Sunday, January 23, 2011

Lake Charles, Louisiana

Picked our next park to locate us in bayou country of western Louisiana, and a fairly easy drive from the shores of Pontchartrain. We found Sam Houston Jones state park to be a nice place, with a good trail system, lots of riverfront, and two campgrounds that were pleasant, if slightly more densely packed than we prefer. But we got an end-row site, and WiFi is very strong, so we settled in and enjoyed our stay.

A herd of small white-tailed deer make the rounds in the park, taking advantage of the food that campers and park staff offer them. They are quite unafraid. I saw one jogging after one of the white park pick-up trucks, hoping for a handout. There are lots of armadillos around, too, and each seems intent on torturing Toby, ignoring him until he gets close and then scampering coyly away, while he strains at the end of his leash and cries in desparation. He would just love to have an armadillo of his very own!

On one of our many dog walks we noticed a camper that sported more than one tell-tale of full-timing, and which was emblazoned with the intriguing name "Imperfect Destiny" on its spare tire cover. I searched the web and sure enough, a young (by our standards, which is to say, our age) couple and their two dogs, living and working aboard, travelling the country. So, we made contact, and spend the next three evenings enjoying the company of Jim and Julie.

Jim and Julie, plus their two waggy-tailed dogs Siri and Star, live a cosy life in and around their 17' Casita camper. Their careers enable this location-independent lifestyle, which they have made as eco-friendly as is perhaps possible. With solar panels supplying power to their battery bank, they can go for many days off-the-grid, running laptop computers, signal boosters, and the requirements of the Casita as well. It's a nice unit and way of life, just on a significantly smaller scale that our hulking Whale. I envy the freedom that this gives them - freedom to choose those tucked away campsites with the special view and feeling of being at one with one's surroundings. But we do appreciate the pure luxury of space and storage that we have, and are not regretting the path that we chose. Both approaches are perfect in their own ways. Check out their adventures here .

Anyway, we spent three very enjoyable evenings together, learning about each other's way of life, adventures and favorite places. Went out to dinner on our last night, so's I could tuck into a heaping pile of boiled, seasoned, crawfish. They were delicious, surprisingly spicy, and I will have them again if I'm ever back in Louisiana. But, it was barbarous work, ripping their little carapaces off to get to the succulent morsel of meat in the tail, like going after the meat of one hundred miniature lobsters. After just one it was obvious that a clean approach was not an option, and I gave in to the mess and simply enjoyed the flavor.

Some more scenes from our stay in Lake Charles:

The eerie beauty of the cypress swamp:

A diminutive large-mouth bass:

Sometimes we sneak out while Kinsey sleeps so we can hike at a more lively pace. Here we soak in some sun on a viewing platform in the swamp:

Jim and Julie: we look forward to seeing you somewhere down the road!

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