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Cajun Country

Cajun Country

I have posted before that RV plans are, shall we say, flexible ☺

I was planning on stopping in LA across from New Orleans when I happened to receive a call from C—a relative RV newbie who I had met at the Escapees RV Boot Camp. I think some synchronicity was at work because I had been thinking about calling her about Cajun stops in LA—C is a Cajun and had recently departed Lafayette, LA.

When I asked for her input she answered without hesitation-skip New Orleans (not a bad idea given I had “been there, done that” a few times already)—head straight for Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville LA—that heart of Cajun country- and a place she had just left after weeks.

Well after weeks in state parks, this was going to be a choice for completely different reasons – instead of looking for a natural setting, C explained that Betty’s had to be chosen strictly for the “Betty’s experience”. It certainly wasn’t for the setting — seventeen sites crammed in around her home on a fairly busy small town highway just outside of Abbeville limits. The campground was established in 1999 when Betty retired. It began as a 4-site RV Park and has since grown to the 17 she maintains now.

Well it involved an “over-the-road-trucker” experience (9.5 hours behind the wheel for this newbie) but when I found out she was going to be celebrating her birthday I figured it was going to be worth the effort—I was right!!

Betty greeted me with her unique Cajun hospitality and invited me into the evening’s happy hour and birthday party—bit of potluck; bit of jam session; bit of this and bit of that …kind of like the way the week would be…

C had suggested the Betty experience might include: a visit from TV”s “Swamp People”; shrimp right off the boat; huge, fresh crawfish; a trip to the Cypress wood carver; a taste of Betty’s own gumbo; a trip to a local casino—in other words-you simply never knew. What I could expect was a nightly happy hour; great times socializing with all; recommendations on where/what to eat and what to see; where to go to enjoy some Cajun music…you get the picture…

Quickly came to understand why she had been inducted as a “Living Legend” at the nearby Acadian Museum for promoting all things Cajun.

I had wanted to visit Cajun country to go beyond the experience that is offered up by a visit to New Orleans. I wanted to better understand the Cajun history; enjoy some genuine Cajun cuisine; maybe get up close and personal with an alligator or two ☺ I certainly wasn’t disappointed!

I had been first exposed to the Cajun backstory in Nova Scotia—seems the Brits of 1755 were responsible for what I would be experiencing. The Cajuns who live in South Louisiana are descendants of French Canadians – French immigrants who settled what we know as Nova Scotia, Canada around 1604 — sixteen years before the Mayflower landed at Plymouth Rock – one of the first permanent colonies on the North American continent. But, for refusing to pledge allegiance to the British crown, which required renouncing their traditional Catholic religion for that of the Anglican Church, they were forced from their homes in 1755.

The survivors were scattered along the U.S. eastern seaboard until in 1784, the King of Spain consented to allow them to settle in South Louisiana. They settled along the bayous of south central and south western Louisiana and for generations the Cajuns raised various crops and lived on the bayou where they fished and trapped. Today, Cajuns are famous for their unique French dialect (a patois of 18th-century French), their music, their spicy cooking, and for their ability to live life to its fullest. They continue to preserve their folk customs…
Laissez les Bon Temps Roulez! (Let the good times roll).

Sounded like Betty and her extended “family” embodied that notion.

In fact, I was given this “history lesson” by my RV neighbor Marvin Broussard—a true Cajun, whose family and Broussard name goes back generations…in other words, the real deal…(Marvin not only filled me in on some history but also was a wealth of info for my culinary outings—more on all that later). We had some interesting discussions to say the least.

Well, I had 5 days to see it all—the wildlife; the islands (salt domes in an otherwise bayou landscape); the plantation homes; the Cajun way of life…so much to do and so little time…

First up, a tour of the area to see some of the Cajun way of life in this region—I was going to be eating some fine Cajun cuisine I decided to see where it came from…

Then, a couple of visits to the historic sites…”Shadows on the Teche” and “Joseph Jefferson Plantation Home/Rip Van Winkle Gardens” –both National Landmarks—and outstanding, well preserved examples of plantation life.

And, as both part of the historic tours as well as touring the area, there was the wildlife—particularly enjoyed my visit to Avery island—home to the TABASCO Pepper Sauce Factory and “The Jungle Gardens of Avery Island”…200 acres of gardens, a snowy egret sanctuary, and (amazingly) a shrine housing a centuries old Buddha. Of course, the strutting peacocks of the Rip Van Winkle Gardens were an unexpected treat along with the statuary on the grounds.

And, can’t forget the music—a uniquely Cajun outing to (Calvin) Touchet’s Bar… (pronounced like “2 checks”) where a Live Cajun music jam session is served up every other Saturday. Local folks bring along an instrument to play or just come to listen and RV/Out-of-towners are more than welcome to take a few pictures ☺

Needless to say I crammed a bunch into just 5 days—and, of course, why I had no time to blog about it until now…simply having way too much fun as I posted about earlier

Needless to say, I think I will be heading back that way again one day…

Something about needing to bring back a license plate 🙂

But for now…see you down the road…

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