Trips On A Tankful: Natchitoches

Tuesday, April 13th 2021, 4:52 pm
By: Craig Day

Natchitoches, Louisiana -

The Red Slough Wildlife Management Area in far southeastern Oklahoma is a perfect place for nature lovers and photographers, and alligators.

David Arbour is with the Oklahoma Wildlife Department.

“He’s kind of down in the water halfway,” Arbour said about an alligator.

The area was once the site of Oklahoma’s only rice farm. It includes 2,400 acres of wetlands, which is the perfect habitat for more than 40 Oklahoma alligators, at last count at least.

“To see alligators, just make sure to bring a sharp eye or a good set of binoculars,” Arbour stated. 

The biggest alligator is a 14-footer named T-Rex.

If your want to see more prehistoric looking beasts, then head three hours down the road to Natchitoches, Louisiana.

It’s the oldest town in the Louisiana Purchase.

Natchitoches is home to about 1,800 people and about 200 alligators at the Gator Country Alligator Park.

Your family can feed gators, watch the professionals feed gators, or feed your need to learn more about them.

And there is even a wading pool where you can get up-close and personal.

Gator Country also has other animals, such as turtles, bearded dragons, and sakes.

But Oklahoma’s Own Craig Day had one thing to say about this.

“Snakes..why did there have to be snakes,” Craig said.

And the biggest alligator at the park is 13-footer Big Lou.

Big Lou weighs between 600-700 pounds.

And its hard to not pack a few extra pounds with all the delicious options.

Folks in Natchitoches are mad about their mudbugs.

Whether it is picking them up by the pound at a place called Crawdaddies, or grabbing a table at the Crawfish Hole, the tasty crustacean may be the world’s most social-oriented food.

And while everyone knows Louisiana is famous for its crawfish, Natchitoches is also well known for another food favorite: Natchitoches meat pies.

Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen opened in 1967 and has authentic Creole and southern cuisine from recipes handed down for generations.

And there are plenty of options on the menu.

But this family-owned kitchen is famous for meat pies.

They make as many as 1,500 meat pies by hand each day.

And those tasty pies are 80 precent beef and 20 percent pork that is mixed with special spices and then deep fried.

And Lasyone’s even makes a crawfish pie, and they even ship meat pies to all 50 states.

Kathy Myers, who was visiting Natchitoches, knows just how tasty those pies are.

“They are delicious; they’re the best,” Myers said.

Angela Lasyone with Lasyone’s Meat Pie Kitchen said most everyone wants a nap after having some of those delicious pies.

“I think most of them will want to go take a nap. And that’s what you hear ‘Whew, I could take a nap,”’ Lasyone said.

And there are plenty of options for a nap in the town first settled by the French in 1714.

There are several dozen lovely, restored, Bed and Breakfasts in beautiful historic homes that are surrounded by giant Live Oak trees.

And some of those homes might look a little familiar thanks to the film “Steel Magnolias,” which was filmed in Natchitoches.

And many of the businesses and historic homes overlook the Cane River Lake that stretches 31 miles.

Kelli West with Natchitoches Visitors and Convention Center knows the town has so much to offer.

“There are so many options right here in this little package of a town,” West said.

The town was influenced by the French, Spanish, Native Americans, Creole, mixed with the deep south, and a hint of Cajun.

So, if you want to visit this quaint, fun, historic, and beautiful town, don’t hesitate to pack a few bags and hit the road for a getaway.