Here is a clue.
It flows by The Big Easy.
Here is another clue.
That is where I was on July 22nd last year, at Itasca State Park in Minnesota, where I waded across the beginning of the Mississippi River.
I guess you could call it The Little Clear at that point.
Several days ago I found myself on a ferry crossing the very same river about 2540 miles south.
The Big Muddy.
But I am getting ahead of myself.
I have been in Louisiana for the last week or so visiting seven state parks near the Gulf of Mexico. Well, they are all south of Interstate 10. Except Chicot. And two others. OK, they are all nearby the Gulf. Less than one hour away. Mostly less.
My first stop was at Sam Houston Jones State Park.
There are 60 campsites here and I nabbed number 21.
It was sunny but chilly so I grabbed my camera and went for a walk to warm up. I found a promising sign.
I followed the boardwalk and ended up in a dry cypress swamp.
Too dry for gators.
I continued on and found a better spot.
I took my shoes off and wiggled my toes in the water but nothing showed up. Except for a few curious fish.
Undaunted, I headed back to camp and made tacos inside the trailer for the first time.
With the heater running and a plate of good food I was as happy as a, well, a camper in a warm trailer. A happy camper. Now I know where that phrase comes from.
I left the next day and headed down a dirt road.
Which turned into a paved road.
And wound up at Chicot State Park.
This is the largest state park in Louisiana with 200 campsites on over 6000 acres. The campground is set in two areas 4 miles apart. South Landing has 108 sites and is more hilly and private. North Landing has 92 sites and is more open and level. Better for kids with bikes.
I stayed in the south area at number 93.
Even though some sites are on a slope they have terraced them quite well. Quite a few include...A DECK!
And what do you do with a nice wooden deck next to your trailer?
I checked out the north campground the next day. (What day? I don't remember. I think it was last Sunday. Pretty sure.)
As I said, the sites look like this, number 379.
Yeah, number 379. The sites are numbered 1-108 in the south and 301-400 in the north. I guess they ran out of 2's.
They have a fishing pier here as well as a nifty boat dock complete with shade.
I paused on the pier to take a few photos of the cypress trees.
If you are confused about the difference between cypress and mangrove trees I will clear that up for you. Cypress live in freshwater and mangroves thrive in brackish salt water.
My destination for Monday was Bayou Segnette State Park but I made a brief stop at Lake Fausse Pointe first.
I really liked the bathroom here.
How cool is that? Either the water level is up or there is a burst pipe. I think (hope) it is the former.
They also have 50 campsites with several alongside the lake like number 31.
It is hard to see but right above the picnic table is a small pier on the lake. Most of the lakeside sites have them.
If your site does not, you can take advantage of the fishing piers.
I think it would be fun to camp on one of those.
A word of warning.
When leaving the campground, if you turn right and head east you'll be on a dirt/gravel road.
For 15 miles.
Those pics were from the smoother sections when I could take a hand off the wheel. The trailer survived intact with just a few loose screws (yes, I am including myself) that needed to be tightened at my next stop.
Which happened to be Bayou Segnette State Park.
I would venture a guess that this is the busiest state park in Louisiana. All the sites have 50 amp hookups and it is only 20 minutes from The Big Easy.
I latched onto site number 4 because it had a deck. I wonder if I could somehow carry a deck with me. I'm growing fond of them.
Most of the other sites resembled number 10.
Not too shabby but I like my trailer better.
There are 5 ramps at the boat launch and an impressive day use area.
There is also a swimming pool and a wave pool.
I don't think the wave pool was working because I waited for 30 minutes and not a single set came in.
You can tell an upscale campground by it's speed bumps. Some are relatively easy on your rig and some just rattle your teeth. At Bayou Segnette they do away with those nasty things altogether.
And offer speed tables instead.
On Wednesday I took a day trip to Saint Bernard State Park.
To get there you can loop through The Big Easy or take a boat across The Big Muddy, saving 20 miles.
Guess what I did.
Exactly 6 months previously I waded across the Mississippi River. This day I took a boat across.
I think in the future I will follow The Great River Road between these two points. 2500 miles of history along that route. Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn, etc. Maybe put the trailer on a raft and float south. Hmmm.
Saint Bernard has 51 sites and like all the Louisiana campgrounds I have visited they are all nice. I liked number 11 best just due it's size.
The day use area is neat in that it has a bridge to an island picnic area.
I heard some creaking and groaning as I walked across it and when I returned it looked a little off. Listing to the right. I couldn't believe it was my fault but I vowed to go on a diet just in case.
I celebrated my new vow with a cheeseburger when I got back to camp.
It might not have been my fault anyway and I was hungry. I had no ketchup so I used habanero hot sauce instead. Life is good.
There were two more state parks I wanted to visit in Louisiana so I entered the next one in my GPS.
They say the shortest distance between two points is a straight line. Unless you are folding time but that is another story.
So I assumed there was some kind of bridge. And there was.
It's called the Pontchartrain Causeway.
The first span was built back in 1956 stretching 24 miles between Mandeville and the south shore.
My Dad told me he studied the construction in his engineering classes at Queens University in Ontario. I guess he couldn't get into Kings University but that explains a lot...
A second span was built in 1969 and the causeway remains the longest continuous bridge over water in the world.
So I got on the causeway.
Only 23 miles left.
And kept going.
All the way to Fontainebleau State Park.
I walked the campground right away on Thursday because the sunny yet cold weather was about to turn into freezing icy weather.
The campground has 143 sites. I am staying in number 81.
There are several-pull-through sites like number 12.
The main draws here are the beach and the pier.
Straight south from the tip of the pier across Lake Pontchartrain is The Big Easy. (which is New Orleans if you have not been following the clues)
Shortly after I finished perusing the park the weather turned nasty. The sky cried some tears and I hid in my trailer.
Just before dawn the temperature dropped from 40 to 20.
Which froze the water and made for some cool pictures.
My hood and windshield.
All the other campers hunkered down and rode it out. I drove to Fairview-Riverside State Park for a day trip.
It was only 10 miles away and the roads were empty. The causeway was closed. Interstates 10 and 12 were closed. Schools were closed. But I had a comfy warm trailer to go back to so I figured I could freeze for a little bit.
There are 81 campsites here in two areas. Sites 1-60 are a little farther away from the river, but not by much.
Site 34 is typical.
Closer to the river I thought site 76 was the best.
There is a boardwalk right along the river just behind it.
And the river. Tchefuncte.
I cannot even attempt to pronounce that.
If you can I will give you a taco. Several in fact. But you have to come get them.
When I got back to camp my car was coated in ice.
Louisiana State Parks have some interesting quirks.
The reservation system they use makes them charge all campers a $6 reservation fee even if they do not have one and just show up looking for a spot. That is the first time I have ever seen that. Meaning go ahead and make a reservation because you get hit with the fee anyway.
But they also have free showers and FREE laundry facilities. Yep.
Washers and dryers for no charge. Good ones too. Fancy that. Worked for me.
Sunday I will be heading to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I hear that it is warm there. Doesn't matter. I am a happy camper.
Regards, Park Ranger