Exploring Palmetto Island and Environs

It was a beautiful sunny day yesterday. We took advantage of the weather and got out for some hiking and general exploration of the areas around the state park. When we left the kitties, they were in their morning nap modes. They were enjoying the sunshine too. Smitty had taken up residence on the back of one of the chairs.

Sadie was enjoying the sun shining in on their catio.

Our first stop was the Palmetto Nature Trail. It's a short trail winding through the park.

A portion of the trail was boardwalk.

As it turns out, Palmetto Island isn't an island at all. Rather, it is an island of palmettos in an otherwise coastal community. This area is more swampy than the rest.

We've been amazed at the size of some of the magnolia trees reaching hundreds of feet overhead.

There is abundant and diverse wildlife here. This cardinal was singing his guts out.

There are lots of songbirds here, and I stopped briefly to make an audio/video. The video is just to give you something to look at, but the audio is what you'll be interested in. Turn up your volume and just listen. If you can't see the video, click right here.

Peaceful, eh? But don't be lulled into complacency. There are a number of ways you could die out here.

Remember, the alligators will find you delicious.

We walked on to a small pond. The very weathered sign identified this as Evangeline Pond.

There was a kayaker fishing on the far side.

Given that there is a trail here, we assume this is a bottomlands rather than a true swamp. The recent rains have left the trail flooded in many places, and we found ourselves either wading through inches of water, or else deciding to head back the way we came.

Here, we decided we weren't intrepid enough, and so we went back to the truck and drove to a different trail near the Vermilion River that runs alongside the park boundary.

Initially, we thought the trail was gravel, but these turned out to be seashells.

It reminded us of the swamps we'd seen on an earlier trip to Louisiana, covered in bright green algae. This is common in stagnant waters, and it provides an important source of protein to animals that consume it.

A short distance along the trail brought us to the Vermilion River. It was probably muddy from the recent rains, but the name would indicate it is always this color. It was moving swiftly on this day. Looking to the right, we saw this.

To the left, this.

Also, the familiar bald cypress knees.

Ever since we first saw the saw palmettos, I've been fascinated by the play of light and shadow as the sun shines through their fronds. I've taken dozens of pictures trying to recreate what I'm seeing, but it always falls short. It seems to be something you need to see in person. Yesterday, I wondered if an identifiable subject was missing, and so I tried choosing little items to add interest to the image.

Then I wondered if it was the shadows that made them so enchanting.

Possibly, it is like water, which is better photographed in a video rather than still shots. In any case, I'm offering these up as a sampling of what I'm seeing, but they in no way recreate the magic that I see when I gaze at them in person.

The trails were either too wet to walk, or too straight (think, roads) to be very interesting, and so we headed back to the RV for some lunch. The seashell path had us wanting to drive out of the park and down the road to see if we could find the Gulf of Mexico. We had some lunch and got Smitty out for a walk. The armadillos are ever-present, and Smitty was listening, listening, listening to them rooting around in the leaves.

After lunch and our naps, we left the park and headed down Louisiana 82 and then onto Louisiana 333 toward Intracoastal City on the map.

It's been a while since I've taken any pictures of barns, but this one caught my eye.

This is a community that exists because of offshore oil drilling, and much of what we saw was related to that. This business flies workers from the coast to offshore rigs.

Also, there were fishing boats and shrimp boats in abundance.

We drove as far as we could on 333 and came to a fence where we could go no further without some sort of security clearance. Looking out my window I could see the intracoastal waterway. There is a lot of barge traffic on this stretch of water.

From there, we headed back into nearby Abbeville for some groceries.

Our navigation unit wanted to take us on this road, but whoops! We drove down a couple of blocks and crossed the river there.

I've been fascinated by some of the items commonly seen in Louisiana grocery stores.
Have you ever made a roux? From scratch, it takes a long time. I took a New Orleans cooking class many years ago at a Whole Foods-type store called "Wild Oats." Sadly, Whole Foods bought them out long ago and they disappeared along with their cooking classes. In any case, I learned to make Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo. Here's what I learned about making a roux:

In a heavy bottom soup pot, make roux with equal parts safflower oil and flour.  Heat oil and then add flour.  Stir constantly over medium-high heat.  Cook roux until a chestnut-mahogany color.  This can take 30-50 minutes.  If at any time you see black specks in the roux or you scorch the pan even slightly, throw it out and start over after cleaning the pot thoroughly.

So I bring this up to point out that making a roux is a tedious and time-consuming process. Who knew that it could be bought and paid for in a grocery store? Not in Oregon, I can tell you that.

There's nothing more on the agenda today. Recall that we are killing time before reaching the Texas Quilt Museum in La Grange, Texas. We thought we might try a different route to the Gulf and see if we can get up to the coastline there. There are wildlife refuges all around, although it doesn't look as if they can be reached by road. Also, I'm hoping to get quite a bit more finished on the latest wine country block. It's getting close enough to finished that I'll be wanting to trace the next block for the Snow Globes quilt.

10 comments from clever and witty friends:

Vroomans' Quilts said...

I can remember making roux over an open campfire with Boy Scouts and doing up a huge pot of crawfish (we call them crayfish here in NY). The kids were 'icky' facing the whole time, but once they tried that first bite that pot emptied pretty quickly.

Lee said...

A friend from Louisiana taught me to make gumbo, and the roux, many years ago. I use a cast-iron pan, and just love the smell once you add the diced celery & onion - oh my, heaven! My daughter had sent me a jar of pre-made roux a few years ago... great when you don't want to stand over a hot stove. We have a market out here that has an eclectic assortment of products, wonder if they carry it, hmmm.

Cheryl's Teapots2Quilting said...

Hubby made roux years ago. I'm too impatient a cook to even bother. Our area started getting lots more Cajun foods after Katrina, since so many displaced people moved this direction.

Jean Etheridge said...

My older daughter got me a Christmas present in New Orleans a few years ago. Your post made me smile because of the Cypress knees. What she got me was a painted Santa Aden from a knee. It is about 18 inches tall, definitely one of my favorites.

WoolenSails said...

Another wonderful place and I like the boardwalks, wish we had more of those types of walks in our swampy areas, fun places to explore.


piecefulwendy said...

We're having a discussion over roux here while I read that portion of your post to my guys. I've never heard of making a roux that takes that long. We use equal parts butter and flour, and it takes just a few minutes. Are there different types of roux? Now I'm curious.

Brown Family said...

THe Palmettos are very interesting. I can see why the light and shadows change their appearance!

quiltzyx said...

Love the graphic look of the Palmettos, even if they would look better in 3D.
Smitty looks like he's in hunter mode, walking with Mike.
Did you buy a jar of roux for future use? I doubt I would ever make any that takes over 30 minutes to do!

quiltzyx said...

Oh! I forgot to say - the photo of Mike on the boardwalk - he looks like he's carrying a turkey under his right arm with the tail feathers hanging down! LOL I had to do a double-take to realize it's just the tree trunk in front of him!

Pinkflorentina said...

Making a roux means something different in the UK. It’s still flour but with butter. We melt the butter gently, add the flour and then whisk slowly as we add add the milk. Makes a great base for any sauce. Somehow I guess thats not what’s in these jars?