On our last day in Louisiana, we traveled to Lafayette – for several reasons. Female alert here: Ann, my friend that we met in New Orleans, told me about an under-eye cream that works miracles. It’s sold at the Ulta store, and Lafayette just happened to have such a store. P. S. I really think the dark circles were caused from the lack of Mexican food. (wink, wink)
Our neighbors at the RV park recommended a restaurant called Coyote Blues – The Fresh Mexican Grill with Louisiana Soul. Now, come on . . . how great is that??? The food was AMAZING, or was it that I had been denied it for so long that it tasted amazing? Either way, we left happy and full!!
Since this was obviously a “Kaye Day”, we traveled back to New Iberia just in time to attend a play on Main Street called “Out of Sight, Out of Murder“. It was performed by Iberia’s Performing Arts League and was a nice way to end the day. Can’t say that anyone in this group will win an Academy Award, but it’s not for lack of trying. I think it’s interesting to note that we were the most casually-dressed people attending. This is a big deal in New Iberia!!
We left the next morning with stomachs full of seafood (and Mexican food), great memories of the Teche, a freezer FULL of shrimp for the Whoopitup, and a desire to come back someday. Perfect RV trip in our book!
By the way, according to Gary, “How could anyone leave Louisiana without stopping by Ray’s and Billy’s – A Legend in Boudin and Cracklin – Best Boudin Balls in Town?” (This was recommended by our waiter at Coyote Blues.) So we did!!
The next blog will be of our seafood boil in Pecan Gap, Texas. See?? We do have seafood in that little town, right Wilhites? Till then . . .
Perhaps, my biggest surprise of the day was to see how Tobasco Pepper Sauce had “creatively” marketed their products. If you want something that says Tobasco, look no further than Avery Island. This island has been the home of the Avery family since 1818 and still houses ALL the production of this famous sauce. Tidbit: Tobasco Sauce (commonly known as “Some Like It Hot” – see what I mean?) is sold in more than 180 countries, labeled in 22 languages, and comes in 7 flavors. Yes, we even tried ice cream made from Tobasco. P.S. My dad would have LOVED that!!
After eating at Duffy’s Diner – home-style cooking with a taste of the 50s – we walked along Main Street in New Iberia. The picture of Gary in front of the theater displays the name of a lady that you will see throughout the town. It’s a story that originated when the town was being developed (learned this at the rice factory). And, across the street is the bookstore, Books Along the Tech. Since 1990, this local bookstore has been selling new, old, rare, and out-of-print books. The store carries signed copies of all of James Lee Burke’s novels, and yes, Christopher, Gary bought one!
Shadows on the Tech, the plantation home of the successful Weeks sugar cane planters, is like moving through layers of history. Our guide (in the picture with Gary) took us on the tour and answered our questions. We loved the beautiful garden paths, the majestic live oaks, and the stories of the lifelong quest to preserve family history. You would think that it be would located on vast acres of land. Would you believe on Main Street? The sugar cane acreage was outside of town; this house was built for the owner’s lovely wife. Did you hear that, Gary????
We retired for the night with a solemn promise (promises, promises) to find some Mexican food on our next venture. Can I wait? You bet I can!!
Before leaving New Orleans, Gary left the RV early that morning only to return with (you guessed it) SHRIMP – lots and lots of SHRIMP. He and my nephew, Kyle, had planned on having a seafood boil at our annual Whoopitup family reunion. “Didn’t it make sense to buy as much shrimp as our small freezer could hold and cook it at the reunion?” Well, it did to Gary, and that’s what we did. Oh, happy days!!
Those of you who know us, know that we are avid readers. Several years ago, Mike Speltz (our son-in-law’s father) introduced Gary to an award-winning author named, James Lee Burke. He writes of a character named Dave Robicheaux, who like Burke, lived and worked out of New Iberia, Louisiana. For years, I’ve watched Gary devour these books, so his fascination with this area was intense. It was like going back home for him. Little did I know that there was soooooo much to do and see (and eat) in this small town.
On the first day, we toured the Konriko Conrad Rice Mill, the oldest (still working) mill in the country. It was nice to see that modern technology has not taken over everything. Did you know that there is a direct link between crawfish and rice farmers? Me, neither. Does that make me a fan of crawfish? Nope!
Gary loves to discover little “hole-in-the-wall” places to eat, and wah-lah . . . there just happened to be one of those places in New Iberia. It was called Bon Creole, and according to Gary, had the best “over-stuffed crawfish po-boys” EVER, (and let’s don’t forget oysters – AGAIN)! We managed to squeeze in eating at this place three times in the short time we were here. P.S. They had very cold beer, and the hamburgers weren’t too bad, either.
Tomorrow, we visit a sugar cane plantation and the Tobasco Factory/Country Store. Tobasco sauce has a very special meaning to me . . . my dad use to put it on everything (even his scrambled eggs). We always had it on the table – just like salt and pepper. Wonder how it would taste on oysters and crawfish???
Life is good during the Oyster Festival in New Orleans . . . if you like oysters (which Gary LOVES). If you don’t, then you eat a lot of crackers (which was me). Apparently, the best oysters are found at the Acme Oyster House. We (Gary) really enjoyed sitting at the bar, watching the guys rip open the oysters, visiting with people who also enjoyed eating them, and partaking (2 dozen). But, apparently, great oysters are also found at the Oyster Festival. (Here is an interesting tidbit(s): During the oyster-eating contest last year, the winner ate 41-dozen oysters in 8 1/2 minutes. She was a small woman named The Black Widow.) Of course, Gary quickly saw this as a goal and a challenge. Oh, heavens!! Gene, Ann, and Gary ate another dozen each (while I drank and ate crackers). Yes, life was good and getting better!
I like to refer to this trip as “eating our away across Louisiana”. We ate at a very nice restaurant called The Revolution (very pricy and elegant); The Red Fish Grill (the best chocolate-bread pudding on the planet); New Orleans School of Cooking (pralines to-die-for); Cafe’ Du Monde (beignets, oh my!); Mulate’s (crawfish); the Spotted Cat and Snug Harbor (great jazz); Coop’s Place (rabbit and gator jambalaya – things are getting weirder and weirder); Jackson Square; and let’s please don’t forget eating at the Acme Oyster House AGAIN!
On Monday, we visited the World War II Museum. Gene, Ann, Gary, and I were all anxious to see this part of our American heritage. All I can say is, “WOW!” If you are EVER in New Orleans, you HAVE to visit this museum. It’s a history lesson that transports you to a time when victory hung in the balance. Guaranteed to move and educate, this museum features a 4D cinematic experience (narrated by Tom Hanks – I love him.), interactive exhibits, soaring aircraft, personal histories and is rated the #3 museum in the U.S. It’s a must-see!!
We said good-bye to our friends and made our way back to the RV park to relax for a couple of days. Whew! New Orleans can wear a person out – no news there! Rest up, friends; the trip is only beginning! P. S. I’ve GOT to find a Mexican food restaurant!!
Bayou Segnette State Park is located about 15 minutes from the French Quarter in New Orleans. We parked our RV there, spent the night (really a very nice park), and took the jeep to our hotel, Hotel Mazarin, for the next two nights. On our way into the city, we passed a Fish Market (heaven-forbid that we pass that up). Gary strolled around like we were in Canton, Texas – visiting with all the vendors and visualizing how much we could fit in our small freezer in the motorhome. P.S. Little did I know that he would actually do that!
After checking into our hotel, eating at what New Orleans calls a “food truck” – The St. Roch Market, we strolled the French Quarter waiting on our friends to arrive.
It was hot, humid, crowded, and so fun to be here again. Some things I knew about this trip (like – we were going to eat fish the whole time; we were going to enjoy ourselves; we were going to partake of lots of cool beverages, etc.), but there was one thing that I DID NOT KNOW . . . it was Oyster Festival Weekend in New Orleans!! OMG!!!
When friends of ours (Gene and Ann) mentioned meeting them in New Orleans, I thought it would be for a couple of days. That’s before I remembered that I had married a man who LOVES Cajun food, so that began our planning for another RV traveling adventure. Motorhome prepared, spreadsheet printed, and we were on our way – again.
We traveled through pouring rain and thunderstorms until we reached Shreveport, LA. We unhooked the jeep and began our search for a restaurant named, Ralph & Kacoo’s Seafood Restaurant.
Gary didn’t find the humor in it when I kept calling it Coo-Coo-A-Choo’s. He had eaten at this restaurant years ago, remembered that the food was amazing, and was anxious to eat there again. Perhaps, it’s important to know that I don’t particularly like seafood, so I quickly realized on this trip that my food choices were going to be limited. He likes to say (a lot) that when he married me, I thought seafood was fried catfish. Sad, but true. Not a lot of seafood in Pecan Gap, Texas. Do frog legs count?? He says, “Not even close!”
Now, here is an interesting fact: Remember that we were traveling during all the rain in early June, so flooded areas were quite common. When the rain ceased, and we made a turn on one low road on our way to New Orleans, we noticed what we thought were bugs or debris on the side of the road. It was bugs, alright . . . MUD BUGS!! Crawfish lined the highway for about two miles. Cars had pulled over, and people were catching crawfish for their dinner. Gary was in “crawfish heaven”. I only wish I had taken out my camera, but I was too stunned to do anything but stare. The water level had reached such a level in the bayou, that the crawfish were crawling onto the highway. We even saw an alligator that someone had run over. Yep . . . this trip to Louisiana was going to be very special.