After riding out severe weather in western Mississippi, we were keen to get out of there and make our way to the Fort Worth, TX area as soon as possible. So we packed up the dogs, crossed the Big Muddy, and took a northwesterly route through Louisiana, the 10th state of our trip.
Our first stop in Louisiana (after I had gumbo for lunch) was Jimmie Davis State Park. We were greeted at the park office by a Christmas tree turned Mardi Gras tree. We may have skipped New Orleans, but we got a little taste of this Louisiana tradition. We were also pleasantly surprised to find out that our America the Beautiful national parks pass was accepted for a discount at Louisiana state parks.
This park is popular for fishing and boating, and since we were there in the off season, we basically had the place to ourselves. There were a couple of campers here and there, but we were alone in our section of the campground and seemed to have the clean and well-maintained bathrooms and laundry facilities to ourselves.
This park happened to have had a direct hit from a tornado eight months before, and signs of the damage were still evident in swaths of trees that had been blown down and cabins that were closed for repair. Seeing the extent of the destruction was unnerving after that morning’s tornado watch in Mississippi, and it made me feel for the residents in the area who were dealing with more severe weather in places that historically had not seen those types of storms.
Despite losing hundreds of trees, the park was still beautiful and had many dense stands of tall pines. We enjoyed walking the dogs through the nearly empty park looking at the different campsites and admiring the cabins, which looked like they were probably perfect lakefront getaways during peak season.
The next day we made our way to North Toledo Bend State Park. This place once again proved state parks – especially in Louisiana – to be excellent camping choices. I was so much happier here than in an expensive rv “resort”. This park had numerous trails and roads to walk the dogs on (trust me, when you’re traveling with an energetic husky, long dog walks are essential), and it was set in a gorgeous pine forest with nice views of the reservoir. I even got my first glimpse of Texas across the water!
As we looked ahead (literally and figuratively) to Texas and our upcoming travels, we decided to head for Dinosaur Valley State Park and explore there for a day or two before going to the Fort Worth area for a Lord of the Rings fan gathering on January 18th.
Before leaving Louisiana, we stopped at a Mexican restaurant and had the first of many, many tacos that we consumed across the south west. It was a sign of good food to come!