The staff at Bayou Segnette State Park obviously does not RV.
The RV park is practically empty and there are lots of sites within spitting distance of the bathrooms, playground, and laundry. Twice now, they have put an overnighter on the same pad as me. Twice now, my neighbours have sadly told me, “Man, we should have just stayed at Walmart, we would have had more space.”
I don’t mind the tight quarters since the other rig is on my driver’s side, but there is no logic to this decision except that non-RVers don’t understand RVers. It’s like when I’m asked to move my rig, as though that’s a small request.
What burns me the most though, is that I never wanted this site that is right next to the comfort station and offers me zero privacy because my passenger windows overlook the path to the comfort station while my rear window faces the busy playground. Why I couldn’t have been put all by my lonesome in the back of the loop, like I requested, is beyond me.
It’s almost as though the staffers have been told by management, “These saps know we’re the best deal in the New Orleans area and so they’ll jump when we tell them to.” Shame on them.
I found a little bit of water in the bottom of the shower this afternoon and couldn’t understand it for a long second. Oh, right. Silly gal. Your grey tank is FULL!
I’ve been able to leave my grey valve open where I’ve been parked in the last long while, so I haven’t had to manage my grey tank at all. I haven’t emptied it since Hampton Roads and had a couple of long showers here.
Like most places, you cannot dump grey water on the ground here, so I did an old trick. I grabbed a big bucket and filled it from the grey tank, then emptied it in the black through the toilet. I did this four times and got my grey tank down to a third full. This barely nudged up the level in the black and will actually make it easier to empty when I go dump next week.
I’m really hoping the weather will cooperate and let me complete my solid four weeks of boondocking experiment when I get to Texas. If so, then I will need to find a better way to manage grey water dumping I will run out of space in the black tank after so many weeks. My writing partner Will has some seemingly more manageable alternatives to Blue Boys, described in our ebook, and I am going to explore them.
This morning, I packed up the inside of the rig in preparation for moving, then went to check the post office in case I could leave town today.
The package still isn’t here, so it really would have been cheaper to pay the $60 for guaranteed two-day delivery on my package instead of renewing for another five nights at $90. I believe that Monday is a holiday here and that there won’t be mail, so I’m giving my package till Tuesday AM to arrive.
Anyway, the weather isn’t that great near Houston right now (we finally got sun, YAY), so it’s rather nice to be on hookups and this will probably be my only paid nights of the winter. $200 is about a fifth of what I would have been paying per month for RV park fees, electricity, and propane so, really, my budget can absorb this.
I went into the office on the way back and a rather grumpy-looking and quiet woman was at the desk. I said, “I’m in 84, I want to renew for five more nights, I know I have to move to a different site, and I just checked online so I know you have tons of availability.” She pushed some keys and stared at her screen for a long while and then started to write me up a new park entry pass for the truck. I asked what site I was going to and she said, “The same one”!
I have no idea what she did — if she moved the reservation to another site (which the other front desk person said was not possible) or if she determined that only half of the site was booked or if the other guys cancelled, but I consider this a miracle!
I didn’t mind putting away stuff inside as it’s really just tidying up after myself now, plus the minor aggravation of securing the filing cabinet. It’s really putting away the water hose and power cable, getting off the levelers and stowing them, backing into a new site, getting level again, and rehooking up that is such a pain.
I don’t expect to have much to blog about in the next few days as I have some business matters to attend to and will need to be in the office for most of the next few days, another reason I don’t mind staying put. So if the blog goes a little quiet, no need to be alarmed. 🙂
Today’s swamp tour was a bit of a disappointment, I’m afraid to say. I knew that January is the worst month for a swamp tour, but with the promised sunny weather for today, I thought that we’d still get to see a few interesting things. Instead, an Arctic front barreled in and the weather turned frigid and very overcast, just above freezing! We saw a lot of prey birds, such as hawks, egrets, and vultures, which was wonderful, but that’s it. I can at least say that I saw a Louisiana swamp in the dead of winter! 🙂
I chose to go on Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tour, just outside of Slidell, because it is offered in a more pristine and natural swamp and the focus of the tour is on ecology. A lot of the swamp tours are set in almost zoo-like preserves where the animals are tamed by feeding them marshmallows and/or happen on very large noisy boats that don’t really let you appreciate the natural setting.
The tour group was international and featured no fewer than five French Canadians, including myself, a couple from Cornwall, and another couple from Montreal. Our guide had a surprising amount to say in French, and with an excellent accent!
Our guide dispelled some misconceptions right off the bat. First of all, there are no mosquitoes in the swamp in the summer during the day because the dragonflies keep them at bay. Second, the air in a swamp is very clean, so it does not smell. People seem to go in expecting a putrid bog rather than a fresh flooded forest. Third, a bayou is nothing special and not exclusive to Louisiana. It’s just a native word that means slow moving body of water.
He gabbed about this and that in our tour through the swamp and up and down the Pearl River, showing off his rather impressive ornithological knowledge, but it was obvious that he was stretching his material very thin because the environs weren’t giving him much to work with.
My quest to see wild alligators must go on (I need to find a way to be in the US in the summer!), but I learned quite a bit about them. While they are confirmed maneaters, there have been very few deaths by alligator in the US and absolutely none in Louisiana. People have lost limbs, but that’s only because they antagonized the otherwise timid creatures. That surprised me!
The biggest threat to alligators is the great heron, which gobbles down the young when they are small.
Alligator blood crystallizes when the temps approach freezing, a fatal condition. So they slow down their metabolism and burrow under the mud to stay warm through the winter.
We spent very little time in the swamp because the water levels were so high that the guide could not be sure there were no underwater obstacles. So most of the tour was spent going up and down the Pearl River.
Much as the scenery was lovely, we were all glad to get back to base camp at the end of the two hours so we could thaw out!
Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tour building
the water was about 10′ above normal flood levels!
We got these very fetching blankets to cover our legs (three people per blanket!).
The water was moving quickly and was turbid. Any picture with a big expanse of water like this was taken on the Pearl River.
Most of these trees are cypress, which is water resistant.
The trees were all covered in Spanish moss.
A bayou is a slow moving current. A swamp is a flooded forest.
The swamp is verdant in summer, but very drab in winter. These patches of aquatic grass were a welcome sight.
We saw quite a few of these big male herons.
Shacks like these are fishing camps, not stereotypical residences!
This is a typical residence bordering a swamp.
These red buds belong to maple. The guide made a point to say, “Canadians, we have maples down here, too!”
See that rope?
And that ladder? People swim in the river all the time! Alligators are apparently quite docile and will live you alone if you leave them alone.
This shack was ravaged by a hurricane, probably Isaac. Katrina actually had very little impact here.
I believe that’s a hawk sitting on that branch. We saw lots and lots of birds, but they were tricky to photograph!
Since been in the New Orleans area, something has really stuck out at me. Except for burger chains like McDonalds, Burger King, and Wendy’s, which are abundant, big name chain restaurants are rare in the area.
There are only two Applebee’s, and they are in NOLA, with none on the West Bank where you would expect them. Cracker Barrel and Ruby Tuesday are an hour away. Panera Bread has only just started to come into NOLA with one in Metairie, same deal for Outback Steakhouse.
I understand that there are much better places to eat in the area, but this lack of presence by big name chain eateries tells me that trust in the area is slow to rebuild.
I’ve also noticed that a lot of the gas stations are independently owned. There are a lot of Shells (which used to be headquartered here but has since moved to Houston), but not other nationally-recognized brands. Gas prices vary enormously, with one station boasting $3.05 and the one a block down announcing $3.25!