Saturday, April 20, 2019

More Fun Times in Betty's Web

The good times continue to roll at Betty's. Spring is such a fun time to be here, as many friends pass through on their way from their warm winter homes heading north for the summer. As always, there is a mix of old friends and many new ones.
Last year we visited Abshires Corner Store for the first time and found a wonderful place for a great lunch. When we go with a large group it is an all afternoon happening because this is the kitchen; a small grill, a two basket fryer and a stove. There were twenty people from Betty's with more than half wanting the fantastic Cajun shrimp salad. Since they only have room to cook the onions, peppers and shrimp for four salads at a time, it takes awhile. 
Here are Dan, Susan, Randy, Sue, John, Sharon, Irene, Charles, Sandy, Dan, Dick and Kathy.  A couple people who did not order salads already had their meals.
More of the crew; Steve, Penny, Monica Nanc, Merlene and Dan sitting at the counter since they don't have enough seats at the tables for all of us.
Everything is fresh and the grill has to been cleaned after each use. This little out of the way place in Meaux, Louisiana is well worth searching out. Make sure you have plenty of time because this is not a fast food restaurant, especially if you are with a big group.  We just turned it into a great social hour(s).
Another Thursday in March, so it is another Sounds on the Square under the giant oak trees in Magdalen Square. This weeks' group was Yvette Landry and the Jukes.
On another day John and Sharon took us to Acadian Park in Lafayette, another place we have never been to on our many visits to Cajun country. There are both natural trails and this boardwalk through the swamp and woods.
Of course, since we were with John an Sharon we knew we would see a snake, they always do. This little one was slowly swimming while looking for food.
There were many beautiful spring flowers in bloom.
The water was so far down, even the canoe launch was out of the water. Those cypress knees across the stream are usually in the water. Check out Acadian Park if you are looking for a nice hiking place near Lafayette. After the hike they took us to Olde Tyme Grocery, another unique little lunch place we had never been to.
Many of the RVers at Betty's do their morning walks in the neighborhood and often meet the locals. We talked to Jean at Sounds on the Square and learned he plans to RV to Newfoundland after his wife Karen retires. We invited them to check out Betty's famous happy hour so they could talk to everyone about their RV experiences. They did and are now officially "Caught in Betty's Web".
Into every life a "little" rain must fall and it sure did. Over six inches in just a few hours. The good news, it stopped and we were all high and dry in time for happy hour.
You never know what you will see here. A local fisherman stopped by to show off his catch of several really huge catfish that he caught in the bayou.
We decided we needed one last fix of Zydeco music at Buck and Johnny's Saturday morning Zydeco Breakfast in Breaux Bridge. 
Susan and Dan were the only other people in the park who wanted to get up real early for another fun morning of food and music.
The band this week was one of the best, Leroy Thomas and the Zydeco RoadRunners. As you can see he had the place rockin. He did a fantastic job singing Prince's Purple Rain, which he will be recording for release soon.
Susan, Leroy and Nanc hamming it up. If you ever get a chance to hear Leroy, don't miss it. As always, the Zydeco breakfast was great fun.
That same Saturday most of the RVers went to Touchet's for the Cajun jam session. Here are Karen, Linda, Diana, Nobby, Sue, Ernie, Dan and Gene enjoying the music. We met Gene and Diana at the Florida Keys Elks in December and told them about Betty's, so they added it to their to do list and plan to return. Someone else caught in Betty's web. 
More of Betty's RVers having a fun time in the Horny Corner at Touchet's.  From the left are Paul, Jerry, Mr. Curtis (a local), Betty, Gloria, Nanc, Reg, Mike, BJ, Susan and Dan.
Front are Paul and Sandy who are at Betty's for the first time and in the back are Wayne and Marlene who are really caught in Betty's web, stopping every spring for fifteen years.
Betty and Sharon, who often closes her eyes, when getting her picture taken,  Not this time:-)
It being a little chilly brought on a little silly when Marlene got out her warm winter stockings. You never know what will happen at Betty's RV Park.
Sunday dawned with a severe weather alert for the afternoon. That was a bummer as we wanted to go to the Boudin Festival in Scott. We did not want to miss it for both the great music and food.
After watching the approaching line of storms we decided we had time to hit the festival before the rain arrived. Here are Sue, Dan, Marlene and Wayne lining the rail to hear the music.
The music we wanted to hear was Geno Delafose and French Rockin Boogie, without a doubt our favorite Zydeco band. Good news, the foul weather held off long enough that we got to hear Geno.  Bad news, they cut his set short because the storm was fast approaching.
Dan, Dan, Merlene, Susan and Nanc gathering our chairs so we could get to our cars before we got wet. 
We made in back to Betty's and as you can see, this storm did not bring nearly as much rain as we had earlier in the week. It sure was nice of Nanc to brave the shower to get me a beer.

I have one more post about our busy last week at Betty's and another about our stop in Tallahassee to see a friend and tour the capitol. We are now back in our condo in Stuart and plan to stay here until after Memorial Day before heading north for the summer. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

Abbeville, Zydeco, Cajun Jams and Food

The fun times continue here at Betty's RV Park with the usual mix of music, food, and friends. We did a walking tour of Abbeville, a Zydeco Breakfast, a Cajun jam session, and went to New Iberia for lunch and a tour of the rice mill.  
The tour of Abbeville started at Sam Guarino (Mr. Sam's) blacksmith shop. The 1913 shop was donated to the city and moved to its present location on State Street after it closed in 2004. 
The shop now serves as a living history museum. All of the machines; lathe, drill press, grinder, and saw were operated by a belt drive system that still works. It really is a step back in time right down to the dirt floor and the noise of the running equipment.

I was surprised to learn there was such a large Italian population in the area. The Italians that arrived in Vermilion Parish from the middle 1800's to 1910  came mostly from Cefalu, Sicily, Italy depicted in the top left mural. The other three murals show how they made a living farming, running the local store and Mr. Sam's blacksmith shop.   
The next stop was St. Mary Magdalen Catholic Church which was founded by Pere Antoine Megret in 1843. The present Romanesque style church that was built in the early 1900's is the fourth church on this site. 
The beautiful stained glass windows by Ford Brothers Glass Studio were made by European artisans. Here are three of the eighteen windows in the nave of the church. The entire church was renovated between 2004 and 2009.
Abbeville has several murals depicting the history of the town. This one on the side of the city office building sure captures the food and music culture we love about the area. The accordion with an oyster on the bellows and crawfish, shrimp, crabs and cattle on the side.
Our last stop was the parish courthouse. I failed to get pictures of the outside. One end is designed like the classic Greek temple, another like a Classic Revival Plantation House and a third like the French architecture of New Orleans. The paintings showing scenes of early life in Vermilion Parish in the main hall were all painted by Harry Worthman.
On Saturday most of the folks at Betty's headed to Buck and Johnny's in Breaux Bridge for the famous Zydeco breakfast. Here are Susan, Dan, Dick, Kathy, Sue and Dan. 
Here are Nancy, Monalisa, Randy, Monica and Mike waiting for music and breakfast.
In the rear are Valerie and Jeff.  In front are Aussies Brian and Karen who assured us there is nothing like the Zydeco breakfast in Australia. I don't know the person who photo bombed the picture with the peace sign. 
Here are Dan, Merlene, Jim and Nanc.
The scene at Buck and Johnny's is really amazing when you understand it is only 9AM. Lil Pookie and the Zydeco Sensation had the place rockin. 
That same afternoon we all headed to Touchet's for the Cajun jam session. Here are Betty's RVers hanging out in the "Horny Corner". The RVers from Betty's are big supporters of the Cajun jams.
The band had all the regulars; Rooster, Dave, Joe and Kristy, who we have gotten to know over the years.
Here are Dick and Betty hitting the dance floor at Touchet's. The Cajun dancing is different than the Zydeco, but you could fool me as I don't do well with either. 
But after a couple beverages I am capable of a few moves on the floor.
Nanc with Cynthia the local percussionist who is often at the jam. She gave Nanc a lesson on the proper way to play the tambourine and triangle.
Food at happy hour is a big deal with a lot of competition on who brings the best or most unique. I believe Doris has taken the prize for the most unique. It was really pretty good if you closed your eyes but to most of the Mom's in the group it brought back way to many memories:-)  
Always high on our to do list is a trip to Bon Creole Lunch Counter in New Iberia. It is a little hole in the wall place with great gumbo and po-boys. Here are Sue, Sharon, Monalisa, Steve, John and Dan waiting for their names to be called.
Another big table of Betty's Rvers, Susan, Kathy, Merlene, Charles, Nanc, Nancy, Mike, Dan, Dick and Dan. This place never disappoints and should be on your list if you are in the area.
In all our years of coming to Acadiana we have never visited the Conrad Rice Mill in New Iberia. The mill, built in 1912 so local rice did not need to be shipped to New Orleans, is the oldest independently owned rice mill in the country. 
The mill markets their product under the name Konriko. The name comes from Conrad Rice Company, but another rice company in California used the Conrico name so they changed the c's to k's. The mill is on the National Register of Historic Places.  
The milling relies on gravity starting in a storage bin on the third floor from where it is dropped into the stone, two five foot diameter stones that dehull the rice. In the old days they burned the hulls to power the mill. It then went into the huller to remove the bran and then the brush to be polished, producing the highly polished white rice that was so popular then. Next it went into the trumble where a coating of sucrose and talcum powder was added. That is way you needed to wash it before cooking.   
The last step is weighing and packaging. This is the original machine where the 100 pound bags were sown shut. They later added 10, 25 and 50 pound bags. The system has changed today as they do not polish all the rice. They make mostly natural brown rice. While I'm smart enough to know chocolate milk does not come from cows, I never knew that all rice is brown before it is polished. 

In 1975 the company was sold by the Conrad family to Michael Davis. Davis was responsible for expanding the variety of rice produced including brown and flavored rice. Today the company manufactures a line of seasoning, spices, sauces, marinades and snacks. If you are in the area check out the rice mill and the store where all their products are available.

I still have a lot of things to write about our stay at Betty's even though we are near the end of our time here. We will be heading back to our condo in Stuart next week. We plan to stay there until after Memorial Day before heading north for the summer.