Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, February 18th until March 2nd 2018
After yesterday’s beautiful weather with sunshine, on Sunday February 18th it’s not so nice. It is gray and the clouds are on the ground. The temperature is only 62 degrees. We have breakfast together, the eggs tastes fine Iris, and then we say goodbye to Sugarland, Robert, Iris, Elfi and Milou and drive to the North.
Just above Austin, the capital of Texas is the Cache Across America we want to have. And we find this cache but there is a special lock and we cannot open it. We try all possible combinations, try and try again but after almost an hour the lock still don’t open. It’s sad but I also have a sense of relief. Now we cannot get this cache it has no point to drive like crazy along all the other Caches Across America. We definitely cannot solve the final cache in Washington DC.
Dick was already done with it, he said it’s ridiculous to drive so many miles for a cache and earn nothing. That was different with the Utah caches, if you found 3 out of 5 in a county, you earned a nice patch. We drive further to the North, through Holland, where, of course, we take a picture although the town is nothing, some silos and a few houses. And then after driving some Interstate, because there is no other road, we arrive in Waco, TX. Unfortunately we cannot find the camping on the fairgrounds so we drive to Walmart where we may stay overnight. An advantage of this Walmart is that next to it is an Outback. We cannot resist this restaurant, so in the evening we walk there instead of cooking and have a great meal. After a good night sleep we wake up early, accustomed to an early rise the last few days. Unfortunately, Auntie Ank is not on the skype so we leave Waco early in the morning.
That makes that around half past 11 we arrive in Fort Worth. There the cowboys on horsebacks drive the last Longhorns to the corrals. The show is over and lots of people walk away. After taking a look at these real Texan cattle and their huge horns, we continue our trip. It’s really touristy in Fort Worth. The weather is not really nice, only 60 degrees and it is cloudy but dry. In Eisenhower State Park we stay. There are only two other RV’s and places enough to find a nice spot. We really have to write for our website and do our administration, so the rest of the afternoon we are working on that, but we rather wanted to read. We have good books. The next morning we see Deer and a Roadrunner at the campground. It is beautiful here, on this northern coast of Texas where the city of Denison is situated (at a lake).
After breakfast we walk some trails in the park. Unfortunately the drizzle stops and it starts to rain. The last part of the trail it’s even pouring rain so after one hour we end up somewhat wet and with incredible muddy shoes, but we found the two caches here. With our muddy shoes we cannot board our RV so Dick stops at a dump station where we need half an hour in pouring rain to clean our shoes and get rid of the mud.
At 11 am we finally leave the State Park and drive to the birthplace of Eisenhower. It rains very hard so we don’t get off at the house and leave again but then, all of a sudden, I remember that we drove all the way up to here just to visit this house so Dick turns around at the end of town and drives back. Just in time to get a tour of Mrs. Maxime. We see the simple cottage where General Eisenhower, later president of the United States, was born. He lived here for 18 months. After that his parents moved back to Kansas where he grew up. Yes Susan, there has to be something in Kansas. Maxime tells incredibly fascinating about her president and the past times revive in this little house along the rails in Denison. We are glad we stopped here because the story about this special man, who made the liberation of Europe possible and also shaped the NATO, is particularly interesting. Do you know that he was one of the candidates for president, both parties (republican and democrats) wanted?
Finally after lunch we leave Denison at 2 pm and moments later we are in the State of Oklahoma. This is Native American country because at least 7 Indian tribes call this state their home. Unfortunately the rain doesn’t stop and it seems as if we drive under a waterfall.
The visibility in some places is almost nothing, but then we see a sign “Dulcimer”. Despite the rain we stop at the building and walk inside. Yes, it’s a Dulcimer factory. Not the Mountain Dulcimer I would like to have, but the Hammer Dulcimer and the Bowed Psaltery, a small triangular Dulcimer you play with a bow, are made here. Even I get a nice sound when playing.
A Dulcimer is a wonderful instrument, I am still impressed and determined to learn to play on it when we will be back in the Netherlands. Then we arrive in Hugo, Oklahoma. It is 4 pm but because of the rainfall already dark. We stay in the parking lot of Walmart. We had enough for a day. We are also sick of all the rain and cold. Wednesday february 21st it still rains and it is cold, icy cold, only 40 degrees. Everything is moist, wet and misty.
Many pastures are flooded and the weather forecast indicates that at least till Sunday it remains bad so we decide not continuing to the North but taking a more southern route. That brings us in Paris, Texas. Paris, France has the Eiffel Tower and Paris, Texas also has one, we are told in the library and of course we want to see that one. This Texan Eiffel tower is not as charming as his French counterpart but it has a cowboy hat and that’s funny.
Next to it is a very impressive War Memorial and the Texan Eiffel Tower actually detonates here. After walking around we drive further to the East and hear a kind of alarm inside our RV. We have no idea where it comes from but Dick doesn’t see any lights coming up so there is nothing to worry about. When this alarm repeats later at my side, it turns out to be a (weather) alarm on our phones. Not one but several times we get this alarm going on. Our phone tells us we are in a danger zone and may expect flash floods. After looking regularly at the largely inundated parts of land next to us we didn’t plan to go to lower areas but with this ongoing emergency alarms we certainly won’t. The rain is still in full force so, on the Arkansas side of Texarkana, after visiting a Washateria (yes, it’s again time to wash) we stay at Walmart and read the rest of the evening.
Thursday February 22nd there is still a hard wind, it is 43 degrees and the sky is clouded and grey but at least it doesn’t rain. We drive through the hilly countryside of Arkansas. There had to be a lot of rain here too because meadows and forests are under water. After some shopping in Magnolia, AR we drive into the State of Louisiana.
We check the weather in the North, it’s still too cold and too wet so we continue our trip to the South. Through small towns such as Homer, with beautiful wall paintings and old buildings, we drive over quiet hilly roads. Around us the trees are blooming and everywhere are Daffodils. However, the side of the road is extremely dirty, everywhere lays plastic and cans, and a “cleanup” wouldn’t be superfluous. The cottages along the road are shabby, this is not the rich part of Louisiana. Many houses are into disrepair, tattered or partly collapsed.
In the afternoon we arrive in Coushatta, LA, near a lake. For $ 22, – we have a beautiful place in a nearly empty resort. It’s hot here, around 78 degrees, so once again we can sit and cook outside and enjoy nature, but also the mosquitoes because with this moist and hot weather it looks like the mosquitos are all over. Fortunately Dick tastes better than me so in the evening there is almost no place on his body where no bite appears. But it’s good to feel the warmth’s again. We made the right decision to go south. The next morning we search the Cache Across America of Louisiana. Though we decided not to do detours, this cache on the road has to be found.
In the cache description we read that the town of Natchitoches, pronounced as “Nack a tish”, is worth a visit. It was the first European (French) settlement in Louisiana and thus the oldest. You may know this town from the movie “Steel Magnolias”. The movie played here and is also shoot here. We drive to this town. It is indeed a very nice town with beautiful houses and metal balcony’s, people also call it “mini New Orleans” and it looks alike. After parking our RV next to the Cane River we walk around, admire the old buildings, visit the oldest General Store of Louisiana (1863) and drink a coffee (with tiramisu, the best I’ve ever had) in a local bar. The Sun is shining, it is 76 degrees and pleasant outside so we decide to stay and further explore this town by bike in the afternoon. The nearest campground however is 13 mile away and also very expensive so there is no other choice than to park, once again, at Walmart.
From here it is a short cycling trip to the center of town. The area has many caches that give us a sightseeing of Natchitoches. A pleasant surprise is fort St Jean Baptiste, a State Historic Site. This fort was built in 1714 by a Frenchman (Louis Antoine Juchereau de St. Denis) to protect the country from the Spanish.
Thanks to existing drawings it’s reconstructed and placed on higher grounds than it was before, the Fort looks impressive. We even find wooden shoes in the fort. Where there also Dutch here?
Ofcourse our cache tour also brings us to old buildings and the oldest cemetery of Louisiana. All played a role in the already mentioned film “Steel Magnolias”. At 6 pm we are back at our RV after a beautiful ride. It’s still 72 degrees but the real heat, today it was 79 degrees, is gone. Saturday february 24th it is still warm, 66 degrees at 7 a.m. although it’s cloudy. Over small roads we leave Natchitoches.
In Cloutierville, we stop at a Pecan store. If you drive through a region with so many Pecan trees you have to buy pecans. We talk with the owner of Little Eva Plantation before we drive to Alexandria. The Garmin want to bring us to Alexandria in Egypt but in the end she leads us to this town in Louisiana. Unfortunately we cannot find the city park so we continue to Pine Prairie where, next to a large lake, we find a beautiful park where we can stay overnight. Despite the fact that we had some solid rain showers in the morning, during the afternoon it stops raining and we can sit outside in the Sun. Of course we also walk around in the area and stay at the Jetty next to our RV.
We admire the trees in the water with their aerial roots. We think the water level is high but according to the people who come here regularly it’s always this high. We are the only ones walking around. The rest of the people take their truck, even if they just want to fish or look around on the jetty. During the night it doesn’t stop raining and the wind rises. The temperature drops straight to 57 degrees. Sunday morning on the fields is water everywhere and to fill up our water tank we must walk on the from water saturated soil. It feels like sinking in a swamp. Dumping today is not such a fun because it’s pouring rain. When we drive over the narrow roads we see ducks swimming on the shoulder of the road. Normally there is grass but now it’s covered with a thick layer of water. Finally at 10 am the rain stops and the sun starts shining again, it directly increases the temperature till 75 degrees.
In Opelousas, LA we stop. The South City Park has a pleasant RV spot. We only have to look for a spot that’s not completely a deep puddle of water and moments later we sit in the sun next to the RV and enjoy a good cup of coffee.
There are also some caches in the park so we go for a walk. It is pleasant outside in the sun, we only have to be careful where we put our feet because some pieces of land are so swampy that you sink in. At 1 p.m. we take a Sonic milkshake and then it starts raining again. It’s only a shower so after the rain stops we can walk back to our RV and stay rather dry.
It definitely is no weather to go walking or cycling anymore, there are too many rain showers after each other, so with a brush and a bucket of water we clean the outside of our motorhome. Just in time for the next big rain shower we are ready. The rest of the afternoon, it’s now 4 pm, we sit inside, enjoy the rain and sunshine, which alternate. At 7 pm it stops raining and it starts pouring, like a fire hydrant is opened.
Indeed it’s a downpour. Slowly everywhere is water around us but we don’t have to leave our RV and stay dry inside. When we get up on Monday morning it stopped raining and the Sun tries to get through the grey clouds. After filling up with water we leave this pleasant place and go further south.
Around noon we arrive on Avery Island, near the town of New Iberia, LA. Here is the Tabasco factory. Who doesn’t know this product? I think almost everyone has used tabasco. We walk around at the factory, see the stages of growing of several pepper plants, like Red Chili Pepper, Green Peppers, Okra and ofcourse the Tabasco Pepper plant. The Tabasco peppers are much smaller than the other ones and we see how after making pulp of the peppers, the pepper pulp is stored in large oak barrels where it, covered with a layer of salt, stays for 3 years before the pulp is processed into the Tabasco we all know.
It’s a fun and informative tour in the factory and I am glad that we went here. At 2 pm we leave, the Sun shines in a steel blue sky. In New Iberia are campgrounds but they are very swampy by the many rain so we drive to Charenton, LA where, at the parking lot of a Casino, on Indian territory, we stay. While enjoying a cup of coffee and a muffin we let the sun penetrate. We will not visit the casino so until late we sit outside on the large and empty parking lot. Tuesday february 27th we leave the Chitimacha Nation and drive to Thibodaux, LA.
Gerhard and Beate are stuck here with their RV. Their main brake cylinder is broken, the same problem we had three years ago, and of course we want to know if we can help with anything. The road brings us along the Bayou’s and old towns. We see magnificent plantation houses, with ancient oaks but also small houses definitely in need of repair. In Patterson, LA are some caches hidden so we stay here for a while and search for them.
We talk to Captain Caviar. He is touring around the bayou’s and we admire his old oaks. One is 400 years old and the other 486 years. Together we search for a cache, hidden somewhere around his house. We cannot find it but after talking to the Cache Owner, who also lives in this town (the cache is really there but you need a flashlight) we go back and finally find the cache under his house. Next time we will take a tour in the Bayou’s (now there isn’t a tour).
Around us are large rivers and a lot of small shipyards. Next to the rivers are huge walls with every now and then a large gate. Not much fun for the people who live there right behind because they have no view anymore but this wall brings them more security if another storm hits the coast. And then we arrive at Walmart in Thibodaux and put our RV near the RV of Beate and Gerhard.
They look surprised when arriving with their rental car moments later and seeing us. We have a beer, talk and talk and talk and eat together at a Greek -Lebanese restaurant next to Walmart. It is a pleasant evening. On the last day of february we are early out of bed. All four of us are visiting New Orleans. Despite the fact that there is a dense fog it feels hot and when we leave Thibodaux with the rental car at 9 am, the sun shines in a blue sky.
Around 11 am we arrive in the French Quarter of New Orleans and Gerhard parks the car near everything, close by. As soon as we walk around we hear music. When we wait at Jackson Square to cross the street a big bus stops in front of us, full with people with make-up. As curious as we are, we wait for what’s going to happen. We do not need to wait long because everybody get out of the bus, music appears and the singing and dancing starts. We walk along with the music and enjoy.
It turns out to be a promotional tour of Cirque du Soleil, having a new show starting in two days. There is definitely a party going on in the street with this kind of music and our day in New Orleans is already a success. After an hour we leave the crowd and walk to the French market where we look around and relax on a terrace with live music. We are in New Orleans!
We have lunch together and in the afternoon we walk through the French Quarter. Time and time again there is music, everywhere, sometimes very fascinating music, playd on a KORA, an instrument from Western Africa and we enjoy. It is always great to be in this town and it is warm, 80 degrees. There is a steel blue sky and the party mood is everywhere. Here is nothing more to see of Hurricane Katrina and the devastation it brought to this city.
After walking around for more than 5 miles, it is now 6 pm, Gerhard drives the 65 mile back to Walmart in Thibodaux, where we enjoy a cold beer and talk about our great day.
We intend to leave Thibodaux on Thursday March 1st. But first Dick has to print the custom papers for the brake cylinder that Gerhard received from the ADAC (German AAA) and Beate and I walk a couple of times to the gas station on the parking lot to get water for their RV. Then we say goodbye to each other and we drive away. When we fill up with propane, almost outside of Thibodaux Dick says that it is wise to get a pocket querie for Grand Isle so when we arrive there we can find some geocaches. That’s why we drive back to Walmart, we need the wifi here.
Then it turns out that our mailbox is almost full, more than 90%. It’s because the last months I sent lots of pictures (with always a copy of every sent mail to myself). I consumed more than 40% of our mailbox in sending pictures. We cannot longer receive nor send mail. This makes that Dick has a long, very long phone call with our internet provider “XS4ALL” and later with our friend Rene. At 3 pm everything works well again and we can e-mail again. Now it’s too late to drive the 85 mile to Grand Isle at the gulf so we decide to stay another night at Walmart. The weather is changing, there are black clouds and the wind blows but fortunately it doesn’t rain. It is less hot, 69 degrees.