Welcome to central Louisiana. This road trip really has done a lot for my spelling skills. I can now spell Pennsylvania and Louisiana.
I had always heard that it was damp and wet down here, but the amount of water has shocked me. Half this state is water. There are miles and miles of raised highways with swamp waters below. If you look back at the Okefenokee Swamp, much of this state looks just like that.
In typical form, we are sticking to back roads. This is where you get to see the "real" people and how they live. When I first saw this next image, I thought it was just unique to one house, but there were hundreds of houses that were set up the same.
They don't have a foundation in the ground; they are mounted up on blocks. Even the stick built houses are built this way because there is too much water in the ground.
It had rained the night before and the water hadn't drained. Field after field was filled with water.
We had only been on the road about a half hour when I saw a little blue sign that said, "Tourist Information."
Oh, let's check it out...
We swung a left and that placed us in the center of Ville Platte, LA at the Chamber of Commerce.
We walked through the door to find the most enthusiastic woman I have ever met. She was so excited at our presence. I don't think they have ever had anyone doing a road trip stop in.
We asked if they had any recommendations of things to see as we headed north in Louisiana. Camille, the lady at the Chamber of Commerce, said with her southern/French accent, "Oh, honey, once you leave Evangeline Parish, you have left god's country."
(Camille, I hope I spelled your name right!!)
She informed us that Evangeline Parish is the largest French speaking parish in the country and clearly the BEST.
At this point, I had to clarify what a parish is. We were told that Louisiana was formed from French and Spanish colonies, which were both officially Roman Catholic. The local government was based on parishes so instead of counties, they have parishes. It is the same thing as a county.
She then proceeded to pull out maps, brochures, magnets, and posters for us to take with us. She began to show us where to go on a poster that is about 2 feet by 2.5 feet. We giggled because we were just picturing ourselves sitting in the car with this poster that is the width of both our seats trying to find the road we were supposed to take.
Sorry, officer, I couldn't see the road. You see, my sight was blocked by this poster.
But, bless her heart, she had a smaller map that was so helpful!! We used the smaller map all day. I am going to use the poster when I get home in my collage that I will create from the trip. I decided it will be the backdrop.
Here we are with Camille and the poster!!
Camille told us about a plantation house that was worth stopping at. Oh, great!!!
While Camille was getting us some information on the plantation, her co-worker gave us directions on how to get out of town, so when Camille came out and started to give us directions that were different, we were puzzled.
My aunt said, "The other lady told us to go down this street and take a left, but you are saying to go the opposite direction?
"Oh, dear, I'm giving you directions to ... yo mama!"
"HUH? Repeat that?"
"I'm giving you directions to Slap Ya Mama!"
"Excuse you? What in the world?"
"Oh, you've never heard of it?"
"Oh, my gosh, you have to go. It is a place that makes a spice. True Cajun spice."
"Huh. OK- It's off to Slap Ya Mama."
I have to add a note here. The people in this town are so incredibly friendly and nice. We were having trouble finding Slap Ya Mama, so we swung into a bank where a lady was getting into her car. We asked her where it was and instead of trying to tell us, she went out of her way and drove us there. How nice was that!!!!
Here is their really cool Christmas tree!!
These Cajun folk are quite the hoot. I can see how Mardi Gras was developed. These women are the life of the party.
At Slap Ya Mama, they had many different products including sauces, seasonings, cook books, jewelry, and jellies. All kinds of stuff with Cajun flavor.
I asked what the difference was between their sauce and Tabasco Sauce. "OH!!!!!" She says as she flings her hands in the air and throws her head back, "There's just no comparison." She pinched her fingers together and put them to her lips and said, "Mmmm, ours has real flavor. It's the flavor that makes the difference."
As we were checking out at Slap Ya Mama, we were starving!! So I asked where we should eat. She said, "Ya gotta go to The Pig Stand."
That's right, pig stand.
It's off to lunch we go with visions of pigs on the table...
The directions we true directions from a local. Go down the one-way a bit and go this way, but don't go this way- as she points with her hands. Cross some railroad tracks and down a bit.
Down the one-way we go. Then we saw the sign with an arrow, but I was in the right lane and the parking was on the left. A true sign of the nice people around here. I slowed to a stop to get over and all the cars came to a stop to let us cross. As we pulled into the parking lot, the only building we could see was a little trailer behind the trees. Where is this place?
We walked across the street to find out and there we were in the middle of The Pig Stand. It was a local restaurant with card tables and folding chairs.
It brought us a heart burned filled Cajun chicken meal.
(just a note-If you ever take a trip like this, buy a case of Imodium. You will need all of it!!)
Delicious to one section of the country, is torture to another.
We were told about this FAMOUS place called Floyds Records. They are the oldest record store in Louisiana. The lady at Slap Ya Mama told us they had the best Zydeco, Swamp Pop and Cajun music. I still have not a clue what any of those sound like, and probably couldn't recognize them if I heard them, but we had to swing by Floyds. True small town.
This next little tid bit is a bit different to adjust to. Since Louisiana is so full of water, the people cannot be buried below ground. So they are buried above ground in concrete caskets and brick boxes.
Down here in the south and in much of the midwest, old churches with cemeteries that are larger than the church itself, are as common as an espresso stand in the northwest.
More water!!! Water, water and more water!!! The cyprus trees are so interesting to look at. The bottom flares out for stability.
We have now arrived at our original destination. Lloyd Hall Plantation. This is a haunted plantation mansion. Our guide truly believed the stories he was telling us to the extent that he brought in ghost specialists. He said the house has had over 20 owners. It was built by slaves, raised a number of families, abandoned, attacked by Indians, and was part of the civil war. Talk about history!! It was built in 1820 by the slaves and is made of solid 12-inch thick bricks. As it stands today, it still has the original wall plaster, doors, floors, and railings on the stairs.
The man that built it was the son of Lloyd of London, but was kicked out of London because he was quite the rebel. He came here and built this house, but the story is that he didn't change his behavior and traded secrets between the Confederates and the Union. He was eventually hung by the confederates in the front lawn.
I just love these tree-lined driveways.
The dining porch.
All the trim is the original and is incredibly intricate. It is all made of plaster.
This is the original front door. It was moved to an interior doorway for security, but it still has indents from an attack from the Indians. Lloyd got in a fight over land with the Indians and they attacked the house.
The hand railing here is the original and is one solid piece of wood from top to bottom.
This is the center hall on the second floor.
This is the original kitchen and has now been turned into two cottages and are part of a bed and breakfast.
This is a beautiful spot that looks through the shaped bushes out into the 600 acres of fields.
We had best exit our back roads style of travel and get on the freeway.
I think if I ever have kids, this is how I want them to learn history. By seeing it and standing in the places the people did hundreds of years earlier.
We were not making quick progress in a forward motion but we did have lots of experiences. We departed just north of Lafayette at about 9:30 am and by 2:00 in the afternoon, we had traveled a whopping 45 miles in 4 and a half hours.
How many miles do we have to go today?
We had best exit our back roads style of travel and get on the freeway.
Now we have arrived in Shreveport, LA and I can't keep my eyes open!! Good night!!