On the feast day of St. Patrick, we headed west from Covington, Louisiana to begin our real adventure. We had a spot reserved at Hodges Garden State Park, which is southwest of Natchitoches. The original plan was to have a late lunch at Pioneer Pub in Natchitoches, where, as legend has it, pioneers would stop before heading into the Western Territories back in the day. It just so happened that this was the day a massive line of severe thunderstorms was moving through the area. We were a little behind schedule, and it was looking stormy, so we decided to head straight to the park and skip Pioneer Pub for the time being.
This put us driving directly into the storm.
With a camper that has a couple of leaky seals.
And high winds.
And large, swaying pine trees.
On a two-lane country highway.
Which was closed and required a multi-mile detour.
We eventually came out of the storm and made it into the beautiful park, but not before we followed bad Google maps directions down a very small, very potholed road to the locked and apparently unused back gate of the state park.
The hills and vistas make Hodges Garden unique for Louisiana. Kisatchie National Forest has similar features, but the only camping allowed there is backpack-in, which we’ve done, and it’s great, but if you want a little less rustic experience, Hodges Garden has restrooms with showers. There are gardens to tour and a lake. The best campsite for privacy and an amazing view is #5. Tent camping only. (Snuggle-Inn snuck in because, well, we do HAVE a tent.)
Hodges Garden State Park rates four stars for sites and three stars for the bathhouses.
Lessons learned today:
- The shortest route isn’t always the best roads.
- Always sleep with both screens open.
- Don’t drive directly into a huge storm.
- Don’t be alarmed if a stranger pulls alongside on a two-lane highway, honking and waving maniacally as if something is wrong with Snuggle-Inn. He simply wants us to pull over because he’s “always wanted one of those.”
- Take more pictures.