Have you ever been caught off guard and surprised by a place you’ve never been before? Maybe you heard of a destination, considered going there for a length of time, but were always too busy or forgetful to make the journey. Once you finally get there, you wonder why you didn’t make the effort sooner.
This is why I love to travel and explore new (to me) places. Invariably, it will be different in some way than I’d imagined. Like reading a book with a fascinating unexpected twist, I almost always marvel at some unique discovery; a quirky gift shop or bookstore, a quaint main street, a unique character, a charming coffee shop or restaurant, a little-known tidbit of history, an irresistible photo-op. A fig tree.
And so it was Thursday when I motored north to bring Eric home. My dad and step mom are visiting from Pennsylvania this week, and I enjoy showing out of town guests this beautiful state. We started with lunch at Fat Boy and Skinny’s in Leesville. I highly recommend the freshly made hand molded hand cut hand scooped burgers, fries, and shakes at this gas station-turned-gastronomic heaven.
As we continued on to Natchitoches, we took a detour and went to Hodges Gardens State Park. It’s on the right hand side on Route 171 north, just before Florien. Built and opened to the public in 1956 by businessman A.J. Hodges, this Louisiana gem was donated to the state in 2007.
I’d read about this garden in my local newspaper, and assumed it would be nice. But its size (700 acres) and intricacy went beyond my expectations. The garden is beautiful. Even in autumn, so many flowers in bloom. The hills and lush pine forest of west central Louisiana take my breath away. And if Hodges Gardens can be this lovely in October, I can only imagine how stunning it must be in springtime.
Butterflies fluttered all over these pretty pink flowers. See the blue?
Here’s a shot of Dad and me.
And me, feeling happy to be in the woods. Where makes you happy or what places have you recently discovered?