Saturday, May 1, 2010

TRAVELING THROUGH LOUISIANA

Our stay in Louisiana was cut short by the weather, but that's ok. We had decided we would come back later. The southern part of Louisiana has a lot of places we'd like to visit - probably on our way out west in the future. So, we'll save that for another time.

Our campground was conveniently located near the intersection of I-55 and I-10, in Hammond, LA, in the Tangiaphoa Parish; however, we spent a good part of our time in Ponchatoula, LA. Ponchatula is down the road from Hammond, but is definitely one of those very old towns filled with cajun flavor and New Orleans character. We were referred to several places of interest as well as invited to their Strawberry Festival. We stopped at the Ponchatoula Country Market in the downtown area and enjoyed a delicious lunch at Paul's restaurant, locally owned since 1976. We met and talked with Paul, who knew most of his customers by their first name. Interestingly, Paul and his wife have 8 daughters, several work in the restaurant. After leaving the restaurant we walked across the street and visited with "Old Hardhide", a live alligator with a really bad attitude, not particularly interested in being the local tourist attraction.

We learned crawfish are so plentiful this year the price is down around $1.50/lb. Before Easter they were about $3.50/lb. No telling what seafood prices will be as a result of the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. While we didn't try to go to the French Quarter in New Orleans for the Jazz Festival, we did take a lengthy ride through many of the little bayous and towns, including Kenner and Metairie, (in Jefferson Parish) around Lake Pontchartrain - the Pontchartrain Causeway is known as the world's longest bridge (24 miles) - it is quite evident that many parts of Louisiana are still being rebuilt and dealing with the devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina.

As we prepared to get ready for our trip to Natchez, MS, weather reports were predicting tornado activity throughout the day. Leaving the area seemed like a good idea at the time. Weather advisories on television, radio, and our laptop indicated the weather conditions were ideal for inclement weather in northern Louisiana and Mississippi. Driving the coach really wasn't that bad (RV compares it to driving a billboard on wheels down the road), but we were approximately 100 miles south of the worst weather. We did experience some gusty crosswinds and sporadic rain; however, this was nothing compared to what the people of Yazoo City (about 100 miles north of Natchez) experienced. An unusually destructive tornado touched down and 11 people, including 3 children, lost their lives, not to mention the damage caused to homes and businesses.

We're so thankful to have arrived safely in Natchez, MS, est.1716, and will be staying in a lovely campground in Vidalia, Louisiana, on the shores of the muddy and mighty Mississippi River, across from Natchez. Hey, we're still in the WHO DAT NATION!
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