Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunset at Prien Lake Park

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Indian Bayou

I and a small contingent of the Pelican Paddlers braved the chill today and ventured a few miles down Indian Bayou, from Sam Houston Jones State Park to “the island” for one last paddle in 2012. The temperature barely reached 50 today, and I was concerned I would be cold. But I dressed warm enough, maybe even too warm, and had a delightful time. My arms reminded me that I hadn’t been on the water in two months. Too long.

The bayous in Louisiana are beautiful, even in winter.


I didn’t catch any with my camera, but we saw several blue herons. Otherwise, not much wildlife. I suppose one could say one of the best parts of kayaking in the winter is that there are no mosquitoes.


I'd explored Indian Bayou several times in the past, but never before in winter. You can read about a couple of my other trips down this pristine waterway here.

Happy New Year, everyone! How are you celebrating the end of 2012?

Monday, December 3, 2012

Natchitoches' Festival of Lights

As promised, we went to Natchitoches for 86th annual Festival of Lights last Saturday. The weather was perfect, though maybe a bit too warm (close to 80 degrees) for December. Never quite sure this time of year, I wore corduroy pants and a long-sleeved holiday t-shirt. It was way too warm for that. And to boot, I was certain it would cool off after the sun went down, so I unnecessarily carried around a light-weight jacket all day. Imagine the band kids in those heavy uniforms, marching what I would guess to be around a 3-4 mile parade route. This is Andrew’s “Oh, Mom . . ." look.
 

I knew the place would be packed. Knowing I don’t deal well with crowds, I had mentally psyched myself ready several days in advance, but nothing could have prepared me for the masses that descend on Natchitoches for this daylong celebration – the parade, food, music, fireworks, and unveiling of the over 300,000 lights that adorn darling downtown Natchitoches. Out of curiosity, I called their Visitors Bureau and discovered they estimated the crowd to be around 75,000! Wow!
 

It was a good day overall. The parade was long, about two hours. Dance and cheer teams, floats carrying queens, politicians, and area business owners, high school marching bands, costumed characters, all tossing candy and beads to the throngs. I could do without the noisy vroom vroom of approximately 175 motorcycles. And the policemen on their bikes needn’t preen at quite so high a decibel level. But these funny Shriners made me smile.
 

I did a little Christmas shopping in the overcrowded shops along Front Street. The fireworks were some of the best I’ve seen in my life (and I've seen a lot), truly choreographed to Christmas music and with different unusual displays of explosives I’d never seen before.
 

They don’t flip the switch on the lights until after the fireworks, in a grand reveal. We’d grown weary of the crowds by then and wanted to head home after the fireworks (church and all the next morning) but in hindsight, I wish we had spent a bit more time looking at the lights. Traffic was an absolute nightmare. It took us an hour and a half to get out of the town. But it’s a worthwhile event to do at least once. It’s a Louisiana holiday tradition.

(In the name of full disclosure, I did not take these night shots. I found them on the internet.)
 
 
 
 
 
 

If you are curious what Natchitoches looks like on a normal day, read this post from my archives here. But Mighty Max is no longer there. And the lovely park has been expanded, improved, and is absolutely stunning.

Tell me about your fun holiday events or traditions.