Saturday, March 30, 2019

Music Food and Friends at Betty's

As always, the good times continue to roll here at Betty's RV Park in Acadiana Louisiana. This title sums up the experiences we enjoy here in three words; music, food and friends. Of course, you have to also add fun, as those things are indeed fun, fun, fun.
Even though we have been to Martin Accordions several times  we never miss a chance to go again. Martin's is a small family run business whose accordions are owned by many famous Cajun and Zydeco musicians. They are easily identified by the crawfish on the bellows. 
This is the group from Betty's. There was also a bus tour with 40+ people from Kansas. 
When you purchase a Martin Accordion you get to pick what color and type of wood you prefer. The wood is cut and put together, 22 at a time, using jigs. They cut enough wood to make 70 and after they are glued they are stained. This is Junior Martin's brother explaining the process.
The pieces are then placed on the shelves and the reeds and bellows are added one at a time. It is an amazing process and sure justifies the $2,700 and up price of these instruments. On the table are accordions that are here for repair, another part of their business.
Always a highlight of the tour is the concert. Penney, Junior and Joel, three generations of Martins, play country, Cajun and Zydeco sets while pointing out the differences in each. This was a country set of old Hank Williams songs. Here is a link of the Martin family playing Amazing Grace with Joel on the Cajun squeeze box singing in both English and French.
Here is an old Far Side cartoon that was personalized for the Martins. I used to think this was true when our friend Mike "entertained" us with his accordion, but after being introduced to the Cajun accordion, I now know the sound can be heavenly.
A band was coming to Betty's on Friday evening, so she cooked up a big pot of her famous gumbo. Here is Betty stirring the roux while Dan waits to add the trinity for making great gumbo; onions, celery and peppers.
Betty cooks the chicken with the bones in to add to the flavor. Nanc and Merlene then deboned it for the final product. It sure was a yummy meal enjoyed by all.
It was real chilly that day so several people pitched in with their tarps to keep the wind out. We put a couple propane fire rings inside making it very toasty.
The band of locals Rooster, Dave, Dan, Kristy, Eddie and Joe provided a great evening of entertainment.
On the left are Dan, Sue, Shirley, Claire and Susan. On the right are Ian, Nanc, Merlene and Dick, all bundled up and loving the music after a meal of warm Cajun gumbo.
Sue, Marvin, Lee, Bob and Dick.
Randy and Betty.
You never know who will jump up and join the band at Betty's. Sue got up and played along on the small tie scrub board. It was a great evening of music, food, friends and fun even if it was a little chilly.
One Saturday a few of us, Kathy, Dick, Susan, Dan, Dan, Merlene and Nanc went to Henry for the Fin, Fur and Feather Cook-off, a fundraiser for the Henry Fire Department. For the $5.00 admission you get to try a variety of food cooked by locals. What a great way to to get your fill of many different dishes.
Judges pick the winner in each category of fin, fur and feather. The people vote for the People's Choice winner and this year it was my personal favorite, Krewe de Roux who made a wonderful crab and corn chowder. There was also an auction and a fifty-fifty drawing. This cook-off is a great way to try different foods while supporting the local fire department. The day ends with a band, but we where back at Betty's for happy hour by then.
The next day was St. Paddy's Day so another excuse to party. A few new people had come in.  From left to right are Karen and Brian, Australians who were traveling in the USA for three months, Tommy and Becky, Brenda, Betty, Merlene, Dan and Cecil and Becky, who we met at the Elks in the Keys in January.  
Here are Tom, Sue, Sharon, John and Sue......
.....Sue, Dan, Dan, Kathy and Dick all celebrating St. Paddy's Day. We had a great meal that included traditional dishes, so it was another day of food and friends.
Another bit of food that I tried this week was Vegemite that the Aussies shared at happy hour. To them it is like peanut butter, something they grow up eating. I first had it straight up on a cracker and did not care for it. Next, I added a bit of blue cheese and this made it acceptable, but not something I'm adding to my diet. It must be an acquired taste that I have not acquired. 

As you can tell I'm a bit behind with the blog as we have been so busy having fun at Betty's.

Friday, March 22, 2019

On the Road and Our First Week at Betty's RV Park

For the first time in nearly twelve years Opus was in storage for a month. To prepare for our trip to Betty's RV Park in Abbeville, LA I ran the generator for three or four hours on the two days before we left to make sure the batteries were charged and the refrigerator cooled down. It did take the fridge longer than I expected to get down to the proper temperature, but by the time we left it was fine. We made a couple trips to Opus with things we had moved into the condo. This is something we need to get better at as we become part-time RVers. The first day on the road we took the Florida Turnpike, something we had never done before, to get through the Orlando urban sprawl. It was an easy 200 mile drive to Ocala for a one night stop.   
Our plan, always written in sand, was to do 250 miles on day two. When we started to call for a place to stay we found the parks were all filled because of the damage done by Hurricane Michael. We did not want to stay in a Walmart because the night time temps were in the 30's. The only RV park along the highway that we could find was near Pensacola, meaning we ended up driving 362 miles, much farther than we like.   We saw a lot of the trees that were down along I-10 from the hurricane.
They are still in the clean up mode for about 25 miles.
This was a dense forest last year when we drove the same route. After seeing the damage here, we can only imagine how bad the towns along the gulf shore must look. 
That night we got the last site at Avalon Landing RV Park. It was a beautiful stop overlooking the water, but WAY to expensive. These pelicans were hunkered down against the cold right by Opus.
When we got up the next morning the pelicans were in a feeding frenzy. There were 15 or 20 diving into the water to catch fish, sometimes a half dozen at a time. This was the best picture I was able to get. On this day we drove 225 miles to Hammond so we would have a short 125 miles to go the last day.  
The Mississippi was very mighty where we crossed in Baton Rouge. The tugs were maneuvering this big freighter to the dock. The water was near the top of the levees.
The drive across the Atchafalaya Basin on an 18 mile bridge is always a thrill. The water here was also high and much of the flood water from the Midwest had not yet gotten this far south.
One of the reasons we love Louisiana. The best oysters we have ever had at a very reasonable price at Shuck's in Abbeville. I also had the duck and andouille sausage gumbo.
A few people from Betty's in the Horny Corner at the Cajun jam session at Touchet's in Maurice. Here are Betty, Jim, Nanc, Merlene, Dan, Jim and Cookie. We met them all at Betty's over the years and always look forward to seeing them.
The jam was great with many different musicians taking their turn on the stage. Here are Dave, Rooster, Kristi, and Joe. We were sad to hear that the Museum Cafe in Erath had closed, so there is only a jam in this area every other week.
Of course another reason we love Betty's is her famous Happy Hour(s) where all the people in the park gather to share food, drinks and tales of travel. Here is Betty telling a couple first timers (whose names I failed to get)  about all the different things to do in Cajun Louisiana. 
Here are Dick, Denise, Cheryl, Susan and Dan.
Monica, Randy and Kathy deeply involved in conversation.
Jim, Cookie, Merlene and Nanc.
Dennis and Cheryl drive this original Apollo Sceptre Motorhome that was built in the 1980's. Here is a link to an article they wrote for Motorhome magazine about their RV.
We are card carrying members of the Cajun Culture Association, so on Wednesday evening we went to the meeting at Touchet's. One way the association promotes their culture is by giving instruments and lessons to young musicians. This little eight year old not only played, she also sang a couple classic Cajun songs, The Back Door and Mardi Gras. Sorry I failed to get her name or a good recording.
The crowd rewarded her with a few bucks in her fiddle case. Sure hope this encourages her to continue to improve her music skills. 
Rather than have a featured band, they had a jam session that included dueling Cajun accordions. Sue from Betty's even got into the action on the scrub board.
We had a happy hour happy birthday party on Thursday. Here's the whole gang ready to celebrate.
The same crowd from the other end of the table.
The birthday gal, Shirley with her big cookie B-Day cake.
That evening was the first of a month of Sounds on the Square in Abbeville. This week's band was Michot's Melody Makers. It was a great evening of music even if it was a little cool.

We are having a fun time at Betty's. Many friends are passing through as snowbirds are heading north after a winter in the sun.

Friday, March 8, 2019

Our First Visitors

After three weeks of scrubbing, polishing, buffing and just generally getting our new stix and brix in order we were finally ready to share our home with friends. We expect that living in warm, sunny Florida will make our new home a popular stop for our up north friends and the many people we have met during our nearly twelve years on the road who winter in Florida.
It is appropriate that our first visitor would be Georgie who made a personal mail delivery. Palm Beach International Airport is only 40 miles down I-95 from Stuart so it is an easy drive. It didn't take long for Georgie to figure out she did not need the coat and slacks down here. 
Of course, going out to dinner and listening to music is among our favorite things to do with Georgie. The first evening we went to the Fresh Catch which is just down the street form our condo for food and music. We had no sooner ordered our drinks and the lights went out. Unfortunately, the musician did not have an acoustic set and the lights never came back on, so this is the picture of Nanc and Georgie drinking in the dark.
Since the power never came back on we hopped in the CRV and went to Duffy's, a Florida sports bar chain that is another favorite of ours. Here are the ladies with those bright smiles to light the place up.
Nanc has been working me so hard that we had not been to the beach since we moved in. Having company made a visit to the Atlantic a priority. We did learn that we are only 20 minutes from the beach even during the very busy winter season.
We did a bit of the shelling stoop along the beach. We found some nice ones and I even found a couple sharks teeth, something I had never done before.
The birds were very willing to pose for a picture. Some of the beach looked like old coral.
We went to Jensen Beach so the ladies could do some shopping.  Sadly, or in my case gladly, we were too late and they were closed. Nanc did find this giant crawdad that wet our appetites for some of those Louisiana mudbugs.
Another day we went to Casa Giuseppis, a great little Italian restaurant just down the street from our place. The singer was doing old time Italian favorites. The bartender told us he had performed at Mar-a-Lago but we liked his music so we won't hold that against him.
On Saturday we hit the Stuart Arts Festival. These metal pipe sculptures were very neat.
The weather was perfect so we had a great time checking out the 200+ vendors. Downtown Stuart has a lot of great restaurants, shops and special events like this festival.
Saturday night we went to Shimpers in Port Solerno and you are not going to believe what happened, the power went off! Fortunately, we already had our meals that we enjoyed under the light of our cell phones placed on a glass. We sure hope this lights out thing is not a regular happening.
Sunday we did a pool day. The ladies soaked up the sun and I finally got to swim in the condo pool. Very nice!!
On Sunday we drove to Jupiter for the jazz society jam, but I had to check out the Robert Kraft crime scene that is being investigated by a special CSI - NFL unit:-)
As always the music was great. This week's special guest was once again Jerome Degey on guitar.
As usual the jam session was very lively. On violin is Eric Bindman, sax Phil DiRe, guitar George Lilly, and Rick Moore on the piano. 
We had a grand time listening to the jazz at the Double Roads Tavern in Jupiter.
Georgie had an afternoon flight back to Pittsburgh so we visited Palm Beach to see where the 1% shop. Worth Avenue is the Rodeo Drive of South Florida. There were actually models walking the streets modeling outfits that were available in the nearby shops. We passed, but Nanc did like a pair of $1450 high heels.
The trees were in full bloom. As you can see, there were not many people out shopping.
This store sold only kids stuff so the little ones will be properly prepared for the 1% lifestyle. I've seen a lot of men my age with that sweater on your back look and have been thinking dumping the t-shirts and adopting that style, NOT. 
Even the dogs are pampered here with this beautiful tile dog bar. We had a great visit with Georgie and had a chance to show her our new hometown. Having guests in the condo is much easier than having them in the RV.
More friends, George and Nan, stopped over to see our new place. We met them at Betty's a few years ago and the day we were out looking at condos back in December our paths crossed again. They bought a place about five minutes for ours so we already have friends living in Stuart.
I saw on Facebook that my cousin Missy and her husband Marty had arrived in Port St Lucie to visit Marty's sister Teresa and her husband Jay, so we invited them over. We had a great visit and dinner at the Dolphin Bar in Jensen Beach. It's great that we now know two couples who live in the area.

As I write, we are at Betty's RV Park in Abbeville, LA for a month. It was a little strange moving stuff back into Opus for the trip, but the RV still feels very much like home, even if it is now our second home.