Thursday October 16, 2014 Quality Inn Room 101 Natchez, Ms
After spending a restful second day in Victoria we set out for Louisiana on Monday the 13th of October. What hellacious weather from the outskirts of Victoria to the city limits of Lafayette, La!
We had taken 59 northeast out of Victoria and then cut north to the Interstate on 36 to pick it up before the madhouse of Katy. The wind and clouds were terrifying—they were swirling and I kept an eye out for tornadoes—not that I know what we would have done had we seen one! Passed a cute motel, called the Tepee Motel, somewhere on those back roads—the only thing is that I thought the units looked more like the sharpened end of a number 2 pencil!
It took us an hour from Katy, which is the Western suburb of Houston , to BayPort, which is the Eastern suburb. Actually, considering the rain, wind, road splash from semis and other mad drivers going 75+ in zero visibility, that really wasn’t bad timing. We chose to follow 10 right through the middle of town. I’ve used the loops but the traffic is just as crazy and the loops are longer, circling the city as they do. With the weather, I said, what the heck, let’s just go for it.
I think this is the first time I’ve crossed the Sabine River without seeing it! The bridge over Lake Charles is a bit hazy in my memory, too. Finally, we neared the exit for Lafayette in quieter weather but still darkened skies.
Tuesday was heavenly and we headed down to New Iberia and Konrico, where I buy my pecan oil and usually get some other seasonings and rice. Having been here so recently, the only thing I needed was the oil—though I wasn’t even sure of that, so called Bill from the company store porch to make sure. Barb went on the tour of the rice plant while I chatted with the owner’s wife and a couple from Denmark. We talked about languages and how some people are snooty about Cajun and Canadian French but how the Parisians are so gracious and patient with visitors who attempt to speak French there, no matter how poorly. We also spoke of different forms of a language within the same country. It was interesting to learn that almost all Danes speak English and that the teens there speak English among themselves. They will speak Danish to you but the moment you speak English, that is the end of the Danish. She said it is difficult for a person who moves to Denmark from an English speaking country to learn Danish because no one will speak it with you!! She and her family are looking to emigrate to Canada because her husband, who is currently working in Quatar, would have to pay 67% income tax if he moves home to Copenhagen, so he has only visited 15 days in the past year. They meet and travel in the US or somewhere else instead. He doesn’t pay the tax unless he returns to Denmark!
From Konrico we went to Avery Island, the home of Tabasco sauce. Barb again took the tour while I read in the car. I’ve been to both tours and once is enough. We visited the store, which is outrageously expensive. I bought a larger bottle of pecan oil, they didn’t have the larger bottle at Konrico, and will give the smaller one to Betsy. She loves to cook. We skipped the Jungle Gardens since they wanted $8 a piece to look at egrets which we could see along with many other wild creatures on our Swamp tour. Then it was off to Shucks for fried oysters and crawfish ettouffe with lots of sweet tea to wash it down. A cruise by Cajundome and LSU at Lafayette and we called it a day.
Wednesday we got out to St Martin Lake near Breaux Bridge for the 11 oclock swamp tour with Shawn Gutchereaux. His dad, Butch, runs Cajun Country Swamp Tours. This was my third time on the tour. We got out to the Lake around 930 and sat watching the egrets feed among the lotus leaves and some locals fish from the dock. Both Butch and Shawn had 11 oclock tours—at this time of year it is the first one of the day. Bill and I have taken a 9 oclock and the first year it was just us and Butch. This time it was a full boat. A couple from Oklahoma, their son and daughter-in-law and three grandchildren, including 10 month old Zeke with his improvised hat—a disposable diaper! A group of 8 French folk—a man, his wife and sister-in-law, her husband, a teenage daughter and younger daughter and son. They live on the upper east side of Manhattan but we didn’t get a chance to discover if they are with the UN etc. There were others farther back in the boat also but couldn’t really get to speak with them. The tour was, as always, just wonderful. Everyone is naturally interested in seeing Gators—especially since Swamp People etc have become so popular on TV. While I love them, too, I really like the birds and the trees of the swamp as much or more. The gum trees had fruits that looked like ripe olives on them –they are usually bare in Feb-Mar. No nutria this time and fewer big gators. In the Spring they are all out on logs soaking up the sun, lethargic after the long “ cold” winter. Now they are hiding or sliding off the logs quietly as we approach. They are really quite shy and non-confrontational despite the TV image.
After 2 and 1/2 hours we were starved so we headed out to Legneaux’s for lunch but they closed at 1 so we settled on buying some andouille for home and took off for Abbeville and Shucks once more. This time Barb had crab au gratin and I had duck and andouille gumbo with a sampler plate of oysters: creamed, candied, Rockefeller and bleu au gratin. They were all good but you couldn’t taste the oysters only the toppings. Didn’t have raw ones this time around. When I return in Spring.Washed them down with three huge glasses of sweet tea!! I managed to get us lost in the traffic trying to take a shortcut back to the motel—but, oh, well, saw a whole new part of Lafayette that I can share with Bill!
This morning it was up and over to Keller’s bakery before leaving town. Got half dozen of their whoopee pies and half dozen of their praline brownies for Bill. Have them all wrapped up good in saran wrap—they should be pretty fresh when we get home—I’ve done it before successfully. Then up to Opelousas on 167 where we picked up 190 east through Krotz Springs and over the new bayou bridge, onto the Morganza Spillway to Livonia. Then on 78 to New Roads and 1 North to pick up La 10 and across the John James Audubon Bridge—golden as it is. We have now crossed the Mississippi and have only the Tennessee and Ohio left to cross to get home. I’m getting used to JJ and it doesn’t frighten me anymore. Hated when they replaced the ferry with it but it is better for commuters.
Once across the bridge it is a quick jump into St Francisville and Grandmother’s Buttons. I bought two new pair of earrings and Barb bought some stuff. Then lunch at the Audubon Café and the biggest bacon cheeseburgers you’ve ever seen along with more sweet tea. Two huge glasses, this time. I love the stuff. Then it was north to Natchez on 61. I had hoped to make Jackson today but Barb didn’t feel well after lunch so we stopped early.
I read three issues of USA Today which I hadn’t read, uploaded the swamp pix, which I thought I had and got the blog done after chatting with Bill. Now I’ll do our finances, check out the calendar of events in Nashville for Sat night and watch some TV.
Have a terrific evening all—the Happily Homebound Sisters, ( tired at last ) Kathy and Barb