For more than 40 years, my husband’s family has spent a December weekend at a cabin at Percy Quin State Park. Continuing the family tradition, we headed up I-55 toward McComb, Miss., and met the relatives at a large cabin on the lake.
|Our lovely cabin|
After a quick detour in Manchac for a seafood lunch at Middendorf’s, we arrived at the park by mid-afternoon. The fire was already roaring in the den’s large, brick fireplace. My mother-in-law had hung festive lights and miniature Christmas trees around the great room to make us all feel at home. Everyone quickly dragged in their luggage and claimed their spot in the 5-bed cabin before heading out the back porch and down to the lake.
The 700-acre Lake Tangipahoa, surrounded by fragrant pine trees and a hiking trail, serves as the focal point of this park constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s. We watched the sun set below the trees and then hurried back inside as the temperature rapidly fell. The evening entailed hot dogs and marshmallow smores roasted over the fire as the children played hide and seek.
Saturday always follows the same routine, with more relatives and friends arriving to spend the day with us. For breakfast, we utilized the kitchen this time and left the fire for warming cold hands and toes. Then we all set off on our annual hike, starting on the paved trail behind the cabin.
|The lodge at Percy Quin|
Once the sidewalk ended, our group continued following the lake toward the main lodge, where we all took a break for the kids to play the old-fashioned pin-ball machine and video games. With its exposed beams and large fireplace, the lodge, although underutilized, is a beautiful testament to the work of the CCC. Our self-made trail continued through the woods to the playground, passing a raised pipe along the way that has served as a balance beam for as long as I can remember.
This year, with several small children present, we stopped our walk short at the playground, where the kids romped and the adults knocked mistletoe out of the trees. In past years, though, we often set off over a bridge and into the woods a bit before turning back. The afternoon was filled with coffee and conversation, while the older children built a fort in the red cliffs overlooking the lake to our left.
|Even our three-year-old paused for the scenery.|
I always look forward to this trip every year, and this one didn’t disappoint. While some things may have changed, such as the flat screen TV we immediately unplugged and the championship golf course by the entrance, all in all, Percy Quin is much the same as usual. Quiet and peaceful, it forces you to relax and slow down. There is nothing spectacular about our trip–no wild adventure sports or amazing discoveries, but somehow it has become one of my favorite times of the year. And as I watched the fog slowly burn off the morning lake, I realized once again that this is a special place.