Deep South Tour:  Texas to New Orleans
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May 29th, 2002

Austin, TX to
Lafayette, LA
Leaving Austin in the morning we passed through Houston, then entered Louisiana along the refinery-littered Gulf Coast on Highway 82. We passed through miles and miles of green, marshy land. We (and Her Plastic Highness, peeking out through the sunroof) waited in line for half an hour with refinery workers to catch the ferry at Holly Beach:
Waiting for the Holly Beach Ferry

When we got across the ferry and into Cameron we spotted a memorial to the hundreds killed by Hurricane Andrew as well as this vivid reminder:
Gas Station Wrecked by Hurricane Andrew

From Cameron we drove on toward Lafayette, where we spent the night. On the way we stopped at Soop's Restaurant in Maurice for some very shrimpy-tasting gumbo, fried crawfish, and other cajun delicacies.

May 30th

Breaux Bridge,
Swamp Tour,
& New Orleans
So first thing the next morning we head to Cafe des Amis in Breaux Bridge for a breakfast of beignets, fried corn meal cereal served with cane syrup, and eggs benedict with grilled boudin patties--yum, but oh man what a stomach ache! During breakfast we booked into Marcus de la Houssaye's Swamp Tour on Lake Martin. The lake is unusually rich in wildlife because much of it is owned by the Nature Conservancy. Before we set off on the tour Princess Leia posed for a photo:
Princess Leia on Dagobah? Nah, It's Lake Martin.

Marcus de la Houssaye went about setting up the boat for our tour. His daughter, who's in the boat, went along with us. Marcus had a fierce cajun accent, a handle bar moustache, and a bag filled with a McDonald's pancake breakfast, which was a bit incongruous given his very learned presentation during the tour. But it was perfectly fitting when a peal of thunder hit, his daughter got scared, and Marcus calmly admonished her to quiet down and place herself in God's hands:
Marcus and Daughter Ready the Boat

Marcus and Lake Martin:
Marcus and Lake Martin

That green scum is called Duck Weed:
Lake Martin, Duck Weed View

Then we headed into the muck and mire of the swamp. With pride in his voice, Marcus described the unique attribute of his otherwise ordinary looking boat: a powerful motor armed with a stainless steel blade capable of mulching anything smaller than a large tree. As we continued into the swamp, Marcus began describing our surroundings, including some interesting detail on the ancient cypress and tupelo trees. For the trees to get this big around takes a long time. They grow very slowly. In most places the swamp does not have trees this old because they are valued by loggers:
Into the Swamp


Marcus wasn't afraid of gators. He says they're afraid of him. Our gator confirmed this buy sneaking away ASAP...
Chicken Gator?

Lake Martin is an important nesting ground, as evidenced by:
Nesting Ground

At this point thunder clapped, rain poured down out of the sky, and Marcus hauled us back to shore. We thanked Marcus and headed off. First we headed north of Lafayette to Sunset and hit Rowena's Meat Market for a tasty snack of boudin. It's a sausage, rice and spice concoction said to be a big favorite in Cajun Country. The New Yorker published an entire article about boudin. We thought it was just so-so.

Next stop: New Orleans. As the rain poured down we hit I-10 and busted ass to the Big Easy for dinner at Cafe Sbisa and a somewhat disappointing night on the town in the French Quarter. On the way to New Orleans this Monster Truck gave us incentive to keep our speed up:
Monster Truck

Watch out! He's closing in!

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Copyright 2002