RV Travel Adventures in our Motorhome

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Home ** 2003 Travel Logs


Places Visited:

Mobile, Alabama.
Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
Lafayette, Abbeville, Breaux Bridge and Lake Charles, Louisiana.

Monday, April 28, 2003
We drove 67-miles to Chickasabogue Park (operated by Mobile County Commission) 251-574-2267
$16 per-night full hookup with 50amps: Mobile, Alabama

We left Pensacola around 10:00 this morning. Our trip this time is
going to be a little different than normal. My 80-year old Mother is
with us. Three of us traveling in our motor home is going to be
different, how different none of us know right now. Everyone is
hoping that we all adjust to the closeness that motor home living
demands. We still intend to have fun, fun, fun from daylight until
the midnight hour. That is what it is all about isn't it?

Mobile, Alabama 60-miles to the west of Pensacola was our destination.
My brother, Steve, had invited us to stop by his place on our way
west. He had our afternoon and night planned for us. Upon arriving
in Mobile we headed directly to Chickasabogue Park and connected up
the motor home. Without wasting any time we headed back downtown to
the EXPLOREUM and IMAX theatre where we met Steve. The IMAX movies
were Space Station and Lewis & Clark. We enjoyed both IMAX movies
before heading to my brother's house to pick up his wife, Diane, and
then out to Cock of the Walk for a catfish dinner complete with their
signature coleslaw and collard greens.

After dinner Steve & Diane gave us a car tour of greater Mobile
complete with a drive by the "Dew Drop Inn" restaurant some say was
the inspiration for Jimmy Buffett's song "Cheese Burger in Paradise".
Buffett is a Mobile native. When he was growing up, the Dew Drop Inn
was "the" place in Mobile to go for cheeseburgers! Now we have viewed
what some say is the inspiration for that song! Today the place is
more noted for hot dogs than cheeseburgers.

Tuesday, April 29, 2003
We drove 95-miles from Mobile, Alabama to Casino Magic RV-Park, Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. (N30º 20.119' W 89º
21.220') Site #50 50amp full hookup $24.61

This morning found us traveling in the motorhome from Mobile, Alabama
to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. We stopped for lunch at our favorite
place in Pass Christian, Mississippi. We just love this place and
wanted Mother to experience it with us. As luck would have it they
are closed on Tuesdays. For those of you visiting the area you need
to try the Harbor View Café in Pass Christian, Mississippi on highway
90 at the Harbor (N30º 18.723' W84º 14.823'). There is a large
parking lot across the street that we use for the motor home and car
while dining. Their shrimp Po Boy is served with over 30 lightly
battered, fried shrimp all for only $5.95. It doesn't get much
better, when they are open. Since our favorite place was closed we
opted for the buffet at Casino Magic not far away.

We were thinking about boondocking but opted for full hookups since it
was warm and humid. The parking lot at Casino Magic is perfect for
boondocking and usually has around 10 motor homes. Not today, it was
too warm. The RV-Park regularly fills up on weekends but spots are
available today. Casino Magic is the closest casino to New Orleans
plus it has a really nice RV-Park. Many RV'ers stay at Casino Magic
RV-Park and drive the 51-miles into New Orleans.

A Casino Magic hallmark is free entertainment between 7:30 and 11:00
each night. Tonight the featured entertainment was a 75-minute set by
Pete Fountain and his Jazz Band from New Orleans. After Pete and his
band completed their set another great band entertained until the wee
hours. For those of you contemplating a stay on Mississippi's Gulf
Coast this year you may want to remember that Pete Fountain will be
performing "free" concerts in Casino Magic every Tuesday and Wednesday
for the foreseeable future. It seems that 72-year old Pete has sold
his place in New Orleans and "retired" to Bay St. Louis. Well, kind
of retired. He and his group of musicians are now performing two
nights a week at Casino Magic. Tonight was his first performance at
Casino Magic and a large group of fellow musicians from New Orleans
came over for the show. Some were invited to come to the stage and
perform a number or two. We did not know any of the musicians but all
the Jazz aficionados knew them and applauded wildly.

All together we donated $8.20 to the one armed bandits.

Wednesday, April 30, 2003
We drove 171 miles from Bay St Louis, Mississippi to Acadian RV-Park operated by the City of Lafayette. N30º 15.340' W91º
59.246': Site #70 with 50amps and water for $9.00 in a wonderful shady
Park within several miles of downtown Lafayette.

Our destination today was Lafayette, Louisiana. We chose to travel on
I-10 and I-12 as we worked our way west. Louisiana has done much
improvement to the interstate system. Not so long ago the ride across
Louisiana on I-10 and I-12 was absolutely abysmal, at that time the
interstate was more akin to an advanced mogul slope than an interstate
highway. Today the ride from Slidell to Lafayette was great. Once
west of the Atchafalaya swamp/basin we stopped at the Boudin Shop exit
115 on I-10. They have fried crawfish boudin balls to die for. We
knew that this "shack" was something Mother had to experience. In
addition to the crawfish boudin balls Mother sampled regular link
boudin, red beans rice and sausage. I am proud of Mother for jumping
in there and experiencing new delicacies. You can say that she is
going to return to Panama City as a cosmopolitan girl!

After setting up the motorhome in Lafayette we got in the Saturn and
headed to the wading bird rookery along the southern edge of Lake

The rookery is actually called the Nature Conservancy's Cypress Island
Rookery. For those of you with GPS & mapping programs it is located
at N30º 12.204' W91º 54.034 on Rookery Road just off SR-353 about
8-miles south west of Breaux Bridge. In the spring thousands of wading
birds (Rosette Spoon Bills, Little Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy
Egrets, White Ibis and night herons both Black Headed and Yellow
Headed congregate in the tree filled swamp to raise their young. Every
tree and bush is filled to capacity with nests and courting birds.
They are drawn to this location every year because the swamp beneath
the rookery is crawling with huge alligators. If a baby chick falls
out of the nest it will become "gator-lunch". However, the alligators
keep the rookery free from marauding raccoons, opossums and mink that
would eat the young as well as the eggs. It is a chance the birds
have to take in order to keep their nesting sites safe from those
hungry mammals. Not only did we see thousands and thousands
(literally) of nesting birds we were able to see the huge alligators.
By huge I am talking alligators 10 to 13 feet long! Mother also got
to view her first nutria. Nutria's are large (up to 40#) South
American semiaquatic rodents with webbed hind feet. They were
introduced to Louisiana by the McIlhenny (Tabasco Sauce) family. They
have now become a major pest in the state and trappers are paid $3.00
per-tail turned into the State. Nutria look like a beaver and their
fur is nearly identical.

For dinner we took Mom to Mulate's in Breaux Bridge. Mulate's is a
famous Cajun restaurant featuring live Cajun music and a dance floor.
Mother continued her cosmopolitan streak by having fried crawfish and
frog's legs. No, Mother did not join in the dancing. That will have
to come later.

Thursday, May 1, 2003
Acadian RV-Park operated by the City of Lafayette. N30º 15.340' W91º
59.246': Site #70 with 50amps and water for $9.00 in a wonderful shady
Park within several miles of downtown Lafayette.

Lafayette is home to the Jean Lafitte National Park Acadian Cultural
Center. Like Yellowstone the job of this National Park is to
safeguard for all time the National Treasures of our great country.
Jean Lafitte Park here in Lafayette is showcasing Acadian history. We
watched several movies. One told of the expulsion of the Acadian's
from Nova Scotia and the other about how they adapted in their new
home here in the swamps of Louisiana.

Next on our schedule was Vermillion Ville, a Cajun-Creole Heritage
Park. Vermillion Ville is a series of preserved period houses (1790
to 1890). Each of the houses has a docent in period dress performing
a normal function of life from that era. One was conducting a cooking
class, another was spinning cotton, another was whittling, while
another was a fiddle player and yarn teller.

In the schoolhouse we were reminded that school children were
prohibited from speaking French in school. An early 20th century
Louisiana law forbade the speaking of Southwest Louisiana's principal
language even on the school playground!

While watching the cotton spinning demonstration we all tried our hand
at extracting cotton seeds from the raw cotton. It was a laborious
process. The docent told us that it was a job for the children every
night. Each child had to fill their shoes with seeds. That way the
bigger and older children had to extract more seeds. I can say for
certain that Eli Whitney's cotton gin was a "LABOR SAVING" device like
no other! After the seeds were removed the cotton fiber had to be
carded then spun to make thread. Thread could then be weaved into
fabric from which clothes could be made. As hard as this process was
they did not have many changes of clothes.

After noon we headed to St. John Cathedral, Cemetery and 500 year-old
live oak. The Dutch Gothic Cathedral built in 1916 is located in the
old down town area of Lafayette. This magnificent structure serves as
the seat of the Diocese of Lafayette. Equally impressive was the 500
year-old live oak. We have seen historic live oaks before but this
one was head and shoulders larger than the others. This tree has a
girth of 28' with a limb span of 145'. The cemetery inters many of
Lafayette's founders plus several Civil War generals and an

To finish off the day we stopped by the "Blue Dog" café, a white table
cloth place. Mother had crab and corn bisque plus bread pudding with
pecan praline sauce.

Every time we stay in this RV-Park we are reminded of our friend
"Berliner" that told us about the place. Thanks, Berliner!

Friday, May 2, 2003
Acadian RV-Park operated by the City of Lafayette. N30º 15.340' W91º
59.246': Site #70 with 50amps and water for $9.00 in a wonderful shady
Park within several miles of downtown Lafayette.

Our excursion today included New Iberia, Delcambre, Abbeville,
Intracoastal City, Kaplan then back to Lafayette. In New Iberia we
planned to tour the Konriko Rice mill and Avery Island. Konriko Rice
mill was not doing a tour for 45-minutes so we decided to skip the
tour and opted for a tour of the antebellum homes along Bayou Tech in
New Iberia. Then we headed to Avery Island for a tour of the Tabasco
plant where the world famous Tabasco sauce is bottled. We always
enjoy this factory tour. This time Mother enjoyed the tour with us.
She was fascinated by all the mechanical gadgetry involved in the
bottling, labeling, capping and boxing necessary to pack and ship
Tabasco sauce. Next we toured "jungle gardens" also on Avery Island.
Part of the jungle gardens is an alligator filled, 250-acre, lake with
a large Snowy Egret rookery in the middle. This rookery has a lot of
help from man. The McIlhenny family that owns Avery Island hire
workers annually to construct nesting platforms in the lake. The
platforms have ordinary pilings with wooden cross members. Bamboo is
laid across the long platforms like boards in a dock. Over 20,000
Snowy Egrets nest on these platforms every year.

Our next stop was a tour of Delcambre noted for one of the Gulf's
largest shrimping fleets. Then on to Abbeville for lunch and a
history lesson. A French priest who named Abbeville after his home in
France back in 1843. The town is noted for its two town squares that
give it a distinctly Old World Charm. Steen's Syrup Mill stands
waiting for the fall sugar cane harvest. Just down the street Riviana
Rice Mill is processing Water Maid and Mahatma rice. We can only
imagine the activity around this place in the fall when rice is being

Like in Canada the French influence is so imbued in this area many
plaques are in both English and French. Around 45 percent of the
people around here still speak French as a second language.

We lunched at Dupuy's in down town Abbeville. Our intention was to
sample some crab bisque but the lunch special was flounder with a good
French cream and crawfish sauce. So much for the bisque, it will have
to wait. Dupuy's is a place we will return to. Abbeville is known
for their exquisite dining. Not the "high-end" fancy places but the
good places people drive out of their way to sample. Comeaux's in
downtown is supposed to be good, Black's and Dupuy's we guarantee to
be good. Black's and Dupuy's specialty is oysters with seafood of all
types following close behind.

After lunch and a "drive by" tour of Stein's Syrup Mill and the local
Mahatma Rice Mill we headed south of Abbeville to Intracoastal City.
This is flat country just a few feet above sea level. Cattle ranches
and rice fields dominate the land. Rice fields double as crawfish
ponds once the rice is harvested. Intracoastal City is home to a huge
fleet of Gulf shrimp boats. We wanted to show Mother the plethora of
huge, brightly colored steel shrimp boats. They were beautifully
painted and in top condition. Vietnamese fishermen who migrated to
the area after the fall of Vietnam back in the late 60's and 70's own
these immaculate vessels. These 150' steel vessels represent
multi-million dollar investments. These vessels indicate these
immigrants to our country have done well. Virtually all these
gigantic steel boats had names with a Vietnamese flair. The
Vietnamese work ethos has severely impacted the "good-old-boy" Cajun

From Intracoastal City we headed north to Kaplan. Kaplan is noted
their rice mills and as being the hometown of Sammy Kershaw. A large
plaque in downtown proclaims the place as Sammy's birthplace. For
those of you that do not know Sammy is a Country Music artist with
multiple platinum albums. He is also married to Laurie Morgan.
(Another Country Music artist)

Between Kaplan and Lafayette rice fields cover 90% of the countryside.
This is rice country.

Saturday, May 3, 2003
Acadian RV-Park operated by the City of Lafayette. N30º 15.340' W91º
59.246': Site #70 with 50amps and water for $9.00 in a wonderful shady
Park within several miles of downtown Lafayette.

We headed to Breaux Bridge a few miles east of Lafayette this morning.
Breaux Bridge is a historic turn of the century town on the banks of
Bayou Teche. Many homes from the turn of the century line the bayou
north and south of town. We wanted to participate in the "fun" at
Café Des Amis in historic downtown Breaux Bridge. Café Des Amis has a
history of providing live Cajun entertainment on Saturday mornings. We
have enjoyed the live entertainment and dancing on other visits to
Cajun Country. However, the Crawfish Festival is in town this weekend
and a sign on the door says they are CLOSED until Tuesday! We were
disappointed to say the least. This has happened to us twice this
week. We would normally go to the Crawfish Festival but it would
require much too much walking for Mother. We change gears/plans and
decide to show her the western levy system around the Atchafalaya
Basin. The levy is located on the east side of Henderson, Louisiana a
short drive from Breaux Bridge. The levy constructed by the US Army
Corps of Engineers runs from the Mississippi River around 70-miles
north of here all the way down to south of Morgan City, Louisiana. It
is 18-miles across the Atchafalaya Basin between the eastern and
western levies. The flow of the Mississippi River historically ran
through here. However, the Corps of Engineers designed a levy system
that now channels 2/3 of the flow of the Mississippi down the channel
past Baton Rouge and New Orleans. By channeling the river past these
two cities commerce was routed that way also. As the Mississippi
River flows past New Orleans the river is about one mile across but
over 200 feet deep. When the Mississippi River floods the Army Corps
of Engineers can open huge gates and divert the extra flow down the
Atchafalaya Basin. With it being 18-miles wide the basin can handle
flood waters much easier than the main river channel that is only
1-mile wide. Riding atop the levy we can only marvel at the
engineering feet construction of this levy represented.

Near Henderson there are a number of fish-camps, boat ramps,
restaurants, juke-joints etc., all located along the water's edge
inside the levy system. We visited several of these to get the
"flavor" of life in these parts. Hundreds of boat trailers were
parked around each of the boat ramps and fish camps. Each fish camp
had docking for house boats. In these parts everyone who is anyone
has a house boat. On weekends the family spends time here on the
river. Houseboats are their Shangri-la.

McGee's fish camp/restaurant had a mounted catfish that weighed over
100 pounds and an alligator gar over 200 pounds.

While inside the levy we drove to Butte La Rose. If you inspect a map
Butte La Rose will appear as a city. Ha! There is a country store, a
boat ramp and an intersection. Joyce and I have done this trip before
and enjoyed the drive. What makes the drive so interesting are the
private fish camps along the narrow road. Many of the fish camps have
names or catchy signs in the yard. The one I liked best was "Dad's
Pad when Mom's Mad". Next best was "The other Woman".

As night approached we drove to Eunice to partake in the Saturday
night "event" at the Liberty Theatre. Liberty Theatre is part of the
National Park System. Every Saturday night from 6:00 to 8:00 Cajun
musicians perform in the Theatre while the performance is broadcast on
local radio. What makes the performance unique is that most of it is
in French. Remember it is the "French" Acadian influence that the
National Park is trying to preserve. If you are ever in the area it
is a fun thing to do.

From the Liberty Theatre we drove to Prejeans Restaurant located in
Carencro just north of Lafayette. Prejeans is a world famous Cajun
restaurant. There was a 40-minute waiting list when we arrived at
8:40. We waited! We enjoyed! The food and entertainment were great.
In addition to the wonderful food, Prejeans has many wonderful mounts
on display. One of a Jewfish in excess of 500 pounds, an alligator
that is 14 feet long, a 200 pound alligator gar plus many other fish
and ducks. When in Lafayette Prejeans is one of the places that
should be at the top of your list of things to do. Prejeans is worth
a lunch date just to view the incredible menagerie of mounted fish,
ducks, turtles and mammals not to mention the wonderful food.

Sunday, May 4, 2003
We drove 92-miles from Lafayette to Sam Houston Jones State Park, Lake Charles, Louisiana $12 per-night
full hookup 30-amp. The sewer at most spots is not really accessible.

As a point of interest, Catholicism was the only religion legally
allowed to be practiced in Louisiana before the Louisiana Purchase in
1803. The early settlers practiced "la messe blanche" (a prayer
service conducted by laymen) since the priests visited so
infrequently. Slaves practiced the religion of their masters. Free
men of color enjoyed social prestige, were economically independent,
engaged in many trades, and worshipped in the same churches used by
whites. Slaves sat in small pews on the side isles.

In 1803 France "owned" New Orleans but by treaty it was being governed
by the Spanish. The Spanish Governor had suspended the right of the
"Americans" to use the Port of New Orleans. The ability to ship goods
out of New Orleans was of such importance that the United States sent
statesmen to France to negotiate the use of New Orleans as a port. At
that time all commerce west of the Appalachian Mountains was via the
Mississippi River. The western boundary of the United States at that
time was the Mississippi River. All the United States wanted was the
ability to safely ship goods out of the port of New Orleans. France
on the other hand realized that Great Britain was going to attack what
was then Louisiana from Canada in the North and the Caribbean in the
south. France was so strung out that they knew they could not hold
Louisiana so instead of granting us right to use the port of New
Orleans they instead offered to sell the United States the area of
Louisiana. That is how the United States acquired much of the
continental United States west of the Mississippi from the Gulf of
Mexico to the Canadian border. The selling price was $15-million

I told you that piece of information so you could understand that in
1803 when the United States made the Louisiana Purchase the land
officially became part of the United States. One of the things our
constitution grants and guarantees is "religious freedom". So, after
the Louisiana Purchase settlers could worship as they pleased. Isn't
that a neat piece of history?

After stopping by Edie's for lunch we moved the motorhome to Lake
Charles, Louisiana where we spent the afternoon in Sam Houston Jones
State Park.

Mike & Joyce Hendrix







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