Eunice LA

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Bubba Hebert & the Playboys put on a great show at the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center

Just an hour west of Lafayette is a little town called Eunice, and what seems like the wild west of Acadian culture. The place is saturated with music, crawfish, and “joie de vivre,” and Cajun Mardi Gras gives a whole new meaning to the annual festival..  The Prairie Acadian Cultural Center (part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park) has been a great resource, and Saturdays there are filled with music, dancing, crafts, and even food preparation.

Angelle Bellard, a ranger for Jean Lafitte National Park, gave us some great tips, and even taught us the Cajun Two-Step!
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Joe and Bernice, age 90, come here every Saturday to dance.


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Next to the Cultural Center is the Liberty Theater, home to the Cajun “Grand Ole Opry.” Every Saturday night a Cajun or zydeco band is featured during a 90-minute live radio broadcast.
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Kenneth Benoit & the Gravel Road Band at the Rendez-vous des Cajuns in the  Liberty Theater



Chicot State Park

We had nothing planned for the day, so decided to just drive around and see what came our way. About an hour into our jaunt, we saw a sign for Chicot State Park, which is also home to the Louisiana State Arboretum, the first state-run arboretum in the nation.

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The arboretum, established in 1964, was the brainchild of one Louisiana’s first female foresters, Caroline Dormon. 
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Inside the Visitors Center
This thousand foot boardwalk leads to five miles of hiking trails
One thing Louisiana has plenty of, and that’s water, even in their arboretum. No wonder the Bald Cypress is their state tree.
Resting place along the trail


Tangled up in blue

Birds, Boudin, and the Bayou

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Cypress Swamp, home to an egret rookery

We’ve been hanging out in Cajun country, and yes, in many ways, it does feel like another country. Though most people speak English here, Cajun French is definitely in the air. The music is as flavorful as their food, with fiddles and accordians dominating the scene, and boudin and cracklin available at every gas station. (By the way, Louisiana, we love paying $2.19 for gas, but honestly, you could up the price a bit to improve your roads!)

A bucket of cracklin 

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The bridge in Breaux Bridge crosses Bayou Teche and lifts straight up with cables and pulleys.
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Bayou Teche was the Mississippi River’s main course several thousand years ago.
It’s believed that the name “Teche” comes from the Chitimacha Indian word for “snake.” Legend has it that a giant snake attacked their villages, and after many years, the warriors were finally able to kill it. The depression left after the snake decomposed filled with water and became the 125-mile bayou.”
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I never pass up a chance to support one of my favorite organizations!

Shreveport LA

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We made a pilgrimage to Shreveport to see a classmate of Russ’ that he hadn’t seen in 45 years.  He and Bryan roomed together at the Air Force Academy during their 3rd class year. On Friday night, we were invited to Happy Hour at his home with his two children and their families.

Russ’ thoughts:  “Bryan arrived at the Academy as a scrappy all-star musician and fun-loving guy from Newport Arkansas. I had 120 Ray Charles recordings and a complete library of Stones and Beatles (as of 1966). We took to each other right away, and many adventures (and mis-adventures) happened during the next five years. Viet Nam took us apart.  As an Air Rescue helicopter pilot during the war, Bryan was shot at and missed. His actions, during heroic rescues, earned him the Air Force Silver Star. After he got out of the Air Force, Bryan was called  to the ministry where he continued to rescue his congregation and suffering war veterans. His stories touched my soul – a life well-lived. Bless you Bryan, and your beautiful family!”

The most convenient place for us to camp was at Diamond Jacks Casino on the Red River. It turned out to be a decent place, and while we didn’t gamble, the three of us had a nice meal together on Saturday night. (Bryan’s wife, Jennifer, had recently had surgery, so couldn’t join us on our outings.)

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A nice multi-use trail from our campsite by the swollen Red River
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View of Shreveport from the trail
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Remnants of Mardi Gras


Breaux Bridge LA

Last fall in Nova Scotia we visited the World Heritage site of Grand Pré and learned the story of the Acadians who were forced out in 1755. Many made their way to Louisiana and settled in what is now known as Cajun country.


The Acadian Culture Center and Vermilionville living history museum sit side by side on the banks of the bayou in Lafayette, telling the stories of Cajuns and Creoles who make their home here. Cajuns are descendants of the French Acadians from Nova Scotia, while Creole include a much broader mix from various countries and cultures.

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On our tour of  Vermilionville, we met Ellen and Rob Parkinson from Norwich UK. It turns out that they regularly go to the Red Feather Club in Horham UK for 1940’s dances.  Russ and I have been going to Horham for years for World War II reunions where his father was stationed with the 95th Bomb Group.

Of course one of the joys of being in this area is the food. Boudin is a local specialty of pork, spices and rice, with each eatery creating its own version. We’ve yet to find one we didn’t like!

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One of the many crawfish hatcheries in this area.
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Sugarcane field beside our campground
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Poche’s Fish and Camp in Breaux Bridge where we stayed
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A great place to have morning coffee.


The Great Escape (Almost)

We chose to get an early start to beat the weather that was heading our way. It was just starting to sprinkle as we pulled out of our campsite, becoming a steady rain as we drove through NOLA 20 minutes later. We hit Lake Pontchartrain and the bottom fell out.

The last time we drove in rain this hard was leaving New Orleans in 2015! Our windshield wipers were going full speed.
A waterspout as we crossed the bridge.

We soon got ahead of the weather, and probably would have stayed ahead of it IF we hadn’t noticed this sign:


The Science Center serves as the Visitors’ Center for NASA’s largest rocket testing facility, the John C. Stennis Space Center.

The Saturn 5
THE SATURN 5 ROCKET weighs 100,000 pounds by itself, but when it’s on the launch stand fully loaded with rocket fuel and liquid oxygen, weighs 800,000 pounds.
Space Station workspace
INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION MODULE  Port and starboard are printed on each end of the module to help astronauts stay oriented.
Sleeping pod
SLEEPING POD WITHIN THE SPACE STATION MODULE  The sleeping bag keeps the astronauts from floating out of bed, and their heads are strapped onto the pillow. Clean socks are a priority since no shoes are worn on the Space Station.
Werner von Braun's office
WERNER VON BRAUN’S OFFICE  German-born von Braun developed the V-2 rockets that devastated London during World War II.  He was captured by the Americans and brought to our country where he became the father of the American space program.

The center also has extensive earth science exhibits, and we were drawn to the one on hurricanes. Six rotating alphabetical lists (excluding Q, U, X, Y, and Z) are used for Atlantic hurricanes. If a storm is memorable (like Katrina in 2005) the name is retired and replaced. If there are more than 21 storms in a season, the Greek alphabet is used: Alpha, Beta, etc)

Atlantic Hurricane Names

When winds reach 39 mph, it’s considered a tropical storm and is given a name. Once it hits 74 mph, it becomes a Category 1 hurricane.

Category 1-5

“Robert Rick’s NWS warning for Hurricane Katrina got people’s attention – and changed the way hurricane warnings are written. Rick’s warning used clear language with attention-getting phrases for the first time in the National Weather Service’s history. Read for yourself. Would you pay attention if you read this?” 

Katrina Warning

After our good intentions of beating the weather, we ended up slogging our way through “so-loud-you-can’t-hear-the-radio” rain before arriving safely at our next destination several hours later.

NOLA – The French Quarter

We couldn’t leave New Orleans without a visit to the French Quarter, so we hopped on the Algiers Ferry ($1 for Sr. Citizens) and took a 6 minute trip across the Mississippi.

We opted for a 2 hour walking tour with the historical society, but for me, it was too much information.  I bailed after an hour to do some walking on my own, and met up with Russ when the tour was over.


MONUMENT TO THE IMMIGRANT by Franco Alessandrini.  “Dedicated to the courageous men and women who left their homeland seeking freedom, opportunity, and a better life in a new country.”  March 19, 1995
Jackson Square
Drago’s charbroiled oysters – we each got a dozen and called it lunch.  Best oysters ever!


Because New Orleans is practically a floating city (our guide told us it has more canals than Venice, but they’re all underground), burials are done above ground.  We walked up to Saint Louis Cemetery to pay our respects, but found out it would cost $20 each if we went to Saint Louis Cemetery #1 (the oldest and most famous, dating back to 1789).  We opted for Saint Louis Cemetery #2 a few blocks away, dating to the 1820’s and free.

For those of you who missed Mardi Gras, we stumbled across a storage lot on our way to the library. Let the good times roll!