This is one Mean Old Lady!

This is one Mean Old Lady!
Self-portrait: 'Quilter on Fire'

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Atchafalaya Basin: Louisiana's Cajun Country

Bayou Benoit
Southwest Louisiana was isolated by its geography (and to some extent, its climate) until the Basin Bridge--a massive project--provided access for something more than the shallow-draft pirogues poled by the native tribes and newer settlers.  For almost 200 years after the Acadians were expelled from their Canadian homes following the 'French and Indian War,'  the resettled 'Cajuns' maintained a unique culture with distinctive language, cookery, and music, separated from the rest of the territory (or eventually state, and indeed the nation.)  

Despite the traffic in tourists (many from France, in fact) even now 'Acadiana' is special, different, and surprising.  

Pecan plantations.......rice mills and cotton gins..........signs reading 'We buy alligators' (and they do not mean 'alive').......Spanish moss and Resurrection ferns draping ancient live oaks.......sleepy bayou waters.........lakes born from the ever-changing Mississippi River..... place names taken from French and Spanish settlers as well as the Native American tribes that predated the European explorers...   Almost everything you see is here by the consent of Nature and immense effort of Man:  steep levees hold back waters (mostly); oxbows dissipate the force of fast-moving rivers; alligators move back into bayous where once they were thought extinct, beneath rookeries of snowy egrets (also once hunted to near-destruction.) 

Lake Fausse Pointe State Park is 22 miles (give or take) from small Henderson, Louisiana.  One gets off the interstate and almost immediately finds that the road (no longer gravel, mercifully) takes off along the base of a huge levee....on and on....and on....until you reach the remote park.  A local fisherman (who was having no luck) described trying to pull in a catfish 'before the gators get to it.'  The mosquitoes were equally enterprising.

Other denizens of the park are also used to the easy life.  We were told that this park regular was always on hand when fish were being cleaned.

This hawk was ubiquitous (and loud) for the entire time we were in the park.

These pictures were taken while other campers were moving into a space.  The presence of four humans (one plainly stalking with camera) did not raise so much as an eyebrow......

Things that were scarce:

doctors; hospitals; emergency rooms; drug stores; grocery stores or gas stations......or cell signals, not to mention accurate maps and  legitimate GPS coordinates that meshed with the visible landscape and highways.  Oh, yeah.....there's a story there.


  1. Elaine, at least just tell us that everything's all right now!

  2. The trip was somewhat star-crossed. About 10 minutes after we left home, we realized we'd forgotten the food in the freezer...then I smelled something burning and said, "I hope that isn't US," but in fact DH had forgotten to release the emergency brake.... We had a lot of bad weather--high winds, storms with heavy rains-- which amended our plans (we never fished at all, and the hiking trails were mostly under water.) The ranger at Lake Bruin handed us, upon our arrival, a 3-page disclosure that one should not drink or cook with the chemically-contaminated water. (No mention of this on the website so that one might fill the camper's tank before arriving.) The DH caught cold and developed a gout attack (a lot of shrimp and crawfish)....and the coup de grace for the MOL, in two words: kidney. stone. (It doesn't kill you, though one rather wonders why not, but a tiny camper is not a great place to spend a night like that.) We decided to cut the trip short...and the final night, a nearby campsite hosted a long, loud CW music fest late into the night, with enough amps to blast an arena audience. Suffice it to say, we are SO glad to be home. Had a CT, seeing a specialist Monday. Impossible not to laugh, really....

  3. Wonderful photos and commentary. Elaine, thank goodness you finally spilled the beans. I wondered, like Sara (hi Sara!), what on earth happened on this trip..and thought you were leaving us with another 'teaser' until I came to the comments here. My imagination was going nuts! Kidney ex husband used to get them, they are indescribably AWFUL. I wouldn't wish that on anyone....take care of yourself, I wish both you and your DH some quiet peaceful days to make up for it all.


Rose 'Crepuscular'

Asparagus bed--post harvest

Lake Conway Mutti und Kinder