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Mudbugs and Drive-Thru Daquiris

June 13, 2019

20190526_143550_resizedSouth Texas

The closer you get to Houston, the more Cajun culture starts to appear. I was delighted to come upon it. Barbecue restaurants give way to signs advertising crawfish and Boudin sausage, gumbo and jambalaya.

My dumbest move of the weekend was to try to go to the beach at Galveston, forgetting that most of Texas would also be heading there for Memorial Day. I made it over the terrifying bridge onto Galveston Island. I gaped at the vast flat muddy expanse that passes for an ocean down there. Then I turned around and skedaddled back over the bridge before traffic got even worse.

The Oil Patch

I grew up traipsing around oil fields, thanks to my dad’s work, but it turns out I had the tank farms I had seen were tiny, miniature, really. South of Houston, the tank farms go on for miles. And miles. And miles. Traveling side roads, you get to see all the stuff that is hidden from the interstate highway.

And then the thing I had been waiting for: Louisiana. It was as overgrown, gothic and mysterious as I had expected. I rattled along through the flooded rice fields, listening to Cajun music on the radio. It felt perfect.

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Lake Charles, where pipelines are overhead.

I stopped overnight in Lake Charles, another oil town, where there are so many pipelines that they make overpasses out of them.

It also has a truly terrifying bridge, the worst of the trip so far. Narrow, tall, rickety – it ticks all the bridge-terror boxes.

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Lake Charles. If you squint, you can see Earl.

Earl Goes Fishing

Out on a fishing dock in Lake Charles, I met Earl, a retired truck driver and father of nine. He talked to me about life and fishing and asked all kinds of questions about my trip. I asked him what kind of fish he was hoping to catch.

“Ah, I don’t mind if it one thing or the other,” he said. “I just come out here to get out of the house.”

Lafayette!

Earl recommended that my next stop be Lafayette, a town full of gorgeous old buildings and moss-covered trees, so I went there. I visited the Vermilionville historical park, a collection of old buildings and historical exhibits, complete with actors playing the residents of the time.

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A parsonage house at Vermilionville

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The hand-pulled ferry at Vermilionville

I was surprised at the mix of visitors – about half were French, exploring this part of their heritage. It was fun to hear the actors speak to them in Cajun French and listen to their difficulty in translating, much like me with Louisiana English accents.

It was hot, though, well into the 90s and of course humid. My stretchable spandex-laced denim pants soon gave up stretching and just turned into dampish bags around my legs, my waistband sliding lower and lower. It made me think of the people who had lived here in that heat, cooking over open fires and picking crops.

I parked Gladis at my first KOA on a little Lafayette lake and went to the swimming pool where I spent the evening watching teenagers do cannonballs around me.

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Cajun Daquiris. Drive thru service.

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Natchitoches, Louisiana

 

 

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 14, 2019 08:30

    Now I really want a bucket of boiled crawfish.

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