More Southern History & Hospitality-Part 1
St. Francisville, Louisiana
October 29, 2019
Dear Family & Friends:
I had two great days of paddling down the River after I departed from Natchez. Soon after I left Natchez, I departed Mississippi. The rest of my journey will be in Louisiana.
On the afternoon of October 28, I set up camp on a sandbar overlooking the River. It seemed like a perfect location. To my right, looking towards the River, was a dark lagoon.
Soon after my arrival, Pat Butler greeted me. Pat lives in Saint Francisville and owns the property on which I had set up my camp. He told me he had come down to “run me off his property.” When I explained my journey down the Mississippi River, he wholeheartedly accepted my trespass.
We chatted for about an hour. Then, he told me about the alligators. He recounted an incident in which he brought his Labrador retriever to the very location where I was camped. His puppy was frolicking in the River when Pat saw a ten foot alligator swimming so fast towards his puppy that he left a wake behind his tail. Pat got his puppy out of the water just in time to avoid being eaten by the alligator. That was a heartwarming rescue story, but it left me in sheer terror for my safety. When Pat left, I moved my campsite 100 yards up from the River and the dark lagoon. I did not travel this far to be served up as an appetizer for a Louisiana gator.
Now, I had a choice. Do I paddle to Baton Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, or do I stay in Saint Francisville, just north of Baton Rouge, to wait out the expected storm on October 30-31? I decided to spend those days in Saint Francisville, because Pat told me the city is full of history, antebellum homes and plantations and great restaurants. I would much prefer to spend my time in small, quaint cities, rather than large urban centers like Baton Rouge. It turned out to be a great decision.
October 29 was a tough morning on the River. I was paddling against stiff headwinds in a weak current. The swells in the River resembled the ocean in a storm. After five hours, I finally reached St. Francisville. Fortunately, Pat picked me up just as the rain arrived much earlier than expected. I lashed my canoe to his pickup truck, and we headed for downtown. Thanks to Pat’s connections with local officials, I was able to park my canoe behind the Saint Francisville Police Department. How lucky is that?
I booked a room in the “Tree House” at the Butler Greenwood B&B Plantation owned by Pat’s cousin. It rained hard for the rest of the day and night. I was so glad to be sheltered from the storm. If I had chosen to paddle to Baton Rouge, rather than St. Francisville, I would be tent camping with the gators for three days on the River! As a bonus, I was able to watch the last two games of the World Series in the comfort of my room at the B&B. God is looking after me for sure.