Round America

Tag: beignets

Realistic Expectations – Round America

by admin on Apr.13, 2003, under Franklin, Galveston, Garden City, Houston, Jeanerette, Lake Arthur, Louisiana, Morgan City, New Iberia, New Orleans, Paradis, Patterson, Places to Go, Texas, Verdunville

We had absolutely nothing planned for today except to drive from New Orleans to Houston and do the wash. Other than one nature trail scenic drive area in Louisiana, the page was clean.

We got some rest while in New Orleans, and I was able to get the web site work brought up to date.

We both wanted beignets, but we didn’t want to walk back through The Quarter to stand in line at Cafe DuMond (THE place for beignets), so we were pleased to learn that the Fairmont Hotel had beignets. Kathy was our waitress. We split an order of four (three for me and one for Boz), and they were very good. The coffee was strong. The little straps that I am now using on my sunglasses are great, but I haven’t mastered eating with them hanging around my neck. The inside of the lenses were filled with powdered sugar from the beignets this morning…and assorted other items over the last few days.

As we carried our bags to the front of the hotel to wait for the valet to bring our car, we overheard one of the bellmen, Michael, say that Richard Pryor was checking out. I had my camera poised and ready. We introduced ourselves, but he turned out to be a white guy named Richard Pryor. I took a photo of Richard and Michael.

We met a nice couple in the elevator, Norton and Summer, from Walker, Louisiana. We discussed how more people should speak to each other in elevators. And we met two University of Texas students, Liz and Bryan, while waiting for our car.

We were on I-10 looking for Highway 90, and Bozzie was scanning the horizon and saw half a lobster coming over a building. Unfortunately, it was a construction zone, and we were on the wrong side of the highway, and there was no way to get a photo of it. So if someone in New Orleans could send us a photo of the lobster, we would appreciate it.

We got lost while trying to find our two-lane road as we left New Orleans. I’m convinced it was a signage deficiency that should be charged to either the State of Louisiana or the City of New Orleans…certainly not an error to be charged to Ace Navigator Bozzie Jane.

Once we found Highway 90, it turned out to be a four-lane divided highway. We drove on it for a while, but we were seeing nothing, so we made a mid-course correction and headed for a nearby two-lane road. The scenery improved dramatically.

Southern Louisiana isn’t very pretty, and there wasn’t a lot to see, but today was more like the “Pie Trip” as we originally envisioned it. We just drove from small town to small town, so we enjoyed the heck out of it. We saw towns with little or nothing in them. We saw some industrial towns. We saw a sugar town and a hot sauce town. We saw a lot of snow cone stands. In the town of Paradis, we saw a number of old parade floats stored in yards along the highway. In Morgan City, we saw a monument to the first offshore oil well in Louisiana (completed November 14, 1947 — 43 miles to the south), and we stopped to get donuts from Amber and Sarah. Then we came across an area with beautiful antebellum mansions and real honest-to-goodness pre-Civil War plantations. I didn’t realize bears inhabited southern Louisiana, but we saw a bear crossing warning sign, though the only bear we saw was 200 miles down the road in front of a casino on the Louisiana-Texas border. During the day, we happened upon what must be the world’s largest spark plug as well as the world’s largest crawfish.

Barbara commented that she found it very interesting that you can pull into these little towns, scruffy or not, and they’ll have basically a gas station, probably some sort of a postal facility, and an adult paraphernalia store. How sad is that.

When I bought donuts at The Donut Shop, I asked Sarah and Amber what life was like in Morgan City. “Boring.” Sarah and Amber looked like they were 16 or 17 years old. Amber appeared to be a trainee; she was wearing a hair net. I asked what they did for fun, and they couldn’t come up with much. I told them a little about the trip and the book, and it seemed exciting to them. They seemed pleased that their names would be in the book. I told them I would take a photo of the shop as well. Barbara noted that Amber quickly removed her hair net as I stepped back 50 feet or so to snap the photo. I regret that I didn’t get a good close-up of them.

Patterson was the winner of the 2002 competition for the state’s cleanest city. A sign proudly proclaimed this.

Near Verdunville, we realized we were in a plantation area. We were obviously driving along where the slaves lived, not the plantation owners. A few miles later, we saw beautiful plantations. We stopped to take a picture of a gorgeous plantation home, Bocage, circa 1845.

The next home we saw was the Frances Plantation, circa 1810. This was just outside Garden City. We saw the Arlington Plantation, circa 1861, as we entered Franklin. While we were stopped looking at one of the plantation homes, a gentlemen walked by, turned around and said “hey, have you seen the governor’s house?” He gave us special directions to turn off the road and see it.

The Franklin Historic District is nice. There are gorgeous trees and a bed-and-breakfast called Handsome House. This town was named after Benjamin Franklin.

Snow cone stands are a big deal in this part of the world. We took a picture of the snow cone stand in Baldwin. Baldwin was a very patriotic city with flags flying from every light pole.

I regret that we didn’t stop to buy snow cones for every youngster we saw on a bicycle at or near a snow cone stand. We can and will fix these mistakes as we travel on!

Once again, the sights, sounds, and smells reminded us of vacations and trips we took as children. The look of a bridge or a small town; the sound of a train whistle that, in Barbara’s family, meant you got an ice cream cone; the smell of freshly-cut grass and food being cooked. Neither of us are sure why so many memories of our childhood are being brought to mind, but we are mighty glad they are.

We saw a big antebellum home near Jeanerette. It was hidden by all types of vines and trees and bushes. This spooky house would make a great movie set.

Every little town of some size seems to have a number of lodges — Elk, Moose, Society of Woodmen. What do these groups do?

We noticed Movie Magic in Jeanerette. Little towns like this just don’t have Blockbuster. They have a local place with a sign that looks like it was hand painted by the child of the owner.

In New Iberia, we took a photo of what could be the world’s largest spark plug, and Barbara said the gorilla hanging from it was a bonus. The city has a great row of lovely century type homes and has a nice feel to it. We especially liked the Evangeline Theater in downtown New Iberia. We stopped at a Mobil station in New Iberia after we got lost. Mary hand wrote out on a sheet of notebook paper the directions for us to get back to where we needed to be. Now how sweet was that. That would not happen in many big city gas stations.

We saw the world’s largest crawfish outside Knox Corner Seafood and Deli in Lake Arthur.

I received an email from my Dad (84 years young), and here were his thoughts: “Okay, so I’ve finally gotten caught up on the Journal. A wonderful account of your unique adventure. Makes me recall the trips we took when you were a kid, through many of the same areas, but paying no attention along the way, only interested in the destination. Are we there yet?”

We have paid attention, though we could have spent far more time in each area. Life is full of trade offs, and it was hard to justify spending more time as the trip was to be so long as it was.

The smell of freshly cut grass in the country is definitely an old-time family vacation smell. We enjoyed that smell a number of times this day.

The sun set before we crossed from Louisiana into Texas. I wished we could get our hands on some of those night vision goggles that the military has as we hate the thought of what we missed alongside the road as we drove after dark. I decided to extend the trip by a few days to break up some of the longer days to give us more time to see the sights and explore.

There was no “Welcome to Texas” sign on the highway — so much for the plan to have 50 of those signs in our photo portfolio. :-(

“Few regrets” is now our approach.

We stopped in Beaumont at the Crockett Street Entertainment District. We had a very good Mexican dinner at Rio Rita’s. We rolled into Houston about 10:30.

The lesson we took from today is the value of realistic expectations. We didn’t have any particular expectations about today; we viewed it as basically a travel day. Not a lot happened, but we really enjoyed what we saw and experienced. If we had psyched ourselves up to be expecting more, today would have been a disappointment.

Random Comments:

Boz and I were having a lot of fun. We were really relaxed. Since we weren’t looking at a calendar or watching TV, we were sometimes confused about what day of the week it was. As we drove, we talked and reminisced and laughed a lot; we just enjoyed each other and everything about the trip.

We’re saving a shampoo from every hotel/motel. We think we’ll sell them on eBay.

Bill Windsor

Here are all the photos from Day 13 of the Round America 50-State Trip:

View photos at SmugMug

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