Over the Thanksgiving Break (or as we call it "American Thanksgiving") we finished up moving and then we went camping.
Months ago I reserved a campsite at Hodges Gardens State Park in Louisiana (http://www.crt.state.la.us/louisiana-state-parks/parks/hodges-gardens-state-park/). It's about 3.5 hours from Houston. The park itself is 14 miles from the Texas state border (there is a lookout point). It's an exciting drive because you go through Jasper. But not the real Jasper....Jasper, Texas.
In reality the drive isn't exciting but there is some pleasant scenery.
The Hodges Gardens, on the other hand, is wonderful. I reserved campsite number 5 on the tent loop and it was perfect. The tent pad is large enough to accommodate our mammoth tent and the site is on a cliff overlooking the lake. It was the best tent site - I would not want to stay in a different tent site - I thought the tent pads were smaller and the views were not as nice.
The one issue with the site (and in fact all of the camp sites) is that it is very far from the restrooms. The restrooms themselves are also a bit of an issue. The building is ancient and, while the women's was decently clean during our stay, my husband and sons reported that the men's was terrible. The showers were not spectacular either. The campsite was so far from the restroom we actually drove most of the time. It's nearer to the cabin loop than the tent loop and this makes no sense as the cabins have their own washrooms.
Enough complaining - overall it was an amazing place to go.
Hodges Gardens is a formal garden that is built next to the lake. The campground and cabins are next to the same lake and the whole area forms the park. We arrived (on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving) just as they were setting the gardens up for a Christmas lights show that was to open on the night of Black Friday. It was a bit strange - on the first day we were there they were testing the stereo system and blasting the same 3 Christmas carols over and over for hours. My husband wasn't a fan but I enjoyed it. That night we also previewed the lights.
|The forest near our campsite|
On the first morning of our stay (Thanksgiving Day) we rented canoes. At first we went into very open water and fought the wind but after a while we found a pleasant canoeing area. It was so pretty - just like canoeing through an oil painting. Baby Boy even paddled a bit.
That afternoon we explored the gardens. The gardens are very large and are divided into different sections. The boys loved running around the paths and seeing all of the different waterfalls. The highlight of the gardens for them was the "spaceship" lookout tower.
On Friday morning (Black Friday) we drove into Many, the nearest town, for breakfast. After breakfast we went shopping to find a tummy remedy for Baby Boy who had developed an unfortunate case of diarrhea on Thursday night (remember how I said we were far from the restroom? I drove him back and forth a few times that night. Thank goodness he's well potty trained). We went to the pharmacy at Walmart and the store wasn't even particularly busy, despite the sales. I didn't find a tummy medication for a small child.
We drove on to Natchitoches, a small town that is home of Northwestern State University (https://www.natchitoches.com). We found the main street and wandered around the area decorated for the Natchitoches Christmas Festival (http://www.christmasfestival.com). It was lovely! They were playing Christmas carols and everything was decorated. We wandered through the small shops and in the garden next to the river.
|The river in Natchitoches|
When it was time for lunch, we had to sample a famous Natchitoches Meat Pie. We went to Lasyone's (http://lasyones.com). The meal was amazing. I had a crawfish pie and my husband had a meat pie. We all shared fried green beans and corn fritters to start. I haven't eaten this much deep fried food in one sitting in a long time (or possibly ever) but it sure was good.
We went back to the campsite for the evening and attending the official first night of the Hodges Gardens Christmas Lights show. We drove and walked through all of the displays and then went back and enjoyed our campfire.
The next day we drove home and Baby Boy's tummy felt better. After a weekend of lovely weather in Louisiana, we returned to a cold, rainy, and glum Houston.