Friday, April 22, 2011

Louisiana's Outback

Continuing our drive south along LA 27, southeast of Lake Charles (LA), we came upon a sign identifying this road as part of the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road, also known as Louisiana’s Outback.

The Road is a 180-mile driving tour through fertile marshlands, several wildlife refuges and along Louisiana’s Gulf Coast. It is a "journey through a wild and rugged terrain unique to Louisiana, America and the world. Once the domain of nomadic Indians, the legendary pirate Jean Lafitte, Civil War soldiers and a host of colorful characters who came to find their fortunes in a fertile land, rich in untapped natural resources and boundless opportunity" (The Creole Nature Trail,

We turned off the Creole Nature Trail onto Highway 384 to Grand Lake. On the way, we found as many side roads as there are waterways in a Louisiana swamp. Since these roads were not shown on our map, the end result was that we did not find Grand Lake.

Backtracking we had to stop at the Grand Lake drawbridge on the Intracoastal Waterway. While waiting, we had time to read the sign (left), which noted that during a hurricane the bridge is open to marine traffic, not highway traffic.

That makes sense, since those traveling by car should be headed north, not east or west (parallel to the Gulf coast) along this stretch of 384.

The state includes over 310 miles of the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway (GIWW) system, and judging from the three barges and tugboats that passed through, the traffic is considerable.

The next three photos show a barge that seemed too large for the bridge channel, until we saw the next one.

The tug pushing this barge (left) looked very large, and it appeared that one of the crew was communi-cating some information about clearance on this side of the barge.

As the tug passed through the bridge space, it towered over the bridge columns.

There was a surprising number of cars waiting to cross, so I think the approaching barge had to delay its approach.

Returning to LA 27, we soon came upon the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. Here along the Pintail Wildlife Drive and East Cameron Prairie Road we saw a few representatives of the over 45,000 ducks and 10,000 geese which live here during the winter months.

I think this is an egret shown on the right and below.

We drove on a levee around the old rice fields that have been converted to moist soil management areas utilizing existing levees and pump system. The birds seemed intent on going about their work of food gathering, playing little attention to us.

The Black-necked Stilt provided an interesting subject for these three photos--especially the last one.

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