Monday, April 27, 2015

More Change, More of the Same

This week was filled with change at Betty's with many people moving on to their next destination. For a couple of days there were only four RVs in the park.  That did not last and by the end of the week we had many new arrivals to talk with and share travel tales and Acadiana adventures. 
If it's Sunday it must be mudbug day.  This was a first for Ray and Wendy who had never eaten boiled crawfish before.  They cheated a bit by checking out a Youtube video, thus denying us the chance to watch a true rookie experience.  Some of these babies were huge and as usual they were great. 
On Tuesday we were invited to local friends', Dave and Linda, for an afternoon of great food and fun.  Linda cooked a huge wok of stir fried pork, shrimp and veggies with noodles.  Here are Diana, Dave and Linda putting the food on huge platters to be served.  Tom and Linda, two new RVers, pulled into Betty's just a few minutes before we were ready to leave for Dave's and quickly unhooked and plugged in so they could join us.  What a great way to be immersed in Cajun hospitality.  They have already extended their stay.
Dan and Dave sharing a cold one while waiting for Linda's great cooking.
And cook she did, filling the wok with oil to fry several dozen of her homemade egg rolls.  What a great day of food and friends.
Here is Betty with that huge platter of egg rolls.
A big THANK YOU to Dave and Linda for a wonderful day of food and Cajun hospitality.  Tom and Linda, who are in Acadiana for the first time, were totally in awe at someone opening their home to all of us, some of whom they had never met.  Another reason we love coming to Betty's. 
By the time Jim and Cookie left (pictured behind Nanc) their were very few people to wish them farewell and safe travels.  They are heading to Arizona and as I write have already met up with friends from Betty's.
On Friday a few of us did a road trip to Arnaudville for lunch and a brewery tour.  We found a very neat restaurant that overlooked the bayou, The Little Big Cup.  After a bit of a slow start that resulted in the waitress being fired on the spot, we all had wonderful meals.  They made up for the problem by giving us a full tray of every homemade dessert on the menu.  If you are in Arnaudville check out this place.  As you can see, Dan, Merlene, Nanc, Jim, Wendy, Ray, Linda and Tom were all very happy. 
After lunch we went to Bayou Teche Brewery for a tasting.  They had eight brews on tap and I tried four.  While some people liked the beer, the best thing I can say about it is, that because we were there we missed driving home through a storm with baseball size hail.  Not my cup of "tea," but to each his own.  We still had a great time.
Our plan for Saturday was to go to the Festival International in Lafayette, a weekend long music fest with groups from around the world.  With several new people at Betty's who had never been to the Zydeco breakfast at Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge, we decided to get up real early (again) and make it an all day music fest.  We always tell people you need to be in line by 7AM for the 8:00 opening and this pictures shows why that is true.  This is the line outside after the first seating.  Some of these people did not get breakfast until after 11:00 though they did get inside to hear the music, dance and have a toddy all before breakfast. 
It was a great morning of music by Cedryl Ballou and the Zydeco Trendsetters.  When the weather turned ugly with an all day downpour predicted we opted out of the festival and danced until noon.
A few of the folks from Betty's, Renata (from Germany), Mike, Nanc, Jim, Connie, Ken, Judy and Dan, who all had a great morning of food and dancing at Cafe des Amis.
Cafe des Amis is always a very crowded, but very fun filled morning and don't forget to get there early.
A few more RVers, Tom, Linda, Wendy, Ray, Merlene and Dan enjoying the food and the music.
Just because it rained does not mean we could not find more music.  We went to the Cajun jam session at Touchet's and got to hear Black Foreman on the accordion.  He not only plays, he also builds squeeze boxes.
It was a wonderful afternoon of music and dancing with many locals and Betty's RVers who are big supporters of the Cajun jams.  As Mike pointed out, the big difference between Cafe des Amis and Touchet's is that almost everyone at des Amis is a tourist while those at Touchet's are mostly local people having a good time and supporting their culture.  We had a great music filled day and were pretty danced out by the time we returned to Betty's to once again gather with everyone and talk about our day.  As the favorite saying goes down here, Let the Good Times Roll!   

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Immersion Part III, Good-bye, Hello

The week started and ended with days of departure.  On Monday, seven RVs plus Tim and Diane all left and on Sunday, the last two Canadian couples pulled out.  Betty's is a place where the RVers do become friends so we usually gather to say see ya down the road and remind those who are sad about leaving that you can't come back if you don't leave.
We did not get a picture of everyone who was leaving but even the rain could not keep us from gathering for the big send off. 
On the way to the airport we continued Tim and Di's full immersion Cajun experience with a stop at Acadian Village for a walk through history lesson about the Cajun expulsion and their settlement in Louisiana.  The village has a dozen buildings that are set around a small lake and gives a real feel of the swampy conditions the early settlers endured.  
Left is the 1860 Castille House that was originally in Breaux Bridge and right is the 1820 Thibodeaux House.  That house is constructed of the wood eternal, cypress, that is resistant to rot and insects.
This is an old blacksmith's shop and a couple of old wagons.  There is also an extensive display of period farm equipment.
Another look at the Castille House and the chapel that replicates the 1850's churches of Acadiana.  The chapel had beams held in place by wooden pegs and a cypress ceiling.  Some of the pews are original. 
There are no gators in the lake, but there are many fish and turtles who were looking for and easy meal.
The Lablanc House was built from 1821 to 1856 and was the home of Dudley J. Lablanc, a local politician and writer who is most famous for his invention of Hadacol, a vitamin tonic, ie. a snake oil, that contained 12% alcohol.  It was guaranteed to cure all ailments.   

We had never been to Acadian Village so it was great sharing it with Tim and Diane as part of their Cajun experience.  It was a great visit and we enjoyed having friends stay with us.  Many RVers say their rigs are okay for entertaining six and feeding four, but only sleeping two.  We have found that we can sleep four without any great inconvenience and we love sharing our travel experiences with friends.  The only downside of this visit I'm sad to have to report, is that the guys came up on the short end of the euchre tournament.  Oh well, it was still a lot of fun. 
People leave Betty's and in no time at all we are making new friends.  Here are Loretta and Rey, Debbie and Mark, and Dale and Kirk, new people and new stories.  Rey is the new head of the Escapees Elks BOF, Kirk is a national park ranger and Deb and Mark are from Israel, so there were many new tales at happy hour.  Deb and Mark have just started RVing in the US after living on a boat in the Mediterranean for ten years. We met them in line at Cafe des Amis and it was great seeing them at Betty's  
Later in the week Wendy, Ray, Claudia and Eddie arrived.  We had met them all at Betty's on earlier visits.  Eddie is originally from Abbeville and graduated from high school with Betty.  Ray and Wendy have a very good blog that is on our blog list.  Here is a link to their blog.  
You really never know what will happen at Betty's happy hour.  Looks like Marie and Cal wanted to have a pajama party.  To paraphrase a line from Woodstock, "Isn't it great that a bunch of "old " people can get together and have a good time and nothing but a good time."
On Saturday we had another great day of music at the Museum Cafe in Erath.  It is really neat to see how hard they work to keep the Cajun culture alive through music.
Here are the people from Betty's at the jam.  Marie, Wendy, Ray, Merlene, Dan, Cal, Nanc and our good friend from Abbeville, Ollie.
The Sunday morning line up to wish Cal, Marie, Rick and Brenda farewell and safe travels.  We are already making plans to see them down the road.

We read Nick Russell's blog everyday and were honored to be his featured fulltimers couple this week.  Here is a link to that article.  He did a great job of capturing our lifestyle and we thank him.  We also have a link to his blog under my blog list.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Full Immersion Cajun Experience Part II

Tim and Diane's Cajun experience continued with a slower day on Friday, but still enjoying the food and people of Acadiana.   
We started with a late lunch at Dupuy's where they both had alligator bites and oyster appetizers.  This was followed by a fried shrimp dinner for Di and an eggplant Abbeville, a dish covered with a wonderful creamed crab sauce, for Tim.  They are both getting into the Cajun cuisine. 
Friday evening it was back to Betty's for her famous happy hour(s).  Here are Betty, Nanc and Di having a fun time sharing tales. 
Early Saturday morning (6AM) we were up and on our way to Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge for the Zydeco breakfast.  This is always on our must do list when we come to Acadiana and our goal is always to be first in line so we can get a good table where we can see the band while having breakfast. 
Here is why we go so early. The place only seats about 50 people, so less than half these people got in for the first seating.  Of course they can go to the bar for a drink, listen to the music and dance while they are waiting.
As you can see the place is packed with revelers dancing and enjoying a great time by 8:30AM.  Here is a link to a short video of Nanc and Di dancing to the music of Rusty Metoyer and the Zydeco Krush.
The band starts shortly after 8AM and goes nonstop until 11.  The Zydeco breakfast is a must see for anyone traveling through Acadiana.
While Nanc and Di were energized enough to do a bit of shopping after breakfast, Tim and I found a nice bench where we took a short nap:)  We did head back to Betty's for a longer nap before heading to our next Cajun experience........
 .............the Cajun jam session at Touchet's.  This music is very different from Zydeco and hearing both in one day gives you a chance to hear how they differ.  Here is a the link to a short video of the Cajun music.
The RVers from Betty's are big supporters of the Cajun jam sessions.  Left are Cookie, Nanc, Larry and Linda.  Right are Elle, Ken, Marie, Diane and Tim.  It was great seeing Ken and Elle whom we met here five years ago.
More RVers at Touchet's.  Steve, Diane, Nanc, Renita and Mark all having a fun time.
To the delight of all, Saturday activities were not yet over as Larry, Ken, Wayne, Dan and Cal jammed back at Betty's.  They took turns playing their favorite music from country to blues.
During the jam Elle and Linda brought out the washboard and ugly stick and provided more entertainment.
Di, Nanc and Tim were soon carrying on to the beat of the music...... everyone joined in, making it a fun evening.
Betty, the hostess with the mostest, joined in the fun.  Saturday was a long day but it sure gave our guests a better understanding of why we love to come to Betty's.
Sunday we just kicked back and relaxed after a long day on Saturday.  Of course we had to eat, so it was time for another Cajun eating experience, boiled crawfish.  Diane and Tim had never had mudbugs before, but they went though five pounds of crawfish and a pound of shrimp like real Cajuns. 
Sunday was also time to celebrate the birthday of one of Betty's "famous" Rvers, Brenda Lee.  I'm sure many people remember her song I'm Sorry.  I can tell you no one goes away sorry when they come to Betty's.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Full Immersion Cajun Experience

The much anticipated arrival of Tim and Diane came and we immediately began the full immersion Cajun experience when we stopped on the way back to Betty's to buy some boudin for them to try. They got right into the happy hour mode sharing stories with all the other RVers.  That first evening was very laid back as we had planned a whole day of Cajun adventures starting early the next morning. 
We welcomed Tim and Di with the traditional Louisiana lei of Mardi Gras beads. 
We were joined by several others from Betty's for Champagne's Cajun Swamp Tour.  Here Danielle, Di, Nanc, Austin, Dave, Renita, Mark, Mary, Cheryl, Tim and Louise are all smiles waiting to head out into the swamp.
Tim, Di, Jim and Nanc at Brian Champagne's tour site.  We have been on the tour before and he has come a long way from the first time, when he met us at the boat launch with a single boat.  He now has a store and office and offers not only guided tours, but also rents kayaks and canoes.  This is a great tour in a nice flat bottomed crawfish boat that can get into real shallow areas very quietly.  We saw many different birds and a lot of gators.
Almost immediately we saw this Great Blue Heron, Nanc's favorite, with this catfish.
We all got several pictures before we got too close and the bird took flight.
Next, we got a great look at this owl high up in an old cypress or should I say he got a good look at us.
There were many night herons in the trees and walking on the swamp grass.
Here is a baby blue heron stacking some prey.
We saw many alligators and the pictures do not give you any idea of how big they are.  No one would volunteer to stand by one for prospective.  It is the mating season and the big males were all about showing off their size.
This is a young one hiding from the big males who would very much like to have them for lunch.  The females will protect them for nine to twelve months before they are on their own.
This young one sunning itself on a log was about three feet long.  Even at that size I would not want to mess with one.
This much bigger one was showing off his size while enjoying the warm Louisiana weather.  This is the third time we have been on Champagne's Cajun Swamp Tour and highly recommend it if you are in the area.  
Next stop was the Bon Creole Lunch Counter in New Iberia for a real Cajun food experience of gumbo and a big variety of po-boys.  Everyone was happy even though you can only see half of Tim's big smile.  If you are near New Iberia don't be put off by the way Bon Creole looks from the outside, inside it is one of the best.
Next was Avery Island to tour the Tabasco Pepper Sauce plant.  This is another great local stop that is not to be missed.  If you use Tabasco it came from this little plant.  They ship their products to over 150 nations
We made another stop to see more birds at a rookery near Delcambre.  We have been here before but were able to get much closer this time than in the past.  There where many roseate spoonbills and several white heron.
I count over a dozen spoonbills in this one shot.  Like flamingos, they get their beautiful pink color from the iodine in the shrimp they eat. 
Here is a pair of mating white herons and several other birds.  This is another great not to be missed local stop. 
And the day was not yet over.  After happy hour (and a couple naps) we headed to Magdalen Square in Abbeville for a wonderful evening of Cajun and Swamp Pop music by the Pine Leaf Boys.  It was the perfect ending to a great day and we all slept very well, so we were ready for more Cajun adventures.