The first day of autumn 2013 was appropriately and uncharacteristically (for Louisiana) rather cool. I decided I would drag Angie away from her studies on the day after my birthday (which was a very rain-drenched affair) to a park we had never before visited. We hopped into our newly-returned Corolla late Sunday morning and headed east, destination: Fontainebleau State Park in Mandeville on the shores of Lake Pontchartrain.
After scouting out the route to the park from the intersection of LA-59 and U.S. 190, we started thinking about an interesting local place to grab some lunch. After tossing around a few ideas, Angie found a place called Rips on the Lake on her phone and it was only a few miles to the west, so we decided to check it out. The restaurant was indeed on the lake and it was a large, two-story building with the main dining areas upstairs and a vast patio/bar area downstairs. Angie and I sat at a wrought-iron table on the porch and watched the lake across the street.
The salads were great but the main courses were merely okay (my shrimp were a bit bland and Angie’s oysters were not her favorite). As many of you reading this may know, I’m on something of an eternal quest to find the ultimate bread pudding and Rips had an unusual contestant–a blueberry pudding with a traditional rum sauce. It was far superior to the dreadful concoction I ruined a day earlier by adding too much bread.
After a long and leisurely lunch, we drove back over to the park. The park had been devastated by Hurricane Isaac last year. We met and spoke with the ranger manning the visitors’ center, who was carving a slingshot. He explained that he was sitting outdoors because the building had been inundated by water during the storm, despite the fact that it is several miles north of the lake. The storm also washed away part of the hiking trail, a boardwalk that led over a marshy area. There were quite a few revelers at the beach, though. The park had a fairly small beach area, dominated by picnic pavilions, playground equipment, and a splash play area.
Of professional interest to me was the site of the old Fontainbleau Plantation Sugar Mill. Nothing remains of the structures beyond some crumbling brick shells of buildings. In the mid-19th century, Bernard de Marigny used the site as his summer home and also pioneered the processing of sugar cane in the area. Marigny built the town of Mandeville as a part of his real-estate investments.
We arrived home late in the afternoon, but it was a great way to cap the weekend.