Wandering Around America One State at a Time – Louisiana

State 16:

Welcome to the next post in my series highlighting states we have visited throughout the years. I hope you will enjoy coming along for the ride!

I will be featuring the states alphabetically. The next state is

Louisiana

Louisiana became the 18th state on April 30, 1812  and the capital is Baton Rouge.

Ever since I started working on this post about Louisiana the following lyrics from the Hank Williams song “Jambalaya (on the Bayou)” have been going through my head.

Jambalaya and a crawfish pie and fillet gumbo
‘Cause tonight I’m gonna see my ma cher amio
Pick guitar, fill fruit jar and be gay-o
Son of a gun we’ll have big fun on the bayou

Each time we visited Louisiana we tried as much of the delicious local food as we could get. We sampled everything – boudin, crawfish etoufee, gumbo, dirty rice, cracklins, shrimp po’ boys and more! Chef Paul Prudhomme’s K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen  in New Orleans served up one of the most amazing meals I’ve ever had. Is your mouth watering yet?

We’ve visited New Orleans three times – twice to watch our Georgia Bulldogs play in the Sugar Bowl and once to take our children when they were young. We wandered around the French Quarter, attended a performance of New Orleans Jazz at Preservation Hall, rode a streetcar to the Garden District, took a riverboat ride on the Mississippi River, chowed down on amazing Cajun food, and of course had coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde.

New Orleans Jackson Square
New Orleans Jackson Square
Cafe du Monde
Cafe du Monde
Calle D Borbon
Calle D Borbon

There is so much more to Louisiana than food and music. Our lake front campsite at Lake Bistineau State Park was perfect for watching the wading birds search for food among the huge cypress trees on the banks of the lake.

Great Blue Heron at Lake Bistineau
Great Blue Heron at Lake Bistineau
Great Egret in Lake Bistineau
Great Egret in Lake Bistineau
Lake Bistineau
Lake Bistineau

The rain didn’t stop us from enjoying our campsite on one of the ponds at Poche’s Fish N Camp. After a delicious meal at Poche’s Meat Market and Smokehouse I stocked up on Cajun goodies like homemade boudin, Andouille sausage and tasso ham to take home.

Pavilion at Poche's Fish N Camp
Poche’s Fish N Camp

We are one of the families who always has a bottle of Tabasco sauce on the table along with the salt and pepper. A visit to the Tabasco Factory on Avery Island was a must for us.

The world's best known hot sauce
The world’s best known hot sauce

We even took a tour of the Duck Commander headquarters in West Monroe.

Duck Commander Headquarters, about 3 blocks south of I-20 in West Monroe, LA
Duck Commander Headquarters, about 3 blocks south of I-20 in West Monroe, LA

I started writing this post right before Mardi Gras and have been hungry for Cajun food ever since. On Fat Tuesday I made a big pot of Shrimp and Andouille Gumbo using Alton Brown’s recipe (I added okra ). Yesterday I made Chef Paul Prudhomme’s Jambalaya (I left out the oysters). Now if I could just find some crawfish tails I’ll make that crawfish pie.!

To read previous posts about the states featured in this series just click on the state name: Alabama      Alaska      Arizona      Arkansas      California      Colorado     Florida      Georgia      Hawaii        Idaho  Illinois      Indiana      Iowa     Kansas     Kentucky

Happy Happy Happy in Louisiana

“Happy, Happy, Happy” – Phil Robertson

After almost six weeks exploring the great state of Texas it was time to head east toward home. We were sad to leave Texas but happy knowing we would soon be home. Our first stop in Louisiana was a place where we had camped on another trip four years ago. I had such fond memories of our first visit there I’ve been looking for an excuse to go back. I even made reservations for site 12, the same one we had camped in before.  With a deck and a fishing dock right in front of the site, it was a perfect place to chill for a couple of days.

Lake Bistineau State Park is located about 20 miles from Bossier City. I remembered how friendly one of the rangers at the park was when we first visited and I was happy to see the same ranger greeted us at the office and checked us in. I have to say he is one of the nicest, friendliest, and most helpful park staff member we have ever met. We had a beautiful view of the lake from our deck and spent a lot of time just chillin’ and watching the herons and egrets fishing in the shallow water along the banks of the lake.

Great Egret in Lake Bistineau
Great Egret in Lake Bistineau
Great Blue Heron at Lake Bistineau
Great Blue Heron at Lake Bistineau

I was way behind on doing laundry and was happy to find a small laundry right there in the park. And it was free! There was also WiFi at the park office and I could do a little catching up on the blog while we were there. We did a little shopping in Bossier City and got our fix of more Cajun Food at Shane’s Restaurant. Crawfish Etouffee and some Boudin to go and we were happy!

But it wasn’t all work, shopping and eating. We’re pretty good at sitting and chillin’.

Lake Bistineau
Lake Bistineau
Turtles at Lake Bistineau
Turtles at Lake Bistineau

Did I mention we had the campground almost all to ourselves? There were only two other campers there the first night, and the next two nights there was only one other camper in the park. Perfect!

But eventually we had to move on. When we made the decision to go home via I-20 we could not miss a stop in West Monroe, Louisiana to see the headquarters of Duck Commander.

Duck Commander was established in 1972 by Phil Robertson. After an outstanding football career in college Phil had an opportunity to play professional football in the NFL. He turned down the offer because he didn’t love football. He loved hunting and fishing and wanted to make a living doing what he loved. He was unhappy with the duck calls that were available at the time and in 1972 started selling his own design.

Phil is now retired and his son Willie Robertson is now the CEO of the family run company and Duck Commander products are sold worldwide. Members of the Robertson family star in the popular A&E reality show “Duck Dynasty.”

Lake Bistineau State Park is located near Doyline, Louisiana. The sites have paved water and electric hook ups, pads, picnic table, and fire pit. We had a premium site with a wooden deck overlooking the lake. There are several fishing docks located in the campground. The park also has a boat launch.

To visit Duck Commander we stayed at Ouachita RV Park in Monroe, Louisiana. The full hookup park had gravel pull through sites with free WiFi that actually worked, a nice laundry room, a meeting room, and a small pond.