Alligator Park (Con't)
There're many big chubby Alligators in the park, but most of them not moving. Besides alligators, there're many other different animals in the park, goats, peacocks, parrots, etc. The amazing thing is that all these animals are kept by the owner here, no government support. And this owner he really spent time and effort taking care of his "babies".
Check out my TRAVELOGUE for more pictures.
Cotton Country Sharecropper Homes
We enjoyed visiting the National Park system plantation homes, but along the way I couldn't resist but stop and talk to an old sharecropper and take a closer look at his house. Sitting on his front porch, I asked a few questions about his house and life. I learned that several of these old guys had been born and raised on one or another plantation house now part of the National Park System, and that work these days comes during the pecan harvest. Cotton is now fully mechanized. These poor families now rent tiny old sharecropper homes that are themselves a gem in terms of a passed lifestyle many of us would just as soon forget. Outside his dogs ran free. There are in this area of the south very few living reminders of the old antebellum south. As I talked to one sixty-one year old fellow, a retired white rancher came on his Honda off-road vehicle and offered the old guy a couple hours of work in the mud. As far as I could tell, the old African-America was alone in life and make a hard living off any spare work he could find. Take the roads through the plantations south of Natchitoches and pull over for a chat. If you have a printer to produce a picture, give a copy. Fortunately, their homes survived Hurricane Katrina rather easily, since wind gusts here only climbed to about 60 mph.
Oldest Settlement in the Lousiana Purchase
"Rich in History and Restored for the Visitor"
The City of Natchitoches was established in 1714 by Louis Juchereau de St. Denis, making it the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase territory. The French settlement had two purposes; to establish trade with the Spanish in Texas, and at the same time, to deter Spanish advances into Louisiana. Natchitoches soon became a flourishing river port and crossroads, giving rise to vast cotton kingdoms along the river. Planters built magnificent plantations down river and built fine homes in town for social events. The nearby newer Natchitoches isn't much of a gem for tourists, but the old town is worth a day or two, and the lake area recreation could be worth much longer. We boarded up in a Super 8 Motel, but there are many fine old houses that serve as bed and breakfast retreats for those wanting romatic luxury. The shops and waterfront area are a pleasant stroll for half a day.
"Lights along the waterfront"
From Christmas to New Year the Cane River waterfront is lit up with many local contributions. Unfortunately, we found a lot of businesses closed for the holiday. But, there is a concession down at the waterfront with long hours that sells a power sugar covered confection known as a waffle cone. It's actually flat and very warm and nice to eat for dessert. The concession also sells local Louisiana dishes to-go. Rental of paddle boats during the day may be a pleasant way to tour the river, although the city also has horse carriage rides that tour the old town.
"Right on the water front..."
An original Louisiana creole style home was moved to the water front, providing a glimpse in the early period of the city's settlement, and nearby is a reconstructed fort. The home used in the film Steel Magnolias is also here.