By Night

Great Blue Heron Footprint Grayton Beach

Sunset At Grayton Beach State Park

Sunset From My Folk's Dock

Moving Along
Pecan Grove RV Park
Hasn't Moved In Decades
Neon Landscaping At Pecan Grove
Austin Skyline From Zilker Park
Herb Garden Zilker Park
Botanical Garden In Zilker Park
Downtown Austin
Austin City Limits
Willie Nelson Outside Moody Theatre
Moody Theatre Tour
Stage For Austin City Limits
Austin By Night From Zilker Park
So Far Out
Airstream Turned Cupcake Wagon
Inside Chuy's Tex Mex Restaurant
Elvis In Austin
Fantastic Jazz At The Continental Club
Swamp Mural At Tickfaw State Park
Boardwalk Through The Swamp
Campsite Davis Bayou
Snowy Egret
Salt Marsh
Trail At Davis Bayou Campground
Camping At Blue Moon Farm
Backyard At The Frog Pond
With Cathe On Frog Pond Stage
Getting Ready For The Music
Afternoon Set
Musicians At Frog Pond
Frog Pond Stage By Night
Great Blue Heron Footprint Grayton Beach
Sunset At Grayton Beach State Park
Sunset From My Folk's Dock
Moving Along thumbnail
Pecan Grove RV Park  thumbnail
Hasn't Moved In Decades  thumbnail
Neon Landscaping At Pecan Grove  thumbnail
Austin Skyline From Zilker Park  thumbnail
Herb Garden Zilker Park  thumbnail
Botanical Garden In Zilker Park  thumbnail
Downtown Austin  thumbnail
Austin City Limits  thumbnail
Willie Nelson Outside Moody Theatre  thumbnail
Moody Theatre Tour  thumbnail
Stage For Austin City Limits  thumbnail
Austin By Night From Zilker Park  thumbnail
So Far Out  thumbnail
Airstream Turned Cupcake Wagon thumbnail
Inside Chuy's Tex Mex Restaurant  thumbnail
Elvis In Austin  thumbnail
Fantastic Jazz At The Continental Club   thumbnail
Swamp Mural At Tickfaw State Park  thumbnail
Boardwalk Through The Swamp thumbnail
Campsite Davis Bayou  thumbnail
Snowy Egret  thumbnail
Salt Marsh  thumbnail
Trail At Davis Bayou Campground thumbnail
Camping At Blue Moon Farm  thumbnail
Backyard At The Frog Pond  thumbnail
With Cathe On Frog Pond Stage  thumbnail
Getting Ready For The Music  thumbnail
Afternoon Set  thumbnail
Musicians At Frog Pond  thumbnail
Frog Pond Stage By Night  thumbnail
Great Blue Heron Footprint Grayton Beach thumbnail
Sunset At Grayton Beach State Park  thumbnail
Sunset From My Folk's Dock  thumbnail

 

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Swamps and Bayous

Swamps and Bayous

Posted by on Oct 10, 2012 in Birding, Food, Gallery, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas | 10 comments

In only a few days, we’ve moved from the high mountains of New Mexico to the low lying swamps and bayous of east Texas, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The days (and nights) in this region are warm and humid, the flora and fauna almost tropical, and the southern accents are as heavy as the morning fog rising over the swamp.

I grew up in the south, and although I lack a southern accent (except for the irreplaceable “ya’ll), I have no difficulty understanding “southern.” For Eric, California boy that he is, it’s almost a foreign language.

At Poche’s smokehouse in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, Eric smiled politely when the cashier asked him if he’d like some cracklins to go with our purchase of crawfish and homemade sausage. I answered, “Thanks, but no.” As soon as we got out the door, Eric said, “What the heck did she ask me?” (To be fair, it was a heavy Cajun accent, which is even more difficult to understand.)

A sign on the wall menu at Poche’s proclaims, “Every part of the hog is good, from the rooter to the tooter.” We passed on the rooters and tooters (as far as we know) but did enjoy a wonderful Cajun inspired dish that night of crawfish jambalaya flavored with a bit of Poche’s smoked homemade sausage.

We’ve had a taste of the swamps and bayous in three different states in the past three days. At Caddo Lake State Park in the far eastern corner of Texas, we kayaked through a cypress swamp draped in Spanish moss, accompanied by the raucous calls of Pileated Woodpeckers and the songs of Carolina Wrens. In the time-forgotten town of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, we spent a peaceful night at Poche’s Fish-N-Camp, just a couple of miles from the family smokehouse.

And in Gautier, Mississippi, we overnighted at Shepherd State Park, close to the Mississippi Sandhill Crane Refuge, where we spent the next morning exploring this unique ecosystem. This is one of the few remaining wet pine savannahs, and home to a dozen species of carnivorous plants and abundant birdlife, including a small population of endangered Mississippi Sandhill Cranes. We saw a number of species that we don’t see in Oregon, including Brown-headed Nuthatches, Carolina Chickadees, Blue Jays, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Eastern Bluebirds, Brown Thrashers, and Northern Cardinals. We’ve finally hit the birding jackpot on this trip.

While in Mississippi, we spent a couple of hours at the rustic Pascagoula Audubon Center, enjoying the company of the director of the center. He’s Cajun, and told us, “You know, we eat anything!” and proceeded to delight us with a hilarious story of his efforts to contain invasive species by sponsoring a hunt for plants and animals that are threatening to displace native species.

That willingness to eat anything may be a bit rough on those with delicate digestive tracts, though. At Poche’s smokehouse and restaurant, I couldn’t help but notice that right next to the register, and just across from the rooter and tooter motto, are two shelves of digestive aids, ranging from Gas-X to Ex-Lax. (We had no problems, but then again, we stuck to some pretty safe choices.)

Cypress Swamp, Caddo Lake State Park

Campsite Caddo Lake State Park

Beautyberry Everywhere

Kayaking The Cypress Swamp

Poche's Fish 'N Camp

Morning Mist At Poche's

Breaux Bridge

Main Street, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana

Church Reflection In Window

Crawfish Creole

Among Carnivorous Plants

Pitcher Plant About To Get Breakfast

Pascagoula Audubon Center

Inside Pascagoula Audubon Center

Cypress Swamp, Caddo Lake State Park
Campsite Caddo Lake State Park
Beautyberry Everywhere
Kayaking The Cypress Swamp
 Poche's Fish 'N Camp
 Morning Mist At Poche's
 Breaux Bridge
 Main Street, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana
 Church Reflection In Window
 Crawfish Creole
 Among Carnivorous Plants
  Pitcher Plant About To Get Breakfast
 Pascagoula Audubon Center
 Inside Pascagoula Audubon Center
Cypress Swamp, Caddo Lake State Park  thumbnail
Campsite Caddo Lake State Park thumbnail
Beautyberry Everywhere thumbnail
Kayaking The Cypress Swamp thumbnail
 Poche's Fish 'N Camp  thumbnail
 Morning Mist At Poche's  thumbnail
 Breaux Bridge  thumbnail
 Main Street, Breaux Bridge, Louisiana  thumbnail
 Church Reflection In Window  thumbnail
 Crawfish Creole  thumbnail
 Among Carnivorous Plants  thumbnail
  Pitcher Plant About To Get Breakfast  thumbnail
 Pascagoula Audubon Center  thumbnail
 Inside Pascagoula Audubon Center  thumbnail

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