Up early, Kay was a bundle of energy getting the motorhome ready to travel northward. At 8 AM, she asked the folks next door to move their tow vehicle so we could exit, and we were on the road at 8:15 AM. The trip was uneventful, except that the chosen route, Arkansas Highway 9 north from Camden, was closed due to flooding of the Ouachita River. A detour required additional driving but we were in Hot Springs Village by about 4 PM, and dumped and unpacked by 5 PM. And then, it was good to be home.
We had nothing planned today. After a late start we drove a roundabout way to Abbeville for a last meal at Shucks. The meal consisted of shrimp salad and gumbo for Kay and fried oysters for me, topped off with a large serving of bread pudding. Interestingly, the bread pudding was very good, and the butter rum sauce tasted exactly like mine! Returning to the motorhome via rural roads, we witnessed one crawfish pond after another, and many were being harvested as we drove by.
The last night of the 2019 Cajun RV Rally featured crawfish and Zydeco music by Grammy Award winner Chubby Carrier. Zydeco is a music genre that evolved in southwest Louisiana by French Creole speakers which blends blues, rhythm and blues, and music indigenous to the Louisiana Creoles and Acadians. Though distinct in origin from the Cajun music of Louisiana, the two forms frequently influenced each other, forming a complex of genres native to Louisiana. Again, Kay and I danced the night away listening to the great music. HSV Roadrunners were well represented, and a great time was had by all.
We finally made it to the Boudin Festival in Scott, self-proclaimed “Boudin Capital of the World”. Boudin is a Southern Louisiana sausage-type delicacy comprised of ground pork, rice, onion, and Cajun spices and seasonings. It is served in a casing (my favorite, with mustard) or in deep-fried balls with a surprise center of melted cheese. Despite the mid-morning hour, the deep-fried Boudin balls tasted very good and were washed down with ice cold beer. With ominous clouds building in the southwest, we made a quick tour of the small festival grounds before driving Acadian country roads back to Rayne where we settled in for the afternoon.
It began raining mid-afternoon, and though there were short periods of letup, it continued raining throughout the night, often in deluges loud enough to wake us.
A chicken and sausage gumbo dinner was followed with music by Jo El Sonniet, a Cajun Music Hall of Fame, and Grammy Award winner (in camo). He and the band were awesome—he could make that accordion do things we thought impossible. Kay and I danced the night away, mostly country waltzes.
The morning yielded another overcast sky and late start. After skipping breakfast, lunch was at Fezzos, a much-awarded seafood and steak restaurant. Kay had fried shrimp and meat pies, while I had shrimp etouffee and grilled shrimp. The food was food, but not up to Shucks (Friday’s restaurant) level.
And then, we were off to Vermillionville, an historic Acadian settlement with docents outfitted in period dress. While there, a Cajun jam session was underway and featured a couple of Cajun Music Hall of Fame members, including accordionist Sheryl Cormier. Her husband sang many of the old mournful Cajun French songs. Most of the language spoken among jam musicians was Cajun French.
From Vermillionville, we drove to Cypress Island Preserve in hopes of photographing water birds and alligators. It was not meant to be. Despite the long drive to the Preserve in the middle of scant development, there were already several cars of families enjoying the quiet natural area—a good thing. However, with the combination of kids having a good time and heavy winds prevented any bird or flower photography. We did see an Allen’s Hummingbird (a local rarity), a Prothonitary Warbler, and a Tufted Titmouse thanks to a local birder who offered assistance.
After a brief visit to Costco to return a couple of items, we made our way back to the rally grounds for the evening happy hour, dinner, and music. A fair dinner was served and included sausage jambalaya, green beans and new potatoes, and slaw, and strawberry and lemon cakes for desert. Music was provided by Swamp Pop Band featuring hall of famers V.J. Boilet and Bobby Page (Oscar winner Green Book featured one of their originals). Once again, we danced the night away.
Friday morning arrived with a light mist and overcast skies. Kay and I hardly ever deviate from a morning routine of coffee, and catching up on news, emails, and Facebook friends, and this morning was no exception—thanks Verizon for personal hotspots with unlimited data.
The first stop of the day was Costco to cash the preceding year’s dividend check and have hearing aids cleaned. And then it was off to Schucks Oyster House in Abbeville, Louisiana, for lunch. Seated after a brief wait, we ordered; Kay had salad with remoulade sauce as a dressing and her usual fried shrimp and onion rings—the remoulade sauce was to die for—and I had a dozen on the half shell. Oh my goodness, were they ever good!
After lunch we drove to Scott, Boudin Capital of the World to attend the annual Boudin Festival. After driving for a half hour in search of an entrance and parking place, and finding one along the frontage road, we discovered that the festival didn’t start until 5:30 pm.
Back at the coach, we rested until happy hour, joining other Village Roadrunners in the main hall. The etouffee for dinner was very bland and tasteless, not real good. The music, however, was great. We “danced the night away” to the music of Kira and Her Bayou Beat as they played Cajun, Country Western, and oldies,
Several months ago, friend Stan Jensen convinced us to register for the Cajun RV Rally in Rayne, Louisiana—so here we are—our first rally since October 2012. (We got frustrated with rallies held by one of the RV clubs we were in; seems like they expected the hosts to wait on the other attendees hand and foot, including planning, preparation, and cleanup of most meals—not my cup of tea—so we just quit going!)
Because of the deluge of rain in the Rayne area the last few days, all sites on grass became part of a flooded field. Consequently, we were all (about 50 RVs) parked on at least some pavement, with our back wheels were in the grass. It was also tight as our bedroom slide was within inches of the next RV’s slide. Fortunately, both the 50 amp cord and the fresh water hose reached, just barely. It was too soggy to extend the jacks, but we were sufficiently level to extend the slides.
After the quick setup, we hustled off to lunch at Chef Roy’s Frog Cafe. Kay had etouffee and shrimp, and I had shrimp salad—both were delicious!
Back at the RV we tried napping, but the close proximity of RVs and associated noise made it impossible.
We enjoyed a potluck dinner and humorist in the evening, while also getting to know more attendees. The humorist was a tad off color, but not offensive. It’s going to be a good rally.
With last minute items in hand, we returned to the RV, connected the “old” Honda CR V, and drove south to Diamondjacks Casino in Bossier City, Louisiana. The 4-1/2 hour drive was uneventful except for the constant headwind the whole way. Check-in and setup was pretty quick, after which the inside of the motorhome was cleaned after being stored for 9 months.
We both were starving, and drove to Ralph and Kacoos. Kay really enjoyed the Catfish St. Ann’s while I had a below average Catfish Acadiana, a big disappointment from the restaurant chain I visited 40 years ago.
Back at Diamondjacks, we visited with fellow HSV Roadrunners Bob and Jane Nitchal. Kay made a donation to the outdated casino while I caught up on email, etc.
We were on the road again Thursday morning, driving south to Rayne, Louisiana, “Frog Capital of the World.” It misted, rained, or down-poured most of the 4+ hour drive.