Another wonderful day to travel Southern Louisiana and the lowlands. We stop at one of our favorite places, Saint Martin’s Lake.
Near the factory burning cane, I see an old abandoned house. There are a lot of old abandoned houses on the backroads of Louisiana; rich pickings for series like HBO’s True Detectives.
The air was so clear you could see every atom of smoke as this factory burned off chaff grinding cane into cane sugar syrup:
Just in time for lunch, we hit New Iberia, where my friend Dave Robicheaux hangs out. Last time we were here, we went to a wonderful Place, Bon Creole, but we remembered it was hard to find. Even with my smart phone, we drive right past it, and have to go around the block and look again. This is not a place that makes itself KNOWN; you have to know where it is, and you have to really want to find it, LOL!
The interior is a hunter’s dream.
At the table near us, a group of local women are sitting and one is holding court, saying “You never know about so-and-so; she is so SECRETIVE!” and I am thinking that she would call me secretive, too, that I would be very careful about telling anything about myself that she could be spreading to all her friends – and everyone else in the Bon Creole who cared to listen.
Thank God, our food is ready, and I start with my gumbo, thick with shimp. Oops, I forgot, the gumbo comes with potato salad.
Poor AdventureMan! “Why didn’t I just order a 6″ Overstuffed Oyster Po’Boy???” These oysters were the old fashioned kind, fresh, dipped in corn meal and deep fried, just the way he likes them, but no, no, he couldn’t eat them all. I had one, and there were still many left, so many fabulous oysters!
As we were leaving, we stopped two residents who were leaving and asked them if we could get to Highway 90 by continuing down the road we were on, and they offered to let us follow them to Franklin. Franklin is like 25 miles down the road, imagine. They were willing to be so gracious to perfect strangers. We gratefully declined, and used their instructions and our smart phone to get us over to 90, en route to Morgan City and Houma.
Here’s the problem. We really like good food, and we know there are a lot of good places to eat in Lake Charles, but we are starting to feel a little fooded-out, a little stuffed. We decide on a nice plain BBQ for this night, and the desk clerk at our hotel knows just the place, Famous Foods.
When we get to Famous Foods, it is self serve, and there are three lines full of people. Some people are ordering to eat in, but others are ordering food to take out, and others are ordering bulk food – they sell prepared food, but they also sell Cajun meats, boudin, sausages, all kinds of foods. It is a learning experience for us, but we finally get in the right line and order.
I order chicken, and ask if I need to choose sides, and the cashier just laughs and says “Oh no, all the sides come with it!”
When they call our name, we get our food, served in fast-food containers, nothing fancy or pretentious about this place, it’s all focused on the food. So much food. Again. This time, I make a mistake, I try the rice. It is rich. It has a spicy sausage in it; it is absolutely delicious. No, I don’t eat it all, but I probably eat more than I should. I only have a bite or two of the potato salad, it’s not my weakness. The baked beans have a peculiar taste, not bad, but I am guessing, as we are in cane country, they are sweetened with cane sugar instead of molasses, as I am used to. I can pass on the beans; so I stick to the chicken (delicious) with a sneaky bite of this fabulous rice now and then.
AdventureMan has the smoked brisket and pulled pork, and again, all the sides just come with it. He says it is pretty good.
Many of the folks coming in and out as we are eating are buying Cracklin’s, which I think are made with deep fried pig skin, and I just can’t even give it a try. I might even like the taste, but the whole idea is just so repugnant to me.
The food at Famous Foods is GOOD!
AdventureMan knows how to thrill my heart, and just down the road, we find Holly Beach.
“Do you want to walk on the beach?” he asks slyly. He knows the answer to that question will always be “YES!!”
Holly Beach is not Pensacola Beach. I don’t see a single restaurant, not a single hotel. I don’t see sugar white sand. The sand here is golden grey, and the beach is littered – with SEASHELLS! So many wonderful seashells! I could stay here for a long time!
LOL, it’s also an Alaska kind of beach!
On our way into Lake Charles, we make a stop at Brown’s Market, in Hackberry, Louisiana, for a list of items, and they had every item on our list. It is a great little stop, and has clean restrooms, too 🙂
Our friend at the Wildlife Center, Sarah, highly recommended Gigi’s, and we were really really hungry when we got there, so it should have been a really good experience, and besides, Cameron is small and I didn’t see any other options.
Have I mentioned, only a thousand times, how fabulous the weather is? It’s seventy-something and like zero humidity. It doesn’t even matter that we are eating outdoors; the weather is perfect.
Honestly, when did I become a squeamish woman? Certainly not my early years in Tunis, and Amman, when we had to strain the weevils out of our flour and pasta. But as I watched a fly try to get into the ketchup through the tip of the dispenser, I sort of lost my appetite. The other problem is that AdventureMan and I really try to eat sensibly; we’re not extreme, every now and then we have something fried, but the food in Louisiana is rich, we haven’t seen a lot of vegetables, and when our food arrived – so much food – I couldn’t begin to eat it all. I ate about half my shrimp and an onion ring. The shrimp was really fresh.
AdventureMan had fried shrimp and catfish. He said it was really good. He also couldn’t eat it all.
Cameron isn’t very big.
And guess which parking space we got? And when we got into the space, there were dolphins, lots and lots of dolphins, no, porpoises, and oh, they were having such a good time in the sunlight.
We keep seeing these wonderful signs to tell us we are still on the right trail 🙂 This ferry ride was a Louisiana Lagniappe (a little something extra!)
We were all ready to hit this trail once before, but weather forecasts for the week we had it planned were full of thunderous storms and lots of rain, so we postponed.
This time, circumstances all came together fortuitously. AdventureMan had a conference in nearby Baton Rouge, and the temperature and humidity dropped dramatically. We had clear skies, no mosquitos, and glorious weather. As we left the Coffee Call in Baton Rouge, we were grinning from ear to ear.
You gotta love these smart phones. Better than a map for letting you know where you are and where you can turn off to get where you want to go. We wanted the Creole Nature Trail, which is a loop, Louisiana Road 27.
Shortly after we started down LA 27, we came to a US Fish and Wildlife Station, and there we met Sarah, who was a Student Conservation Associate, working for several months at the site. She had all kinds of good information, and was delighted to share with us. We laughed; she told us she was from “the other LA”, Los Angeles, and she had experienced culture shock coming to the backroads of Louisiana, but she had adjusted, learned a lot, and she loves the place.
This is their website: Southwest Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
We started at Cameron Prairie, which had a three mile drive and a stop with a one mile boardwalk. The boardwalk was gorgeous, and beautifully kept.
As AdventureMan focused on some alligators, I enjoyed the birds, and the colors:
We don’t know what this bird might be. It was huge. Maybe a Red Shouldered Hawk.
We had the park entirely to ourselves, except for one car that came – and left! We could have spent hours, but it was after lunch time when we left, and we were hungry!
Again, from the Lectionary readings for today, the devastation of gossip and slander, particularly appropriate during this season of vitriolic campaign ads, each more disgusting than the next:
14 Slander* has shaken many,
and scattered them from nation to nation;
it has destroyed strong cities,
and overturned the houses of the great.
15 Slander* has driven virtuous women from their homes,
and deprived them of the fruit of their toil.
16 Those who pay heed to slander* will not find rest,
nor will they settle down in peace.
17 The blow of a whip raises a welt,
but a blow of the tongue crushes the bones.
18 Many have fallen by the edge of the sword,
but not as many as have fallen because of the tongue.
19 Happy is one who is protected from it,
who has not been exposed to its anger,
who has not borne its yoke,
and has not been bound with its fetters.
20 For its yoke is a yoke of iron,
and its fetters are fetters of bronze;
21 its death is an evil death,
and Hades is preferable to it.
22 It has no power over the godly;
they will not be burned in its flame.
23 Those who forsake the Lord will fall into its power;
it will burn among them and will not be put out.
It will be sent out against them like a lion;
like a leopard it will mangle them.
24a As you fence in your property with thorns,
25b so make a door and a bolt for your mouth.
24b As you lock up your silver and gold,
25a so make balances and scales for your words.
26 Take care not to err with your tongue,*
and fall victim to one lying in wait.
I have a friend who shares a love of words, and, sadly, we both love good puns. There are some great ones here, thanks for sending, KitKat!
“Lexophile” is a word used to describe those that have a love for words, such as “you can tune a piano, but you can’t tuna fish”, or “to write with a broken pencil is pointless.”
A competition to see who can come up with the best lexophiles is held every year in an undisclosed location. This year’s winning submission is posted at the very end.
.. When fish are in schools, they sometimes take debate.
.. A thief who stole a calendar got twelve months.
.. When the smog lifts in Los Angeles U.C.L.A.
.. The batteries were given out free of charge.
.. A dentist and a manicurist married. They fought tooth and nail.
.. A will is a dead giveaway.
.. With her marriage, she got a new name and a dress.
.. A boiled egg is hard to beat.
.. When you’ve seen one shopping center you’ve seen a mall.
.. Police were summoned to a daycare center where a three-year-old was resisting a rest.
.. Did you hear about the fellow whose entire left side was cut off? He’s all right now.
.. A bicycle can’t stand alone; it’s just two tired.
.. When a clock is hungry it goes back four seconds.
.. The guy who fell onto an upholstery machine is now fully recovered.
.. He had a photographic memory which was never developed.
.. When she saw her first strands of grey hair she thought she’d dye.
.. Acupuncture is a jab well done. That’s the point of it.
And the cream of the twisted crop:
.. Those who get too big for their pants will be totally exposed in the end.
ALWAYS LAUGH WHEN YOU CAN … IT’S CHEAP MEDICINE.
We are going to grab a bite of breakfast before we check out of our Baton Rouge hotel, when we catch sight of the line, the very very long line, and people are carrying plates of rolls and cups of coffee back to their room; there is no place to sit and eat because the conference room is all set up for the final meeting of the conference.
LOL, no, we are not going to stand in line for breakfast. I know just the place to go; I found it earlier on TripAdvisor, but with breakfast included in our room, I hadn’t a hope of getting there. But it is nearby, and just what we need! We check out, and head for Coffee Call.
The minute we walk in, we love this place. There are businessmen reading the paper, sipping their coffees, there are families with children who have put several tables together, there are all kinds of people just kicking back and enjoying this place.
We figure out that we have to go up to the front to order our coffee, tea and beignets 🙂 but because we are about to hit the road, we also order sausage biscuits for a little protein.
The beignets are loaded with powder sugar. As we get ready to go, I go into the ladies room to wash hands and find another grandmother, trying to get powdered sugar off her two grandchildren, LOL.
The Coffee Call gave our day a great start and sent us on our way with smiles on our faces 🙂
So we’ve just had this strangeness with my new reinstated-credit card and my driver’s license, and AdventureMan is HUNGRY, and some very kind and helpful Baton Rouge friends have told us we have to try Juban’s for dinner, which sounds like exactly the place we would love our last night in Baton Rouge. Oddly, it is located in a non-descript strip mall, and the parking lot is so full we have to circle a couple times to find a spot.
When we find Juban’s, we are enchanged. It breathes elegance and atmosphere.
You evidently can dine outside, but no-one was dining outside.
There were a couple groups and a couple in front of us walking in; there were four large groups in various rooms (you can see this is where you schedule engagement parties, good-bye parties, getting-together with old friends parties, etc. This place is geared towards special times.) The groups were whisked away somewhere, and the couple in front of us was seated, and we were seated, almost immediately. We breathed a sigh of relief; we had no reservations, but we had a lovely table.
All around us were people gathered to have a good time. My favorite tables had children at them, and several generations, and the little girls all had dresses on and bows in their hairs, and the men were in coats and ties, and the groomed women wore nice dresses and pearls. At other tables, people were having business dinners, all dressed in coats and ties or nice business attire, the lighting was dim-but-good-enough-to-read-a-menu-by . . . . if we had a menu. We had no menus, and we didn’t seem to have a waiter.
We had plenty of time to observe.
After a good ten minutes, a waiter appeared and brought us two glasses of very very good wine . . . but no menus. He seemed annoyed when I asked for the menu; he was probably annoyed at the hostess, or something, I don’t know, but while he told us we had “the best waiter in the house” waiting on us, he never made us feel welcome in any way. He was entirely correct, in a very rushed, perfunctory kind of way.
We ordered. Food arrived fairly quickly. Our waiter never stopped by to ask how it was, or if we wanted more wine, or anything. It seemed to be an exceptionally busy evening; I didn’t see any of the waiters smiling or chatting cozily with any of the clients, so I wonder if it is part of the training that the waiters be rushed and perfunctory?
AdventureMan was the winner, with his Seafood Pasta. The sauce was intense, and truly wonderful, a sauce I would love to be able to make.
I did order coffee, while AdventureMan finished up his exquisite Seafood Pasta. Normally, on a night like this, in a lovely restaurant, we might also have dessert, but we were so nonplussed at our non-welcome that we decided to pay the bill and leave.
I would go back, one time. I would give them the benefit of the doubt; it might have been just a very very unexpectedly busy evening and they found themselves short-staffed. I would give them another try, but I just have the feeling that maybe stuffy, rushed service is the norm rather than the exception. Pity, that, because the venue itself is wonderful.
And it was just another little strangeness . . . .
Baton Rouge was a city we really wanted to like, and there are so many things about Baton Rouge we DO like. While we were there, however, every single day, we experienced a little bit of bad JuJu, a little bit of strangeness. By the grace of God, it was ameliorated by the goodness and kindness of others, but it was just strange.
First, I have to tell you I am not a huge fan of shopping, but every now and then when I find the right thing, I know it and I buy it. When I found Trader Joe’s, I knew just what to buy, quality products we love. Then, I headed out to Macy’s, a store we do not have in Pensacola.
The Mall is huge, but it was early in the morning, I got a great parking spot, and although I had ended up far from Macy’s, I enjoyed the stroll. This is the first thing I saw, and it delighted my heart.
What is not to love about this menagerie of zoo animals for little children to ride through the mall? Children HATE mall shopping, but this is a game changer 🙂
I actually didn’t find anything I loved at Macy’s, but I did find two very classic T-shirts I knew I could use, nicely made, so I went to buy them and the cashier asked if I wanted to use my Macy’s card. I said “sure” but it turns out because I hadn’t used it in a while, I had to re-instate it, and when you do that, you get 20% off all day and the next day, plus a WOW card that gives you more discounts, plus another 20% off when they bill you. Holy mole, sign me up! But even though I looked, I really didn’t see anything else I wanted.
Back at the hotel, I told AdventureMan about this hot deal and talked him into going back to Macy’s with me. He looked, but he also didn’t find anything he liked, and then I found the children’s section, ummmm, errrrr . . . .. grandchildren’s section, and there were all kinds of things I liked a lot, and Christmas is coming, so lets get a little dollar-cost-averaging going. (AdvntureMan is rolling his eyes.)
When I went to pay, the patient salesgirl rang everything up, and then had to call some number because my total was high, and then asked me to show my driver’s license. I knew I had it, because I had it earlier when I re-instated my card. So I dug. It wasn’t there. I dug some more, I looked and looked, but no card. I was so embarrassed. The patient clerk held all the grandchildren clothes while I went downstairs where I had shown my card earlier, and sure enough, there it was. Thank God! What if we hadn’t gone back to the Mall? Months go by where I never show that card, and months from now I wouldn’t have known where to find it. I felt like my guardian angel was sitting on my shoulder. And it still felt like strangeness.
When I went back upstairs to the cashier, I showed the drivers license, and she called the security number again, and he asked me all kinds of questions, places I lived years ago, what cars are associated with my accounts, it was totally strange, and AdventureMan is looking bullish, steam coming out of his nostrils, stamping and huffing and puffing (he is hungry). Finally, he tells the cashier I am OK, and she rings me up, very apologetic. I told her it is just the times we live in, and honestly, I want security to be tough on people who might pretend to be me, so it was just a minor inconvenience. But just another little piece of Baton Rouge strangeness, little things that could eat away at happiness and well being if you let them . . . .