As mentioned previously, the freely proffered advice of people we meet is welcomed with gratitude. This is the way we get to see things that other tourists do not. Yesterday we were told that we should make an effort to see Natchitoches because it is a very pretty town. It was also entertaining/educational to hear how this name is pronounced. Hands up if you knew - or guessed - that it is 'Nak-a-toshe'.
Natchitoches was established in 1714 by the French, who actually owned most of the mid-west between the Rockies and the Eastern states until 1800, at which time the USA under Thomas Jefferson acquired it from Napoleon Bonaparte for the paltry sum of $15 million. Something like $230 m or 43 c an acre in 2012 dollars. A steal perhaps, but France was a willing seller.
The town was caught up in the Red River campaign of the War between the States and was about to be torched by the retreating army, but representations by town leaders and the arrival of the Confederate Army saved the day. Consequently, many original homes grace the streets of this university town, which also happens to host a basilica of the Roman Catholic church.
Our destination for the day was Magnolia Arkansas, and serendipity took us there via the town of Minden Louisiana. Being lunch time, a noshery was required. I parked the bike in the main street and John remarked that on the way in he had observed a cafe, one block down. I moved the bike while he walked and we walked in upon what seemed to be a fairy tale (photo). We had stumbled upon the Timeless Café and Tea Room. This is a local project run by the Presbyterian Church, supported by the Town and community of Minden, to provide employment for the intellectually challenged. What an excellent idea! And it is SO well done. Great food, friendly service and bright, novel, welcoming surroundings.
One of the managers, Terri , spent some time explaining the project to us and their plans to expand it. And she also gave us great ideas on how to proceed northwards to Magnolia.
We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and the social interaction withe the various folk we met. Great work people, and bless you for it.
Up the road via Shongaloo (sounds like a South African millipede to me!), but a little concerned about the Navweather severe weather alerts coming at me via the GPS. A little more speed was applied and we made Magnolia just before 3 pm. An early day meant a swim and a guest laundry meant washing could be done. We think our wives would be proud of us!
Louisiana has been a lovely and interesting state. Like all the others, one could/should spend longer exploring it. The French influence along the Gulf coast and into North Louisiana is a history I would love to know more about. Hopefully another trip is in our future. But in the cooler, less humid months!
We left Louisiana with the glow of the friendliness and helpfulness of the many folk we met. Thank you all!