January 11 – Lafayette, Louisianna

Today began as one of the coldest days in a long time – 35 degrees. We left on a path to avoid the interstates and skip past the big cities of Baton Rouge and Lafayette. We had an enjoyable ride on Route 90 which took us through the southern Bayou. Never saw so many swamps and bridges over water. Arrived at camp before 2. Did you know that there is almost a casino at every gas station along the way or at least it seemed that way. Everywhere we looked there was another casino ahead.

Campground is nice. Located near interstate and a truck stop, but so far the noise hasn’t been too bad. There is even a casino within walking distance of our campsite. Wifi was good.

I have to admit the roads in this area of Louisiana are the worst. We had one section in the drive over here that warned “45 miles of rough road”. I’m glad I only had to drive 24 of those miles. Every expansion joint was a bump (that is every 15 feet for the non-engineer).

Tuesday started slow but we headed out late morning to explore. Stopped at the first Visitor’s center we spotted along the highway and it was at Scott. Small town of 7000. She made a variety of recommendations and got us thinking about what was around. She also let us know that Scott was the Capital of Boudin and Cracklins, they have a festival every year.

It was lunch time and we asked for a recommendation – always do that to see where the locals eat. She named 7 restaurant in a row that served Boudin and Cracklins. We chose Billy’s Boudin and Cracklins, which was just across the street. Billy’s turned out to be a grocery deli and we indulged in a Boudin Ball, Boudin roll, seasoned and non-seasoned cracklins and a Budweiser. We ate inside.billy

Boudin, I explained in the last blog was pork mixed with rice and spices and then deep fried. These balls were almost 3 inches in diameter. Cracklin is deep fried pork parts. I think we had a cholorestoral breakdown after that lunch.

We headed out to Lafayette to explore. Stopped at another visitors center and the two ladies couldn’t stop feeding us places and things to do. After they heard we were traveling the country they tried to talk us into staying for a few weeks to experience Mardi gras later in the month.

Next was another Jean Lafitte national historic site. Watched a movie about the Acadian people who originally settled in Canada in the 1500’s and the English exiled them in 1700’s and they settled in Louisiana. It’s a sad story, in fact Longfellow wrote the story Evangeline about their experience. Got another stamp. The Acadian people had a huge effect on the music food and culture of the Cajon life style.

Next stop was Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist. It was established in 1821 and the building and grounds were in excellent condition. What was interesting is the fact that the people who decided to build the church chose this location because there was an oak tree on the property that was over 200 years old. If the tree survived that long, surely this location would not flood.cathedral

That tree is still there and it is now over 500 years old, 9 feet 2 inches in diameter and 28 feet around the base. This tree was huge. One of the branches is estimated to weigh 76 tons. It was fenced off and the congregation keeps it protected. Can you imagine how much firewood you could have?

We rode around Lafayette to see the town. It was smaller than I expected.
Tried one brewery but it wasn’t open yet so off to the next one just out of town. Found Parish Brewery and enjoyed a Head in the Ghost Double IPA. They had quite a variety of beers. Something I hadn’t seen before was a 32 ounce aluminum can for fill up called a Crowler. They actually filled the can with your choice of beer and then sealed it. It had a zip top opener and all for only $6.

Wednesday the weather is still cool and the high expected to be about 64.
We headed south to Avery Island – home of Tabasco. The trip down was through the southern bayou and we saw many sugar cane fields and as we learned later, rice fields. We had to pay a $1 to get on Avery Island and then we arrived at the Tabasco Country Store. The tours were shut down for remodeling until February, but we explored the store and watched a movie about the process. We received a token bottle of Tabasco Sauce and a coupon for a free tour the next time we are in town. Tours will cost $5.50 starting next month. Tabasco sauce has been made here for 145 years.

Didn’t realize this but Avery Island is built on a salt dome and they have been mining salt for years and using it in their sauce mixture.DSC_0021

In the store, they offered many samples, including sweet and spicy, and habanero ice cream. They had chili and all kinds of pretzels to dip in their many sauces. After that we had lunch at the 1868 Café, next door. Enjoyed Red beans and Sausage and Etouffee with Crawfish. Did buy a t-shirt and a couple of sauces.DSC_0007

Brenda tasted a Raspberry Tabasco Sauce and wanted to buy one but it was sold out and they were behind in the production. We have stopped at numerous stores and she has not been able to find a bottle. She is desperately searching.

Stopped at Jungle Garden across the street, which was a preservation for the local animals and plants. Did not drive through the 3 mile drive.

Headed over to New Iberia to see oldest operating rice mill in USA, Conrad Mill or Konricko Company Store. A small operation, only 14 people to operate the store and all production. Interesting to learn about the process of rice. Did you know that Louisiana is third in the production of rice?

One thing I learned about the production of rice is that as we all know flood the fields three times a year to get the rice to grow and I did learn that they drop the rice from the air into the fields for planting. I asked what the round pipes (most red in color) were that were sticking up out of the water at this time of year. She indicated those were crawfish traps that are installed in January and once again they flood the fields and force the crawfish to come to the surface. I guess crawfish like rice fields.DSC_0029

Also in New Iberia is the Shadows of the Teche plantation. Beautiful building but we did not go inside.

Thursday is the day before we leave, so it’s low key. We were advised that if we wanted good Jambalaya, we had to go to Mary’s. You won’t believe where Mary’s was, in a residential area and she only prepared what she wanted to. We went there for lunch and Brenda rolled her eyes. Not a whole lot to the building or the inside set up. You ordered from the counter and found your own table. The food was good and we also had some bread pudding.

Spent the day getting things in order and the rain came.

Friday we headed for Texas.

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