Home Away From Home

Betty’s RV Park

FullSizeRenderWhat to say about Betty’s RV – well, we came for four days, added one and then ended up staying for eight! As I understand it that’s not how most folks to it though as they usually extend their stay much longer. We were on a fairly tight schedule so we sadly pulled out Sunday morning but not without hugs and good-byes and hearing “hope to see you down the road”.

When I was doing my research both on various park reviews and on IRV2 and rv.net Betty’s RV Park kept cropping up. One reviewer even suggested we re-route in order to stay at Betty’s and how right they were. As several reviewers said “they make you feel like family” and yes indeed they do whether you’ve been there one night, one week or one month.

Betty
Betty
As soon as we arrived someone from North Carolina came up and welcomed us – always good to see a homebody. Every afternoon at 4:30 Betty has Happy Hour where everyone brings something to eat, some fancy and some bought from the local grocery but everyone shares and enjoys and afterwards everyone feels they have had dinner. There’s lots of conversation about where everyone is from and then LOTS of recommendations on where to go and what to eat. I feel like I am eating my way through Louisiana! I must say all recommendations were duly noted and acted upon and were without a doubt right on target.

Our Canadian friend, Lynn
Our Canadian friend, Lynn
We met people from as far away as Canada, Alaska, Washington and California, not to mention Michigan, Texas, Oklahoma and of course the western part of our North Carolina. Betty made everyone feel welcomed and as you entered the Happy Hour she always called you by name so if you couldn’t remember someone’s name her greeting to each person would refresh your memory.
Cookie and Jim from Washington State.  A selfie with no selfie stick is difficult!
Cookie and Jim from Washington State. A selfie with no selfie stick is difficult!

In the late afternoon as everyone is returning after touring or doing necessary chores the questions asked were what did you do and where did you eat? Sometimes we even went out together.

Dan and Merlene from California .  I was trying hard to focus!
Dan and Merlene from California . I was trying hard to focus!
Last week Jerry and I had the pleasure of having lunch with folks from Michigan and North Carolina. Then this Saturday many joined together for Cajun music at a local bar, Touchet’s. We were the only non-locals there but again they acknowledged and welcomed the group from Betty’s. Lots of friendly people in Louisiana!

Earlier in the week Jerry and I had the great pleasure of eating at Shuck’s and we had a nice visit with the owner. He said he was often asked why he didn’t have Happy Hour and he said it was because he couldn’t compete with Betty’s Happy Hour. We ended up missing a couple of the get togethers during the week we were there because of our touring but we tried each day to get back to join in the fun and comradery.

In summation, it’s quite easy to see why Betty’s was selected as one of the top 25 parks in America and also the “Most Fun Small Private RV Park” in the United States. If you get a chance go by and stay for a night – or a month! You’ll feel right at home.

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Home Away From Home

A Short Travel Day

Since we just had 130 miles to go today we didn’t rush to leave so it was after 10:00 before we were loaded with slides in and the car on the dolly. Then I had to walk around and say good-bye to all who were up and about. I missed some either because they had already left for their day’s activities or because they hadn’t emerged from their cocoon yet.

FullSizeRenderWe had a very uneventful drive fortunately. Always love uneventful! Colfax appears to be a very small town. Of course it’s difficult to tell on a Sunday afternoon. The campground, Colfax Recreational RV Park, is a Corps of Engineer park and with our America the Beautiful pass all of our stay was half priced. That makes it nice as it is only costing us $64 to stay for four nights and we have full hook-up and free Wi-Fi. No cable but our Dish works fine.

After getting set up we had some lunch and then took a walk around the park. It’s located right on the Red River, a seemingly muddy river that empties into – well, perhaps the Red River. I don’t know. We were quite impressed with what we saw. Although it’s not opened due to high water there is a very nice boat ramp with nice pier and access. It was rather windy so we didn’t stay out long.

Later in the day Jerry talked with the host and he said that he had worked on an oil rig for 31 years but now with oil at $30 a gallon there is no new drilling going on so many people are being laid off. Wow, imagine being laid off after 31 years.

This is a beautiful park but at this time of year very underutilized. There is only one other RV here, an older fifth wheel. The weather is beautiful, a nice 70 degrees although there is a chill in the air as the sun goes down. It is so quiet probably the quietest campground we have ever stayed in. After being in such busy places for the last two weeks the quiet is nice!

Looks like dinner and an early night so we can be up and about and on our way to Natchitoches tomorrow!

Home Away From Home

Cajun Music

We spent the day getting ready to leave tomorrow for Colfax. We have sort of gotten into a routine or getting the coach cleaned and all clothes and linens washed on the last day of a park stay. That makes the next leg easier so we spent the morning dusting, vacuuming, washing clothes, just the normal clean up. Actually it doesn’t take that long to do it. It’s a lot easier than cleaning a house! Afterward Jerry got the car cleaned out. Things have really accumulated in there during the last two weeks so he got that cleaned and organized. Then we just stood outside in the sunny 70 degree weather and visited with a couple of the guys in the park, one from Oklahoma and one from North Carolina.

On Saturday afternoons in this area they have Cajun music. One week it’s held in Erath and then one week at Tuchet’s or as the sign says “2 √’s”. The only visitors or tourists there were the folks from Betty’s RV and they acknowledged us. This was our first exposure to real Cajun music and I must say it’s like nothing I’ve ever heard before. Most of the time the singer was singing in French so we didn’t understand a lot of it. It was very informal and various people walked on the stage and sang and played at different times. They had a variety of instruments including guitars, a fiddle, an accordion, drums plus some other instruments .

State was playing Miami today so Jerry watched it on his phone for a while and finally just went outside to watch the finish. He came back in and gave me a thumbs up – whew, finally a win.

We left soon after that as we wanted to go back to Hebert’s and get a couple of things. We also needed to stop at the grocery store as we had nothing to take to the Happy Hour. We got a really good cheese cake and came on back to the campground.

Happy Hour started at 5:00 so we went over and stayed for a while but we had planned to go out for dinner on our last evening in Abbeville so we left early. Back to Shuck’s we went.

Candied Oysters from Shucks
Candied Oysters from Shucks
I got Candied Oysters and they were even more delicious tonight than they were earlier in the week. Jerry got crawfish etouffee. I tasted it but didn’t care for it.

When we got back to the park I walked over to the Happy Hour which was still going on to tell everyone good-bye although we’ll probably see most of them in the morning as we’re not planning to leave until 9:30 or so. As I said earlier it’s been great being here. A four day visit turned into eight and apparently that is the norm although they say most people end up staying for a couple of weeks or a month!

Home Away From Home

Alligator Farm!

I stepped a bit out of my comfort zone this morning as we made a trek (and it was a trek) to an alligator farm in Hammond. We should have done this when we were closer to Hammond instead of driving over two hours today but it was well worth the ride. We went to Klieberts Swamp, home of the original “Swamp People” and a gator farm. It was established in 1957 at which time the owner bought about 300 gator eggs and hatched them and as they say, the rest is history. They have gators ranging from 9 to 18 feet but we only saw two large ones as this is not the time of year when they are active – thank goodness! The area is filled with turtles also, several different kinds. We were able to see many of them although when we walked by them some would slide into the water.

When we reached the pond that held the oldest gators the guide went in and we stayed behind the fence. I saw a big log only to realize that it was a really big gator. He tried to get the gator to come up to the edge but he wouldn’t. It was amazing to see the “logs” there and I was glad I was behind the fence although they aren’t very active. We saw one scoot back into the pond and although they are supposedly very slow at this time of year I thought he moved pretty fast!

The last place we stopped had several gators in there, probably 20 or 30 that were from four to eight years old. The tour guide went in to bring one out. It was interesting to watch him go into the pen. Although the gators are very lethargic at his time of year I noticed that he never turned his back on any of them. As he entered I told him to be careful and he thanked me! Most of the gators were out of the water lying on the bank but as soon as he started walking toward them many of them went into the water.

The guide brought one out dragging him by his tale. As soon as he could he taped his jaws shut. He used quite a bit of tape but said he actually only needed to wrap it once. The guide then showed us how to get behind the gator, pull his tail and then walk up his back, getting on our knees, pressing his head down and then holding his mouth while extending his neck so we could sit on it. Yeah – a lot of steps to follow. I let Jerry go first! Needless to say I was a bit apprehensive so the guide helped hold him as I sat on him. He told me to be sure to cover up the tape with my hands so the picture would be good but obviously I didn’t! Wow – just Wow!

When we went in there was a group of school children there and as they went out another guide asked me if I wanted to hold a small gator. Well sure – so I did but he was a young one, probably about one and a half. They also had an Albino Burmese Python. I did not hold that but Jerry did. Yuk! I then noticed that the guide helping us only had his thumb on his right hand as his other fingers had been bitten off!

What an interesting visit. In addition to the gators and turtles they have nutria, goats, chickens, raccoons and other animals. They also have a cream colored gator which is extremely rare.

After the visit we rode down to Berryland RV and walked through some diesel pushers. Why, I don’t know. Jerry said his next RV would be a diesel and I asked him when that would be. He replied when I won the lottery. Since I’ve never bought a ticket I guess that won’t happen. Fortunately we love the motor home we have and have no plans to buy another!

On the trip back we stopped at Hebert’s and bought two stuffed chickens, one with alligator and one with boudin sausage. We also stopped by the Villager Café and bought some of their Langlinais’ French Bread. The loaves are about three feet long!

When we got back to the RV I didn’t have any freezer bags long enough to hold them so Jerry ran down to Robie’s to pick some up while I walked over to the Happy Hour to speak to everyone. They were very interested in our trip to the gator farm. We had a sandwich and called an end to a busy day!

Tomorrow will be busy too as we go to hear some authentic Cajun music in the afternoon plus prepare to pull out on Sunday morning. It’s been a great week and I hate to see it end but it’s time to move on down the road.

Home Away From Home

Vermilionville

We had several things we wanted to do today since we took off yesterday to get clothes washed and do just general housekeeping and quite frankly to take a break from touring. That meant we got out about 10:30 which seems to be the norm for us no matter what time we get up in the morning.

Our first stop was Best Buy in Lafayette where we bought a new selfie stick since our other one broke. This one has a remote so it should be easier to operate than the older one.

We rode down to The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and started to go in but realized that there was a service going on so we quickly exited.

Next we headed to Vermilionville, a living history museum and folk life park opened in 1990. It sits on the bank of the Vermilion River at one time the dirtiest river in America but now thanks to a group of people it is now much cleaner and people can even swim in it at certain times. There are also some edible fish in it. The village has several houses on the grounds, some of them authentic and some reproductions. In the schoolhouse there was a gentleman playing the accordion and talking about days gone by. We went into another house where a lady was quilting. This was an updated home that actually had plumbing that was added some years after it was built. A framed wreath was hanging on the wall and the guide explained that because the wreath was opened at the top it indicated that the person for whom it was made was still living at that time. It possibly could have been done in honor of a daughter who had joined a convent and thus would no longer be seen by them. Had the wreath been closed at the top it would have indicated that the wreath was made in memory of someone. There was a thick tress of hair in the middle and then around the edge were woven strands of hair. Quite frankly it was a little spooky!

There were other demonstrations going on throughout the day but because we were there at lunch we missed some of them. One was a wood carver and I think Jerry might have enjoyed seeing him carve his ducks.

There was a small lake on the property and it had a pulley ferry that could be used to cross to the other side. We got on and Jerry started pulling on it but quickly noticed that the rope that had been lying in the water was mossy so he decided not to continue to the other side.

It was way past lunch by that time so we headed for the Villager Café in Maurice, another recommendation from the Happy Hour crowd. When we walked in we saw a couple from the park. I really didn’t expect to see someone I knew when we entered! We ordered poor boys and though they were good the best thing was the bread. It was some type of French Bread and was crusty and delicious! Our bill! When the waitress brought us our bill she just placed a large coin on the table. We were a bit mystified until Jerry realized that there was a number 6 on the coin and 6 tables in the restaurant indicating that our bill was for table 6.

I talked Jerry into going to Hebert’s to look at the specialty meats. We didn’t buy any but I wouldn’t be surprised if we make a return visit.

We headed on to the park and as soon as we parked the car and I reached for my purse I realized that it was hanging on the chair at the table we ate at in the Villager. A quick phone call to the Villager and they assured me that it was still hanging right there so we turned around and went back to Maurice.

As soon as we got back we got our chips and dip and headed over to the Happy Hour. After a fun time with everyone we came on back and settled in for the night.

Home Away From Home

Tabasco Sauce and Rice!

A pretty cool day, cooler than I had anticipated and rainy so we decided to take a couple of inside tours today. We started with the Tabasco Company. It is located on Avery Island which is actually a salt dome. The Garmin GPS and Waze took us on a real roundabout way but we saw some interesting landscapes of South Louisiana. Many houses are up on stilts which we are used to because of living on a river but the interesting thing was the garages were also up in the air with ramps leading to them. The land here is extremely flat and when it rains apparently there is nowhere for the water to run off. Although it rained last night it wouldn’t have caused all of the standing water and mud we saw if there had been some place for the water to go. Jerry made another interesting observation about Louisiana. He said the speed limit signs must just be suggestions because no one seems to abide by them. We do!

Tabasco tours had been suspended while some sort of update was done but fortunately for us they reinstated the tours this week. We began with the Tabasco store which was full of souvenirs, shirts and Tabasco sauces ranging in price. Jerry said this was the first souvenir store we’d been in that had several things he’d like to buy but we decided to wait until after the tour.

We went to the museum, bought the inexpensive tickets and walked around reading the history of Tabasco Sauce and the McIlhenny family who founded the company and still operate it today. Our next stop was the wonderfully warm greenhouse that held jalapeno, habanero and red pepper seedlings. Next we went in the barrel rooms where we watched a short video on the preparation of the barrels. Then we looked into the warehouse that held the many, many barrels.

Our next stop was the building where the mash was added and then we went into the building that held the bottling process. Before entering the processing part of the building we read some more of the history and then walked through a mock salt mine. It was amazing to watch as a worker systematically removed bottles that appeared to hold less than the required amount from the line. Next the bottles were capped and then sealed. There was an automatic counter that kept up with the number of bottes produced each day. When we were there 364,100 bottles had been bottled and stamped. While I took the picture and put the camera down 100 more bottles were completed!

The entire tour is self-guided with a lot of information. It certainly was a great way to spend a rainy day. After the tour we went to café and had lunch. We only got a hot dog but on the table were the various kinds of Tabasco Sauce so we sampled most of them. Our favorite was the sweet and spicy and I ended up eating it on my potato chips. Our lunch cost about $15 and we got two free coozies which sell for $8 in the Tabasco store. Umm, maybe we owed them $1! We had also gotten four free bottles of sauce, albeit small when we purchased the tour tickets. Tours of the Tabasco plant are a real deal!

After lunch we went back to the store, bought the ubiquitous magnet for the fridge and each of us got a shirt. Also on the grounds are the Jungle Gardens, a 170 acre garden with many examples of wildlife, flora and fauna. It was such bad weather though that we decided to skip that part.

Apparently Gypsy and Waze rested while we were in Tabasco because when we programmed New Iberia in we went a much simpler and direct route. Go figure.

Our next stop was the Conrad Rice Mill and the Konriko Rice Store. We had a few minutes before the tour so we wandered around the store and bought another magnet. We watched an interesting video that explained the Acadian culture and the rice company. We then went through the building where the rice is delivered from the farmers and then processed. Some of the equipment in use is original. That’s amazing considering that the company was started in 1912. The original part of the mill was built in 1914 and received additions in 1917 and 1930. In 1981, the Mill was placed on the National Register of Historic Places thus ensuring that no structural changes would be made to the building. Actually, it appeared that the building was in the center of town surrounded by other businesses/buildings so there appeared to be little room for expansion.

We stopped by the grocery store on the way back and then headed into the Happy Hour at the park. We have met some of the nicest people on this trip and they keep encouraging us to abort our planned trip and spend a few more days here. Our four days have already turned into eight but unfortunately that will have to be enough as we have reservations somewhere else on Sunday. Betty’s RV is everything that the reviews said it would be. They make you feel like family whether you’ve been there a couple of months like several others or a few days like us. Several of the couples come year after year.

After the Happy Hour we came back and actually fixed dinner!

Home Away From Home

Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tour and Rip Van Winkle Gardens

Since the weather forecast has rain coming in we decided to try to do the swamp tour today. I called at 9:00 and they told us they had an 11:00 tour so we made reservations knowing that it took an hour to get there!

 We got busy and hit the road a little after 9:30. We had to go right through Lafayette so that slowed us down a bit and we got to Champagne’s Cajun Swamp Tours outside of Breaux Bridge, La about two minutes before 11:00. Jerry jumped out and went in to buy the tickets and I parked the car. We weren’t sure whether or not to take a heavy coat although the temperature was nearly 70 but cloudy. We ended up in heavy sweatshirts that were at times not enough and others too much!

There were about 20 people on the boat and the tour covered the Lake Martin Cypress Island Preserve Swamp. The swamp is actually a dead forest with bayous which are slow moving streams of water. For some reason mosquitoes are repelled in the swamp and there were none! I never thought about mosquito repellent – glad we didn’t need it! We saw several large cypress trees one at least 500 years old. As long as the trees are going straight up they are alive. When it dies the tree begins shedding limbs from the bottom. The entire route was filled with withered trunks and tenuous arms with moss hanging down from the bare branches. Fortunately because it was in January we didn’t see any of the usually prevalent cottonmouth moccasins.

We saw several duck blinds and two deer stands. The deer stands were rusty oil barrels up in the trees. The guide didn’t seem to know how the hunters got up or down.
Part of the tour route included a rookery which is restricted from mid-February through July because the birds are nesting. We saw cormorants, Big Blue Herons who sound a lot like frogs, some egrets and a variety of other birds.

We also saw two gators, one about 4 ½ feet long and one about 1 ½ feet long. Gators grow a foot a year for four years and then their size is determined by environment and what they eat. They can jump as high as they are tall. That was an interesting fact – I never knew gators jumped.

After the tour we went to New Iberia to try out a restaurant that had been recommended by some folks in the RV Park. Had I seen a picture earlier I probably wouldn’t have eaten there. When we pulled up Jerry asked me if I had done a search for “Hole in the Wall” places! He also said that our daughter in law’s parents traveled and when they posted pictures it looked like they ate in really up-scale places. Well, we ate at Bon Creole and looks are very deceiving. We had fried shrimp, oysters, crawfish and catfish and it was absolutely delicious.

Our next stop was Rip Van Winkle Gardens where the beautiful Joseph Jefferson Mansion built in 1870 is located. The home is located on a salt dome, at an elevation of 75 feet above sea level – almost unheard of in the coastal areas of South Louisiana. It was built by the actor Joseph Jackson who started acting at four years old and became famous starring as Rip Van Winkle thus the name of the gardens in his honor. It is a typical Southern mansion with twenty-two rooms and a fourth-story cupola. You can stand in the foyer and look all the way up to the sky! We were only able to visit the first floor and it was lovely. Unfortunately the guide took us through so quickly that we felt as though we could hardy keep up. When we got back to the RV Park we talked with others who had gone on the same tour and they agreed that they had felt the same way. The furnishings are beautiful and authentic and every room is beautifully appointed. The home also had pictures of the families that had lived there. The last owner had no heirs so the home was eventually sold to the intern who had worked at the home as a gardener in his youth. The gardens are pretty and I can only imagine what they might look like in the spring.

We came on back to the coach and walked over to Happy Hour with our contribution of a King Cake. We visited with a lovely couple from Canada who told me about a gator farm in Hammond. I’d love to go there but it’s a couple of hours from here so I’m not sure we’ll go. We have decided to stay until Sunday thus not visiting St. Francisville. We’ll save that for another time I guess. I think Jerry has seen enough plantations for a while! They do all seem to run together after a while.

In by 6:30 and getting ready for the rain hearing thunder hopefully far off.

Home Away From Home

Another Day of Rest

Although we didn’t plan it today became a day of rest. After a fairly normal late start we knew we needed to go to the grocery store to buy some more meatballs for the Happy Hour tonight. Jerry wanted to go to Walmart as he knew he could get some good meatballs there so I did a search and found the local store and off we went. He had also decided to make a cheese ball later in the week so needed to get some ingredients for that.

We came on back to the coach and put the meatballs in the crock pot and then took off for Vermilionville via the grocery store. We stopped at Robie’s but they didn’t have what he needed so we went across town to the Winn Dixie and got what he needed. By this time it was after 12:00 and we decided that we’d try to prolong our stay by one night and get an extra day of touring in and just use today to rest and watch football. I called Betty and we extended our stay. That determined we decided to join four of our new friends at River Front Restaurant for lunch. Jerry got shrimp and grits that he said for delicious and I got stacked crab and crawfish which was also delicious. Apparently River Front burned some time ago and they are in the process of building at a new site and should be opened soon. However, for the time being they remain at the original site. As we were leaving we met a waitress with a tray of food and realized that the cooking was being done outside in a trailer! You do what you have to do!

After we left we went back to Robie’s to get cayenne pepper – yes, if you’re counting that was our fourth grocery story today! Jerry also got a King Cake and boy is it sweet. I had one little piece but I doubt I’ll be eating anymore of it.

Jerry was not feeling well so he got on the sofa with a blanket and the football game, possibly a nap. One of the nice parts of RVing is the flexible schedule. Since we had extended our stay one day we didn’t feel the urgency to get out and tour today.

Oh, the good news – while we were eating lunch I told them about losing a letter in a 40 foot rig and someone asked if I had looked under the sofa cushions. Well no, I had not because I was sure it couldn’t be there but when we got back I looked anyway and don’t you know – there it was! I have absolutely no idea how it got there but if I can hold on to it long enough I’ll get it in the mail tomorrow along with a card for Jane for her birthday.
A lazy Sunday afternoon – Jerry watching football, me reading, meatballs cooking, popcorn and root beer on tap.

About 4:30 I walked over to the Happy Hour while Jerry stayed in and watched the playoffs for the Super Bowl. There were more people there tonight and it was such fun. Obviously some of these people have known each other for a long time. One couple told me they’d been coming here for 7 years and this is only reservation they make. Dan apparently plays banjo or some instrument and was insistent that we stay until Sunday so we could attend some of the jam sessions. He said they needed a keyboardist and he had a keyboard I could use. We’ve extended our stay here one day but I don’t see us staying until Sunday. I told him he’d have to talk to Jerry tomorrow night at Happy Hour. He and his wife are full timers and work with Habitat for Humanity. When RVing we are privileged to meet so many fascinating people

In about 8:00 and watched the end of the Panthers-Cardinals game. Go Panthers!

Home Away From Home

Abbeville, Louisiana

A Day of Rest

This has been a slow day even though we moved from Gonzales to Abbeville. I had hoped to leave by 9:30 or 10:00 and we actually pulled out before then. The drive was quite easy, all four lane. I had heard that traffic around Baton Rouge could be heavy but we had no problem. As we crossed over the bridge we could see where we had walked earlier in the week.

We checked into Betty’s RV Park and she told us about some Cajun music being played in the afternoon in Erath and also invited us to the daily Happy Hour at 4:30. Since we had nothing to take to the Happy Hour I ran to the grocery store to pick up some meatballs while Jerry stayed in the coach and tried to pull State to victory over Duke. If only we could have played one half!

After the game we rode over to Erath to find the music but we couldn’t find it. We did see a bar with loud music but declined to go there. We came on back to the campground and I fiddled with the Wi-Fi booster trying to get it to work and also looked for a lost letter. How in the world can someone loose something in a 40’ RV is beyond me but I have done it! I keep looking but to no avail at this point.

Happy Hour supposedly starts at 4:30 but it was after 5:00 before we saw people heading over. We sampled the meatballs and they just weren’t good so we opted not to take them. We headed over empty handed and just joined in the fun. We met several nice people, two from Brevard, North Carolina, a couple from Texas, a couple from Indiana and a couple from Washington State. We just sat around and talked about the various places to visit and mostly the various places to eat! We got lots of suggestions and I finally took out my iPhone and started taking notes. It looks like it’s going to be a friendly week with lots of opportunities to meet people. We were invited out to join some of the group for lunch tomorrow but I expect that we’ll be touring if things are opened on Sunday.

We came on back to the rig and ate a bit and then had a quiet night.

Home Away From Home

Whitney Plantation and St. Joseph Plantation

It was a cold, blustery, wintry day in South Louisiana today but we trudged on! Our first stop was the Whitney Plantation which shows a very different side of the plantations, the slaves view. The plantation has only been opened to the public since 2014 but it is rich with history. Upon payment for our tickets we were each given lanyards with a picture of a former slave, their name and a quote from them. Mine was named Albert Patterson and Jerry’s was Mary Harris. Her quote was “Sure I remember slavery times. I was a big girl, turned eleven. I used to pull the fan that kep’ off the flies while the white folks was eatin’. It wasn’t hard work, but my arms used to get tired – ‘specially at dinner when they set so long at the table. I made the fires and brought in kindlin’ wood and carried out the hashes.”

Purchased initially by Ambrose Heidel who came from Germany along with his mother and siblings the main crop was indigo. Unfortunately that did not work so well so they turned to sugar cane which was very profitable but was literally harvested on the backs of the slaves. The hours, the homes, the treatment are all unimaginable.

Jerry at the Memorial Wall
Jerry at the Memorial Wall
There is a memorial wall on the grounds that names the slaves on the plantation and it shows some amazing quotes describing their lives. I would love to have spent more time there but it was so incredibly cold that we just couldn’t linger. One person even left and returned to the main building rather than continue in the cold. We continued to walk through the grounds entering another memorial for the children that died, then on to the jail where the slaves were held prior to the auction. The tour concluded with a brief tour of the house. Although none of the furniture is original to the house it is all from that time period some coming from Houmas House.

Our next stop was St. Joseph Plantation. Before we went in we sat in the car and ate our picnic lunch since we had plans to eat out tonight. Our visit at St. Joseph was probably the most authentic of all of our visits because it is still family owned, still producing sugar cane and the tours are conducted by family members. Interestingly enough the plantation was purchased by the doctor mentioned in a previous post. He came to Louisiana along with his family from France to treat the people along River Road.

The house is a typical Creole home where all guests entered through the back door. In fact, there are no stairs on the front. Our guide told us that if we visited Creole homes with front steps they had been added because originally Creole homes did not have them on the front.
There were many family heirlooms in the house.

St. Joseph Plantation
St. Joseph Plantation
In fact there was a christening gown that our guide had been christened in as had her great-grandmother and then her grandchildren.

One room was designated as the funeral room and there was black netting hanging around. There was also an old organ there and it works. She asked if either of us played and of course I answered yes so I sat down and played some ending with Amazing Grace. Playing a pump organ is not easy as you have to keep pumping the two pedals to get the sound. It’s easy to be playing with your hands and forget the feet thus the sound begins to fade.

Interestingly St. Joseph is comprised of what used to be three plantations, Le Petit Versailles”,named after the original Versailles burned down and Felicite which is still standing. In fact, we passed by the house and wondered what it was. It is only used for movies, etc. now as it is dire need of structural repair.

We did not tour any of the grounds as it was just too cold but we did look out the windows and see where some filming is going to take place soon. Several movies have been made there and is one source of income for the plantation.

After the plantation visits we returned to Gonzales and went to the mall as Jerry needed to buy a belt and he wanted to return to Direct Tools! After a quick trip to the grocery store we went to Cajun Catch to order our dinner. We had been told that they had the best crawfish in town. We ended up with crawfish to go plus some boudin sausage. It was all so good. Something was a bit spicy but we could never determine what it was. The crawfish because they were fried looked a lot like shrimp. I’m not sure what I thought they’d look like but I’d been told they were really just little lobsters so I guess I thought they’d look like that but they didn’t. Had we gotten them boiled I guess they would have resembled lobster – maybe!

We returned to the coach to eat dinner and start preparation for leaving for Abbeville tomorrow. In spite of the cold Jerry got the car on the dolly, a task that would be even more difficult tomorrow morning as it will be even colder. We got all of the clothes washed and dried so we are ready to go!