Sunday, March 30, 2014

To Delta Downs and on to College Station, TX…

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We finally left Betty’s after being caught in her web for an extra four days. As a result we only had one extra night to spend on the road since we made reservations at Holiday RV Park in College Station, Texas. Not wanting to spend a lot of money for a one night stay and not really wanting to spend our first overnight in a  Walmart I found a nice overnight spot right on the Louisiana and Texas border.

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We drove 109 miles over to the Delta Downs Racetrack and Casino in Vinton, Louisiana after calling ahead to ask if it was okay for us to overnight in their parking lot.  They said yes and instructed us to park in the back lot. After looking on Google Maps I located the lot that we were going to park in so we wouldn’t be confused when we arrived at Delta Downs.

We pulled into the back lot and parked parallel to the Delta Down horse racing track. We centered our rig under a street light so we would have ample nighttime lighting without having to use the generator as much. After parking we walked Bettys Part 6 and Delta Downs 071around the property and went inside to see if they had any new player comps. They did and although they were quite meager it still didn’t stop us from using them to gamble a bit. We played about an hour, enjoyed several complimentary beverages and by the time we left we were only out about 10 bucks! Not bad for a evening worth of entertainment as well as an overnight parking spot.

Bettys Part 6 and Delta Downs 070Come morning I arose to a treat as I opened our blinds up to our view of the outside adjacent horse track where the ponies were running around the track for some early morning exercise. I made a pot of coffee and sat back in by driver’s seat to watch the ponies warm up and practice out of the starting gates right in front of our home. What a sweet spot for an overnighter… much better than a Walmart I would bet.

After breakfast we tidied up and left Delta Downs for Texas. A longer drive was in store for us today as we made our way to Beaumont and onto highway 105 to avoid Houston. One hundred and eighty eight miles later we pulled into our site for our next month long stay at Holiday RV Park in College Station, Texas.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Betty’s RV Park–It’s a Wrap!!!


Well this blog will wrap up our stay at Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville, Louisiana. We  booked a two week stay when we were still in Florida but when it was time for us to leave we of course fell victim to what many have done before us… we got caught in Betty’s web! For those that don’t know Betty’s web is a euphemism for extending your stay longer than you had originally planned… we added four more days to our two week stay.

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Why would anyone do that? You don’t stay at Betty’s for the manicured RV lots and all the nice facilities like a pool, hot tub, bath house or rec center. No! You stay at Betty’s for two main reasons: Betty of course… and the people that Betty seems to attract to her place. Now Betty’s isn’t for everybody and that is a good thing as there are only 17 spots and those of us that love Betty’s want one of them.

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As many know that visit Betty’s there are two lists… One for those that were not particularly nice or pleasant and the other for those that are always welcome back. Unless you don’t want to come back do not get on the bad list! We love being on the welcome back list!

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Now more about the people that Betty’s attracts. You see everyday at 4:30 p.m. (5:00 on church day) there is a happy hour at Betty’s. this happy hour is entirely optional however it is funny how people will completely stop what they are doing and say something like…”Hey, it’s four o’clock we need to get back to Betty’s for happy hour!”

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At happy hour everyone brings their own drinks and a snack to share with the group. The snacks are so varied and plentiful that most nights it became our dinner.  Happy Hour is also a time when guests share their talents and we were treated to several jam sessions by local musicians as well as musician Rv'ers during our stay.  There were also some potluck dinners and visits from Betty's lovely Aunt Irene and son Reid.  It is that welcoming family atmosphere that immediately puts newcomers at ease and in no time the guests become the best of friends.

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This was our second stop at Betty’s and we have met some wonderful people here many of which we will surely  hope to cross paths with again someday… most likely at Betty’s  With Betty’s lively personality she has a way of attracting people who enjoy having a fun time, love happy hours, love interesting cuisine and simply love music.


We have met a lot of wonderful people here at Betty’s RV Park. People from all over the USA and Canada and even one wonderful couple from Australia. We have met seasoned full timers, new full timers, snow birds who love Louisiana and even a Cajun who doesn’t stray far from home to winter at Betty’s.

Betty singing a version of the Betty’s RV Park Jingle…

Will we return to Betty’s? You bet we will!!!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Babineaux Sister’s Concert and Parish Brewery…

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As I mentioned in the previous blog I will be penning a few more Abbeville area blogs even though we have left Betty’s and are now in College Station, Texas. One pretty cool event we were lucky enough  to attend since we had extended our stay at Betty’s by four days was the first in the series of free concerts held in Magdalen Square in Abbeville, LA.

bettys part 5 040The series known as “Sounds on the Square” was featuring a pair of young sisters who sing what is known as French Folk Rock. which is another variety of some classic Cajun music. The Babineaux Sisters and their band put on a really great concert. One sister was the lead singer and sang most of the songs in French but was also a very talented  squeezebox and  fiddle player..

A nice crowd was on hand and as as it got darker the lights in the very stately live oak trees were lit up and helped illuminate the area where a lot of folks were dancing the Cajun two step or the Cajun version of the waltz .We of course had to take a spin or two on the dance floor.  With cold beverages and some jambalaya being sold to raise money for a good cause there was simply no reason not to have a great time… and we  sure did!

Another fun place to visit, especially for us, was the Parish Brewery just outside of Lafayette, LA. We hooked up with some of our Betty’s friends, Dan and Merlene, to ride over to Broussard, LA to find the brewery. It was located in a warehouse district typical of many of the smaller craft breweries we have visited.

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Upon entry we were told a tour had just started and we could get a “road beer” to take along with us along the tour. The bartender gave us each two chips good for about a five ounce sample of one of three beers they had available on tap. Other beers on tap could not be sampled with the chip but could be purchased Bettys Part 6 and Delta Downs 048separately. We grabbed a sample of their Envie American Pale Ale and the South Coast Amber and caught up with the tour.

The tour itself was a bit weak as the speaker  had a very low volume voice and we could barely hear what he had to say. It was okay since we have heard many other crafters of beer tell  their stories but we would have still liked to listen to what their story was. Oh well… once the tour was over we went back out and sampled a few other beers such as the Wheat Canebrake and another nice Belgian Brew called Farmhouse.

After sampling a few beers we left Parish Brewery and headed down to Erath for their Saturday Cajun Jam Session of which I posted about in an earlier blog… love the music here, it is just too much fun…

Monday, March 24, 2014

Palmetto Island State Park and University of Louisiana Lafayette…

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If you follow the blog you probably know by now that… well… We got caught in Betty’s Web! Yep we added four more days to our two week stay since there were too many fun things we wanted to do before leaving this area. A couple of other places we had fun visiting were  the Palmetto Island State Park and University of Louisiana Lafayette.

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We actually visited Palmetto Island State Park a while back but I never posted about it. We went over to the park while Janie and John were here and the four of us took off  to hike on the nature trails. This park is primarily a canoe or kayaking park as there are lots of water trails but with all the food and drinks we partake in here at Betty’s we decided we really needed to find a place for a good walk .

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Spring is just now really starting to show its colors and when we walked through the park we were able to spot a few of the critters enjoying the warmer temperatures. There were several alligators sunning on the banks and we even spotted a nice water snake and a few leopard frogs out and about. Yellow-rumped warblers were flitting about the trees that had blooming yellow jasmine creeping up their trunks along with the ubiquitous poison ivy.

bettys part 5 024Palmetto Island State Park is a pretty neat little park with some very nice RV camping spaces as well. The only drawback is likely mosquitos once the temperatures warm up but it was nice on this particular day.

Another place we visited was the University of Louisiana Lafayette. As many of you may know we love to visit Universities and ULL was one we wanted to see. When our daughter was playing fast pitch softball this school had a very strong softball program.

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Of course we had to visit the softball field and the other athletic facilities. The main entrance has a really nice building  along with some magnificent live oaks all draped in resurrection fern. The ferns were vibrant and green as the recent rains had provided plenty of moisture for the typical brown fern fronds to absorb and become the green ferns most of us are familiar with.

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We may have figured out why these Cajun’s are Ragin’ as we found several beer carts that are used to serve beer at their sporting events. I can see that I would have enjoyed going to ULL a lot…. We also took a stroll around “The Swamp” which would be a great place to unwind after a long day of studying.

bettys part 5 020This  was a another great way for us to get in one of those much needed walks while visiting Betty’s. We will actually leave here tomorrow but I will likely have two more blogs about our stay here as there is more I want to write about and remember. We plan to boondock overnight at the Delta Downs Casino near the Texas border. The next day we will drive about three hours to get to our month long stay at Holiday RV Park in College Station, Texas.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

The Cajun Music Scene…

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Every other Saturday there is an interesting event at the Acadiana Museum. The Acadian Museum is found in the heart of Cajun country in Erath, Louisiana. Its purpose is to commemorate and honor the Acadian heritage and Cajun people in Louisiana.

Betty's Part 1 044One Saturday we headed over to the Acadiana Museum to watch the owners of Touchet’s Bar become inducted into the Order of Living Legends. Since 1997, the museum has recognized and honored individuals who help shape and define the Cajun culture. Once per month on a Saturday there is a free Living Legends program which includes a Cajun Jam Session from 2 PM until 6 PM featuring traditional French Cajun Country & Western music. All local musicians are invited to join in as well and we were  sure not going to miss this event..As at every musical event spectators dance to the music and Sharon enjoyed a few dances with a local man who despite his age danced to nearly every song!

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Betty Bernard was inducted into the Order of Living Legends last year at the Acadiana Museum. Inductions are held during the Cajun jam sessions at the Museum Café (bar). It is local events such as these that give one the true sense of the pride of the Acadian (cajun) culture that people in this part of Louisiana exhibit. It reminds us of the pride of the people in Texas and is probably one of the main reasons we love visiting this area.

Bettys 4 002There are many other opportunities to engage in the music scene. I mentioned Touchet’s Bar above as the owners were inducted into the Living Legends this year. Touchet’s is another locale that every other Saturday puts on a French Jam Session where groups come in and play and sing during twenty minute sessions. This is a great spot to come and see lots of the local talent in the area and even some of the young and up and coming talent.

At Touchet's we saw a six year old boy get up on the stage with the band and play his squeezebox (accordion). This little guy was barely bigger than his squeezebox but he played four songs pretty damn well for most folks regardless of their age. His name was Collin Broussard and I mention it only because if he stays with it this kid will be someone special in the music scene in Louisiana.

I’d write more but we are off to yet another music event…

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Crawfish Farming and St Paddy’s Day Fun…

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When you drive around in southern Louisiana you will see a many flooded fields on both sides of the highway. In Texas a flooded field typically means they are growing rice but in southern Louisiana it most likely means they are growing crawfish! So we decided to pay a visit to one of the local Rice/Crawfish Farms called the Crystal Rice Plantation.

This family farm has been around since 1890 initially growing rice and over time the family came up with their own strain of rice. By 1912 they had success in creating their “Crystal Rice” strain and between 1912 to the 1940’s nearly 70 percent of all rice grown in the USA was his strain. Before long the family began growing crawfish as well to supplement their income.

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They do so by growing a crop of rice and while the fields are still flooded they “seed” in some crawfish. We took a tour of the plantation in Crawley, La and learned a few facts about rice and crawfish farming. One rice grain produces about 300 grains and unlike rice farming in Texas in Louisiana they soak the rice grains and then plant them by airplane! The tour was interesting but we were disappointed that it was just a video and a lecture about the farming. We had hoped to get out and see some of the harvesting equipment and visit a farmed field.

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Bettys part 2 010Since the tour (we paid $5 each for this tour)  didn’t include all the things we wanted to see we set out on our own in search of an active farm. Just down the road we spotted a mud crawler that uses a hydraulic paddlewheel to move around the muddy flooded fields to harvest crawfish from their traps. The traps are roundish with a hold above the water level that has a slick collar on top to keep the crawfish from being able to crawl out. One they enter these traps they are caught! A little further down the road we stopped to watch a mud crawler harvest crawfish. The rice field was full of crawfish pots like in the picture above. Even thought the tour was rather weak we made the most of our adventure by supplementing it with our own crawfish field trip of sorts…

imageA cold and cloudy Monday rolled around the group at Betty’s decided we should celebrate St Patty’s Day with a corned beef and cabbage lunch. Several of the RV residents purchased supplies and cooked up the corned beef and cabbage.  The rest of us signed up to bring all the side dishes. At 1:30 in the afternoon the mostly green clad residents (well some jackets and coats covered a lot of the green) gathered in celebratory fashion as is custom here at Betty’s RV Park.

What great food and fun we had for lunch .  Just about the time lunch had ended it was time for the daily happy hour at Betty’s! So we continued our St Patty’s celebration with another round of food and fun along with some green beers and an occasional shot of green Irish whiskey.

Yep they know how to have fun here at Betty’s RV Park!!!

Monday, March 17, 2014

Classic Cajun Restaurants and RVillage is one cool tool….

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IMAG0598I want to point out some Road Treats but first there is a really cool tool for RV’ers  now open to the public in the form of a beta product, RVillage. What is RVillage? Well picture Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, Allstays and Google Maps all put together in one package specifically designed for RV’ers! ! Check it out and join the fun by creating your account at RVillage.

Now about the Road Treats… Anyone who has visited Betty’s RV Park will recognize these great eating spots but I thought I would write a bit about a few  favorites we have visited so far.

IMAG0597The Villager Café advertises themselves as the Best Poor Boys Around! They also state that they are Louisiana’s Best Kept Secret. Well not anymore because I am going to tell the world that this place makes a damn good poor boy. Anytime we arrive near the coastal areas we are always in search of really good oyster or shrimp poor boy. This time we went with fellow bloggers Janie and John (Flamingo on a Stick). The Villager Café is just the spot to get  a really good one of these. Quality ingredients stacked high on homemade bread was perfectly balanced between slaw and abundant crispy fried shrimp. We also hear that they make the best Philly cheese steak which is comparable to anything the east coast has to offer. We will have to return to try one of these as well before we leave this part of Louisiana.

Bettys Part 3 012Another great place is a little grocery store outside Kaplan, Louisiana  called Abshire's Corner Store offering a variety of good Cajun cuisine.  The only time we visited there we simply got their lunch special which was a Shrimp and Egg Stew over rice… Man was it good! I forgot to take any pictures of the food at the place but this was another wonderful spot..

Bettys Part 3 018However my favorite stop in this area is Suire’s Grocery and Restaurant. This place is a blast from the past in that it is an old time grocery store just like the ones I remembered as a kid in North Texas. Their saying is “If you want country cooking come to the country.”  It is out in the middle of nowhere or so it seems. A few miles south of the town of Kaplan is this little gem of a road treat. What can you get here? Classic Cajun country cooking such as pistolettes (a shrimp or crawfish stuffed and fried bread roll), Étouffée, Gumbo, Boudin, Alligator, Piquante and  Crawfish of course. Many of the dishes are packaged in the refrigerator case for those wanting food to-go.  We may have to return to  pick up some corn and shrimp soup to go for our travel day lunch when leaving Abbeville.

Because we are here just a few more days , we will likely want to revisit one or more of these places before we leave….