The tour is conducted on a pontoon boat, nice and comfy...slow and smooth. As we exited the dock we passed by a few dozen homes that lined the bank. Many (not all) were on very tall stilts. The Capt. explained that when the lake flooded last year, when people rebuilt, they went ahead and built "up". I asked why they hadn't in the first place, considering that their homes are right to the edge of the lake. He shared that this was the first flood in over 50 years and most of the homes along here are passed down in the families, rarely is one "up for sale". Wow.
We had experienced a good storm a few nights ago, so the lake was up a few inches, it makes that much of a difference. We got the benefit of a fuller lake and a nicer day, but I don't think I would want to be here when it's storming...
It's beauty is awesome... The feet of the Bald Cypress have to be in water to grow. This lake is mostly in Texas, but it is so large (26,810 acres), some of it is in Louisiana as well. It's the largest grove of Bald Cypress in North America. Spanish Moss hangs from all the limbs, giving it that surreal look.
All kinds of animals and birds coexist within the bayou. We only got to see a couple of snapping turtles and a Snowy Egret, but alligators, snakes, peregrine falcon, and the Rafinesque's big-eared bat are among the "special" ones listed. There are also 18 species of game fish, wood ducks, etc. Plus, lots & lots of bugs! I was surprised that all those houses I saw at the beginning didn't have screened in porches! That's the first thing I'd do! They don't bother you during the day (nice breeze), but once that sun starts to go down, wow, look out!
After our boat tour, we stopped at the dock-side restaurant called Big Pines Lodge Inn for a late lunch. Being Mother's day...and very limited choices...the place was crowded! But, we didn't mind the wait. I sat outside on a bench next to a grand ole lady and her daughter-in-law. The lady and I struck up a nice conversation while we waited. She'd lived here her whole life and shared some wonderful stories about Caddo Lake and picking Mayhaw fruit off of the lake and making jam. I had never heard of "Mayhaw" before and had to look it up afterward! It's a fruit that's only found along the bayous, and not much any longer; and a tradition of making jam (she told me all about how to do it!) that no one really does that any longer either. I love the things you learn, especially from older folks who live in different places. Very cool. Well worth the wait.
Our last day in the "Piney Woods" of eastern Texas was in Jefferson. Funny, because that was the whole reason we came to this part of Texas! I had read an article about the town and decided to check it out. It's a cute little town, with a lot of antique stores...or stores that have a lot of "stuff" really. Inside are tons of dish sets, more than I've ever seen before! Outside are, well, lots and lots of stuff! Wow. They had a couple of really cute old gas stations that they fixed up. The town did a good job of "recycling" their old buildings. I'm glad we came.
I have to say, of all of Texas, I really liked the Piney Woods! Very pretty, lots of lakes and trees. You would hardly know you were in Texas! (and no chiggers! I asked...) A lovely way to end our stay here...and it sent us off with another lovely sunset!
...on the way to Arkansas, Marie
If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/74905158@N04/