St Croix River Road Ramblings

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 5 Settling In and Ordering a Tire

Having settled down in Chicot State Park (the locals pronounce it sheeeco—means tree stump), mid southern Louisiana, we started to get the camper organized, find some local sites to explore while practicing walking, and see about getting the tire fixed. This morning, it looked a little lower than yesterday, probably still has a slow leak.

The nearest town of any size is Ville Platte, about 9000 people. It boasts a Walmart, McDonalds and Burger King. It has a historical 150th anniversary booklet online at].pdf. The morning temperature was 40 degrees and cloudy. The camper with the electric space heater was about 50 and our dual control electric blanket made it comfortable.

After cleaning up in the campsite bathroom—clean, but in need of fresh paint and some minor maintenance work, we headed to Ville Platte to find a local breakfast spot. The park road is badly in need of pothole filling. There are only a few campers in the whole park including a WI couple probably about our age who were tenting here for the night only, heading further south.

The 10 mile drive to town was on a scenic curving road with lots of houses in the woods along the way. Most trees have shed their leaves, but there are many magnolias, live oaks and other leafy green trees. Grass is mostly brown in the yards, but along the ditches a lot of green white clover and other weeds.

Louisiana has always been the worst state for roadside garbage that we have ever been in. The area to town is reasonable, but some places are really bad. At town we couldn’t find a local restaurant for breakfast so ended up at Burger King where it was 55 degrees inside as “the air conditioning won’t turn off.” We asked a mother-daughter combo about breakfast places and were told “the Pig Stand” is good for any meal with lots of local flavor and color. The only problem is that is has no sign to tell where it is or no sign on the restaurant itself! “A caterer driven out of New Orleans came down here and started it couple of years ago. Didn’t put up a sign. The crawfish are in season now—really good, but small because of the cold winter.” Stopped at the Super Walmart to get a tire—but they didn’t have a p235R70 15 car tire—the Buick Roadmaster used a big tire. Got a cigarette lighter air compressor and another can of tire sealant and some groceries. Also got a large 3-shelf plastic drawer set for use in the camper for our clothes.

Stopped at the City Hall and tourist bureau and picked up some local brochures. There was a sort of museum area. The local parish (county) is called Evangeline after the poem by Longfellow of the Acadian Settlers in Canada getting forced to leave and come down here and become “Cajuns.” She said to be sure and stop at the restored Sears and Roebuck house where they sold Cajun spices and sauces.

Walked across the road to the small brick library. Lots of computers and internet access and used books for sale. We bought a few for nights in the camper. We drove around the town a little. A few big old mansions; some nicely landscaped areas and lots of camellia bushes blooming with a few daffodils and paperwhites and pansys for color. Lots of closed businesses too.

Stopped at Good Year tires and asked about a tire. After a lot of calling around he finally said for $142 complete we could get one our size. It should come in Thursday (2 days) and he will call when it does. While waiting I visited with a young couple and their toddler waiting for their tires. I had mentioned we were from MN. The natives down here have a very very pronounced accent—we have trouble talking to each other at times.

“Got a strange fish in my nets two weeks ago,” he commented. “Called the DNR cause they want to check on non-native invasive fish. They said it was a walleye. Ugly look’n fish I thought. They said it was OK, and to release it back in the water. Said it must of come down from up North. Normally we get stripers now—I think they are called crappies where you’ll come from. It’s crawfish season here. I been trapping them now for a month. You cut up a shad and put it in net trap and leave it set a few days and then pick it up. Can get up to $40-50 for a trap full. Really good to eat—you boil them.

“The MN Vikings almost beat New Orleans for the NFC title this year,” I commented, “it was a good game.” “Yeah, it was a good game,” said the tire office clerk, a gray haired friendly lady, “I got so scared I hid in the corner when New Orleans got behind and just watched when they tied or got ahead. It was too hard on me!”

“We’re having a very cold winter this year. Had snow once last fall and 5 inches two weeks ago. It’s good to have a cold winter sometimes. The mosquitoes get so thick otherwise. This winter it killed ‘em off. They’re going to have to start over again!” she continued.

We drove back to he park and ate our last of the 5 for $5.00 roast beef sandwiches from Arbies a few towns back yesterday. Margo cleaned out the car and we got the camper organized. The temperature hit 50 and started to look like the sun might come out.

Tomorrow we explore Ville Platte