Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Cajun Country

100_4526I was thinking after the Gulf Coast we would be on our way to Texas.  But then Gary said something like, “I am thinking we should stop at Betty’s for a few days”.  Huh, who is Betty and what is he talking about?  Then another day he said, “if we stop at Betty’s, we could go the the Tabasco factory”.  Well, he at least had my attention with that one, but I still didn’t know who Betty was.  So after we left Mississippi, we drove to Lafayette, Louisiana and took a road south to the town of Abbeville and pulled into Betty’s.

100_4531What did I see?  This park is nothing more than about 15 campsites on the outside of a horseshoe-shaped driveway around Betty’s house.  But I quickly discovered what Gary had somehow already found out.  Betty’s RV Park was selected as the most friendly RV Park in the country.   It is a favorite of full-time RVers.  The only group that the park gives a discount to is Escapees, the full-timer organization we belong to.  The park really is run by Betty who started it up after she had retired.  Betty checked us in, guided us back in to our spot and invited us to the daily happy hour on her porch.  Everyone brought appetizers and it was almost more like a potluck than a happy hour.  Everyone was very friendly.  And it seems once people start coming to Betty’s they keep coming back and back.

When we were in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada, we studied the history of that region a bit.  Those areas were first conquested by the French. In the French and Indian wars of 1754 to 1763 (also know as the Seven Years War and by various other names), Great Britain and France warred over these lands with the British finally winning.  The Brits expelled most of the French out of those lands.  Many emigrated to southern Louisiana, then a French-claimed territory.  The Acadians of the Maritimes became know as Cadians, and eventually as Cajuns.  Many of the people in southern western Louisiana are of Acadian descent.  Betty said that she is a Cajun and a descendant of Acadians who were expelled from Nova Scotia.  The Cajuns maintain many Acadian traditions including speaking a dialect of the French language – Cajun.

Cajuns have had a major influence on Louisiana and food is is one of them.  At Betty’s recommendation, we went to a restaurant where we had a crawfish po-boy for lunch.  After lunch we met up with Betty and everyone from the campground at the Museum Café for an afternoon of Cajun music featuring of course the squeezebox and the electric guitar, acoustic guitar, slide guitar and a drummer.  The Museum Café is attached to the Acadian Museum which commemorates and honors the Acadian heritage and Cajun people of Louisiana.  Betty is one of the Living Legends designated by the Acadian Museum.  After many Cajun music classics we went to dinner in Abbeville for some Crawfish etouffe and shrimp and oyster gumbo.



100_4512When we got back to the motor home Sunday night, there was an email from Betty inviting all of us to a pot luck at her house on Sunday night.  But first we made our way down to Avery Island, home of Tabasco.  We saw some exhibits, a film, and the bottling lines of the factory.  The Capsicum red peppers are grown right there on the island and are ground and fermented in whiskey barrels for three years with a helping of salt from the salt mine also on the island.  The fermented pepper mash is then mixed with fine vinegar and the bath is stirred for 28 straight days before the pepper sauce is then bottled and shipped and sold in over 150 countries

100_4536We also went to the gift shop where there are all things Tabasco, including some ice cream with Tabasco and Tabasco Coca Cola.  At their on-site lunch coach, we had some red beans and rice with sausage.  By the time we got back to Betty’s it was just about time for our potluck.  It was a wonderful evening and the food was bountiful and tasty.  (That is Betty with the food in the picture at the right.)

100_4525Driving around Cajun country, we saw more crops that we never saw in the north – sugar cane and rice.  We also saw crawfish holes all over including right behind our motor home.  And as the water table is so high in these lands, all graves are above ground.  Many of the houses are built on stilts as hurricanes would roll straight through these low lying flat areas.

100_4528We actually thought about staying on through Thanksgiving, but we already had our plans to get to Texas so we didn’t get caught in “Betty’s web” as it is known.  But staying on for a Turducken Thanksgiving Dinner with such a friendly bunch sure was a temptation.  We don’t know when we will be back through southern Louisiana, but the next time I will be the one saying,, “let’s stop a few days at Betty’s”.

1 comment:

  1. Our first time at Betty's, she called us the day before we were supposed to arrive to tell us we needed to be there by 12 noon the next day because there was a party, and we were all invited. We arrived in time and joined everyone for the party. She sure knows how to have a good time!!