I live twenty minutes away from some of the most beautiful beaches in Florida, and sadly I don’t get out there as much as I should. Oh, the excuses are there..”I don’t have time”, “I don’t want to fight traffic.” “People forget how to drive while on vacation.” These are pretty much the excuses I use when I contemplate driving out to Anna Maria Island. Once I do, I almost always feel like kicking myself because I have such a wonderful time when I’m out there. It refreshes me and sort of does a reset on me. I went out last week for the morning because I knew that we had storms out in the Gulf and I wanted to try and photograph the clouds off the coast. By the time I got there, the thunderheads had pretty much dissipated, but the water was beautiful so I spent a couple of hours just photographing the beach and surrounding area. Hope you enjoy the photos and if you don’t live anywhere near the beach, maybe these will help give you a reset if you need one.
Archives for July 2015
Champagne’s Swamp Tours, Road Trip Day 4.
We decided that our swamp tour would be the last thing on our scheduled trip through South Louisiana and after looking a brochures and looking at Yelp and TripAdvisor, we settled on Champagne’s Swamp Tours in Breaux Bridge. Breaux Bridge is a quick twenty-minute drive from Lafayette. My mom wasn’t into the airboat type tours, so this one, using flat bottom boats was perfect. Champagne’s has been name a TripAdvisor 2015 Award of Excellence winner. After taking the tour, I can see why. The people there are super friendly and the guides are wonderful. This is the only swamp tour in Breaux Bridge that has its own bathroom facilities and the ability to purchase water and cold drinks. The $20.00 per person ticket price was well worth it. I was so impressed that I wrote a TripAdvisor and Yelp review, and I never do that. We arrived for our 10am tour and was glad to see that it was overcast as summer in Louisiana can be a HOT! Our tour was on Lake St. Martin and it was so peaceful and beautiful. Our guide, Andy, was a great storyteller and was very knowledgable about the area and the lake. I highly recommend this and will go back.
Our transportation for the tour.
Kayakers headed out for the day. Kayaks can also be rented. I love to kayak and would do this in the fall.
Cypress trees under a cloudy sky
Andy telling us about the lotus flowers.
The seeds in the pod are edible.
After our tour, we drove up to Arnaudville and had lunch at The Little Big Cup and then headed on towards Grand Coteau on our way to I-49. This little town is home to a convent and a boarding school. The town has done a great job making it an antique lovers destination with cute shops and cafes. We only explored a tiny bit of the town, but it is one place that I’d like to go back and spend more than the hour that we did this trip.
After our quick stop in Grand Coteau, we headed back to Dry Prong. We were tired, and too full from all the good food that we had eaten, but we had such a wonderful time and I’m so glad that we did this. I can’t wait for us to do it again. Sunday was my dad’s birthday and Father’s Day, so that was so nice to be able to be there to celebrate. I had Monday to myself, so I cooked dinner for them, packed and flew back to Florida on Tuesday. It was the longest time that I had spent at home in years. I plan on going back for a few days in the fall and then for at least a week next summer.
Louisiana Road Trip Day 3.
We headed out of New Orleans on Friday, but before we left, I snapped this guy jamming out and DJing his own concert. He was having a great time!
Headed out of the city, you can see the Super Dome peeping out from behind the building.
After we left New Orleans, we headed toward Lafayette via Hwy 90. Going via Hwy 90 did two things. 1) We stayed south of I-10 and didn’t thereby avoiding Baton Rouge traffic and 2) it’s a prettier drive.
Yep, a real, honest to goodness, paper map. Hwy 90 is in red.
Approach to the Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge as we were leaving I-10 and headed toward Hwy 90.
We headed toward Houma where we stopped at the cutest little Tourist Center. The ladies there were so nice and helpful. If Houma sounds familiar it’s probably because you’ve seen at least one episode of Swamp People. We didn’t see Troy, but you can just see how proud this area is of their ‘boys.’ I would love to do a ride along and photograph one of those gator hunting trips. (Yes, I’m crazy.)
A few photos from our stop at the Tourist Center. In our family we read pretty much every historical marker that we come across. This one was at the Tourist Center.
Our first destination was to Avery Island , home of TABASCO. This island, while home to the bottling plant, is also home Jungle Gardens. The gardens were beautiful and very peaceful. Lots of places to have a picnic or just to sit out on a quilt and read. We were there in the summer, so past peak bloomng season, but in the spring, this place is a riot of color with tons of flowering plants and trees. There is a $1.00 toll to get on the island, and to tour the gardens, there is a small admission fee.
Visitor’s Center and gift shop
This is a driving tour. Of course, the adventerous are welcome to walk it, but summer in Louisiana, I’m staying in the comfort of the air conditioned car. After our tour of the gardens, it was time to head over to the TABASCO bottling plant. The plant runs four days a week, and wouldn’t you know it, the day we were there, they weren’t running. You can still go in, get a tour and see the machines and visit the country store. They give you miniature bottle of TABASCO as part of your tour and anything TABASCO that you would want can be found at the country store. I bought some wood chips that were made from the barrels that they age the TABASCO in for my brothers when they use the smoker.
We left Avery Island and headed toward our hotel in Lafayette. Our plan was to finish up our road trip with a swamp tour on Saturday, then head back to Dry Prong that afternoon.
Sugar cane fields.
Before we go into Lafayette, we made a stop in St. Martinville, home of the Evangeline Oak and Acadian Memorial. In this location you can find the story of the Acadiens (Cajuns) and their journey from exile in Canada to the swamp of Louisiana. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow is know for his poem Evangeline, a bittersweet love story about two lovers who were seperated when Canada exiled the Acadiens. The memorial to this poem is also found here. You must stop in the museum and plan to spend a good amount of time as the volunteers are very friendly and will tell you the amazing history of the Cajun people.
After our tour through St. Martinville, we drove the short thirty minutes to our hotel in Lafayette where we grabbed some dinner at Cheddars and shopped some at World Market. I love World Market, but as the nearest one to me in Florida is over two hours away, I take advantage of when I can shop! The drive from New Orleans to Lafayette is approximently two hours, which is nice, because if you aren’t in a hurry, you can do what we did and stop and sightsee along the way. Next trip, I think I would like to go down and the Houma area and spend a little more time, maybe do a swamp tour in that area. In my next post, we’ll wrap up the road trip with a swamp tour on Lake St. Martin and a stop in Grand Coteau.
NOLA, Day 2 Part 3
One of the things that New Orleans is known for is music. Music can be found at any time of the day around the city. If you want to listen to great music, just walk around the French Quarter and will not be disappointed. As we were walking through Jackson Square, we came across this wonderful band playing their hearts out in the ridiculous June heat. They were so good and had gathered quite the crowd. They didn’t have a sign to indicate their name, but I wish they would have. Everyone in the crowd had a smile on their faces and a group of children were having the best time listening and dancing along. On my next trip, I am planning on going to some of the music clubs along Frenchmen St.
Play for that money! (they had gathered quite a bit already)
This little boy was really moved by the music, he danced and tumbled to to the music.
Hot and humid in New Orleans, but still they played on.
They didn’t mind me taking photos.
This wraps up the New Orleans posts. Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the rest of our trip through South Louisiana.
NOLA Day 2, part 2
According to my heath app on my phone, we walked over 5 miles this day. It probably would have been more, but we took that two hour bus tour that you saw in the previous post.Here are some sites from around our French Quarter walk.
I am not quite sure what is going on with these two signs, but apparently this is a marketing ply by the local real estate agent. These are the same sign, just different sides.
Lots of shops had cats, and this one was outside an art gallery.
Tiny used bookshop on Chartes.
We were wandering around Chartes St. . and came across Hove Parfumeur, We spent forever sniffing all of these lovely scents that I haven’t smelled anywhere else. Mom was very sweet and insisted on purchasing scents for each of us. I ended up with Diverti, which is a woodsy scent, something totally different that what I normally wear. This is how the shop describes it.
DIVERTI- Light and refreshing, this blend of sandalwood, cedar and a mixture of floral notes creates a divertissement of it own. I love it, I’ve never smelled this anywhere else and every time I wear it, it reminds me of this trip. Amy and Mom both got their own scents. I know that I will be repurchasing this when it runs out as it’s really nice having a scent that I don’t smell every day.
A trip to New Orleans isn’t complete without me finding a yarn stop and coming home with some yarn.
I went into The Quarter Stitch and was met with a riot of color and textures. I was so distracted that this is the only photo that I took!
Mom in front of the French Quarter location of Fleurty Girl
After shopping til we dropped, we had the best meal of our trip at The Old Coffee Pot. I’m pretty sure that Joel and I had breakfast here fifteen years ago when we visited, but let me tell you, this place was so good. It has been featured on Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on The Food Network.
Chandelier in the dining room.
I managed to snap some quick (but slightly blurry) photos before we all dug in.
I had Jambalaya with fried catfish. The jambalaya was divine and the fish ws lightly fried. The flavors were amazing and my mouth waters just remembering it.
Mom had the Triple D, a sampling of the dishes served on the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.
This was jambalaya, Fleur de Lis chicken on a bed of green bean cassarole.
Amy had BBQ Shrimp and Grits
Everything was so yummy. I’m pretty sure we cleaned our plates. If you go to New Orleans, you MUST MUST MUST eat here.
For the road, I decided to go full-on tourst and have a Hurricane in a g0-cup. Best hurricane I have ever had. All homemade and not from that sickeningly sweet mix that lots of restaurants used.
Seriously, delicious. All of it.
Part 3 to follow!