We have experienced over twenty different campsites from Portland to New Orleans, but Lake Bistineau will be forever seared on our memories. Where else can you get party favors as a consolation prize for forking over twenty-six dollars to sleep in a mosquito infested swamp?
Upon arrival, we had to go in to the Forest Ranger office because the little booth at the gate had been crushed by a tree or large alligator. Inside, we were greeted by two of the friendliest (and most talkative) people we have met to date.
Howard is a gregarious ranger who has seen a lot of service and told us that he had been first in line to get tazed at the Forest Ranger Academy. Missy, his female companion, although they were not romantically involved, had lived everywhere from Maine to Hawaii with a variety of military husbands.
Marriage became a key topic as we were attempting to book a campsite. Our conversations with Howard and Missy were broad reaching and interminable because we seemed to be the only campers to have come through this area in the last four weeks.
But back to marriage. Together, Missy and Howard have experienced five divorces. But each expressed satisfaction with their current choices. Howard attributed his present marital success to marrying an older woman. Missy believes hers originates from sharing chores and never sleeping in different beds. As some bonus advice, Howard told us that one should never call one’s wife a ‘wench’.
From marriage, we moved on to criminals. Howard said most campers are actually hard core criminals hiding from the law in plain sight. He showed us some proud notches on his pistol. Missy added that she didn’t find mace to be that bad, as long as it didn’t get in her eyes. She said she could touch it and smell it and lick it no problem. Howard said he liked to shoot mace in people’s mouths rather than their eyes, because you can still fight when your blind, but not when your barfing.
When Missy and Howard offered to pick our campsite for us we happily accepted since we usually spend about an hour choosing a site, and, given the vacancy of the campground, our options at Bistineau overwhelmed us. Missy said, I like campsite fifty-four. Howard said, Oh fifty-four, the hidden gem! They both started gushing about fifty-four and how wonderful it was, so we agreed to take it.
Campsite fifty-four turned out to be pretty unremarkable, except for the loud industrial grinding noise produced by the massive generator that loomed over the backside of the site. Thankfully, the grinding noise accompanied us through the night so we did not have to listen to the high-pitched whine of thirteen thousand mosquitoes, nor were our shrieks of itchy pain audible.
Major features of the campground included a swampy lake that was overgrown with giant salvinia, an invasive fern originally brought to Louisiana for Koy ponds. Our Park Ranger sources told us that somebody had decided to throw away their salvinia because it was so ugly and killed all their Koy. They chose to throw the salvinia in Lake Bistineau. Now Lake Bistineau looks like Bistineau Prairie.
Our night was spent sweating profusely and listening to the somewhat terrifying swamp sounds, knowing that we were the only entertainment for the many mosquitoes, alligators, snakes, violent birds, and many shocking varieties of insects.
Ah Lake Bistineau, we have tasted your joys and know thy flavor. May you dry up or be used as a landfill sometime soon.