With exams and presentations slowing down, I’ve finally found time to write about one of my favorite adventures we’ve had since moving here: heading out to Fontainbleau State Park in Mandeville, LA, on the north side of Lake Pontchartrain. The park is located just on the east side of the famous Lake Pontchartrain Causeway bridge, a 24 mile bridge (the largest in the United States) venturing across the lake and into New Orleans. Meredith didn’t let me drive over it, as we would have spent an hour just traversing the bridge to New Orleans and back, but I’m sure we’ll do it some day.
The park itself I thought was gorgeous. It’s main feature is a small beach with a patch of large cypress trees growing over it. It looks quite tropical! I was somewhat sad to find out that the sand is actually imported to make the beach more visually appealing, but I guess it makes sense because the soils in that portion of Louisiana are a very dark muck color. We did find some very appealing minerals underneath the trees though. The park also featured almost ten miles of trails through forest and on a swamp boardwalk which we saw several species of fish, frogs, and turtles. No alligators though, maybe one day.
Following our morning at the park we traveled into downtown Mandeville grab a cheap lunch. Mandeville was an inviting combination of Florida beach town mixed with Holland, Michigan, topped with a pinch of southern charm. Palm trees, small shops, and restaurants all withing walking distance to Lake Pontchatrain and beautiful houses all elevated about one story about ground level. We decided on lunch at the Rusty Pelican. The entire restaurant was decorated with various pelican and nautical themed decor which was fabulous. We also grabbed beignets at the famous “Cafe Du Monde” on our way back home. Meredith loved them but I was slightly skeptical. I’m partial to the beignet fingers at Coffee Call back in Baton Rouge.
One of my favorite southern novelties though has to be snoball stands. In the midwest we have snowcones and shaved ice, but snoballs take this dessert treat to a whole new level. The concept is similar, a shaved ice base and with a surgary syrup for flavor. However snoballs ice is much more finely shaven and somewhat blended with the syrup. You can also get a “cream” base where sweetened condensed cream is blended into the ice and syrup. At the stand we prefer to visit, there’s almost 100 flavors and about a dozen toppings ranging from sweetened condensed milk to fresh strawberries, marshmallow fluff, or even stuffed with ice cream. Essentially there are endless combinations. Meredith’s favorite is “tiger’s blood”, a strawberry coconut flavor” with sweetened condensed milk on top. I’m working my way through trying all of the cream based flavors with my favorite so far being mint chocolate. It also helps that they’re only $2 a piece. Fortunately we’re at the very start of snoball season, so we have all summer to explore new flavors and stands across the state.