We arrived at Chicot State Park in central Louisiana last Wednesday. We are just east of I-49 between Alexandria to the north and Opelousas to the south. The nearest town is Ville Platte – 7 miles away. This state park encompasses 6,400 acres, and you can hike/bike around the entire lake if you would want. We didn’t get to explore as many of the hiking trails as we would have liked to because there has been so much rain here, the trails are very soggy and muddy. However, since we are in the swamp now… it might be muddy and soggy like this on the trails all the time, and we might just be sissies!
When we first arrived we got a false first impression. Our camp host is a bit of a hoarder living in a 1970 rusted class – C motorhome which would have to be towed away if it were to be moved. He drives around most mornings on his mule in his flannel PJ bottoms. I guess he starts work first thing in the morning, but waits to shower and dress until sometime later in the day. His is the first spot in our “loop”, so it is the first thing you see upon arriving to our camping area. After you pass by all his JUNK, you enter the rest of the campsites and the park is lovely. We have basically had our whole loop to ourselves since we arrived. It did get crowded over the weekend, but our closest neighbors were still more than 5 – 7 spots away.
Since there are no sewer hook-ups at this park, we have had to be convservative with water in order to avoid moving the rig to the dump station mid-way during our stay. The only “inconvenience” has been that the best showers and only laundry room in the park are 4 miles away in the north loop. Living in 350 square feet means we (I) need to do one load of laundry per day in order to keep the laundry bin from overflowing. Conserving water means it is best to shower and do laundry somewhere other than the Monaco. Given the distance to the showers and laundry – I did have to set aside about 1 1/2 hours per day for that chore… Not that big of a deal. I just brought the dogs with me and walked them while we waited for the washing machine to finish. Once I was over there, I wasn’t coming back until I had clean clothes to put in the dryer at my ‘house’. (Dryer doesn’t require water, so I can dry everything here in the coach – it is just the washing part).
Just like the last park – the cabins here are incredible! I can’t believe how nice they are. They are set in the most picturesque setting, I want to come back and stay in one of them. You can rent little john boats or canoes here for $15/$20 per day. There is a swimming pool, and there are two different fishing piers off of two boat launches. The laundry is FREE and a bag of ice is only $1!
We have spent 1/2 of our time exploring the park on walks and hanging by the campire (and Mike has been fishing from the long pier a couple of times). The other half has been allocated to daytrips and errands. We went into Ville Platte on our second day to go to Walmart (surprised?) and find Paul’s Meat Market. Paul’s has placed an add in the Chicot State Park brochure promising one free pound of boudin if you spend $20. We walked away from Walmart with all the staples, from Paul’s we left with chicken breasts stuffed with jalapenos & cream cheese, Pork tenderloin stuffed with cream cheese & jalapenos and wrapped in bacon, shrimp boudin, and of course my pound of free boudin… plus a bottle of tequila.
Another day we went into Lafayette because we needed a Sear’s and a Petsmart. After our errands we were planning to go to Robin’s Restaurant in Henderson because that restaurant was featured on Food Network’s show ‘The Best Thing I Ever Ate” for their crawfish etouffee. After I started doing more research on other sites, it looked like it might be a tourist trap – so I checked my urbanspoon app and found a great place called Bon Temps Grille. YUM. Duck drumettes for appetizers, crawfish pie and shrimp with grits for our meals. When we left there, we stopped at another meat market so I could get the best boudin in Lafayette. At least Earl’s scored 100% in the reviews, and it was awsome.
Last night it was raining, and we didn’t want to sit in this thing and stare at each other any longer – so we went to a place called Rocky’s in Bunkie for boiled crawfish. Yum again. Hot, Spicy, Tender. There was a table of people from Georgia there causing a scene because they had never eaten crawfish. All the wait staff was taking turns trying to teach them. All the servers were so gracious and helpful – it was very cute.
Today we went to find a place called the Crawfish Barn for lunch, but when we got there we discovered they did not open until 5 this evening. So we went back to Ville Platte and ate at a great little place called Cafe de LaSalle. The Rotary Club had just finished their weekly meeting, it was full of locals, and the buffet was delicious. Mike’s favorite was the roast pork in gravy and mine was the meatball stew – both served over rice, of course. After stopping at Paul’s meat market for more goodies for our freezer, and another free pound of boudin, we drove over to Marksville to visit a state historic site of Ceremonial Indian Mounds. It sits on a river that once was the Mississippi River, then was the Red River, and now – 4,000 years later- is just the Old River. There was a trail around the park and we brought the dogs – so after the museum tour we walked the perimeter. A bit of culture and we were home before sunset!
Tomorrow is travel day, headed toward New Orleans for some crazy good food and a trip into the plantation lands.