Northeast Louisiana is an agricultural and outdoor wonderland. In the top right corner of the Cajun boot are Richland, West Carroll and East Carroll parishes. A century ago cotton was king in this area. While cotton is still a major crop, today a new king, the sweet potato is increasing it’s challenge. Our staycation there will dig in to the past, ancient and antebellum and look into the future. And like all parishes in the Mississippi flyway birdwatching opportunities will abound. You might even see a black bear.
The population of all these parishes declined in the first decade of the 20’s. In the 1950’s it was normal in a rural area like this for over 90% of the population to be involved in agriculture. With technology and modernization that shrinks to less than 5%.
In February during the build up to the Superbowl I drove a group of Tim McGraw fans in our 24 passenger mini-but. They were in town as the audience for a special TV broadcast from the House of Blues. I didn’t realize he was a Louisiana native. Traveling to our destination we’ll drive through the community where he grew up – Start, Louisiana north of Rayville. On the way we can listen to his albums or watch the “Blind Side.”
In Start we’ll get on Hwy 80, the “Dixie Overland Highway” to Delhi. Hwy 80 was the first coast to coast all weather highway. Before I-20 this was part of a main cross-country highway linking Georgia to California.
Near Delhi we’ll check into our cabins at Poverty Point Reservoir State Park. This beautiful park has a 2300 acre lake and nature trail. All this add up to a great place to relax.
Supper the first night will be at the Waterfront Grill at Black Bear. This restaurant was developed as offshoot of a popular establishment with the same name in Monroe. It’s knowns for the beautiful surroundings, great steaks and seafood.
West Carroll Parish
The second morning we’ll wake up and have a relaxed breakfast at the cabins. After an early morning walk we’ll get on board and take the short ride to the Poverty Point Historical Site for a guided tour. We’ll pack a lunch and picnic on the grounds after our tour. Poverty Point is described as in Wikipedia as “the largest and most complex Late Archaic earthwork occupation and ceremonial site yet found in North America” it is a registered National Monument.
When the tour and picnic lunch are over we can load into canoes and take the Paddling trail on Bayou Macon. We’ll get up close and personal with nature on this gentle trip. We’ll see birds and wildlife. Maybe we’ll see an alligator. It’s a gentle paddle. We can take out in Delhi and shuttle back to our cabins.
We can pick up pub food from Hot Wings Heaven and take it to the cabin or stay there and eat. They have 16 flavors of wings as well as seafood and other choices. At the cabins we can sit around and talk about the things we’ve seen, play cards or break out a table game. If it’s cool we can build a fire and make s’mores.
East Carroll Parish
On day three we’re going to drive to Lake Providence and visit the State Cotton Museum and Panola Pepper Company.
The State Cotton Museum houses equipment displays, a ginning demonstration, farm buildings and historical exhibits. The economy of cotton country has changed drastically due to techniques such as low till and modern equipment. At the museum we will see many of those changes.
The Panola Pepper Company is a unique family company. This pepper sauce was started as a business to provide jobs for farm employees outside the growing season. Panola produces and sells numerous pepper products made with peppers grown on the farm. Over their 30 years they have increased their product line to include over 100 products. While we’re there we’ll shop in their store.
As we pass through Transylvania – yes that’s right Transylvania. We’ll stop in the General Store for a burger – and bats (bat paraphernalia that is.) The town was named in the early 1900’s in honor of Transylvania University in Kentucky by an alumnus Dr. W.L. Williams.
After 3 days it’s time to go home. Leaving the park after loading the Sprinter we’ll stop by Common Grounds Coffeehouse in Delhi for coffee, tea and fresh baked treats before we head home. For lagniappe we can stop on the way home if you like. Frogmore is about half way and Natchez is beautiful any time of year. Remember, “we drive … you have fun!”