Nature’s fury-Hurricanes and Louisiana and the 2nd amendment
This 1,087-acre park near Moss Bluff, Sam Houston Jones, recently re-opened. In August 27, 2020 Hurricane Laura, blew through as a high-end Category 4 hurricane, made landfall near the Louisiana–Texas border in Cameron Parish and simultaneously tied the 1856 Last Island hurricane as the strongest tropical cyclone ever to make landfall in Louisiana with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph. Storm surge as high as 17 feet was measured at Rutherford Beach and a wind gust of 137 mph was recorded at Lake Charles. Widespread severe damage occurred across southwest Louisiana with coastal areas experiencing devastating storm surge and inland areas experiencing catastrophic wind damage. 33 people died in Louisiana from the storm and an estimated $17.5 billion in damage was inflicted across the state
Four out of every five trees at the park have been removed, even those left standing after Hurricane Laura, because they were severely damaged. The giant magnolia was left as it still shows signs of life! Then August 29, 2021 – Hurricane Ida made landfall as a high-end Category 4 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 150 mph, the same day as the 16th anniversary of Katrina making landfall in the state. 33 people were killed and at least $18 billion in insured damage was inflicted across the state. and that’s not counting the Hurricane Delta that made landfall fifteen miles away from where Laura did as a category two hurricane October 9 the 2020 and on October 28th Hurricane Zeta made landfall as a Category 3 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph…
The park has a slightly, no, well an apocalyptical feel to it. A war zone of nature. What the park here has done is nothing short of miraculous with budget cuts over the years. You had to look past the emptiness at the little things. It wasn’t what I was expecting as my choice of site was made from campsitephotos.com #23 was heavily wooded with overhanging branches I was slightly worried about! The ranger at the front gave me a zeroxed map, ma’am, things have changed. He pointed to where we were going and off we went. It had been an almost four hour trip from Galveston Island and we were ready to stop moving in whatever site we could get!
Everything was brand spanking new, the concrete roads in the campground, not the one leading in, maybe that’s up for repairs next, new washrooms and even a laundry room with coin operated machines! 50 amp service, water and sewer…all in a small state park with 24 sites. Una milgro really. I just happened to pick one of the two incredibly uneven sites…very downhill..there was. Guys, you JUST made this park, what were the architects thinking? That, or they ran out of fill in their budget! From the google maps overhead screenshot of the campground you can make out the destruction all around.
Unhitching, the leveling system wigged out again, oh no I was thinking but only because the front jacks ran out of stroke, even though I’d placed spacers and extra blocks of wood under them. The hydraulic slides hadn’t wanted to retract as well in Galveston when we were leaving until I pressed the control buttons really hard, but they did go in after a few tense moments. I wasn’t looking forward to hydraulic issues so quickly again, it certainly dampens your enthusiasm…Ha!
The Mewberries were itching to get out, this was paradise, green grass and dragonflies to chase! We walked along the border of the what was left surrounding the campground, looking at flowers and vines, mushrooms and tree seeds. American sweetgum seed. Cats didn’t like walking on them! Very prickly but cool looking! Yes, I did stuff a few into a bag, for future Christmas Wreaths! Ha!
Behind the campground there was a small swamp, bayou, Creedence immediately screams into my head ♫♪♫ Born on the bayou ♪♫♫ and other fabulous CCR songs but did you know they were actually from El Cerrito, California? I was crushed…not;) Part of the path in a small boardwalk over the swamp, I met and spoke to two nice couples there, one just visiting the campground to check it out, another camped there. Why my walks often go longer than planned! One woman pointed out the Green Anole! It had moved onto a piece of wood and was turning brown in front of me! Pond Slider turtles lazed on a few logs sunning, no sliding today!
So much life. In the middle of the swamp a Great Egret moved stealthily among the water plants waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Yellow water lilies with no leaves were blooming here and there as more dragonflies flitted back and forth. A tribute to how quickly life returns, or that it never leaves.
I spoke to another camping couple walking their dog Tobey. They were from Alexandria Bay, just South of us in New York, they knew where Perth was! They asked if this was the original campground? I said I didn’t know but explained the two back to back hurricanes…”Ahhh” they said. They were here in 2019 and nearly drove by the campground yesterday, not thinking it was where they were supposed to go, now they understood, the old campground no longer existed, they had said how spectacular it had been with all the beautiful magnolias and shade trees. A local lady walking by introduced herself, Stephanie, from Moss Bluff, she was so happy the park was open again, her happy place! “Don’t forget the crawfish in town, and the cupcake shop!” she remarked, “Thanks for visiting here!”
Groot and Gamora absolutely loved it here, making a beeline for the edge of the shrubs, chasing lizards, sniffing everything, digging in the sand at the edges of the filled areas. Rocket, well, we had to carry him out to the edge, the open areas melted down his half brain cell and he just couldn’t do it, on the way back he’d scoot all the way to the truck and trailer, and yes, they know which one is theirs! In fact they occasionally do a scan to see where it is, just in case you know! It may have been the grey panther they all spotted from the window earlier! A young beautiful grey feral cat was going from trailer to trailer. He liked the Airstream parked across from us, they also had two cats. He almost acted like he wanted to go up there steps. I felt bad, maybe someone had been feeding him. He looked in good shape and was enjoying peeing on all the truck tires…mine, mine, mine….cats!
Mike and I took a walk on the boardwalk trail, I saw one bird, a savannah sparrow I think. The “warning alligator” signs along side the “slow children” signs were a hoot. The SLOW children won’t stand a chance!
OK, we did the boiled crawfish thing at Red Tails Boil House. You drive up, put your order in and they give it to you in a big white plastic bag, in a brown paper bag…everything is boiled..the crawfish, the corn, the potatoes, the mushrooms and an onion. Boiled, like it says. I’m afraid if I want to to eat bugs in the future, I’ll order a lobster! Ha! This is diet food, you have to eat it so slowly I am going to start calling it slow food crawfish as you try to pick the tiny pieces of meat from the tail and yes, the tiny claws! Ha! We should have added crab and shrimp!
We woke up to a beautiful sunrise. I pulled a tick off of the back of my leg, and one off Groot…nasty little bugs! Spring is here!
It was a three hour trip, plus any highway work to Tickfaw State Park. I was a bit worried about the hydraulics, I’d gone into manual mode to get the trailer somewhat level, the slides had behaved but I held my breath when I pushed the slides in button and in they retracted as they should, worried about nothing apparently! The jacks came up and we were off to Interstate 10 headed through Baton Rouge, over the Mississippi River and on to Tickfaw State Park.
There was more road work, more idiots, and so so many billboards. Religious ones, lawyers ones, lawyers ones with religion and food, even political ones At least the food ones were making me hungry! There was even an Acme 18 wheeler one, Wylie E. Coyote will be driving for them soon;) Watch out roadrunner! The icing on the awful billboards came as we entered Livingston Parish-We love our schools, churches and the 2nd amendment. Enjoy your stay! from the sheriff, Jason Ard, he must be up for re-election…0_0….
Right to Bear Arms-A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Then you have Bart and Gordon, your Louisiana lawyer billboards (I counted over 30 of them and sure there are more. Apparently the lawyers Bart and Greg really, really like their own pictures. Bart and Gordon like themselves…a lot! Ha!)…what is with the dog in we are loyal to our clients? Is he sueing his owner for those pink ribbons? Then you have the lawyers with religion billboards…mixed reading for sure! If Jesus can’t answer you right away, call Gordon . And of course a bit of politics thrown in with Pray, Pray, Pray…what’s not working guys? and don’t sell booze to babies and finally the food billboards, the most food billboards I have seen, it actually made my stomach growl a few times but not enough to stop…Boudin balls? No, not part of an alligator’s anatomy;) Boudin balls are made from Cajun boudin sausage, which is a mixture of ground pork and rice, along with seasonings. The sausage is removed from its casing, formed into balls, then coated and fried. I’m sure it is simply delicious!
Thank goodness for billboards, it’s awfully flat here, a few bridges, wait, that’s the Mississippi River! Lot’s of small brown rivers and many green swampy ones! The “Skywalker” was being brought up the river by tugs, if I was a graffiti artist…I’d have to add “Luke” here! Ha!
Once we got off the I-10 the road into Tickfaw State Park was a bit sketchy. At one point we turned down a road and I called the park office, is this the way in? Well ma’am…you could but…and he told me another road, signal breaking up, we backed out, well, Mike did, I stopped traffic, and went a bit further to an equally, well almost, narrow road and followed it to the park through an odd bit of suburbia where someone had gone off the edge of the road and was being pulled out by a tow truck while we waited, because the roads were so narrow, with no shoulders and large drop offs, Baja roads! It is always a relief to see the park signs and arrows as you think where the hell are we going…Welcome to Tickfaw State Park!
Tickfaw State Park is 1,200 largely undeveloped acres in an isolated pocket of Livingston Parish. Until August 29 2021 Tickfaw was covered in the shade of a tree canopy so thick that the sky was rarely seen. Hurricane Ida’s eye wall knocked down about 80% of the trees, mostly in mud that the 30-foot arm of an excavator couldn’t reach from the roads that run like fingers through the swamp. Seven state parks were closed because of severe damage. All boardwalk trails at Tickfaw State Park are currently closed due to severe damage caused by Hurricane Ida. Canoe rentals are also currently unavailable. Two trails are currently open to the public, the hardwood trail and the trail around the fishing pond.
The campground is cleared, just, between sites huge pines still lay toppled. Funding cuts from 2017 didn’t help things. The sites are narrow, some a bit difficult to get in with trees, sites on the inside of the road have sewer. We had space #3. Space #1 is a first come first serve site. Not quite a apocalyptic as Sam Houston but still gut wrenching.
From its cypress and tupelo swamp to its bottomland hardwood forest, Tickfaw State Park is no stranger to water. The low-lying park occasionally serves as a detention pond for rainfall that overflows the Tickfaw River’s steep banks. Of the park’s 1,200 acres, about half of which lie west of the Tickfaw River and remain undeveloped, 99.8 percent went under water during the 2016 August flood…this floor of the bathrooms is about 7′ high…all the campsites would have been underwater. Swimming back to your trailer! Yikes!
I walked over to the nature center and looked at the exhibits, snakes and mammals, alligator jaws, stuffed Bobcats and birds, it felt like a step back in time. They had wonderful aquariums with turtles and salamanders, even an obituary to a deceased one on one tank, very sweet, I didn’t realize there were so many poisonous snakes here, I should have taken pictures, I was just enthralled walking around. Making a mental note not to let Rocket pounce on anything in the bush behind the trailer! Earlier I should have let Gamora eat the anole she caught! She grabbed one, not this guy and made a beeline for the trailer steps, wanting to take her new toy inside. I had to pry it out of her mouth as Rocket watched sadly from behind the screen, it escaped by running down my leg and into a crack in the boards of the small deck beside the site…safe! The Brown Anole is highly invasive I read.
We had some nice folks across from us from Vermont with a lovely grey cat with four white boots and a couple from Massachusetts we chatted with on our other side. Thursday morning we had some decisions to make. Severe thunderstorms, possibility of tornadoes (ugh, lump in my stomach) and torrential rain. Great traveling weather right? not! We weighed our decisions, the spot we were in was not available for Friday, nor did they have any other ones available. I called Roosevelt State Park in Mississippi to see if we could get in a day early…nope, they weren’t sure, their entire reservation system was down so couldn’t even tell me if the spot I had reserved for Friday/Saturday was open for Thursday, he didn’t think so he said, someone was in it. Mike went searching and came up with these gems! Archusa Creek Water Park, The Pat Harrison Waterway District, like county parks?
I called the number Mike gave me and the new girl at reception, who kept yelling back to her boss, Donna, came up with one site, for the Friday, Saturday and Sunday for us…for a 38′ 5th wheel? I asked, we can get in? Plenty of room for site 23 I could hear Donna yelling. No roads not to take in I asked? Nope…OK. I gave her the credit card number and she said site #23! All good! I need to learn to speak Mississippian…they had some serious dialects happening. There are days I want to break out in an Irish brogue, but they wouldn’t understand would they? Ha! But that…is another story. Stay tuned for Mi-ss-i-ss-i-pp-i…..
♫♪♫ M I double S I double S I double P I
M I double S I double S I double P I
Right in the middle of the cotton belt
Down in the Mississippi Delta
Wearin’ last years possum belt
Smack dab in the Mississippi Delta ♪♫♪