While I could have spent another week in New Orleans, I had already decided that I’d have to come back some day in the future with friends to get the full experience, so wasn’t too worried about trying to pack in all the sights. Megan’s connections continued to be a blessing as her sister offered to let me stay in her beach camp for a few days in the coastal town of Grand Isle. I drove about 2 hours south and arrived late that night at the house set up on stilts by the Gulf. It was so relaxing to sleep those 2 nights with the windows open being lulled by the sound of waves and breeze. I was super lazy and used the time to cook some food to bring with me, read, and sleep. There’s something about driving for long stretches that just takes it out of you and makes you tense despite not really ‘doing’ anything, so relaxing was wonderful. And beautiful sunset and sunrise, of course.
Since I’d not actually gone through having to reserve the property and Megan’s sister had just sent me the info to arrive and get in, I missed the memo on “check out time” and their usual cleaning people arrived while I was in my pajamas, unshowered and unpacked. Oops. They were cool about it but I still packed up and hightailed it out unprepared and stinky. Ha. At least I changed my clothes and brushed my teeth? You’re welcome, world.
I drove along the coastline toward Texas and stopped for the night in New Iberia, home of tabasco. I contemplated going on the tour of the factory but decided I’d rather just eat some sauce next time I see it. The next day I spent the morning in the town of St. Martinville between New Iberia and Lafayette, famous for capitalizing on Longfellow’s poem Evangeline and becoming the home of Acadian history. I walked around the town square, the Evangeline Tree park where they claim the real life lovers who inspired the characters in the poem finally reunited, and peeked in the back patio of the Acadian History Center and spied the family name plaque. Good stuff.
Not far from town is the Longfellow-Evangeline Historic Site and state park, so I stopped off there as well and read up on the Acadian diaspora and the difference between Creoles and Acadians, and toured the grounds. They have structures to tour set up to show a Creole home, and Acadian cabin, and their ways of life in the bayou.
Back in New Iberia I spent part of the day in the Rip Van Winkle Gardens, so named because the man who built the home and gardens initially was an actor who played the role thousands of times. The gardens had an Asian influence and a bunch of peacocks roaming, so that was something. It’s site on Lake Peigneur also happens to be adjacent to the largest man made sinkhole thanks to an oil company (Texaco I think?) drilling in the salt mine area hit the wrong place and caused the mines to fill with water and create this giant sinkhole that swallowed the owner’s son’s house, so now there’s just a chimney sticking out of the water. Oops.
Continued on past the marshland, bayou, past more sugar cane and oil fields, and onwards to Texas!