Posts Tagged ‘Many Louisiana’

I continued north from the administration office along the loop road.  [The office is located along the road east of the lake and at the western edge of a large rectangular field].  A little more than a mile northwest of the Office, the roadway descended, and I caught my first glimpse of the lake.  [For a quicker view of the lake, I would recommend starting the loop road by veering straight/left just after the entrance booth].  From here the road travels along an earthen dam, and offers a beautiful view of the 225 acre lake, back to the south and east.  The pine-covered hills visible from this point undoubtedly hold in part of the special sense of place that has drawn visitors to this landscape for decades.  The earthen dam here holds back one (here, the White House Branch) of two small drainage ways that creates the lake around which this park is centered.

According to a history report written by Park Manager Kim Kelly (cited from hodgesgardens.net), the lake water is supplied by three (3) naturally flowing artesian springs and many other smaller springs.  These water sources certainly help keep the lake water relatively clear, and make this water body an attractive distant background, and sometimes focal point, from much of the northern and western designed areas of the park.

I drove over to the visitor center parking area, which is located on a high point on a broad peninsula above the northwestern shores of the lake.  Gathering my walnut halves and cheddar cheese, water bottle, notepad, and camera, I left the van to begin my pedestrian adventure.

While my primary goal was just to get an on-the-ground experience of the main gardens area, I went ahead and took several photographs with my camera—no shots in particular, but photos of things that simply interested me or seemed potentially useful with the documentation process.

As mentioned previously, scope and logistics of landscape documentation projects really help guide goals for site visits.  Though usually not ideal, sometimes a single site visit is all that is feasible for a documentation project.  Other times, many visits will be necessary.  The time frame and logistics of this summer project puts me somewhere in the middle of these two extremes.  Although I intend to be as sensible as possible with my resources at hand, I envision visiting Hodges Gardens at least a handful of times this summer.

Documentation Photography:  If you are working on a project where few site visits are possible, make the most efficient use out of your visit(s).   Photograph more than you think you will need.  Capture views; capture landscape features (buildings, structures, small elements); capture significant vegetation; capture major lines (hardscape or softscape) that create spatial organization; capture circulation (pedestrian and vehicular) routes.  The guide that accompanies this blog will expand on these points in more detail.  For now, check out the images that follow this post for a few examples of images I captured at Hodges Gardens.

Planning the Walk-through:  If the landscape of interest is large, you may want to roughly follow a map (if one doesn’t exist, see if any aerial imagery on Google or Bing Maps is helpful) to make sure high points are visited.  If you feel like the site is pretty easy to navigate, just start walking—and photographing, if that fits your plan/scope.

As the thermometer approached 100 degrees Fahrenheit near 1pm, my pedestrian excursion came to a close.  Starting field work early on days like this certainly pays.  I finished my visit with a drive back around the loop road, and checked out a trail head that lay down a sinuous side-road.

I had some good corn tortilla fajitas at a Mexican restaurant just up the road in Many, Louisiana.  Many is a roughly a halfway landmark between Hodges Gardens and the office back in Natchitoches.  Many is the parish seat and largest city in Sabine Parish—the home parish of Hodges Gardens.

Slowing to at least 5mph below the speed limit in Robeline, LA (hint), I arrived with a couple of work hours left for the day at NCPTT.  This provided a great time for me to glance over my small stack of Park literature I had gathered earlier in the day.  After a site visit, maps and other related information are more easily interpreted.

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