Thursday, May 14, 2015

Paddled in Louisiana Again


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I stopped at Fairview-Riverside State Park to check about kayaking and camping there.  I could not afford their rates, which were different then what was posted on the website. They do give a discount for the America Access Pass, but only for 3 states.   I was told I could use the Park for the day and kayak free since I was over 62, but I could not use the boat ramp, it was for their Premium Guests.  I would have to launch from an area near the historic Otis House.


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Walking past the Otis House Museum, I took some photos of the Spanish Moss on things, and the cypress trees. The house was closed for tours due to budget cuts. I spotted some historic artifacts on the ground, glazed pottery, ceramics, blue glass, a button. I left them in place as one should. I can see where there was glamour in this lifestyle for W.T. Jay in the 1880s. He was an importer of mahogany... and had a large sawmill here.

From their website: 
Otis House
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When you enter the park, you will notice a large home facing the water. This is Otis House, originally built in the 1880s as the family home for sawmill owner William Theodore Jay. It was later purchased and renovated in the 1930s by Frank Otis, serving as his summer home until his death in 1962. Mr. Otis left the property to the State of Louisiana to be developed into a recreational site for visitors. The house was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.

The Otis House Museum is normally open for tours between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday, except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Museum admission is $4 per adult. Children (12 and under) and seniors (62 and over) are admitted free. Call 985-792-4652 for group tour information.


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The large Live Oaks fascinated me… really magnificent.  Also the Cypress knees growing up around the base of the tree are really interesting.

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So I checked out the spot where they said I could put in, near the old historic house, but I would have had to walk out into dark water and mud to launch the boat, so I decided not to  paddle there. 
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But while checking it out, I found this interesting snake, so went back up to the Office to ask about it, and identify it.
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On the way I got to see the Steam engine that used to power the old saw mill.




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… and in departing I also almost stepped on this... I think a crawdad hole?

A friend of mine said:  “When our yard gets saturated with rain, we have those. People actually take those and let them dry off, spray them with a Poly coating, decorate them with artificial crawfish and call them crawfish condos. Sold for $12-$14 in Louisiana. I can save some for you to pick up on way back through if you like.”

Well, that is different, but I think I will pass.

OK, I went back in the front office for Fairview Park to ask about the snake. Struck up a conversation with the Park Manager about snakes and how it would be nice to have photos in the office there of the local wildlife. I emailed him the photos of the snake and went back in and we talked about it. He thinks it is a Texas Rat Snake. We talked about kayaking... and he told me to go ahead and use the boat ramp. I did.
 

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While prepared to launch I met two more park residents, a small wee little snake and a toad you can barely see against the concrete ramp.






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The cool, crystal-clear waters of the Tchefuncte River yield bass, bluegill, white perch, and bream near the park area, and channel catfish, speckled trout and redfish where the river meets the lake. Freshwater fishing from the river bank or a boat offers unmatched delights for even the most casual fisherman. Crabbing in the lake and the river is also popular.

I learned from their website later that just two miles away by road and a few minutes by water is the Madisonville public boat launch. Many visitors use the launch for access to the calm waters of the Tchefuncte River or the exhilarating expanse of Lake Pontchartrain.  I could have gone there.  Maybe next time.

Once again, I was in my element, out on the water.  It was been way too long since my last paddle.  As I began paddling, I found these four water lilies, and no more for the entire rest of the paddle.

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Yes, I am happiest when I am on the water.   I paddled in and out of the Cypress Knees.

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Kicked back and relaxed.
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… waved to passing boats…
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…saw a flying White Egret land in the top of this tree,
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… saw a turtle feeding on this 1/2 of a dead catfish…
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… and saw several uprooted trees, probably from the big storms they have in this area.
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I love the snarly old roots and trees.  Saw a squirrel.
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Saw only three other kayakers.
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I kayaked about 3-4 hours... all the way around the little fingerlet / peninsula the Park is on... to this place... a huge mansion: https://www.google.com/.../data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x0...
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What is that?  I guess it is one great big house with one really ugly swimming pool.  These statues are around a swimming pool which you can see in the above Goggle map.
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I liked this little place about three houses away from the Mansion, much much better.  Look, they have a boat taller than their house.  How cool is that?
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Geez. I enjoyed the wildlife a lot more.
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I really enjoyed the paddle here at Fairview-Riverside State Park.  Thank you Park Manager, Steven.
My earlier paddle in Louisiana:
47th State: Louisiana (Oct. 25, 2012)   An unnamed Lake on Chef Menteur Highway, (Rt.90).

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Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Escaped Houston, TX, now stuck in Breaux Bridge, LA



Never never returning to Houston.  They have the worst road signage I have seen in the whole country and people there drive like they are in the Indy 500.  Yikes.


Now, yesterday there was this huge clap of thunder very close to me, right over my head.  I was in the van catching up on Facebook when it happened.  It felt like my heart tried to jump right out of my chest.  I continued what I was doing while waiting out the storm.  It was raining very hard so no point even thinking about driving, and I was a wreck from the trauma of escaping Houston.

I didn't think much of the thunder but later I noticed when my house batteries showed a low charge level, and I started the car to boost it... nothing happened.  No charge was coming through from the solenoid to the house batteries.  Whoops, with no sun in sight for a few days so I could get a charge off the solar panels, this is not good.

Called for help on Facebook and soon, friend Phoenix Hagar responded and talked me through the trouble-shooting phase of the problem.  It was getting dark.  I had checked for loose connections and anything else that could be wrong.  While chatting with Phoenix about this, with the engine off now, I hear this clicking on and of and on and off under the hood.   The engine is off and so the solenoid should have switched off and should not be making any noise???  Jumped out to look, and on the side of the current solenoid is a little black box... and it had a green light on it going on and of and on and off... kinda crazy like.  I was pretty sure by then that the close lightening had damaged the switch... and thinking that can't be good, I disconnected the positive cable going from starter battery to the solenoid.



Then Phoenix suggested putting my jumper cable on between the starter and house batteries to charge them back up a bit.  I did that for 20 min.  Got it up some, but it did not hold all night, with both a 12v freezer and 12v fridge on the system (and me watching some dvds to unwind)... and this morning was only 12.02.  It's 13.29 on the jumper cable with van running right now.  Auto parts store is 15 minutes away.

I'm off to an auto parts store to by a new continuous duty solenoid and install it.  That will be my third one.  Do others have them go out that often... six years?  I am also putting a heavy duty inline fuse in.  One was installed on the first one (installed by Sportsmobile of Austin, TX in 2009), and then it went bad, and Steve Spence suggested one which I ordered and he was kind enough to walk me through that install.  Ended up not using the inline fuse for that one, and I forgot why.  So with the new one, I am installing this near the house batteries, on positive coming off the new solenoid.  (Clear as mud right?)

And then maybe it will stop raining and I can see if the solar is still working???

There goes my gas money!!   (now to unpack the storage area under my bed and find my volt meter and electrical stuff and tools)




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Who is Swankie?

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Anywhere, USA, Full-Time USA traveler, United States
In 2006, I was shopping for a wheelchair. By 2007 I had new knees, better health and by 2008 a kayak. In Aug 2013, I kayaked my 49th state, Alaska, at the Holgate Glacier and in May 2014, I kayaked Hawaii, my 50th state, to celebrate my 70th Birthday and the finale to the wonderful adventure of Kayaking America? Next up... Solo Hiking the Arizona Trail, 820 miles in 2016. In training now for the hike.