Thursday, February 11, 2010

2/11/10 Today this report comes from Betty's RV Park in Abbeville, LA. Betty is infamous amongst RVers, especially the Boomer's because staying here always involves lots of Happy Hours and special events in the community, all organized by Betty. Her place is "party central". There are only about 20 RV spots here and it is basically Betty's backyard turned into an RV park. We arrived yesterday and are the only ones here who are boondocking. The weather today is very chilly (in the low 40's) and rainy, with a forecast for more of the same cold weather in the next 5 days or so. UGH! Yesterday we attended the Happy Hour in her enclosed gathering room, and then after dinner everyone carpooled to a private club about 8 miles away called Touchet's. In the daytime it is an adult daycare center and at night it is a bar. There was a band there playing typical Louisiana music (very catchy) and our group was warmly welcomed by everyone. The music didn't start until the end of the business meeting of the Acadian Culture Club, and there were at least 80 people in attendance for that, so the dance floor was very crowded the rest of the evening. Laura Bornkamp didn't let that stop her and the whole crowd was enchanted with her enthusiasm. Earlier Gordon had fixed a nice BBQ rib dinner for all of us, supplemented by Elaine's wonderful salad and also sliced tomatoes in balsamic vinegar. So it was another fun-filled evening with good food and good friends.
The evening before we had also had an awesome time with our cruise friends, Jim & Jan Sylvester, who live north of Baton Rouge in Zachary. Happy Hour was held in our rig, where we were able to talk non-stop and catch up on all their events since last seeing them in Dec. on the transAtlantic. Then they treated us to a delicious seafood dinner (with Louisiana twists) at their favorite restaurant. Happily, they will be joining us for the Spring transAtlantic on the Independence in April, so it won't be long before we all are together again. Here is a picture of them:

Before going to Zachary, we had spent 9 days at Bayou Segnette State Park across the Mississippi River from New Orleans. It was a lovely park with very nice amenities and lots of wildlife. Last time I posted an armadillo picture, and we continued to see lots of those. There were many different kinds of birds but my favorite was the cardinal:

Nearly every day we went into New Orleans on the free ferry at Algiers Point.

The first day we walked to the French Quarter and had a cafe au lait and beignets (which are French doughnuts) at Cafe du Monde. We hardly ever eat this stuff, and nearly collapsed from sugar overload, but they were tasty.

After walking through the French Market, where there was lots of Mardi Gras related items for sale, of course, we went to the French Quarter for the first parade of the day. Here is a picture of some of the beads, and feather masks that were for sale:

The parades which go through the French Quarter are the ones which do not involve big floats and marching bands. The first one was the Krewe of Cork, which we learned was a group who enjoyed wine and who walked in the parade in costumes related to that. They also had several golf carts pulling large ice chests full of wine and most of the parade participants were pretty inebriated by the time they reached the place where we watched the procession. A lot of the costumes involved corks:

Some of them were just weird and colorful:

Others were grape related:

In the French Quarter there were lots of balconies that had been decorated:

And some of the balconies were full of people who were throwing beads and other things down to the crowds of people on the street:

After the parade, we bought a sandwich which is supposed to be "typical" New Orleans - a Mufaletta. As you can see in the following picture, it is a huge bun with salami, cheese, ham, and some pickled veggies, also olives. We split it 4 ways and it was pretty tasty - but also rather salty.

Of course, one of the reasons people go to the parades is to collect a bunch of beads. Here is a picture of Laura & Gordon on the ferry on the way home after only 2 parades:

The next morning we attended three parades on the west side of the river, so we didn't have to take the ferry over. It was pretty cold that day, although sunny, and here is a picture of us at the parade:

The first parade was the Choctaw Parade, so there was an Indian theme:

Here is another float from that parade:

The next parade had a mythology theme:

On Superbowl Sunday we took the ferry over to experience some of the energy of the city and to see 2 more parades. Here is an example of a few of the fans:

And there were people everywhere yelling "Who Dat", which comes from their saying, "Who Dat saying dey going to beat dem Saints?" Here is a typical poster:

The first parade we attended had some really fancy floats and had people on them who had fabulous costumes, such as the King:

I guess the guy following was one of the Knights:

And another guy on a different float had some fancy feathers in his costume:

We then walked through the French Quarter, which even at this early hour was already packed with people:

Think about how impacted it must have been later on, after the Saints won the game!
Laura made a real effort to get into the spirit by wearing her mask, which blinked
colored lights in 3 different patterns:

The parade we attended in the French Quarter was called The Barkus Parade because it was for dogs. People dressed up their dogs, and sometimes themselves, and paraded through the crowd:

Here is an alternative animal who attended the Barkus Parade:

On the way home we stopped at the seafood stalls near the state park to buy some fresh shrimp.

Laura & Gordon were fixing a special dinner for us in their rig while we all watched the Superbowl Game together. They made a really delicious dish called Coconut MacNut Shrimp with Guava Sweet & Sour Sauce.

Of course, we were cheering for the Saints and were happy when they won. We were also glad that we were NOT in the huge crowds in the city which were shown on TV!
We have now established ourselves here in Abbeville, where there will be different events for Mardi Gras. Hopefully, the very cold and rainy weather will improve so we can get out to enjoy them, and we will tell you all about everything in our next report.

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