Friday, November 4, 2011

New Orleans Road Trip - Day 12

We bid a fond adieu to the Big Easy, the Crescent City, NOLA, that is, New Orleans, Louisiana this morning at approximately 7:48. I had heard it called Big Easy and Crescent City but it took me until about the 2nd day we were here to figure out what all the NOLA signs I was seeing on businesses and t-shirts meant. We were on a cable car and I was looking at 3 inch letters on a guy's arm that spelled NOLA. I thought he must really like his girlfriend, NOLA. It didn't seem like HIS name would be NOLA. Then it dawned on me what it meant. A blonde moment sprinkled liberally with grey.

We've been true to our pledge of no television on in the room and no radio on in the car. It's been 12 days and we really haven't missed it. After all, we have to spend time on our travelogue to record our adventure for posterity.

One other bit of unfinished business. John failed to provide his calorie report yesterday evening. Despite a dinner of 1,641 calories, he finished under for the day by 483 calories.

There was lots of construction as we left via the Huey P. Long Bridge (or the Huey Plong as John likes to call it). But the traffic moved along just fine despite all the blocked off lanes and construction cranes so we were soon across the Mississippi River. Linda noticed an American flag on a line high in the sky from one large crane and tried to capture it in one of her photos.

John set the other trip meter to zero in case we needed to count miles for navigation purposes on today's adventure. Our goal was to stay off the interstate and major freeways (Hwy 90) on our trip to New Iberia. So, instead of getting back onto I-10, the way we came from Lafayette or our way, we stayed on Louisiana 182, an old 2-lane highway (the Old Spanish Trail) and on Hwy 90 Business Route. This enabled us to really soak up the flavor of the small towns along the way and of the countryside. All those down-home businesses and attractions that used to dot the old highways (like Bob's Alligator Farm, etc.) are just about all gone now. It's a real shame. Those folks probably have to work at a Wal Mart to earn a living.

We got up close and personal to a sugar mill in Raceland. The puffy white smoke could be seen from several miles away and we had already driven past miles and miles of sugar cane growing on both sides of the road. And there were lots of trucks full of sugar cane on the roads. From the Louisiana Farm and Ranch Magazine we learned that all of the states 11 raw sugar mills are now up and running at full capacity. The grinding season is expected to run through the first week or so of January. All in all, it is turning out to be a great year for the state's 450 cane farmers and for the sugar economy. The 2011 crop will provide an economic impact of more than $2.5 billion to the state. Weak crops from Brazil, India, Thailand and China have boosted prices to a new pricing floor of around 25 cents.

As we passed through Amelia, LA we saw a huge riverboat that seemed to be docked for repairs. We left Hwy 182 and took some side streets to get a closer look and, lo and behold, it was a casino. The treasure we did find in Ameila was a bright blue house with bright blue stepping stones and decorations in the yard. These bright blue thing were adorned with white polka dots. You can see this unusual place in today's photo gallery.

By 10:45 we were in Morgan City where we stopped for a McCoffee and McRestroom break. When John ordered 2 senior coffees we were told that they no longer had them and we could pay the regular price of $1.06 each. That's the first McDonald's we have experienced that. In case any of you who are mature enough don't know, if you order senior coffee at 99.44% of McDonalds you will only be charged 50 cents. This is never shown on their menues. You just have to know to say those magic words – senior coffee.

Our lunch was a trip back in time for John. The Yellow Bowl Restaurant in Jeanerette is where he first tasted crawfish e'touffee about 58 or so years ago, while accompanying his father on a business trip through Louisiana. He loved it so much that he had crawfish e'touffee for lunch and dinner the rest of the trip. Another spot he remembers was in Breaux Bridge, LA called Mim's. Unfortunately, it's no longer in business. So guess what John ordered. Linda ordered a cup of seafood gumbo and a garden salad. The gumbo didn't have a lot of seafood or flavor so she had to add lots of Tabasco to it. She rated it as a 4. John gave her a taste of his delicious e'toufee which she will order the next time the buzzards are in Jeanerette (in 58 or so years). The Yellow Bowl Restaurant was founded in 1927. It has an interesting history which you can read about by clicking here.

We shot some additional sugar mill photos at the sugar mill in Jeanerette and have included them.

In between the small towns and the sugar cane fields we got to see lots of beautiful old mansions (plantations) and oak trees. Many were built in the mid-1800s and have been very well preserved and maintained.

We arrived in New Iberia around 3:00 and enjoyed driving through the cute downtown area before finding our La Quinta home for the next 2 nights. We don't usually bore you with photos of our room but this one is so large and nice that we just had to take a photo. There is a desk that is perfect for computer work, a sofa, 2 easy chairs, 2 night stands and a TV in the bathroom. We are not used to such luxury since we try to economize on our lodgings. Many La Quintas do not have room microwaves or fridges but this one has both. And, on Saturday and Sunday mornings (the two mornings we'll be here), these folks have a full breakfast (eggs, bacon, etc) and not just the waffle, bagel, cereal fare.

At the suggestion of the hotel desk clerk, we went to the Seafood Connection for dinner. It's a small, fast food place about 2 miles away. To John's distress, they only have booths. To John's delight, he was able to fit in one comfortably, though still without room to spare. Linda ordered a grilled shrimp salad with French dressing. John ordered the "regular" fried shrimp dinner which comes with a small salad (ranch dressing this time), a dozen large fried shrimp and a medium batch of french fries. Since Linda ate one of John's shrimp, he only had to count 11 against his remaining calorie allowance. Eleven large fried shrimp is only 200 calories. While a medium size order of french fried potatoes is a huge 427 calories. Note to self: onion rings are about half as much as french fried potatoes. Nonetheless, it was all really good and John finished under calorie budget for the day by 774 calories. And that accounts for the snack size Reese's peanut butter cup and fun size Snickers that he is about to eat right now.

Today's photo gallery has 87 photos in it. You can view them by clicking here. Feedback on the video slideshow was mixed. However, two folks reported that they want to be able to view at their own pace, which you really can't do with a video. So, we're back to the photo gallery. Please download and play some Cajun Zydeco music while viewing the photo gallery.

Linda's favorite sign of the day was near a plant where they build offshore oil rigs in Morgan City. It said: "Your wallet. The only place Obama wants to drill!" An image of the sign is in today's photo gallery.

Funny business names seen today were Nacho Mama's Mexican Food (that's actually the punch line to an old joke about Taco Bell and AT&T merging) and Mudbug Plumbing – both near Metairie. Some others: Grumpy's Family Restaurant in Boutte and Dis 'N Dat Construction in Houma.

John's favorite business name / sign was in New Iberia. "Sinsations: Adult Halloween Costumes". A picture of the business sign is included in the photo gallery.

Thought for today: If you have the time, take the non-interstate highways every once in a while, and enjoy the flavor of where you are. One of Linda's favorite books is Blue Highways by William Least Heat Moon. He traveled for 3 months (13,000 miles) on backroads that were then shown on maps in blue. Has anybody else out there read it? A CNN photographer recreated come of the scenes from the book not long ago. You can see those images by clicking here. You can also find more info about Blue Highways on Wikipedia.

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