We came to eat! – Cajun Country, Louisiana

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…and boy did we ever!

But first, since we were camping in the capital city of Louisiana – Baton Rouge – we wanted to tour the state capitol building.  Having visited eight so far, we continue to be amazed by what we learn at each one.  So how about the history and unique features of this capitol building? Continue reading

Hanging Out In Cajun Country – Sam Houston Jones State Park

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Swamp Trail

Welcome to Louisiana signThe Southwestern Region of Louisiana is known by some as “Cajun Country” and boasts both bayous and big cities.  Our first stop in the Pelican state was Sam Houston Jones State Park.  It is located at 107 Sutherland Road, Lake Charles, Louisiana at the confluence of the Houston & Calcasieu Rivers and Indian Bayou.

The landscape is obviously in stark contrast with the desert and plains of the Western states we have traversed recently, for we are now in America’s Wetland.  When we arrived, we entered a park with tree-filled lagoons and a mixed pine and hardwood forest covering 1,087 acres of land.

Sam Houston Jones State Park

We like state parks for their large spaces between sites.  But here the sites are a bit tight and narrow – not what we normally expect of a state park, and some sites were buckling due to tree root incursion.  We were actually forewarned that state parks further east are old and may need work.  But this was the first state park we have seen with full hookups and 50-amp power.  And the beauty of the park and the nice hiking trails grew on us the longer we stayed.

Sam Houston Jones State Park

The water and power hook ups are way too far from the site, but the office kindly lent us an extension cord. The park is mostly peaceful and quiet, but there was some kind of constant distant humming from a plant that got really aggravating.  The birds and the wind could not drown out that noise!

Sam Houston Jones State Park

Note how far the hook ups are.

There are three hiking trails winding through this beautiful park.  First we took the Riverwalk Trail — 1.6 miles that follows Houston river and dry cypress swamps.
River Trail
Swamp Walk Trail — 1.1 miles around the swamp and this is where I saw my first Gator and other animals!
Baby Gator

Steve’s new screen background – this guys is so cool, and the colors around him are gorgeous!

On another day we tackled the Longleaf Pine Trail — 3-1/2 miles, then added the Longleaf Pine Extension — 1.3 miles.  Luckily on this trail we did not hear that obnoxious noise.  Instead we were in the midst of hardwood and long-leaf pine trees.
The park is said to be located in the Central Migratory Flyway, just north of the most productive birding region in Louisiana.  Even if we were too early for the migratory birds, we did hear a lot of birds but rarely saw them – the trees are so tall!  But with patience I managed to capture the resident feathered friends.
Red-headed Woodpecker
Great Heron
Finally, we had our first taste of Cajun cooking.  We ordered shrimp étouffée and chicken and sausage gumbo from Steamboat Bills.  We can imagine ourselves gaining many unwanted pounds during the next few days we are here in Louisiana, as we savor the wonderful flavorful dishes.
Cajun Style

Upcoming stops – do share with us any “must do’s” at these locations:

New Orleans, LA

Biloxi, MS