Haley, my oldest granddaughter, is expecting her first child in November, making me a first-time great-grandfather. About the time Haley was being born some 23 years ago, work was going on at a site north of Ruston to give life to Fred Hoogland's dream. Lincoln Parish Park, like Haley, was also seeing life for the first time.
Some where in a file, I have photos of Haley when she was not yet school age, sitting on one of the docks at Lincoln Parish Park lake, dunking red wiggler worms and trying to entice a pint-sized bluegill to bite.
I have been a huge fan of the park from its inception. Over the past decade, I have kept my figure slim and trim by walking the mile and a quarter path around the lake several times a week.
Okay, so those who know me would shoot holes through the "slim and trim" claim, but I have to wonder what I'd look like if I didn't take those daily walks.
I watched the workmen forming the hard-surface path around the lake several years ago. Over the past few months, I've watched other improvements taking place; the area around the portion of the lake designated for swimming has gotten a huge face-lift. James Ramsaur, Park Director, shed some light on the work that has been going on since January.
"Back around 1988 when the lake was formed, we built a retaining wall out of cross-ties, a wall that has deteriorated over the years, allowing run-off from rains to course onto the beach and wash the sand into the lake," Ramsaur explained.
"We had the cross-ties removed and replaced by a stack block wall. After the wall was completed, we added an attractive wrought iron railing above the new wall and steps leading down to the swimming area. We laid sod just outside the retaining wall and finally, hauled in sand for the beach area."
The park has attracted visitors from all over the country, many of them coming for the sanctioned trail races regularly held at the park.
"We had a state championship series held recently with participants from all over the state involved. The folks from Baton Rouge and New Orleans were very impressed with what we have here," Ramsaur added.
The campground is often filled to capacity with recreational vehicles; folks come to camp and enjoy what the park has to offer.
"I frequently drive around to the campground area just to note where license plates originate. I've seen them from California to Massachusetts and I like to stop and visit with the folks there to get their impression of our park. In general," Ramsaur noted, "the people I talk with are impressed and even amazed that there is a park of this quality here in the hills of north Louisiana."
As much as I enjoy the exercise, I often bring my camera along to snap photos of the dozens of species of birds that are at home in and around the lake. Seldom do I complete my walk that I don't see folks, fishing poles in hand, catching fish. Although most of the bream and bass caught are not braggin' sized, there have been some whoppers pulled from the deep cool lake waters. A couple of years ago, I photographed Ruston angler, James Waldon, with a 9 pound bass he had just caught off the spillway. I've seen fishermen showing off stringers of hand-sized chinquapins and I've watched parents and grand-parents teaching their youngsters the joy of fishing.
When Haley's little one comes along, nothing would thrill me more than to bait a hook for my great grandchild and watching, when the bobber goes under, the wonder in those little eyes, just like I saw in Haley's two decades ago.
Glynn Harris Outdoors is proudly sponsored by DSK, Ltd. of Minden.