Saturday, April 23, 2016

Week Six, Cafe des Amis, Rubboards and Family

What a busy time we had this week at Betty's.  It started on Friday when my brother Rick and his wife Denise arrived in Lafayette for a quick five day full immersion Cajun Experience.  That experience had to include our Acadiana favorites: music, food, friends and fun.   Rick's and Denise's plane was delayed so they only got a short introduction to Betty's famous happy hour before we took them to Dupuys for the best oysters in Abbeville.  It was a great start to a great visit.
If you want Acadiana culture with both great music and food the Zydeco breakfast at Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge is a must.  It does require getting up a 5:30 AM and being in line by no later than 7:15 if you want to get a table for the first seating but it is well worth it. 
The place really rocks with a live band playing from 8:30 to 11:30 and a wonderful breakfast with a Cajun touch of boubin, crawfish, beignets, sweet potato pancakes and grits all being options.  Rick tried the boudin and gave it a thumbs up.
The band this week was The Jewel of the Bayou with Leroy Thomas.  They had the place jumping in what was the first of their four gigs that day.  Here is a short video of the music and  crowd at Cafe des Amis.
After a short nap it was on to the Cafe Museum for the weekly Cajun jam session.  There were a lot of events in the area this weekend so some of the regulars were not there, but keyboarder Charlo Guilbeau and a few of his band members played.  They were joined by rubboarder, Barb, who was a blurry, whirling dervish as she played along.  Barb has become a regular at the jams when she is at Betty's. 
I always knew Denise was a fashion icon and seeing her turn Barb's board and whisks into jewelry really confirmed it. 
Our dear friend Ollie, Nanc and Denise at the Museum Cafe acting up and having a fun time.
It just seemed like a day when everyone wanted to play the board.  At the top are Noel, from France, the guy from the band at Cafe des Amis and Denise and at the bottom are Nanc, Barb on stage and Barb and Rick doing what can only be called a rubboard duet.
Denise and Rick even got on the dance floor.  They loved both stops so the music part of the Cajun immersion experience was a real success.
Sonny and Kathy the owners of the Museum Cafe who are always great hosts at the jams.  As they always do after the jams, they fed everyone in the place a free meal.
We took ours back to Betty's and ate during happy hour.  They could not believe a place would give everyone a meal to go, but it is just another example of that welcoming Cajun culture.
On Sunday it was more Cajun food when we went to T-Bob's for crawfish.  Despite her expression Denise ate and I think enjoyed all three pounds.  No, Rick did not suck the head he was just pretending.  There experience with mudbugs was much better than mine.  I have had then many times in the past and and loved them.  This year I had them three times and after two of those meals I got a very upset stomach that put me out of commission for over 24 hours.  No more mudbugs for me:-(
Trying another local food, cracklin.  This time Rick looks like the reluctant one.  They both tried it and put it in the been there done that category.
The next evening Betty made her wonderful gumbo and everyone loved it.  Unfortunately, I was still under the weather and missed that meal, but Betty sent a to go portion for me.   Here are the die-hards at happy hour Denise, Loretta, Barb, Nanc, Betty and Gloria who took the picture, 
On Monday Nanc took them to Avery Island to tour Tabasco and the Jungle Garden.  Nothing says Louisiana like Tabasco.
At Jungle Gardens they got an up close look at this alligator that swam over while they were standing there, forcing them into the car, and then walking on to the shore...... 
.........before realizing they were too fast for an easy meal:-)
At Bird City the Jungle Garden egret rookery there were far fewer birds than when we were there two weeks ago. 
Rick and Denise had a wonderful fun visit and loved Betty.  Even though they are not RVers there is no doubt they were caught in Betty's web.  On the way to the airport we stopped at the Acadian Cultural Center, part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park to see the video about the origins and expulsion of the Acadians (Cajuns) from Canada in the late 1700's.  This is a great stop with many displays of the culture and history of the Cajuns. 
Once again, if it is Wednesday it is Black's Oyster Bar for half price seafood.  Here are Jay, Nanc, Loretta, Betty, Gloria, Jim, Barb and real Rick who is back from Ethiopia.  Three of the people had spouses who were not feeling well so our numbers were down.  That will be changing soon as Betty has nine RVs coming in the next two days.  
By the end of the week Betty's was filled to capacity with many new people.  Top are Heather and Craig who just retired in January, Jim and Casey who are musicians and came to Acadiana for the music and  Dennis and Beth who discovered Betty's when they met someone in Houston who had gone to school with her.  Bottom are Dave and Sandy who full timed for awhile before buying a home base in Florida, Loretta who is touring in a beautifully restored 12 foot camper (she came for one day and ended up staying a week) and Jay and Betty who have full timed for years.
On Friday this group arrived from the Escapees park in Livingston.  Left are long time RVers John and Sue and Charlie and Ruth.  Center is Mark whom we met at RV boot camp in 2007 and have seen many times on the road.  Right are Carol and Dennis whom we have know since boot camp and last saw in Alaska in 2014.  It is great seeing old and making new friends on the road. 
This will be our home next week as we are taking a cruise out of New Orleans to Mexico, Honduras and Belize.  Looking forward to seeing friends and adding a couple new countries to our list. 

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Week-Five, Lillian's 99th, Quebecios Good-byes and Hellos

Week five at Betty's started with the park filled and ended with more good-byes to friends and many new friends arriving.  The week was filled with a big celebration and our usual big four of music, food, friends and fun.
Friday was Betty's Aunt Lillian's 99th birthday and we had a huge celebration to honor her.  An example of how active she is is the fact she still drives to church, the beauty shop and grocery store which are all within three blocks of her home.  Recently she had to retake her driver's test and failed twice.  She finally told them they better pass her because she was going to drive even if they didn't give her her license. They did. 
On the afternoon of her party five RVs with our friends from Quebec arrived to join in the celebration.  Lillian loved it because she was able to talk to them in their native language, French.
Mirna, Mado, Betty, Nanc and Buddy gather to sing Happy Birthday to Lillian.  She did a great job with the candles, one for each decade.
Flat Rick made an appearance at the party and everyone loved having their picture taken with him except that guy in the corner.
I'm lucky I can do this at 69.  Rick got Lillian up to dance and she never missed a beat.  You gotta love these Cajuns.
It is neat being here at this time of year with everyone sharing their travel stories in French and English.  It truly is an international experience here.  We have met people from Canada, Germany, France, South Africa, Australia and many other countries in our years of coming to Betty's. 
Of course there was entertainment with Dave and several people from the park.  We sang Happy Birthday in English, French and Spanish making it a real international celebration.
Lillian, her niece Betty, great grand daughter Megan and her son Elwood (Buddy)
There was even an appearance from Mamo and someone from the Flintstones who came by to entertain everyone at the party.
As the band played on there was dancing all around.  Lillian had a great birthday party and is already looking forward to next year's celebration of 100 years. 
If it is Saturday it is the Cajun jam, this week at Touchet's.  Many of our favorite local musicians were there to entertain.  This is real foot tappin music that gets people on the dance floor.
Joe and Dave acting up.  Joe put his hat on Dave.  I'm not sure if he was showing how big his head is or how small Dave's is:)
Check out the new picture on the wall at Touchet's (bottom right).  It is a whole group of us from Betty's who always support the jams.  We are happy to have a place on the wall of fame.  Flat Rick also made the trip to Touchet's
Sunday we went back to T-Bobs for crawfish.  These are by far the largest mudbugs we have ever had in our many years of coming to Acadiana and also some of the least expensive.
Sunday afternoon we had a going away party for all those who were pulling out this week.  As you can see Denise, Lucy and Mado will have nothing to say about what happened at that party.
Evon, Germain, Alain, Jim and Michele celebrated with some Red Stag.  I think we all had a great time.....
..........I sure did.  We always have fun when this group of Quebecios come to Betty's on their way north from wintering in Mexico.  Mado has invited us to her 80th birthday party in Quebec in July so we have added that destination to our summer travel plans.
Most of the Quebecios left on Monday and on Tuesday Dan and Merlene headed out.  We always hate to see friends leave Betty's, but we know you can't come back if you don't leave. 
The group at Black's Oyster Bar for half price seafood on Wednesday was much smaller. At left are Noel, Judy, Dave, Ken, Marcie and Luc who are all here for a few days.  At right are Steve, Penny, Nanc, Betty, Barb, Flat Rick, Gloria and J C who all spent at least a couple weeks here.
A few of us helped Betty with trimming some plants and planting new flowers for the summer.  Gloria, Barb, Betty and Nanc all had a fun time playing in the dirt and adding plants to Betty's very neat happy hour patio.
Some people pass through Betty's for just a few days.  Here is solo traveler, George along with Kevin and Suzanne.  As with so many people who stop here they have vowed to return. 
On Friday my sister-in-law Denise and brother Rick arrived for a long weekend of full immersion Cajun therapy.  We are looking forward to sharing the good times of Acadiana with them. 

Monday, April 11, 2016

Week 4, Fred's, Jams, Boudin Festival, Rip Van Winkle Gardens, Avery Island, and Friends

WOW, as you can see by the title this was a super busy week filled with our favorite things here at Betty's; music, food, friends and fun.  Tom and Georgie arrived on Friday for a visit and we had a great time showing them around Acadiana and sharing a bit of Betty's wonderful hospitality with them.
It being the first of the month the week started with many changes of RVers who had been here for March heading out and being replaced by new friends.  This is a rare shot of Betty's patio without an RV in front of it.  The first time we came here only the section on the left was covered.  Betty expanded the roof and later added a deck to accommodate all her friends.
We were up early Saturday morning and off to Fred's Lounge in Mumou.  KVPI has been doing a French language radio broadcast from Fred's since 1946.  As you can see it was standing room only and despite the sign there were plenty of dancers.
We have been to Fred's before and this was by far the biggest crowd we have seen due to the Cycle Zydeco bike ride passing through Mamou with over 300 cyclists.     
Saturday afternoon we went to the Museum Cafe in Erath for the Cajun jam.  Our friend Ollie was at the door dancing and cutting up.
A couple of people from Betty's joined in with the band, Barb on the scrub board and Dan on guitar at far right.  These jams are always a fun, fun time with great music and many friends.  The Museum usually gives everyone a free meal after the jam but this week in typical Cajun fashion they asked for a donation and had an auction to help with the funeral expenses of a patron.  
On Sunday the fun time continued at the Scott Boudin Festival with great music and food.  Merlene had a big turkey leg and Tom found a funnel cake.  Look what I found, a mix of Western PA and Cajun country, a boudin stuffed cabbage roll.  It was fantastic. 
In addition to the food we wanted to hear Geno Delafose and French Rockin' Boogie.  We saw Geno on our first visit in 2008 and always try to hear him every time we are here.  Richard and Nanc hit the dance floor.
You never know what kind of music you are going to hear at Betty's.  On Monday several people from the park had a jam where Pat and Len entertained with their dulcimers.  The dulcimer has its roots in the Appalachian Mountains and in many ways is similar to Cajun music.
Wayne, Lynn, Barb, Dan and Richard entertained everyone all afternoon.  So many people with so much talent.
A few of the new people who arrived at Betty's. Top are Richard and Connie and J.C. and Gloria.  Richard and J.C. both have been reading our blog for some time.  Bottom are Penny and Steve who we have heard about, but are meeting for the first time and Marlene and Wayne who we have seen several times at Betty's.  
Tuesday afternoon we had lunch and visited the Rip Van Winkle Gardens on Jefferson Island.  The house was built in the late 1800's by Joe Jefferson a popular actor of the time who made is fortune playing the character Rip Van Winkle.  We toured the house, but no pictures were allowed. 
We strolled the gardens that have many oriental statues.  In 1980 65 acres of land, several greenhouses and the home of the owner were destroyed when a rig drilling for oil on the lake drilled into a salt mine causing all the water to drain into the mine along with all the drilling equipment.
A few of the blooming flowers.
Another big attraction at the garden is the peacocks.  Since it's spring they were really strutin their stuff.  This guy was dancing around as a peahen stood by and watched.  After we walked away we heard some loud squeaks and when we returned he was just laying along the path.
More peacocks and peahens in the garden.  It is neat getting so close to these beautiful birds.
Tuesday was Betty's son Reid's birthday.  He is so evasive that I did not get a picture of him, but as you can see someone (who is that trying to escape unnoticed) did a job on his house.
If it is Wednesday it is half priced seafood at Black's Oyster Bar and the whole crew went out to dinner.  Look closely at the bottom picture and you will see that Rick who is in Ethiopia even joined in as Flat Rick.
Thursday was a super busy day starting with a tour of the Tabasco plant on Avery Island.  We have been on this tour before, but it has changed a lot since last year.  You now get to see and smell the barrels of pepper mash that are aged up to three years.  You also see the mixing room where the vinegar is mixed in with the pepper mash.  In the past you only got to see the bottling room.  They also have a section to show the salt mine that is under the plant.  The tour used to be free but now they charge a fee of $5.50. 
Also on Avery Island is Jungle Gardens, an area set aside by Tabasco founder Edward McIlhenny as a garden and refuge to save the snowy egret from extinction.  As you can see we saw a few small alligators in the garden ponds.
The Buddha dating from the reign of Emperor Hui-Tsung is some 900 years old.  It was given to the McIlhenny family in 1936.  The temple overlooks one of the many ponds in the garden.
Bird City still attracts thousands of snowy egrets.
The racks were built for the birds to nest and be protected from predators.
The rookery has been very successful in bringing the egrets back from extinction.
Here is a nesting pair with their young chicks under them.  You can click on the pictures to enlarge them.
We took Tom and Georgie for another Louisiana tradition that we have not seen anywhere else, a drive through bar.  It is illegal to have an open container in the car so keeping the paper on the end of the straw counts.  Go figure!
Thursday evening we did one last thing with Tom and Georgie when we went to hear Stop the Clock Cowboy Jazz Band in the square.
They were so good that even Tom and Georgie got on to the dance floor.  We had a wonderful visit with them and kept them real busy.  We did play euchre and the results of four evenings play resulted with the ladies winning the championship.