Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Betty's RV Park, Friends, Food, Music and Mardi Gras

We drove the 1,100 miles from the Florida Keys to Betty's RV Park in four days so we were looking forward to resting up when we arrived. Since this is our tenth time here we should have realized that was not going to happen. It has been a whirlwind start to our two-month stay.
The first night Betty made two huge pots of her famous gumbo to feed everyone in the park. Of course as always there was her great happy hour(s) where we had the chance to meet new friends and get caught up with several old ones whom we have met here and crossed paths with on the road over the years.
So much for resting! On Saturday we were up early to go to Breaux Bridge for the Zydeco Breakfast. The Cafe des Amis, where it has been a Saturday morning tradition for years, has closed and it is now at Buck and Johnny's just down the street. Dan and Sue, Kathy and Dave and Barb joined us.
We were there on the right day, as Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie was the band this week. We were not the only people who were happy. After years of waiting, Geno finally got the chance to play with Barb on the washboard. He was thrilled.:-) 
Where's Nanc? Buck and Johnny's has a much bigger dance floor and, as you can see, the place was packed and rockin. We hope to get back here before we leave in April.
On Saturday afternoon we went to the Museum Cafe for the Cajun jam session. This is something we always look forward to as we have gotten to know most of the musicians. The jam sessions are held to help keep the traditional Cajun music alive and we are disappointed to see that there are a lot fewer people in attendance than there has been in years past.  
We really look forward to seeing our friend Ollie who we met at our first jam session ten years ago. She is such a regular they have a special beer koozie for her. 
Ollie, Jim and Elda sharing a hug at the Museum Cafe. I'm always happy to see these two great ladies.
On Sunday we were up early again to get to Scott for our first Mardi Gras parade. You have to get there early to get a parking place and a front row spot for catching beads.
Most of the floats are raised so the krewe members can see the people and throw the beads. All the floats have a Cajun theme.
Bernie, Michelle, Kathy, Fred and Dave having a good time. Where are Dave's beads?
Sue, Dan, Deb, Dodo, Bernie, Carol and John begging. Shouting "Throw me something Mister" is the traditional way to get some beads.
Nanc, Barb, Dan, Deb, Jim and Dodo looking for some booty.
Wow, I not only got a lot of beads I got a Moon Pie for lunch.

Beads aren't the only thing they throw. Sue got a new pair of undies.
Loved the decorating job on this truck and float. Looks like they went mud bogging on the way to the parade. Glad it didn't rain, it would have ruined the theme.
This is Heinz and Angela's first time at Mardi Gras and they loved it. Barb is a veteran Mardi Graser and had a sign to get noticed. There is an art to getting the most beads and it is not what you may think it is..
Kathy, Sue, Carol, Barb, Merlene, Deb and Dodo showing off their catches. This was only the first parade and we are all looking forward to getting more beads and other booty.
Sunday evening we had a Super Bowl party to watch a great game. While Kathy and Dave (dressed in green) where the only people from Philly, I think everyone was happy to see the Pats go down.
A group of us drove to New Iberia to have lunch at Bon Creole. This is one of  those off the beaten path places that has great gumbo and po' boys. They have redone the murals on the building since our last visit making the exterior more appealing.
The lunch bunch at Bon Creole. The interior theme is like a swamp camp.
Another day another great lunch place. We drove to Morvant's in Youngsville, a place known for its fantastic burgers. This is my kind of burger place, they don't ask how you want it cooked because they know that the way they have been doing it is the correct way.
Some of the great food I have had this week. Top left is Betty's gumbo, right is Dupuy's oysters, bottom is the Morvant burger with onion rings and a half shrimp po'boy and a cup of gumbo at Bon Creole. Center is a fried boudin ball stuffed with pepper jack cheese from Billy's in Scott. The food in Louisiana is always one of the things we look forward to when we come to Betty's.
Last August was Bernie and Dodo's 50th anniversary but they wanted to celebrate with their friends at Betty's. It was a fun filled evening with live music, great food and friends.
The happy couple doing the anniversary dance.
The music was swamp pop provided by Don Rich on the piano and saxaphonist, Nelson. They had Betty's Louisiana Room rockin. 
Betty enjoying her favorite musician, Don Rich. 
A grand time was had by all; top Merlene, Dan, Joe and Kristi and bottom Cordell and Monica, Kathy and Dave.
More people having fun, top Celine and Jean Paul, Kathy and Dave, (yes there are two Dave and Kathy couples here), bottom Fred and Michelle, Heinz, Angela, Pricilla and Dave.
As the music got hotter Jim and Bobby took the floor with some great moves to one of our favorite Cajun songs, The Backdoor.
Betty and Dan joined in for a few steps.
Of course when Don Rich learned that washboard player Barb was at Betty's, he said it would be a thrill for him to play with her. This is the second Louisiana musician this week who has had a dream come true getting to play with Barb. 
The ladies Kathy, Deb, Merlene, Nanc, Joyce, Sue, Dodo, Monica, Kristi, Ginny, Barb and Betty were photo bombed by someone. It was a fantastic evening of great music and getting to celebrate Bernie and Dodo's 50th anniversary.
We did all this during our first week in Louisiana and are looking forward to a visit from my brother Rick and his wife Denise and more Mardi Gras fun this week.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Sun Sets on Our Keys Stay

We ended our time in the Keys with another week of fun and sun. While the weather this year has been less than ideal - too cool and too much wind - it was still much better than most of the rest of the country. We did take in a couple movies, Darkest Hour and The Post. We recommend both with The Post being very interesting in light of our current government affairs. We took a drive south to Big Pine Key to survey the progress on the damage from Irma.
What is today the Overseas Highway was originally the Florida East Coast Railway that was built in the early 1900's from Miami to Key West. After a hurricane wiped out the railroad in 1935, the state purchased the right-of-way and built the road using the old bridges. The old bridges have been replaced over years but some where left in place to be used as fishing piers and in some places, as a bike trail. This is Pigeon Key which sustained a lot of damage from Irma and the old seven mile bridge.
The south end of the Seven Mile bridge was an arched bridge. The highway on the bridges was very narrow. The guardrails where made from the old railroad tracks. My grandparents used to go to the Keys every winter back in the 1960's and would have driven across these old bridges.
The bridge that has always fascinated me is the Bahia Honda Bridge. Unlike the other bridges it was a steel truss construction so the trains traveled "through" the trusses. This made it too narrow for the highway so the road was built on top of the trusses.  
The south end of the bridge was plate girder design and originally aligned with the tracks on the truss section. When the highway was built on top of that section they just jacked up the old girders to meet the road. A tricky bit of engineering that I'm sure would not be allowed today.
Standing here I can picture my grandparents coming across this high narrow bridge in the VW micro-bus camper. I'm sure she was saying Dena you need to slow down on this bridge.
Most of the debris from Irma has been removed from along the roads but there are still many signs of the damage. This was a three story house before the storm. 
This is all that remains of a big RV park on Sunshine Key. Part of it has been repaired and is open for business but there is a lot of work to do before this section will open.
The weather got better and many people hit the water. Dick mastered the stand up paddle board for the first time.
Lance took his dog for a ride in the yak. The dog also rides the paddle board with Shawna.
The water was so calm we could see many fish under the dock.
Here is a ray just off the dock. We saw a shark the same day but did not get a picture.
A few more sunsets.
It is so neat to be able to walk out our door and see these beautiful sunsets.
One last one before we hit the road.
A bunch of us went to Puerto Vallarta, a great local Mexican restaurant, for lunch. Great food, good friends and pitchers of margaritas.
Our niece Sherri and her husband Chuck came down to the Keys to escape the PA winter. They flew in on our last day so we only had time for a nice lunch on the beach at Lazy Days. We had not seen them since they came to the Keys on the last day of our stay two years ago. 
That evening we gathered in the Elks Sunset Lounge one last time to say good bye. 
The whole group gathered to give us a big send off. Wait a minute isn't Nanc supposed to be in Opus with me????? We had a great stay at the Elks and are planning to return next winter for an even longer stay. Since Mary Lou is selling her place, we are coming to the Elks for the holidays and staying through January.

After driving 1,100 miles in four long days, we are now settled in at Betty's RV Park in Abbeville, Louisiana for a couple of months. Our stay is off to a busy start with good music, good friends and fun times, including Mardi Gras parades.