Saturday, November 5, 2011

New Orleans Road Trip - Day 13

We survived all the fierce wild animals that we were warned about today (except for one) but that was late in the day and the two old buzzards have gone miles and miles since then, some of it even on foot.

Another special thing about this La Quinta that we had not previously experienced is that they serve eggs, bacon (meat candy, though sliced deli-thin) and sausage on Saturday and Sunday mornings. John mostly limits his “manly” egg and meat candy breakfasts to the weekends so he was all set for our Bright Side Breakfast. We decided that the name for the eggs should be pre-fab scrambles since they come in a perfectly round format. Linda tried one anyway, lured by the container of home-looking salsa. She loves salsa on eggs, ever since she got used to having that once a month at the Gilroy Chamber of Commerce breakfasts (before retirement). And the La Quinta salsa was very good. With its help the pre-fab eggs tasted fine.  John had 2 pre-fab eggs, bacon and some milk along with a half-bagel and cream cheese. He reported that the bacon must have come from a  midget pot-bellied pig.

By 8:30 a.m. the two old buzzards were on their way to tour Shadows-on-the-Teche, located in downtown New Iberia.  It is a beautifully restored plantation home constructed between 1831 and 1834 for a sugar planter. The very unique thing about it is that it was lived in by the same family until it was donated to become a National Trust Historic Site in 1958. The family saved many trunks of paperwork so its history is well documented. Over 17,000 documents from the family are in the archives at LSU. The furnishings are all either originals or restorations. No photos are allowed inside the house, but you can take all you want outside. The home has so many  unique features . The stairs of the 3-story home were all built on the outside and there are no hallways, so that it would be easier to open up the windows to allow cooling breezes to flow through.

After Louisiana seceded from the Union during the Civil War the Shadows on the Teche was eventually occupied by Union soldiers. The mistress of the house insisted on staying so she was placed under house-arrest and allowed to live on the third floor. She died during the occupation and the general in charge had so much respect for her that he did not burn the Shadows plantation when he and his troops departed.

Our guide, Miss Audrey, was excellent and we hope you get her if you ever get to visit. There was only one other person in our group so we were able to see and hear everything and ask questions anytime.

An added bonus to our time there was the Civil War reenactment that was taking place all weekend.  The solders we got to see and talk to and photograph were all Confederate soldiers. We were told that at noon there would be a takeover by the Union soldiers. Lots of the solders we saw were walking around the grounds with guns and they had many different kinds of interesting uniforms. One soldier saw that I was attempting to take a photo of a hand-painted artillery unit flag and he offered to hold it out so it would be displayed better. So I got to shoot him and the flag. Afterwards I asked why he didn't have a gun. “That's my gun” he said, pointing to a nearby cannon. Next we went to a talk about weapons where the different types of uniforms were also explained.

By late morning we left the Shadows-on-the-Teche and returned to our lodging to spend a little time with Fannie Mae before leaving for lunch and our afternoon adventure. If you'd like to learn more and see more about Shadows-on-the-Teche, you can visit this website.

Lunch was a special treat at a 50s style diner called Duffy's. It was a hopping place with a ginormous menu. But they had Linda with a hand-written sign outside proclaiming “GUMBO TIME!”. John got fried shrimp, onion rings, salad and diet Dr. Pepper. Linda's rating for this particular batch of gumbo is a resounding 9 and ½. It had a wonderful flavor and three kinds of seafood: shrimp, crawfish and crab. And, the seafood was identifiable! The only think that kept it from receiving a 10 was that there was no okra in it.

After lunch we waddled out of Duffy's and followed the Tabasco sign pointing to Avery Island. It is about a 12 mile drive to where you can get an inside look at where all the Tabasco sauce in the world is produced, something like 700,000 bottles per day. Some of the peppers are grown in central and south America but all the production of the different products is done on Avery Island at McIlhenny Company facilities.

While we were on the island we also took a tour of the Jungle Gardens of Avery Island. We got up close looks at beautiful oak trees. bamboo, Spanish moss, lagoons, bayous, dense vegetation, a Buddah temple and some wildlife. The birds have mostly already migrated but we got a couple of shots of egrets. There were warnings about alligators but we didn't get to see any. The only wild animals that attacked the two old buzzards were some flocks of mosquitoes. But they probably are much worse in the summer.

As we were meandering along in Wilma through the scenic oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, we came upon a bride standing in the middle of the road with her train all spread out onto the road. There was no groom or wedding party in sight. There was, however, a photographer who motioned us to please drive around them which was easy to do since it was a one way road. We complied and Linda got out and strolled back to ask if it was OK for her to also take a photograph of the bride and they said “Sure”. The story is this: the wedding  is not scheduled until March 2012 but the bride wanted to take the photograph now while the weather is nice so she wouldn't be shivering. Talk about being organized! And it is a lovely location for a bridal photo.

The place we planned to go to dinner (Bon Creole Restaurant) no longer existed except on the internet. Wilma dutifully took us there but once she said “Destination ahead on the left” and then “Destination!” we could find no sign of a restaurant. So we decided to return to Duffy's where we had eaten lunch. Linda had a delicious shrimp salad and diet Dr. Pepper. John had crawfish e'toufee and potato salad. He liked the e'toufee. Potato salad was "ho-hum" and bad for his calorie budget anyway.

And so ends another lovely day in languorous Louisiana. Today's photo gallery has 151 photos in it. Thus, the delay in getting it out to you. You can view them by clicking here.

Linda's favorite sign was a restaurant called  Asian Cajun Food. Both old buzzards agree that Asian and Cajun seem like an unlikely food fusion.

May all your problems dissolve as fast as a spoonful of raw sugar in a cup of steaming chicory coffee au lait.

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