Sunday, March 3, 2019
At trip up to Hot Springs AR would have been fun and new to us but bad weather is causing us to reconsider. We’ve been to the Lafayette Louisiana area before and are familiar with the many places to visit nearby. Funny that we’ve not been into the town itself. So we pack up, pick up, jacks up and off we go. The weather in the South has thus far been consistent- overcast and wet. Hopefully the next park in which we stay will drain a little better than Pine Crest. We’ll see.
So here we are in Duson, LA. Why Duson (1700 souls)? Well, the Frog City RV Park is located here. Where is Duson? Just about 12 miles west of Lafayette. Lafayette has a population of over 127,000 folks, and many Acadian cultural areas to visit. We also want to visit a few other places while here. Does Tabasco come to mind?
This area was under Spanish influence in the 1700’s. The French speaking and Catholic Acadians lived in Acadie, now Nova Scotia, under French rule until 1713 when the region went into English hands. The Acadians refused allegiance to the British crown and Anglican Church so the English governor acting on his own expelled the Acadians in 1755. In 1784 the King of Spain consented to allow them to settle in South Louisiana. The Acadians settled along the bayous where they could live according to their own beliefs and customs.
Their first settlement was established by the English on the Vermilion River as a small trading post and Revolutionary outpost. That location became known as Pin Hook named after the local bridge. A fella by the name of Mouton donated land on which to build a church, then a second land donation for a courthouse and was known as Vermilionville. It was renamed Lafayette in 1844 in honor of the French Marquis de Lafayette. So there you have a short synopsis of the history of this area and of the city. Oh, one more thing, throw in a mix of intermarriage into the works and out come Cajuns or maybe.
We wandered around downtown Lafayette visiting the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist and a couple of Cajun strongholds on the outskirts. We visited small towns, Abbeville (12,000 souls), St. Martinville (6000 souls), Breaux Bridge (7300 souls) and New Iberia (29,000 souls) located in the Bayou Teche/Spanish Lake area come to mind. Of those, Abbeville’s town square and church are the most impressive, New Iberia’s mansions are spectacular and St. Martinsville the most unique. Breauz Bridge is the Crawfish Capitol of the World. All have extensive histories. If you have some spare time drag out the ole computer and look them up.
One thing that one might notice in all the Acadian towns and cities is the abundance of Catholic Churches. Large churches, with impressive architecture and beautiful interiors even in small towns. The small towns are very well kept and so is downtown Lafayette. The outskirts are a mix of very nice clean looking properties next to a place that the pickers would like to peruse.
We visited Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s 1847 epic poem Evangeline made people around the world more aware of the 1755 expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia and their subsequent arrival in Louisiana. In this area, the story was also made popular by a local novel based on Longfellow’s poem, Acadian Reminiscences: The True Story of Evangeline, written by Judge Felix Voorhies in 1907. The property was once part of a cattle ranch and indigo plantation. Cotton and sugar cane were raised here. On the property is an example of a Raised Creole Cottage.
We even visited Avery Island, home of the factory of a very popular hot sauce- Tabasco sauce.
Also on the island is a place called Jungle Gardens where one is invited to drive through the gardens created by the McIlhenny family. The gardens include beautiful flowers, lots of birds, alligators and beautiful and impressive old trees. It even has a 900 year old Buddha!
Ok, while we are here Jil has the hots to attend a Mardi Gras Parade. Yesterday was the day. I stayed home and she headed over to the nearby town of Rayne, The Frog Capital of the World.
She came home a lot earlier than I expected, like at 3:30pm- the parades started at 3:00. I asked if she got to see the parade- she held up a half bazillion beaded necklaces! And she gave most of them away to little kids. Needless to say the parade is a highlight on this trip.
Last night our hosts here at Frog City RV Park put on a crawfish boil. The crawfish are boiled in a big pot with cajun spices, corn and potatoes until done. Besides those little buggers they supplied hamburgers and hot dogs. Crawfish look like a miniature fresh water lobster. I was invited to imbibe by our neighbor sitting across the table as I had no clue how to shell the tail. She “shucked” that tail in no time and handed me a piece of meat about 1/3rd the size of my pinkie. It tasted good, not unlike lobster. The spices added a nice flavor. The room was full of us folks visiting Frog City, all enjoying the boil, sharing stories and generally enjoying one another’s company. Thanks for the food and the good time Frog City!
So that concludes our visit to the Lafayette, LA area. See y’all!