Clark Creek hike day.
It was somewhere near 7 a.m. when I awoke in my new campground digs.
I used baby wipes to clean up and an outdoor sink to brush my teeth and wash my face.
No need for a real shower when I was about to sweat it out in the woods.
Around 8ish I headed for the Louisiana/Mississippi border to absorb the trickling waterfalls.
The road was hilly, curvy, and canopied with trees.
Within about 10-minutes, I make the left into the Clark Creek Natural Area.
My first animal interaction involves an old dog who does not like my motorcycle. He seemed to be the guardian of the waterfalls.
I tried to stop and calm him down. Instead, he barked even more, so I hit the throttle.
Parking in an empty lot, I make my way into the woods.
Charge for the park: $4 cash.
The honor system.
I had none, so I took a picture of the address to send the money.
A largely undeveloped area (except for some stair cases), the hike was definitely primitive. I thought about how cool it would be to film The Walking Dead out here, or hell, anything macabre.
I hear leaves fall and squirrels and baby chipmunks scatter.
I see neither snakes nor bears.
Then, I hear the falling water.
The hour-long meditation hike had me pretty soaked thanks to the humid morning.
As I approach the exit, two female hikers were walking towards me -- about to embark on the same journey I had taken.
We exchange smiles.
Upon my exit, I avoid "old dog" by slowing down than speeding up.
Back at the campground, I challenge myself by entering the outdoor shower. I don't think anyone was in the campground (all tents were gone) except me.
The warm shower felt great, but being in an outhouse felt strange.
It was a horror movie moment if ever there was one.
Then, came the true horror.
Upon my return to the A-frame, I find myself thirsty.
With nothing to drink except some pineapple juice cans, I gulp down the one I had left opened.
Gulp. Gulp. Gulp.
Then... something solid enters my mouth.
At first, I think, wow, they put chunks of pineapple in here!
So, I chew.
Wait a second...
Then, shock followed by a very long pause.
What did I just put in my mouth!?
There it was...
staring at me.
Soaking, marinating in pineapple juice.
For how long?
I begin a spit fest.
Spit, spit, spit.
I grab the nearest thing to me.
I wash my mouth out, and I spit some more.
I grab my toothbrush, toothpaste, and floss; I run to the outdoor sink.
Brush and brush again.
At least I got a funny story out of it.
I walk back to my A-frame.
My cell phone rings.
She has my space rented and offers to put me up in a roomier space for the same cost.
I jump at the opportunity for improved accommodations.
An indoor shower, sink, and toilet.
I assist Brenda in prepping my previous room by changing the linens and sweeping up.
I learn that Brenda was a landscape architect turned campground operator.
She goes into detail about the biodiversity of the area and the micro-climates within it. It made sense considering the topography and the smells emanating from the lush rolling hills.
During our talk, she would receive phone calls from folks looking for reservations to folks who's kids were lost in the woods. What intrigued me was how helpful Brenda was with everyone who crossed paths with her -- even over the telephone.
We ended up talking for quite some time due to an approaching rain storm which prevented me from revisiting St. Francisville in the afternoon.
I even meet her granddaughter Alyssa.
We continue our conversation about other random topics such as what makes a happy marriage.
Don't ask me how we ended up there.
Here's what she shared: she knew two happy marriages.
In both cases, the couples had no children.
She also shared what type of future she'd like to see for the area, specifically eco-tourism.
With the waterfalls, rolling hills, decent roads, quality restaurants, and sufficient lodgings, I did not see why that was not possible.
Part of the issue revolved around the thousands of acres people own; part of it involved change.
No one likes change.
Her granddaughter was ready to go to the creek, so we cut the conversation short.
Happy that I had a chance to share with Brenda, I leave for the library satisfied.
The pristine, state of the art West Feliciana Parish Library had computers everywhere.
The computers were completely open to the public.
No time limitations.
No ID required.
While I wanted to explore more of St. Francisville, daylight waned.
I depart the library right as it was closing: 7 p.m.
Remember, many country roads are unlit.
I did not want to risk hitting an animal at dusk.
When I arrive back to my "improved" digs, I open up a package of beef jerky (dinner), and begin looking at housing options in Natchez and Vicksburg.
With no place to stay, I call it a night knowing I would leave early in the morning on 66 North to Woodville, Mississippi and onto 61 North to Natchez.
Until we meet again, my friend