Monday, December 6, 2021


The Louisiana map shown on the back of this tee shirt highlights the area known as No Mans Land.  I had the wonderful experience of touring No Mans Land, with representatives from the Louisiana Tourism Department, and Group Leader Magazine ( .  After spending several days in this area, I came across a verse in the Old Testament book of the Bible that took on new meaning.  Job 38:26b uses the phrase, "A wilderness in which there is no man."    Although that Bible verse references a territory of the "Old World" in ancient times, this area of Louisiana  got the nickname "No Mans Land" because of border disputes, between the pioneers of various countries, who came to North America (the New World), to start a  life in an area that they knew nothing about.  Therefore, the phrase "No Man's Land" is serving as my visual aid for one of my First Place 4 Health ( memory verses that says, "By faith, Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going."  Hebrews 11:8  Likewise, I did not know exactly where I was going on this trip, but I had faith in the hosts of the event, so I obeyed the instructions and went! 
One part of No Man's Land is Toledo Bend and that is the body of water behind me.  It is formed by a dam on the Sabine River, which serves as the boundary separating Louisiana and Texas in this section of the USA.  I am standing on the Louisiana side, and the shoreline in the distant background is Texas.  A bridge goes across the lake to connect the two states.  If you ever wanted to say you paddled from Louisiana to Texas, this would be the place to do it!  Likewise, if you ever wanted to say you walked from Louisiana to Texas, this would be the location of a bridge to do it!
Our group stayed at the incredibly beautiful Cypress Bend Resort and Golf Club.  The photo showing me, with uplifted arms in gratitude, was taken on the golf course we visited, and the photo below shows our group having an outdoor supper at the pavilion overlooking the lake:
If you want to watch the sun go down over Texas, without actually being in Texas, this is the place to do it!  Sunsets always seem to be more stunning when there is a body of water in the foreground, and who could find a prettier inland location for photography, than this body of water that separates Louisiana from Texas!

There is only one national forest in Louisiana (Kisatchie National Forest), and it has a limestone cave feature that is unique to the area. It is accessed by an easy trail, shown below.  When I am out hiking, I like to get photos of people walking the trails under overhanging rock ledges, so I asked the person behind me to snap this photo of me, (since I was not quick enough to get someone in front of me to pose for a photo.) 

This area of No Man's Land with the national forest is where Wolf Rock Cave is located, and this is a photo of me looking at the Wolf Cave opening:
No one in our group ventured back into the cave any further than the opening, seeing as how this was not a spelunking expedition.  However, the forest service personnel said it was not a very big cave. 

There was a spacious parking lot at the trailhead for Wolf Rock Cave, that easily accommodated our large motorcoach.  And in a true gesture of Louisiana hospitality, the forest service had a table of snacks and beverages for us, as well as a clean port-o-potty with hand-washing facilities.  This was a welcome sight, as the cave is located several miles off the pavement, on a gravel, forest service road.


A very popular town in this area is Natchitoches (pronounced Nack-a-tish).  Since the name of the town is not pronounced the way it is spelled, I thought it was very helpful that there was a big sign in the visitor center that explained the pronunciation, and also a map on the wall that shows Natchitoches is just a short drive into Louisiana, from the southern border of Arkansas! 

This photo I took of the rowing skiffs, is a reminder to say that Cane River Lake is the site of college rowing competitions, as well as Dragon Boat Races.

I saw the photo below on the local college (Northwestern State University) social media page, recognizing their Women's 4+ rowing team that brought home the championship in a rowing competition in May, 2021. 

The city of Natchitoches, whose tagline is "Louisiana's Oldest City", has numerous types of lodging, and these are listed on their website at, or you can phone their office directly at 1-800-259-1714.  Some of the lodging properties are directly on the waterfront, such as "CanDi on the Cane Guesthouse", pictured below:

Besides waterfront locations, there are several Bed and Breakfast Inns, as well as AirBnB's.
If you are a movie fan, you may remember the movie called "Steel Magnolias", and the home that is shown in some of the scenes.  That home happens to be in Natchitoches, and has been turned into a Bed and Breakfast, where you can stay overnight!

The Cane River Lake was formed whenever the Red River shifted its course, brought on by a gigantic, 160-mile-long, log jam, causing an oxbow lake to form.  The massive log jam was known as "The Great Raft".  In the 1830's, "snag boats" started trying to clear the log jam raft.  But soon after the raft was cleared, the meandering river began to change the course of its main channel.  The result was a new channel which cut across a bend , over four miles north of Natchitoches.  Afterwards, steamboat access to Natchitoches was difficult, and ultimately impossible.  By the beginning of the 20th century, dams were built to separate the old channel from the new, thus forming "Cane River Lake".  So now, the body of water that passes through downtown Natchitoches is a lake, but has the characteristics of a stream.  It averages only about 250 feet in width.  The use of dams to control the depth and "current" of the lake made it possible for the city of Natichitoches to open up a beautiful, renovated  riverfront part in 2017, that is less prone to flooding. 

It is a common sight to see folks out on the water, enjoying the historical sights along the watertrail, as well as the private homes and restaurants.  Most of the area along this waterway is part of the Cane River Natural Heritage Area (  It is made up of a largely rural, agricultural landscape, known for its historic plantations, distinctive Creole architecture, and multicultural legacy.

Our group had the pleasure of taking a boat ride on the lake, aboard the"Cane River Queen" vessel.  We took a leisurely cruise down the lake and back, and enjoyed seeing several different types of wildlife along the way.  You can find out more about the many services they offer, by visiting their website at

I was intrigued with the beauty of the riverfront park, including the red brick sidewalks, the luscious hanging baskets full of colorful blooms, vintage-style lampposts, and park benches. 

The expansive canopy of the live oak trees provides shade for the park, and there are clean public restrooms that are easily accessible.  (the person in photo is walking towards the public restrooms at the end of the sidewalk)
The entire 33-block area of downtown Natchitoches has been designated as a National Historic Landmark District, so one will see many different types of architecture along their main street, reflecting the different countries that ruled over the settlement, over the decades; yet the thing that ties them all together is a ribbon of red brick streets and sidewalks, tied with bows made out of beautiful flowers:

Kayaks, both those powered by paddles,  and those powered by foot pedals, are available for rent in downtown Natchitoches at the Cane River Paddle and Pedal Concession.  They also rent standup paddleboards,  You can find out more by phoning them at 318-527-0066.  I am posting these photos of paddling possibilities in this area, in hopes of inspiring my kayaking buddies to come on a group trip to this area!

If you look at the photo below, I hope you will notice the bold architectural statement made around the ascending staircase.  This is the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame and Northwest Louisiana History Museum, that is known as much for its stunning architecture, as its historic exhibits.  You can read about the history of the area by visiting



A famous Louisiana sports personality is one way I am remembering how to pronounce the name of this town, the oldest city in Louisiana.  That is because when Shaquille O'Neal came to Natchitoches, to be inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame, the story goes, that he joked that in recognition of his induction, the town name could be changed to "Shaq-0-Tish" for a day, instead of "Nack-0-Tish".  Since one of my nick names is "Trish", I can now remember that the first part of the town name rhymes with "Shaq" and the last part of the town name rhymes with "Trish"---problem solved!

Another attraction you will not want to miss when you are in Natchitoches, is the Fort St. Jean Baptiste State Historic Site, one of three state historic sites in the area. 
Inside the campus of this historic site, one can see evidence of the early settlers' life:
Nachitoches has dozens of restaurants, and many of them offer the famous Natchitoches meat pies (shown in photo).  This city even has an annual "Meat Pie Festival"!

Another reason this would be a good trip for those who enjoy paddle sports, is that there is a popular lake in Natchitoches, called Sibley Lake (shown here).   Whenever I saw the kayaks on the shore at the restaurant where we dined, I was visualizing a "repeat performance" of a paddling excursion our kayaking group took in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  We started our adventure on a canal near our lodging property, and then paddled about a mile, to a popular restaurant along the waterfront, stowing our kayaks on the shore---similar to the ones shown in the photo I took.  We had a delicious seafood lunch, then worked off the calories by paddling back to our launch site!  It was a fun experience!
  The Mariner's Restaurant is a destination on Lake Sibley that one can paddle to or drive to.  Regardless of how you get there, it is a FANTASTIC place to enjoy seeing the sun set over a lovely expanse of calm waters.  You can watch it from inside (because the entire dining area is all glass), or go outside on the deck that is above the water.

My photos and comments in this article have barely scratched the surface of the numerous activities that await you when you visit the southwest section of Louisiana, known as "No Man's Land"!  You can find out more from their website by visiting and for information about other areas of Louisiana, check out or phone the Louisiana Department of Tourism at 225-342-9282.  I predict a visit to these charming locations will give you "MILES OF SMILES"!!