Thursday February 19.2015 Room 111 Quality Inn Lufkin, Texas
We started out Sunday by putting a bit of Tiger in Douglas Bristlecone’s tank and headed southeast out of Leesville, Louisiana towards one of our favorite places in the country—Lafayette and Acadiana Parishes. Leesville is the town adjacent to Fort Polk and the road took us right past one of the main gates and one of the huge displays that celebrate the Special Forces Ranger Airborne that are stationed there. Quite an impressive large replica of their shoulder patch. As soon as we passed the end of the fence and made the right angle turn that would take us toward the National Forest planted by the CCC, the road’s condition truly deteriorated. No Federal funds keeping the Fort approaches nice and smooth. We went through downtrodden Pitkin where only the Post Office building seemed in use. Continued through piney woods until we reached Pine Prairie. Loved the name for it is truly located between the pines and the extensive prairie land that makes up so much of this part of Louisiana. I was also enamored of a town that, in the middle of February, still had the Christmas welcome banners hanging. I am after all eating the leftover candy canes from our tree as an occasional roadway snack.
As we left town there was the sign giving the distances to the towns where Mardi Gras is celebrated with the Courir de Mardi Gras, an event I’ve always wanted to see. The prairie is devoted to three things—well, maybe four, but two of them are often combined. The first is rice paddies and it is here that another enterprise is combined with rice growing. Crawfish are raised in the fields in which the rice is grown. I need to ask someone, when we return in March, how it is decided which fields are flooded for rice and which are left dry. The other two enterprises are cattle and cane. We certainly saw many grazing cattle but it is just a tiny bit early for cane.
We arrived in Eunice and for several miles encountered rather thick fog, for no apparent reason. But, by the time we were in the center of town it was evident that Mardi Gras celebrations had begun. We parked and walked over to the two main streets. We recognized the statue of the namesake for the town from a prior drive through several years ago when we were returning home from Texas through Louisiana. We had gone to two museums—the Acadian cultural branch dealing with the prairie life—and the smaller but equally interesting Cajun Music Museum, right across the road from this four corners intersection. There were two Cajun bands playing at either end of the right angle that is formed by the streets. People were dancing the Cajun two step and the Cajun waltz. I posted a video on my Facebook page showing the dancing and the audio includes the Cajun music. I love the dances and music and it is what I most love about the area. Of course, there is also the food and while enjoying the scene we ate some delicious jambalaya. It was around noon that we arrived and we stayed until 130ish but the children's’ parade was scheduled for 3, since it was Sunday and school would be open tomorrow,
We left and headed through Crowley, the largest town in the immediate area. Being Sunday everything was quiet and empty. Crowley is the center of the Louisiana rice industry and it is from this crop that the town’s affluence comes. Even the movie theatre is called the Rice, although it is now used as a meeting hall. We continued to Abbeville, fully anticipating filling our bellies with oysters in all forms. Aw Shucks, Shucks was closed. We figured Lagnieux would also be closed so we settled for Logans and chops and shelled peanuts, throwing the shells on the floor. I remember when the Tower in South Burlington had peanuts and you threw the shells on the floor, I simply could NOT do it. Now, I just love making a mess for someone to clean up—well, only in this situation, where it is expected and, therefore, allowed.
As we proceeded up Johnston St, where our barkeep said a parade was to occur, the barriers were in place and the surrounding trees were festooned with beads, so we assumed the parade was over. So we continued to the motel, checked in for the night and watched TV. It was wonderful to see the beautiful magnolia trees in bloom. Away from snow and cold at last.
I will need to continue the blog sometime tomorrow, since The Blacklist and Elementary are coming on. Actually, since Elementary will be over by 10 CST, I will try to continue then.