Kayaking the Cane
Alan and I have recently embarked on what we call the Oregon lifestyle. It's a stark jump away from the New Orleans lifestyle, which consists of waking up and drinking beer. In Oregon, you apparently go out, climb a hill, paddle a river, or bike a valley BEFORE you go and drink all the beer. Who knew?! It's very satisfying, and we've taken up the Kayak Cause in the summer months here in Louisiana.
One of our newly-discovered favorite Kayak trips is the Cane River Lake near Natchitoches in Louisiana. Natchitoches is the oldest permanent settlement in the Louisiana Purchase, and its quaint, historic downtown is situated directly on the Cane. The Cane River at one time was was a stretch on the Red River, and as an important tributary to the Mississippi River, boasts a series of beautiful and historic plantation homes including the ever-popular Melrose Plantation, muse to acclamied artist Clementine Hunter. Additionally, the Cane River Creole National Historical Park includes two other plantations homes along the cane that are viewable by water.
Natchitoches itself is a quaint and homey Franco-Southern town that boasts a history all its own. Just south of town is Fort St. Jean Baptiste National Historic Site. Into more contemporary history? Stop in and see the Steel Magnolias house where the movie was filmed.
We set out in downtown Natchitoches from the Front Street dock and parking lot, right in front of the Roque House historic Creole home nestled in the elegant grounds of Beau Jardin park and headed north.
At its widest, the oxbow lake is approximately 100 feet across. At the narrowest, about 40. Boaters are friendly, and there are numerous attractive homes to admire as well as myriad wildlife to observe. On our trip, we saw an array of turtle species as well as Blue and Green Herons. The Great Egrets were out fishing as well, and Alan spotted his first alligator in the wild (though it was only a few feet long, and terrified of us). We kayaked up to the northern earthen dam and back to town, totaling about 6.5 miles in around 3 hours.
After our jaunt, we hauled our boats into the bed of our truck and walked to Maglieaux's on the Cane for a few Great Raft beers and savory snacks on their patio. After a round, we sauntered leisurely back to The Landing Restaurant, where we finished up with a few more fantastic local beers and some fried alligator. As we began our hour long journey back to Alexandria, we began hatching plans for our next trip to kayak the Cane. Who knows? Maybe I've set a personal goal to paddle the length of it; even if it happens to be punctuated with leisurely afternoons sipping beers and exploring some history. All in an "Oregon" day's work, right?