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  • Writer's pictureInger and Jeff Latreille

Hello Zydeco!

~Sunday, November 14, 2021~

Day 518 (Travel Day)

Goodbye New Orleans. We’re thrilled we finally got to experience this unique, bustling city. But in coming here, it takes a lot of discipline not to get too carried away. Ours went out the window, at least one of our nights. Being a little overindulgent seems to come with being here with all of the great food, great drinks and taking in all of the lights, sounds and utter craziness only found in the Big Easy. Thank goodness we decided to have a calm evening last night or we would have paid a heavy price today, which wouldn’t have combined well with a lot of driving. We had to be out by 11:00 a.m. and would absolutely stay here again with its perfect proximity to downtown. And it has the “safe” factor, with its 24-hour security, and gated community…….really important perks when in a city such as this.

We originally had plans to travel further today, but the Harvest Host location we originally wanted to stay at was no longer participating in the service. Because we were looking for a simple 1-night stay only, we really wanted to put our Harvest Host membership to use, so the next best thing was in Lafayette, LA (about a 2-hour drive from New Orleans) at the Vermilionville Living History Museum. It just puts more driving onto the next day, but it’s all good.

Along the way, we noticed the lower fourth of the state of Louisiana is all swamp and you can see it as you drive along Highway 10. We passed the Atchafalaya Heritage Area (Atchafalaya means “long river”) that offers fishing and swamp tours. The Atchafalaya, which stretches 140 miles through the gut of the state, is the nation’s largest river swamp.

Arrived around 3:00 where we met a lovely lady in the store/entrance area. She directed us to park in either the gated, locked area or the alternative regular parking area. We opted for the gated locked area. They evidently lock up around 4:30, and even though they’re closed tomorrow, she assured me that someone would be there to unlock the gate by 8:00 a.m. Perfect since we have an early day tomorrow, with a lot of miles to go.

Even though we were only staying one night, we decided to level and unhitch. Not worrying about towing while trying to find gas stations always makes things easier. Anyway, as we unhitched, I discovered a long rusted nail on the ground. I was telling Jeff that this is something to definitely think about when staying in parking lots. You just never know what crap might be lying around, so it might pay to survey those areas before entering. While Jeff left to handle the gas thing, Sadie and I explored a bit. This museum is right on the Vermillion River

which looks exactly as you would expect a river to look in The South; very brown, almost stagnant water, and what appeared to be the perfect spot to see alligators, but none to be seen today. We walked out to the dock where they offer kayak launches and saw a few fishing boats going by.

We could hear live Zydeco music (one of our favorite styles of music), which appeared to be coming from inside the grounds of the museum, so we went to inspect. The docent was so sweet, comping our entry fee, knowing we were Harvest Host guests and the fact they were closing in 45 minutes. Very nice of her. In the pavilion was a stage of 4 musicians and a dance floor. RJ and the Kreole Smoove

consisted of guitar, bass, drums and accordion of course. There is no Zydeco music without accordion. A few songs later, a guy playing Frottoir (otherwise known as a washboard), joined in. People were dancing, drinking the $3 beer and simply enjoying their music filled Sunday afternoon. Really fun, and completely unexpected. Still finishing up our beers, we were halted a few steps into the outdoor museum section, with no alcohol allowed. But they were getting ready to close anyway, so I guess we’ll just have to pay a visit another time. It would be great to learn more about this part of the South. Vermillionville is one of the earliest settlements by native peoples, likely due to the river source. In the 1800’s this land was a sugarcane plantation owned by Alexandre Mouton with 120 enslaved people. This settlement would eventually become the city of Lafayette. Later, the history museum came to fruition paying homage to the descendants of the land….. The Acadians, the Creoles, the Native Americans, and the African people. The museum's gift shop sells many traditional crafts made today by artisans in much the same way the native people made things so long ago.

What a noisy evening between all of the trains honking, and helicopters and planes flying overhead. We’re evidently right next to the Louis Armstrong International Airport. When you have free accommodations, you can’t be too picky.

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