Wednesday, May 23, 2012
April 30, 2012 Cajun Country
Let me start today's blog with an old story. Since I was about ten years old, I have never lived close to my extended family. Since I was 19 years old, I haven't lived close to any of my family. But my mom has always made sure that we visited family ever since I was a young kid. It is because of those visits that I am so close to my extended family. I mention this today because I am heading out to Eunice, Louisiana to visit my cousin Laura and her family. I haven't seen Laura in over 5 years but as soon as I booked my flight to New Orleans, I called to see if we could get together, she was as excited about the visit as I was. So thanks mom, because of you I love visiting family. If you know me or have read this blog over the past few years, you know I love to travel. It's being a tourist that I hate. So whenever possible I try to visit an area as a local would. Since I have family all over the country that makes it a little easier to seem like a local. On my way to Eunice, I stopped at the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge, just to have a look around.
I drove the dirt roads into the Sherbourne Wildlife Management Area.
I took a short hike across this bridge into the woods along a river. I didn't see much wildlife but the songbirds in the trees were singing constantly. On the way back I relaxed on the bridge, enjoyed the sounds, the sun and the solitude.
Here's few a shots taken while hiking or driving down dirt roads that weren't on my map.
Somehow I got lost...I needed directions...but being a northerner who has seen too many movies like "Deliverance" I decided not to knock on the door here.
So after licking several frogs in an attempt to find the pyschedelic effects some frogs supposedly have on humans, I believe this turtle gave me directions back to the highway.
I finally made it Eunice, where I had a Shrimp Po-Boy in a downtown cafe with Laura & Donnie.
We tried to visit the Liberty Theater but it was closed. So was the Prairie Acadian Cultural Center. The Savoy Music Center...closed. The Eunice Depot Museum...not open. It seems that most of Eunice is closed on Mondays because those ragin' Cajun parties last all weekend. So it was off to Opelousas, a town famous for zydeco music and spices. But we visited a cemetery because Laura has the same fascination with graveyards that I have...it must be genetic.
Here's Donnie walking among some of his relatives.
These graves are above ground due to the high water table in the area. Then they are encased in concrete or brick to keep them in their final resting place.
Here's a few pictures from my afternoon in a Cajun cemetery.
This is a crawfish mound. This is why they are called 'mudbugs'. I learned that they live anywhere there is water, so this is how they access the water here.
It turns out my cousin Laura likes to take pictures as much as I do.
I found one grave with these items on top of it. For some strange reason I didn't think I should stand the fallen momentos back up. So I took the pictures of them all askew.
The older graves showed the exposed brick but Donnie told me that families usually whitewash the graves to make them look better...I liked the exposed brick look.
After Opelousas, we walked around Washington checking out Cajun style houses. I really liked how Mother Nature has begun to reclaim this house.
This caboose is right along the side of the house pictured above. Apparently it was supposed to be a visitor center but the job was never completed.
Then we drove to "Bumfuck", (their word not mine) to find a place to eat for dinner. Now I was too polite to say it, but in my mind Eunice is pretty close to Bumfuck. So imagine where this place had to be for them to consider it "Bumfuck". I turns out that D. I.'s Cajun Restaurant was listed in my Frommer's New Orleans book as a place to eat for Cajun food. It did say that "you'll think you are about to drive off the face of the Earth particularly if you are driving there in the dark." Unfortunately it was only open for lunch on Mondays, just like my Frommer's book said. Too bad I read that the next day. We ended up eating at another Cajun place called Fezzo's. I had frog legs for the first time, I was surprised there were bones in them. I am an idiot. But I had a great time with Laura & Donnie...thanks guys...come visit so I can return the favor...I promise you places are open every day in Chicago.