Month: May 2016

Tick City, Louisiana (+ a surprise!)

Palmer and I spent most of Saturday hiking Sugar Cane Trail around Caney Lake near Minden, Louisiana. It was a seven-mile proper Trek that didn’t offer much elevation, though it offered more than enough distance. It almost killed us, in fact.


Okay, not really. We just weren’t quite prepared for how far that was. I generally don’t do more than three miles, which was the farthest Penny had ever gone. Two days later, we’re still sore. It didn’t help that while, for the most part, the trail is well kept up, there was a sizable section that was totally washed out. We ended up off the trail and had to wade through a bunch of mud once we found the blazes. That’s not surprising, I guess, considering how wet it’s been in this area lately.

One good thing: it was my first good opportunity to use the Sparkly New Camera Palmer got me for my birthday. It’s a Sony a6000, and it takes pretty amazing photos.

And then there were the ticks. DEAR GOD, THE TICKS. They were everywhere. We counted at least ten each slowly making their way up our legs, and we found more once we got home. Penny was – and probably still is – covered in them. She was dirty from the (mildly muddy) hike, so Palmer bathed her when we got home. When we discovered that there was Every Tick Ever, we went to PetSmart and bought a tick shampoo, so she got another bath the next morning. Good thing she doesn’t particularly mind baths. Good thing, also, that the’s the most patient dog and would sit for several minutes at a time while I occupied her and Palmer dug ticks out of her ears and fur. Ugh.


There was also the matter of the snake, to which she seemed as oblivious as I was – until I got maybe three feet from it and screamed bloody murder. I didn’t even realize that it was in this photo until we got home:


Surriously. We were so grateful when we saw the car. Seven miles is a lot for people (and dogs) only used to three. It was fun, but I’ll be sticking to shorter trails for the time being. I’ll also be upgrading from Deep Woods OFF to the 100% DEET stuff because geez.

Check out the whole Flickr album.

Here’s a video Palmer made chronicling the whole trip:

Oh! And shortly after we did get home, Palmer shuttled me over to what turned out to be a surprise party! I was about 90% clueless and expected to be sitting on a porch with a couple friends, drinking wine and eating Mexican food. Turned out it was an actual party. Happy 35 to me! I have some pretty great friends and an awesome husband. (Of course, I was to busy to take proper photos. Thanks to Palmer for realizing that I might want at least a couple.)

We climbed a mountain!

Okay, that’s kind of a lie. It’s not technically a lie because “mountain” is actual name of the place. This “mountain,” though, really only qualifies as a largish hill. The actual hiking elevation was less than 200 feet, and the whole hill tops out at a whopping 535. So I jumped onto a bench by the sign and acted like I’d just climbed Katahdin. Palmer chose a more reasonable pose.

26870297121_98b78f190d_kOn Sunday, we “climbed” Driskill Mountain, which is just south of Arcadia, Louisiana. It’s the state’s highest point, and it’s just about as underwhelming as you’d expect for the Bayou State. That said, we had a Most Excellent time. Penny was so excited, she couldn’t stay still for long enough to get a good photo. That, and another family appeared from the trees with their own dog in tow, and Penny wanted to play.

It only took us a few minutes to get to the top. There are two trail choices: the main one, which we took, is about 1.9 miles up and back. There’s a second one that weaves through the trees, which are marked with blue blazes. I want to go back to try that trail.

There weren’t many signs along the main trail, but, for the most part, it was crystal clear. Driskill Mountain is private land, but the owners do a great job of keeping it up. There was a tiny bit of mud in a couple of places, but it was easy to get around, and our feet stayed dry. Penny, of course, bounded through every little puddle. There were only to slightly steep places, and Penny was more than willing to pull me right up. The only problem was that she was just as willing to help me get back down, especially since she was following the other dog’s tracks. We really need to work on excitement-pulling.

Almost everything I’ve heard about Driskill Mountain is about its being underwhelming. It’s a “mountain” in Louisiana: how can it be that spectacular? Louisiana makes bayous, not mountains. Maybe I enjoyed it so much because I knew exactly what to expect. Will I go back? Definitely! I want to try that secondary trail. I’ll also probably have a look for other trails in the vicinity, though, as it’s kind of a long drive for such a short hike. Here’s the gpx I recorded (thanks, Alltrails!), a file format I just learned about:


In other news, Shakespeare also had an excellent day on Sunday:

Betty Virginia Park is STILL my favorite in Shreveport


Photo from Shreveport News. It’s not the rocket itself, but one just like it.

When I was a kid, I lived for Betty Virginia Park. Okay, that and Hamel’s, but we’ll talk about that another time. Betty Virginia was the queen of parks. It had the Biggest and the Best playground equipment, which, as we know, was all that really mattered. Remember the rocketship? GAH! The rocketship! (Luckily, Shreveport-based Sweet Tee has a tshirt to commemorate it. Which I proudly own.) I still remember the rusty smell on my hands when I climbed to the top. I remember the textured spiral staircase. I really don’t remember the slide, but that’s unimportant. Betty Virginia was the best.

YEARS later, I don’t have any kids, but I have a dog. The rocketship has been removed (it was a massive legal hazard) and the Biggest and Best main playground equipment has been replaced with short, liberally padded, lawsuit-friendly legal equipment. Really, I don’t blame the city. It’s not like kids don’t visit all the time. Today, especially, the playground was crowded with kids.

Penny and I went this afternoon because today is beautiful and because, frankly, all the nearby hiking trails are full of mud, and I didn’t want to deal with it. We’ve been there several times. That’s where Penny (pretty much) mastered the “come” command. As usual, we had a most excellent time walking along the trail. We traversed it three times, for a half-mile, before I figured we should get home so I could finish my (last-for-the-semester!) schoolwork. We always have a good time there. It’s clean and usually relatively quiet, and there are always dogs and people for Penny to meet. Today was particularly lovely because the whole park is a vibrant spring green, and the ground is coated with tiny yellow wildflowers, so you can’t help but enjoy the beauty.

Even without the Most Excellent Playground Equipment Ever, it’s still the best park in Shreveport.

At the end of this week, I’m getting a sparkly new camera! I can’t wait! Expect even more photos soon.

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