ABOUT THE EPISODE
November 9, 2022
Guest Anne Klenke, the liaison for the Creole Nature Trail and Visit Lake Charles’ VP of Destination Development and Community Engagement, joins hosts Brady and Anna on Louisiana’s Playground to discuss the significance of Louisiana’s Outback. The Creole Nature Trail All American Road is one of only 57 designated scenic byways in the United States, stretching 187 miles along the Gulf of Mexico. Tune in to learn more about the migratory bird fallout unique shells found along our beaches, where to spot alligators, and more activities to do within the National Wildlife Refuges.
ABOUT THE GUEST
You can almost say that Anne Taber Klenke was born into the tourism industry as her mother Marion “Butch” Fox was a director at multiple entities within the Louisiana tourism industry during her lifetime. Anne Klenke has been instrumental in the marketing, branding, interpretation, grant writing, and coordination of the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road since 1997. In 2012 Anne moved back home to Southwest Louisiana to continue working with the Creole Nature Trail as well as serving as the Tourism Director at the Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau, handling domestic and international sales of Southwest Louisiana. In January 2022, Anne was named the Vice President of Destination Development and Community Engagement for Visit Lake Charles and remains the liaison for the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road.
B&O Kitchen & Grocery is a three-generation family-owned and operated establishment that opened its doors in 1983 by the Benoit family. The small store boasts coolers packed with specialty meats including 13 types of sausages, pre-made frozen meals prepared from long-standing family recipes, and a kitchen that serves up fresh cracklin’, boudin, Cajun, paninis, and their famous hog head cheese. Stop in to pick up lunch to go, have your deer meat processed on-site, or order a party tray for any occasion. Conveniently located off exit 23 on I-10.
- Creole Nature Trail All-American Road
- Holly and Rutherford Beaches
- Cameron Ferry
- Brown’s Grocery
- Chesson’s Grocery
@visitlakecharles LISTEN UP 🎧 Brady and Anna talk allllll things B&O Kitchen & Grocery on the latest episode of Louisiana’s Playground! Sorry not sorry for making you hungry before lunch time 🤪 🎙Listen here or anywhere you get your podcast: visitlakecharles.org/podcast/ Envie (sounds like an·vi) Eats: The desire to eat. A lot. ABOUT B&O: This iconic spot is a three-generation family-owned and operated establishment that opened its doors in 1983 by the Benoit family. The small store boasts coolers packed with specialty meats including 13 types of sausages, pre-made frozen meals prepared from long-standing family recipes, and a kitchen that serves up fresh cracklin’, boudin, Cajun, paninis, and their famous hog head cheese. Stop in to pick up lunch to go, have your deer meat processed on-site, or order a party tray for any occasion. Conveniently located off exit 23 on I-10. #LouisianasPlayground #EnvieEats #BOKitchenGrocery #SulphurLa #SulphurToday #boudin #cajun #louisiana #louisianacheck #Podcast #foodie #travel #adventure #foodtravel #cracklins #cajunfood ♬ Pine Leaf Boy Two-Step - Pine Leaf Boys
Anne Klenke: [00:00:01] So there are six qualities that you have to have to be a Scenic Byway and you may have some of them, you may have all of them. The Creole Nature Trail has all six intrinsic qualities. That's why we're designated in All-American Road and that means that it's a destination unto itself.
Brady Renard: [00:00:19] Thanks for joining us here on Louisiana's Playground Podcast, your road map to all things Lake Charles Louisiana. I'm Brady Renard.
Anna Strider: [00:00:29] And I'm Anna Strider. It's another week here at Louisiana's Playground with episode 4.
Brady Renard: [00:00:34] Another chance for us to really bring you the authentic stories and experiences here in Southwest Louisiana. And nothing is more Southwest Louisiana than the Creole Nature Trail, our topic today.
Anna Strider: [00:00:45] And today we're speaking with Anne Klenke of Visit Lake Charles. We’ll be talking about all things going on down on the Creole Nature Trail, where to stop, what to see, and what to expect when you're making the trek along the All-American Road.
Brady Renard: [00:00:58] And she considers herself the liaison, so to speak for Creole Nature Trail. So I think she's the perfect guest. But you know the drill by now we're going to start the show as we always do with a taste of Southwest Louisiana. Of course, I'm talking Envie Eats.
Anna Strider: [00:01:15] Yes and what better of a place to start than one of our Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail stops the B&O Kitchen and Grocery?
Brady Renard: [00:01:23] It's as much a butcher shop as it is a little quick take-out place for a little Cajun tradition whether it's cracklings or Boudin. So it really fits that convenience store homestyle grocery store aesthetic that is all over Louisiana.
Anna Strider: [00:01:41] And like you said it it's truly something that is unique to the state of Louisiana. You can't find this anywhere else and when you walk into B&O, it just comes alive. There are multiple different freezers that's around the area where they serve specialty meats that you can come in to. Make sure you bring your cooler when you stop in. You can pick up many different types of sausages. In fact, they have over 13 different types of sausages that they prepare there on-site for you to be able to purchase including alligator sausage and even alligator wings which I heard are kind of like alligator tenders.
Brady Renard: [00:02:19] Yeah, think of it kind of like a chicken nugget, chicken strips, chicken tender style. But it's alligator meat which as we've talked about before is almost a combination of fish and chicken in terms of taste and texture. So good, so good. And boy they already come marinated. So honestly you can just throw them around on the stovetop.
Anna Strider: [00:02:35] And these frozen entrees are the Benoit family's recipe. So you know that they are authentic to Southwest Louisiana and just really wholesome. They have your shrimp and okra gumbo, chicken and sausage gumbo and just many other entrees that you can purchase right there in the freezer section. Bring home to prepare that night for dinner.
Brady Renard: [00:02:54] This is a three-generation old business and in fact Jeff the owner now Jeff Benoit was telling us that the spot where the building actually is now used be their farm. So he's seen the business kind of take off since 1983 and become what it is today, a real, Southwest Louisiana staple. The place where you plan to make a stop, you bring your cooler, you stock up and you bring it home and get to get a taste of Southwest Louisiana wherever you go, whether you're here in Southwest Louisiana or just passing through. So it's definitely become a staple with all the Cajun delicacies as we've mentioned, boudin, alligator cracklings, what have you.
Anna Strider: [00:03:34] And something else that’s really cool and unique about these particular businesses is that they also do deer processing so that you can bring your deer meat in there and they prepare that cut it for you and annually they do over 70,000 pounds of deer sausage alone. So that's pretty incredible and unique to this local business.
Brady Renard: [00:03:55] Yeah, he says they debone them. They also get whatever cuts off of it in addition to making the sausage. So a lot of good work that goes into the processing of that deer meat to make some really good deer sausage, which once again a perfect wintertime delicacy here in the state.
Anna Strider: [00:04:10] Yes, and we talked about bringing the cooler in and to bring home, but it's also a great place to stop right before you head down along the Creole Nature Trail and that's because they have many different items that are prepared fresh there. They do have a kitchen and their frozen meat section. So in the kitchen when you walk in you can get a variety of different classics such as boudin balls, Cajun egg rolls and cracklings. Both the seasoned and salted. They have Cajun Slim Jim's and all of this is just made in-house right there. It's fresh when you walk in and absolutely delicious and something to definitely fill up on before you head down the Creole Nature Trail.
Brady Renard: [00:04:50] In addition they also do lunch and I guess kind of an early dinner because they are open from 6 to 6. So they have what they call their Cajun paninis that are filled with a variety of meats. They also have sandwiches and burgers and some other good fried food because of course you've got to have some good fried food and that's where we come in to taste this fried food and other foods and let you know just how darn good it was.
Anna Strider: [00:05:13] So today I ordered their Gaudidaun, which is one of their famous sandwiches on the menu.
Brady Renard: [00:05:18] And boy is it big. Like Gaudidaun, it means, “look at this” in French and when you see it, it's definitely a showstopper.
Anna Strider: [00:05:27] It sure was. I had the entire sandwich laid out on the picnic table outside with multiple different napkins necessary to eat it. The sandwich itself is built with a pulled pork Tasso. There's a few different meats that they offer there that you can have on the sandwich. I got it fully dressed lettuce, tomato, onion pickle on it. So a true full sandwich and it was absolutely delicious.
Brady Renard: [00:05:51] Meanwhile I'm a sucker for pork chops, love them to death and they had a pork chop basket and so that's an easy yes please always for me. I was so impressed with the batter on the pork chops. The taste reminded me a bit of a Checkers french fry batter, which if you've had Checkers in Rally's, you know exactly what I'm telling you. Amazing, so well-seasoned incredible. The French fries were perfect as well. They were great. Big pieces of buttered toast. I'm telling you man, I was in fried food heaven eating that pork chop A+ pork chops.
Anna Strider: [00:06:28] I got to try a little bit of the pork chops and he is not lying, they were that heavenly. But we got a full smorgasbord of different items from B&O. We also got the smoked boudin, we got a link of that and for those of you that don't know boudin is a mix of different amounts of pork and liver and rice, onion, parsley, Everybody does a little bit different, cooks it a little bit different, throws in their own seasonings like salt, red pepper, black pepper, garlic powder, a little bit of all of it. I can tell you before I came to Louisiana, I had never heard of it and now that I'm here, it is one of my favorite on-the-road snacks. Because you can cook boudin in so many different ways, they had their fried boudin balls, which the batter on that was just perfectly seasoned. It was a thin batter. I don't like a batter that's too oily or anything too, it was a perfect bite to it. Then it was a pepper jack cheese-filled boudin ball. So when you opened it up, the cheese just oozed out of it and oh my gosh, I'm drooling thinking about it right now.
Brady Renard: [00:07:32] Also the Cajun egg roll which came with pepper jack cheese as well. And that was a lot of cheese kind of come out of that and it was bacon as well with it, you know, everyone's favorite.
Anna Strider: [00:07:41] Yes. Absolutely. And that's what makes their Cajun egg roll a little bit different is because they have the bacon in there and like I said, I've been on a boudin egg roll, boudin ball, kick just trying it all over Southwest Louisiana since I moved here and that is one to try.
Brady Renard: [00:07:58] Obviously a must-stop if you're looking for those Cajun delicacies and the Louisiana atmosphere I think is something not to be overlooked. You feel like you're Louisiana the second you walk through the door and that's something that, as a Louisiana native means a lot to me.
Anna Strider: [00:08:12] I completely agree with that statement when you walk in, like we said earlier, it's a small hole-in-the-wall style vibe to it. There's no inside seating, you walk in, you order what you want and you get on the road and that's part of what makes it so beautiful. They are known for their custom party trays that you can order up ahead of time. Of course, like we mentioned their deer processing that they do on-site. It's just a really great stop and one that you need to make when you're checking off your stops along our Southwest Louisiana Boudin Trail, you're heading down to the Creole Nature Trail or you're just driving through Sulphur. It's just a few minutes off the interstate there on Exit 23. Or if you're heading down US Route 90 it's a quick turn.
Brady Renard: [00:08:54] So now that we talked about where to eat before you hit the Creole Nature Trail. Let's talk with Anne about all there is to do. From a great meal to another great guest, we welcome on Anne Klenke, Anne is the Vice President of Destination Development and Community Engagement here at Visit Lake Charles. She's been with VLC for a decade and in the tourism space for much longer using that experience now as I guess you could say a liaison for the Creole Nature Trail All-American Road and you know Anna, I don't believe anyone on this planet knows more about the trail and all it offers more than Anne. Welcome to the show.
Anne Klenke: [00:09:29] Thank you. Thank you very glad to be here. My favorite topic.
Anna Strider: [00:09:33] We're excited to have you here on today's show with us Anne. We're going to get started talking a little bit about all of the fun activities that we have here in Southwest Louisiana. We know that there are big city amenities with small-town charm and most importantly a great outdoor scene that compliments it all. So we're going to get started with that.
Brady Renard: [00:09:52] It's all about juxtaposing questions about how do you enjoy Southwest Louisiana. Are you ready?
Anne Klenke: [00:09:58] I 'm ready.
Brady Renard: [00:09:59] Our first question: Crawfish or gumbo?
Anne Klenke: [00:10:02] Gumbo. Absolutely. I mean, I like gumbo in the middle of the summer. So, you know, crawfish is seasonal, but gumbo is a lifetime.
Brady Renard: [00:10:13] Poolside or beachside?
Anne Klenke: [00:10:15] Beachside for sure. And it's not for me about the sand and the getting a tan and stuff. It's watching the birds and the pelicans flying and picking up the seashells and watching the blue crabs play in the water.
Anna Strider: [00:10:26] I love it for all those reasons as well, especially hearing the sounds of the waves hit the shoreline. It just doesn't get better than that.
Brady Renard: [00:10:33] Concert or comedy show?
Anne Klenke: [00:10:35] Concert. Big ‘80s rock. I would definitely pick that. And comedy, you know, sometimes they're on and really hitting the high notes of things you like about them and some days they're not. So I'd rather watch that on TV where I can leave if I want to.
Anne Klenke: [00:10:51] Fast forward through some parts of it.
Brady Renard: [00:10:54] That's a very wise answer.
Anna Strider: [00:10:55] Well now that we've gotten to know Anne a little bit better through these juxtaposing questions, we're going to get started with the topic at hand and that is our Creole Nature Trail All-American Road. So we know that Louisiana's outback is special to us. But explain to us a little bit about what a Scenic Byway is and an All-American Road.
Anne Klenke: [00:11:15] Absolutely. So scenic byways are the view from the road, right? A scenic byways something you always travel. So there are six qualities that you have to have to be a scenic byway and you may have some of them, you may have all of them. The Creole Nature Trail has all six intrinsic qualities. That's why were designated in All-American Road. There are only 57 in the US. And that means that it's a destination unto itself. People come here for the purpose of traveling the Creole Nature Trail, not in addition to.
Brady Renard: [00:11:48] What kind of an impact does a Creole Nature Trail have to Southwest Louisiana?
Anne Klenke: [00:11:53] You know, it's a little bit of a hard thing to quantify. Obviously, we're talking out in the, in the wilds here pretty much. And as you guys know, Cameron Parish, which is about 80% of the Creole Nature Trail has less than 4,000 residents. So when we have been able to do impact studies show that we see in excess of 300,000 visitors a year.
Anna Strider: [00:12:14] And those visitors are not just from the United States.
Anne Klenke: [00:12:16] Not at all
Anna Strider: [00:12:16] We have visitors from around the world. Right?
Anne Klenke: [00:12:20] Absolutely. I mean just this week, at Creole Nature Trail, Adventure Point, we've had visitors from the UK from France from multiple different states. So yeah, it's a huge draw internationally.
Brady Renard: [00:12:34] I'm glad you mentioned Adventure Point. That's really the genesis of your start through the Creole Nature Trail, right? Right there on Ruth Street and Silver.
Anne Klenke: [00:12:42] Absolutely. Exit 20 off of I10 Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point is really meant to be the trailhead for the Creole Nature Trail. So when you walk in there, not only do you have adventure guides who can tell you anything and everything about the area, but you get to do hands-on experiences. I mean you get to see what it's actually like to catch a crab or hear the sounds of birds or smell crawfish boiling or play a musical instrument and it's very tactile and very representative of Southwest Louisiana.
Anna Strider: [00:13:15] And what's really awesome about Adventure Point is that it is a free attraction and that when you go in there, you get to have that hands-on experience and learn a little bit. But there's also a gift store. So if you're about to head on down to the Creole Nature Trail, you can get some souvenirs there that represent Southwest Louisiana
Anne Klenke: [00:13:31] Absolutely. And it doesn't matter if you're two years old or 92 years old. There's something there that really talks Southwest Louisiana. You're not buying a souvenir that you can buy just anywhere. It's something that really represents the area.
Brady Renard: [00:13:46] I think something that's important to mention is that when you hear trail oftentimes you think of something that you get down on your feet and you walk but it's nearly 200 miles of drivable trail. Right?
Anne Klenke: [00:13:56] It's technically 180 miles if you were to do the whole thing. Yeah. And that's a very common misconception. As long as the Creole Nature Trail has been around since 1979. Yet there are still people locally who thinks that the Creole Nature trail is the wetland walkway on Sabine National Wildlife Refuge.
Brady Renard: [00:14:16] There's multiple stops. You mentioned the walkway there. I know there's the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge. There's pintail which my wife and I are big fans of. We have a jeep so we like to drop top and roll down the windows and drive around there just to see the alligators, that’s obviously a big hit there and the wetland walkway. There's plenty of stops on the CNT.
Anne Klenke: [00:14:37] Absolutely, absolutely. It's what you make of it. I mean you can leave the Creole Nature Trail Adventure Point and travel the trail and never get out of your car if that's what you choose to do. If you want to stop at Blue Goose Trail and take the paved walkway to the edge of Calcasieu Lake and see the oyster reefs, then move on to wetland walkway, Holly Beach. You can do all those different stops. But if it's not for you and you just want to see outside your window, that too is an option.
Anna Strider: [00:15:05] So I'm about to head down the Creole Nature Trail and the locals we kind of know it as having the east side of the trail and the west side of the trail and splitting up our time because the whole 180 miles, that's a long day to be on the trail. So it really is a multi-day activity. So the Adventure Point where the trailhead is, is on the west side. So if I'm starting there, where am I going to next?
Anne Klenke: [00:15:27] I would recommend that you first stop in Hackberry at Brown's Grocery. This is your one-stop shop for everything. You can pick up boudin, plate lunches, crab string, chicken necks, whatever you need, dip nets, licenses, head there, pick up what you may have forgotten or think, oh my goodness, I sure would like to eat boudin at the beach today.
Then head on down to Blue Goose Trail I think it's one of the underrated attractions along there because the Hackberry trees lie in the walkway. Therefore the birds sit in those hackberry trees and so you're hearing them sing, you're seeing them move. You walk to the edge of Calcasieu Lake, which is massively huge. Right? So you're looking across this massive expanse of water and the oyster reefs right there.
From there, I would head down to wetland walkway. It's a 1.5-mile handicapped-accessible walk. and it makes a loop right over the marsh and right across the street from there is a weir, which is a water control structure and that is a great place to crab, to fish or if you're not into those things, just talk to the locals who are doing that.
Anna Strider: [00:16:43] I know crabbing and fishing along the Creole Nature Trail is extremely popular. Year-round you can go crabbing down on the Creole Nature Trail?
Anne Klenke: [00:16:52] You, you can go crabbing year round. Now crabs run better when it's warmer. So when the water is warmer, when the air is warmer, the crabs are going to run better, but you can catch them year-round. They're there. They’re just kind of doing a little mini hibernation.
Anna Strider: [00:17:09] You have to be a little bit more patient.
Brady Renard: [00:17:10] And my favorite thing about crabbing it's something that I remember doing when I was 5… 6 years old, through my childhood and even now into an adult, you don't need a bunch of equipment. It's not like going and fishing, you don't need the reel and the cast and the line and the bait. You really need, as you mentioned a while ago, a turkey neck, a chicken neck tied to a string and then typically some way to get them out of the water, usually a net would be helpful and that's it. Meanwhile fishing, what does the Creole Nature Trail offer?
Anne Klenke: [00:17:40] That really depends again on you. I mean you can saltwater fish for redfish, speckled trout, flounder. You can freshwater fish for bass and trout. It's really up to you. I mean one of my favorites is to go down to Holly or run for beach and surf fish. You can even bring in like laying, which are lemon sharks. People think shark and it's really tasty just soak it in buttermilk.
Brady Renard: [00:18:04] We talked a couple of episodes ago about eating gator and now eating shark kind of right in there. If you can catch it, you can probably eat it here in Louisiana.
Anne Klenke: [00:18:12] That's absolutely right. And spoil it with some spices or broil it up and it's tasty and it's a gift from the marsh.
Brady Renard: [00:18:20] And speaking of previous episodes, we also talked to Kyle about his experience till hunting on the Creole Nature Trail. Obviously plenty of opportunities to hunt as well, till being one of those.
Anne Klenke: [00:18:31] Absolutely. So, I was lucky enough just a couple of weeks to be out on the Creole Nature Trail at Grosse Savanne Eco-tours and the blue wing till it was just past season. But they were still flying everywhere. It was just amazing. You know, ducks, geese, my favorite thing is the snow geese in the winter. You'll go out to like Pintail Wildlife Drive and the fields were just white as far as you can see. And then all at once you’ll hear them talking to each other all at once they'll lift and move and all sat down and it sounds like an aircraft carrier or something the way they move in sync.
Brady Renard: [00:19:07] I think we'd be remised if we didn't talk about the mascot of the Creole Nature Trail, the alligators. I mean I know a lot of people want to be able to see them and boy there are not a ton of opportunities. Like I said earlier, my favorite being Pintail.
Anne Klenke: [00:19:21] Absolutely. Alligators are definitely the number one draw. They're cold-blooded so they like it when it's warmer. When it's cold they actually have nests so they make them out of mud and sticks and that's where they raise their young. But when it's warmer they’re going to be laying on the side of the bank, sunning themselves. When they get a little hot they'll get in the water. If you see them laying on the side of the road, their mouths open they’re panting like a dog.
Anna Strider: [00:19:46] I do not know that. Really do learn something new every day.
Anne Klenke: [00:19:50] But we do want to make sure that people understand that they are not put here for you to play with. They are real-life alligators. They are wild creatures. Please do not feed them ever.
Anna Strider: [00:20:02] And I think that brings us to another great point about the Creole Nature Trail and just that there is a Leave No Trace Program that going on the Creole Nature Trail. It is our responsibility to not feed the animals or the wildlife and to bring back everything that you take and only leave your footprints especially along the beaches. Both Holly Beach and Rutherford Beach where you might get out, have a picnic pick up shells and just really enjoy your day there that you pack it all up and bring it home with you.
Anne Klenke: [00:20:32] Absolutely. What your containers and that kind of stuff do to the wildlife, especially your fish, your crabs, your birds, it's horrendous. it really is and there's absolutely no reason for that to occur. Bring it with you, take it home with you. Just like you would anything else.
Brady Renard: [00:20:52] When preparing for a trip down to the CNT, what do you think are really the mandatory items?
Anne Klenke: [00:20:59] Bug spray. I highly recommend it. You just you never know right if the winds blowing the mosquitoes are not going to be bad. But if it's calm they could be. But that making sure that your phone is charged up because you're going to want to take tons of pictures. I would highly encourage you to download the Creole Nature Trail app, which is free in your app store. It is available in six different languages. So even our international visitors and it's audio-video. So as you're going along it'll auto-play content to you based on your GPS location.
I think the other thing is pack some water, pack a few snacks, that kind of stuff because it's hard work being out in the sun and looking at birds and alligators and stuff.
Anna Strider: [00:21:40] And walking along the trail along the shoreline.
Anne Klenke: [00:21:44] Got to refresh yourself so you could keep going and not miss any of those spectacular moments.
Anna Strider: [00:21:49] So you mentioned when surf fishing earlier down on the beaches there, many people don't know that we have beaches here in Southwest Louisiana. They are their own unique special place that is a little bit different than the other beaches you might find along the Gulf of Mexico there. And I know shelling is a really popular piece of the puzzle when you're down on the Creole Nature Trail. What type of shells can you find?
Anne Klenke: [00:22:13] We actually have a shelling guide and it's really nice because you can pick it up and look at the shell and look at the brochure and see the picture and know what it is. But some of the more common ones –.obviously, oysters because we have oyster fishing, welts, Tiger's eyes among many many others.
Brady Renard: [00:22:29] And we talked about the birds. That was one thing that is something that you kind of learn being around the Creole Nature rail and those that take it in very often the reverence for birds. The birding community loves the Creole Nature Trail and for good reason. From what I've kind of read 400 different bird species at some point in the year call it home.
Anne Klenke: [00:22:51] Absolutely. So we have more than 400 bird species that travel to or through the Creole Nature Trail every year. So while we obviously have many, many species that live here year-round Common Gallinule, Purple Gallinule, Crested caracara, kingfishers, egrets, glossy ibis, Roseate Spoonbills. There are so many more that travel through during the migration season. So imagine these little tiny neotropical songbirds that are not as big as your hand fly all the way from South America across the Gulf of Mexico and they land in Cameron Parish. It's literally called a fallout. They're so tired, they're so exhausted. They fall out into the shiners along Cameron Parish.
Anna Strider: [00:23:40] One of the places that they fall out primarily is the Piveteau Woods Sanctuary and that's on the west side as well.
Anne Klenke: [00:23:48] It is. It's just a little bit west of Holly Beach. It's a great place to go. If you are a birder, this is truly where you want to spend the majority of your time. Huge live oak trees, you're right by the beach, the birds and butterflies there during season are absolutely amazing. Of course not only do you have the birds, but you have the background of these beautiful live oak trees and the beach being right there. So to me it's the complete package. You get to have all the experiences in one place.
Anna Strider: [00:24:21] I know when I went down there and you start walking through the sanctuary, it's just a magical little spot. Like everything kind of stands still except for the animals and the wildlife that, that are in the area. So that's really, really great asset that we have there. So we're making our way down the Creole Nature Trail. We've gone across the west side and we arrive at the ferry, the infamous ferry, the Cameron Ferry right there on the ship channel. How much is it to get across?
Anne Klenke: [00:24:51] If you are traveling from west to east, it costs nothing. If you're traveling from east to west, it's a dollar per car.
Anna Strider: [00:25:02] That's big money.
Anne Klenke: [00:25:03] I know it's very expensive and you get to have great conversations with people taking your money because they're local. They know everything that's going on. So ask them.
Anna Strider: [00:25:11] They sure do. So you get on the ferry and if the time is right, you might be able to see some dolphins out in the channel.
Anne Klenke: [00:25:19] I've never not seen dolphins in the channel. The amazing thing is you obviously we have huge oceangoing vessels. So what's really cool is if you see one of those coming in or going out and you see the dolphins playing, they literally roll in front of it because it's picking up all the fish and they feed. So dolphins are a family pod. You'll never see just one. You always see multiples together. So it's really amazing to see that.
Anna Strider: [00:25:46] So definitely making it across the shipping channel so that you can see the dolphins there. You get to the other side and now we're on the east side of the Creole Nature Trail. What is the first stop that we should stop on there?
Anne Klenke: [00:25:58] The first place you're going to come to is the community of Cameron and I should tell you there are no incorporated cities in Cameron. So, the community of Cameron is basically the home base of the parish. There you can look at the courthouse. It's an art deco courthouse built by Works Project Administration Funding way back when has withstood multiple hurricanes. So very proud of that courthouse. And it's really beautiful to look at in the oak trees with the marsh behind it.
Brady Renard: [00:26:32] And the best part are the people there because the fact that you have to deal with hurricanes means that you've got to kind of have the right attitude to deal with it every few years, and they do. They love Cameron and they love the area. The most resilient people that you'll ever see. And so great to talk to. They have so many great stories. I love Cameron so much.
Anne Klenke: [00:26:53] Oh absolutely. And that's it's definitely a different breed of people that live there. But they are genuine down to earth, salt of the earth and just do what it takes to make it. Most people down there, still 2-3 mils a week will come from the marshes. It may be fish or shrimp or alligator or something like that. But that's really special. That's not something you find very often in today's world.
Anna Strider: [00:27:18] So we've covered the west side, across the ferry and we're continuing to head east. , where do we stop next?
Anne Klenke: [00:27:25] So if you leave Cameron, your first stop going out will be Rutherford Beach. It's a beautiful natural beach and it is much less inhabited than Holly Beach, neither of which are terribly inhabited, but much less. Going from there, you'll come to Oak Grove. At that point, you have the option to make. You can either continue going west and go to Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, which is the premier alligator research facility in the world. They're the people that helped us get alligators off the endangered species list. Or what most people choose to do is follow that loop and go north through Creole across the Conway LeBleu memorial bridge and into Pintail Wildlife Drive, a three-mile driving loop. And it's really like a microcosm of the entire universe there which you're going to see.
When you leave Pintail Wildlife Drive. I would absolutely stop at Chesson’s Grocery. Chesson’s kind of like Browns it’s that neighborhood. You're never going to feel like you're not part of the family there. So pick up some -- have a burger, some soft serve ice cream because maybe you're a little hot before you trek a little bit north.
Anna Strider: [00:28:35] The Creole Nature Trail All-American road in the scenic byways is something extremely special. And for anyone who loves the outdoors or just a good road trip or needs something to do on a weekend, this is something special. There's nothing like this. It may not be a national park or a state park, but it's truly unique to Southwest Louisiana, to the south, to the Gulf of Mexico and there's nowhere else like it in the world and what it has to offer is just something that you've got to visit to really understand.
Brady Renard: [00:29:07] I completely agree. Thank you so much for talking to Creole Nature Trail with us and being a guest on the podcast.
Anne Klenke: [00:29:14] Happy to do it. Good to see you all.
Brady Renard: [00:29:16] Thanks again to Anne for joining us here on the show and thank you for taking the time out of your day to join us here on the podcast. If you enjoyed the show, please, please leave us a rating or a review.
Anna Strider: [00:29:27] It will help us grow our audience and further share the unique stories that Southwest Louisiana has to offer. Go to visitlakecharles.org/podcast to find more episodes, events happening this weekend and all things going on here in Lake Charles in Southwest Louisiana. I'm Anna Strider.
Brady Renard: [00:29:43] And I'm Brady Renard. Thanks again for coming to play at Louisiana's Playground. Say to you.
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