After we spent Christmas and the New Year in Pittsburgh, we flew into New Orleans and picked up Trudy from storage, ready to begin the second leg of our journey. It was a long day with a lot of logistics:
- Fly from from Pittsburgh to New Orleans
- Catch a shuttle at the airport to the hotel where we left my car
- Pick up my car (the Escape, our toad)
- Drive an hour to the storage facility
- Get Trudy (we were so nervous her pipes had burst because it was below freezing while she was stored and we didn’t winterize. It ended up being fine!)
- Drive Trudy to Fairview Riverside State Park in Madisonville, LA
By the time we got to the state park, parked Trudy, and hooked her up, we felt like we had run a marathon! Thankfully everything went better than expected and we hit no major bumps (literally and figuratively).
Our plan was to spend a week at Fairview-Riverside and get back into the RV groove. We also wanted to visit New Orleans, which was a solid hour from the campground.
This campground was our first introduction to the Louisiana State Parks system. We don’t have anything to compare it to since we only stayed at one other campground in LA, and it was a county park. The park was beautiful, but we thought it seemed a little bit underfunded as there were not many staff members present and the gate was never locked.
The campground has two loops, one of which is near the road, and the other is back near the river – the river loop is considered “premium” and they charge more for these sites. We chose a site in the river loop, and we think it was worth the upgrade fee. No road noise and the sites in the river loop were much larger and closer to the dump station.
This state park was water and electric only, but there was a dump station close by. Stays at water/electric only campgrounds certainly make us glad we bought this 32 gallon gray water tote. When our gray tank fills up, Tim takes it over to the dump station. It’s a 4-wheeled model so he can pull it by hand or throw it on the Escape’s hitch and tow it over (32 gallons of water is nearly 300 pounds so the latter is more common). So much easier than closing up and moving the whole motorhome!
The interesting thing about Louisiana State Parks is that they have free laundry. This is a huge perk, but it comes at a cost. First of all, some people completely take advantage of it and use the single washer/dryer as their personal laundromat where they process a month’s worth of laundry, making it unavailable to others. The second factor is that it was broken during almost our whole stay. So, as they say, “free is never free” and that was the case here.
The campground at Fairview-Riverside had a small boardwalk along the river and a little walking trail (aptly named the Swamp Trail), where I got this cool picture of Calla. The landscape in southern LA really makes you think you’re in a jungle, with the humidity to match.
While we were at Fairview-Riverside, a local told me that January is considered “mud season” in Louisiana. I can understand why – it rained during our entire stay! Not nice weather, so we spent more time than we wanted to cooped up in Trudy. It also provided the opportunity for Calla and I to explore nearby cities Madisonville and Mandeville during the day, which was fun. Both are cute small towns and I noticed that the locals were very friendly. You begin to notice if a town feels friendly or not, and these two definitely did.
Visiting New Orleans
A visit to New Orleans was a “must” for me since we were only an hour away. I had visited NOLA in the past, for a long weekend with my girlfriends. I definitely wanted Tim to experience it, so we went on his day off. However, the weather was horrible! It was about 40 degrees and raining, so it didn’t make for the greatest day of sightseeing. We would recommend staying away from New Orleans during the mud season!
To get to NOLA from Fairview-Riverside, you have to go across the Lake Pontchartrain causeway, which is an adventure in itself! It is 24 miles long and is the longest bridge over water in the world. Who knew?! For so much of the drive, you can’t see anything on either side – just the water around you. It’s kind of a crazy feeling.
We got a mini-NOLA experience, complete with some street performances, Creole food, and beignets. Bourbon Street was under a lot of construction so that experience was lacking, although I’m not really sure what that would look like with a toddler in tow anyway!
We visited Jackson Square and the Louisiana State Museum, where we saw exhibits on hurricanes and Mardi Gras (quite the opposite topics).
All in all, we enjoyed our visit to New Orleans and our stay at Fairview-Riverside State Park. We just wish the weather was better during our stay. If you want to visit the city more than once, I’d suggest staying somewhere closer. It took us over an hour to get there via the causeway bridge.
Date Visited: January 2018