Louisiana to Midterm

The alarm went off at 4am and we were up, dressed, and in the van by 4:11. On our way out of Leesville, F found a doughnut shop that was open (4:13am). I’ve always sworn that I don’t really like doughnuts but that was the first fresh one I’d ever had and I had to admit that they were quite good.

We headed north. I took the opportunity to sleep in the back  until we were about an hour outside of Shreveport where I swapped into the drivers seat. Forrest tried to sleep but the condition of I-49 was a little rough for him in the back (I maintain that I would have slept just fine!).

As we cruised through Dallas, it started to rain. And it rained. And rained. All the way across Texas it rained. It was about 40 and raining (what happened to going south where it’s warm?!). We did get a pretty decent hamburger at “Giant Burger” in Rhome (F had to fix a busted power steering cooler line in the rain though) And then we kept on driving. After a brief stop in Amarillo for windshield wiper blades we cruised into New Mexico. Continue reading “Louisiana to Midterm”

Hauling down I-10

Rosepine, Louisiana

We arrived in Rosepine after a solid seventeen hours of driving! Today was pretty uneventful—we ate Subway only a hundred miles before stopping for gas next to a Cajun seafood hole-in-the-wall that looked awesome. Such is life, however, when you’re trying to make miles, quick food is the need at that point.

Basin bridge across Atchafalaya Basin

These long days are hard but still wonderful; I’m so happy I came. We’ll go an hour not talking but it feels good to be rolling down the road observing the country around you. Of course, this way of traveling also reminds me how much I can’t wait until the next time we’re able to just cruise at our own speed so I can stop to hold the baby alligators at the tourist trap, eat awesome food, and poke around small towns.

The place we should have eaten lunch.

Continue reading “Hauling down I-10”

Day 11: New Orleans, Louisiana

We woke up, got dressed and headed for the French Quarter because F had never tried beignets. The line at Cafe Du Monde was around the block so we continued down the street looking for an alternate beignets source. We fond a small cafe on Canal Street and ordered coffee and our beignets while Sprocket laid at our feet (I told the little guy he was quite Parisian). After Forrest got a second order of the sugar covered doughnuts we walked around the French Quarter a bit. We headed back to the car then went and checked out St. Louis Cemetery #2, I found the above ground tombs pretty fascinating.

Back at Meg’s we befriended her neighbor across the street and borrowed his hose to wash the jeep. As we were washing it, a thunderstorm started rolling through the area. We were able to wash the car before it really started raining and when it started raining it POURED. Sprocket went into his crate and Forrest and I headed for Whole Foods to get something for lunch. We got pretty soaked just running across the street from the car so we hung out and watched the storm roll by.

When Meg got back from work we headed for the Royal Street Bar (“R-Bar”) for a free crawfish feed. Were treated to big plates of crawfish. They really are just mini-lobsters–all we ate were the tails. The potatoes, carrots, and corn also in the boil were fabulous. After dinner, we wondered around the Marigny district. We were walking down the street and spotted a sign that said “Fosters on tap here” and all were briefly tricked into thinking that the adorable house might be a bar. The resident of the house and his neighbor were sitting around people watching and apparently decided that if someone interesting walked by they’d invited them up for a drink. Apparently the three of us were interesting enough and we had a few drinks and just talked for a bit. After that we walked back to the French Quarter and visited Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop for a grape daiquiri of some kind. From there, we walked back to Frenchman Street to listen to bands at the Spotted Cat. Once we got there, we discovered they were charging a cover so we bagged listening to a band for going to “The Joint” for some good barbeque. We all decided that we were ready for bed so we headed home.

Day 10: New Iberia, Louisiana to New Orleans, Louisiana

Our day started in a downtown parking lot of New Iberia after our night on the town. We briefly stopped at the city park to use the restroom and get ready for the day. Leaving town, Forrest stopped at a doughnut shack and picked us up a glazed and an old  for afashioned–they were really good! (Now I’ve got to find him a beignet here in New Orleans.) I loved the drive down Louisiana 182…there were all sorts of random old houses of all sizes. After awhile though, we realized that we’d be to New Orleans by two o’clock if we didn’t find some other explorations. So we turned south on LA 317, a road towards the gulf with no towns marked on the map.

The road passed over the Intracostal Waterway just as Sprocket started to demand a stop. Forrest drove us down a small road leading to a small plant on the waterway. Just as we got out of the car, a 15 passenger van pulled in behind us. It was a crew for a tugboat getting ready to go on their 28-day shift. Two of the young guys hung out with us and told us all about the job while they waited for the Miss Mollye D to pull up. When the boat got there they invited us aboard for a tour–quite spacious digs compared to the Wecoma!

After we left the Mollye, we headed further south. We found ourselves at Burn’s Point recreation area on Cote Blanche Bay on the Gulf. Sprocket enjoyed getting himself wet and then covering himself with sand. We drove around a bit on dirt levee roads looking for alligators before we headed for Morgan City, hoping to get some cajun food for lunch. After a disappointing stop downtown, we had almost resigned ourself to some non-local food when one of the gas station attendants told me about Rita Mae’s Cafe and promised us that there would be good southern food there.

When we found Rita Mae’s it really was just an old house converted to a restaurant. The service wasn’t exactly friendly, but my crawfish Étouffée was amazing, Forrest’s smothered pork chop was more so so. From there we headed north towards the Mississippi River to check out some of the plantations. They were all closed before we got there (not to mention tickets were really expensive) but I got to walk around the grounds of Oak Alley for a bit.

After letting Sprocket run around in the parking lot for a while, we were still undecided about where we’d stop for the night. As we drive east on LA 18, it became apparent that we weren’t going to see much more amazing along the route and that we were starting to get really close to New Orleans, so I called Meg to see if it was alright that we showed up early. She and her roommates were more than happy to have us a little bit early and we joined them at Juan’s Flying Burrito: A Cajun Taqueria on Magazine Street when we got into town. After dinner, we followed Meg back to her house where it was great just to catch up with her and of course to get showers! Sprocket loved all the attention from everyone as always.

Day 9: Houston, Texas to New Iberia, Louisiana

We pulled out of Houston headed for Winnie and our exit from I-10. We got into Port Arthur and ate breakfast at “The Causeway” where they were nice enough to let us use their wireless and to tell us that there was “nothing” out where we were headed. The road between Port Arthur and Cameron was pretty desolate with just a few houses along the gulf beach, which made it a perfect place to check out the beach.

Being on the road, we were really hoping to stop at a beach with showers so that we could rinse the salt water off before moving on but it quickly became apparent that was an unreasonable expectation. We settled for making friends at Mieaux’s Seafood (just an old man living on the beach in his trailer that delivers crab to his customers) and asking if we could use his water spigot to rinse off with–he was quite happy to let us, he just wanted us to know that he was “Fixing to go deliver some crab” so we’d have to help ourselves.

It was so nice to get out and spend some time at the beach. Sprocket finally dived in and swam after us but he wasn’t really sure how he felt about it though, he really just seemed to want us to come back to the beach. He was a sand dog though, and loved to go under the jeep and roll in it.

Leaving the beach, took the ferry to Cameron. On the ferry we asked one of the operators for advice on where to get lunch and he recommended Sha Sha’s in Creole. Getting off the ferry, we really started to see the effects of Hurricane Rita, everyone has a brand new house or mobile home–on stilts. In Creole, we did get lunch at Sha Sha’s–I had grilled shrimp and Forrest had fried catfish. My shrimp were fantastic and the catfish was pretty good too, neither one of us are big fried fish fans though. After lunch while we were letting Sprocket run around a bit, one of the waitresses came running out with the deep fried Oreos that she’d made for us.

After that we headed for Abbeville. Abbeville was supposed to have a great oyster house–it was closed (permanently) and there really didn’t seem to be anyone around so we headed for New Iberia. In ‘Beria as I was later told everyone calls it, we walked around the downtown, along the Bayou Teche (Snake Bayou), and checked out some of the cool old houses. After walking around we headed back to a bar with outdoor seating to see if we could meet some of the locals–and boy did we! We stumbled on to Clif Ayers 83rd birthday party and his wife and sons were more than happy to have us sit down. They old us all about New Iberia and the surrounding area and asked us all about our trip. Another friend of theirs, Roy, was also very happy to talk to us. As the evening wore on, Clif and Debbie headed for home and we (including Sprocket) went with Roy to another bar in town. We got to talk to a lot of people and Sprocket just slept on the barroom floor. What a night in southwest Louisiana!