Hello Louisiana and 2016


Pulled out of Brazos Bend mid-morning on New Years Eve, heading to Black Bayou (not Bijou as mis-spelled in previous post) National Wildlife Refuge in Louisiana. Stopped at the Blue Beacon Truck Wash in Baytown, TX and lined up with all the trucks to get a much needed bath.


For our New Years Eve fun, we parked in the Walmart parking lot in Alexandria, LA, otherwise would have had to set up at our new digs in the dark. Alexandria is only about 100 miles from Monroe. We watched a movie for our celebration and got to bed somewhat early. Arrived at Black Bayou on New Years Day.


Other than having to run our drain hose across our patio and needing 100′ of hose for our water connection, our new spot is quite nice. The price is great too. The refuge allows us to stay at no cost in exchange for volunteering a few hours a week. We back up to Bayou DeSiard (pronouced like brassiere with a “D”).


Haven’t had to shovel any snow, but we have had a couple nights that dipped down around 28ยบ. Windshields tend to frost over even when the temperature is more moderate. However days can be much warmer with tee shirt temps.

BBNWR.VisitorCenter LearningCenter

Black Bayou refuge, established in 1997, consists of 4,500 acres of former cotton fields, including the 1500 acre Black Bayou lake. The lake is owned by the city of Monroe which leases it to the refuge on a 99 year agreement. It is the city’s secondary water source. The area is located in Ouachita Parish. Ouachita (pronounced WASH-ah-taw) derived from an indian tribe that lived in the area when it was first settled. And parish is what most other states call counties.

The Visitor Center, an 1880’s planter’s house, restored in 2004.

The Conservation Learning Center includes the Aquarium Room with live exhibits of native fishes, reptiles and amphibians; and the Discovery Room with six learning stations. Members of Friends of Black Bayou, Inc., a refuge support group, were instrumental in establishing and restoring these facilities and provide thousands of hours of services for the refuge.


The boardwalk stretches out over the lake for a view of a variety of bird species, along with the cypress and tupelo trees in the lake. Fewer birds this time of year, and the alligators do not show themselves like they do in warmer weather.

Connie.Painting.Sign FishTankCleaning


In addition to enjoying the refuge and surroundings, we enjoy contributing as well. Connie painted a second coat on the steel ceiling joists in our club house (more on that later) and is back painting signs again (she painted signs while in Brazos Bend). Ed worked with Cliff cleaning the algae off the inside aquarium glass at the Learning Center and is working on sign repair.


It’s only about 4 miles in to Monroe on US highway 165. Along the way we pass CenturyLink’s Corporate Headquarters. Very impressive campus. Both of us use to work for US West, which was bought out by Qwest, then later CenturyLink. Son Shelby is an outside plant engineer in Gillette for CenturyLink. So being close to the headquarters has some special meaning.

Also nearby is the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Nice campus. Cool mascot…Warhawks!

We have several places on our list to see while we’re here, including the Duck Dynasty facility. No breweries around, so will have enjoy the many other things in the area.

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