House sitting in Louisiana
June 12, 2014
Since George and I decide to hold off on cruising to the Bahamas until winter… we thought we might give house sitting a try to get us out of the marina for the summer.
Our first house sitting trip was to Prairieville, Louisiana. Prairieville is an hour NW of New Orleans and a 1/2 hour south of Baton Rouge. We had a wonderful time and think we might just be onto something with this house sitting thing!
We looked after Charlie, the Maltese Poodle. Charlie is one of the sweetest dogs in the world, and we miss him!
It totally rocks to have the leisurely time to explore an area. We probably could have done all of this in a week, but we would have been exhausted (probably happily). But by being able to take advantage of a house sitting opportunity we were able to intertwine relaxation time with exploring which was a very new experience for us.
Thank you Katy and Kenny for your hospitality!
Things we learned:
The difference between the Creole and Cajun people of Louisiana.
Cajuns call themselves “coon asses”, yup, seriously. Probably one of those terms best left to self proclamation.
George and I could probably eat our weight in Cajun food! LOL
Places we went:
Vermilionville, Lafayette – This “living history museum” village is recreation of an ~1800 Arcadian village. The original homes where moved here and other structures where built, such as the covered shed for storing boats. The village lays on the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin (swamp.) I was skeptical, but ultimately enchanted by the village, which was a delight to experience. We walked thru the village admiring the landscaping, gardens, and authentic feel of each cottage. What it must have been like to live on the edge, seriously folks, right outside your door, swamp. Some of the cottages had their original cypress floors, but they all conveyed what it would have felt like to live in a village of this type.
Bluebonnet Swamp Nature Center, Baton Rouge – This nature center had over a mile of paths to walk thru the Bluebonnet Swamp. Once you get into the swamp it is amazing the diversity of wildlife you can hear and see! We heard a lot of birds, frogs and even Wood Peckers! The deeper we got into the swamp the louder it got! And we learned that Cypress trees have “knees” (picture #3) which are the roots of the tree above ground.
St. Francisville, LA – A small town with many historic homes, and plantations in the area. We drove the historic “walk” since it was nearly 100 degrees, and had lunch at the Magnolia Café. After lunch we drove around to some of the plantations, but didn’t take any tours.
Couret’s Swamp Tours – When I asked George what kind of swamp tour he wanted to go on, I told him he could choose from a large boat with many tourists, or just us in a boat with a guide. He chose the later and we chose Ernest, and it was an amazing choice! Ernest launched his 16 ft. wide bottom boat (25 hp johnson), and we climbed in and away we went. Throughout the 2 hour tour of the swamp Ernest told us about the swamp (Atchafalaya Basin) while we were in awe over the quiet, eerie beauty. This swamp is the largest in the United States, spanning over 1 million acres. On our tour we saw Great Egret, Little Blue Heron, Great Blue Heron, Anhinga, Glossy (black) & White Ibis, Night Heron, and Tri-colored Heron.
Ernest showed us two of his Crawfish traps. He puts a beer can and corn into the traps. Apparently they are attracted to the beer can and they eat the corn. There were a few big ones in one of the traps.
He also took us into a basin which he knew was the home of 2 alligators, a male and female… and this is mating season. The male poked his head up right by the boat and Ernest quickly started the engine and we slowly exited the basin… he said that the male is very territorial and they can get aggressive during mating season, that same male had slapped his boat with his tale just the day before.
There are remnants of a old railroad track, only posts remaining, jutting up out of the water. He told us about boats that have run into the posts that are hiding under the water with deadly consequences. There are also many tree stumps, some can be seen, some can’t, hazards for the “coon asses” as Ernest would say. There are no charts or hazard indicators out here, just local knowledge.
Frenchmen Street, New Orleans – If you want to find some serious musicians, not bombarded by drunks like Bourbon Street, head for Frenchmen Street. We went to the Spotted Cat, which is a small bar frequented by locals, and watched a couple of bands. Gotta love a show where the musicians show up on their bicycles, even the tuba player!
Places we ate (of note):
Prejeans, Lafayette – (pronounced “pray-ZHAHNs”) Probably some of the BEST Cajun food George and I have ever had the pleasure of eating. But the one dish we literally fought over was the “Crawfish & Alligator Sausage Cheesecake.” We have never had “hot cheesecake”. And if you try to Google recipes, you come up goose eggs mostly. Is this a well kept Cajun secret!? It was amazing!
Here is what we ate at Prejeans, and I don’t think I would change a thing if we were to be blessed with another visit! Cajun Bloody Mary, Chicken and Sausage Gumbo, Crawfish and Alligator Sausage Cheesecake and a Crawfish Platter (Fried crawfish, Crawfish Etouffee, Crawfish Cornbread Pie, and Crawfish Boulettes, served with French Fries, Corn Macque Choux, Crawfish Bisque, and Fried Crawfish Salad). Oink!
Bon Temps Grill, Lafayette – We had another delicious Cajun Bloody Mary, Cajun Sausage & Boudin and Shrimp & Tasso pasta… Yum!
Royal House Oyster Bar, New Orleans – When we visited New Orleans in November 2013, we went to the Royal House Oyster Bar twice because we loved the sauce in their Crab Claw appetizer. George has been trying to reengineer the sauce ever since. On this trip, Royal House was our first visit. We again had the Crab Claws, followed by their sampler platter of Jambalaya, Gumbo & Crawfish Etouffee. Delicious!
Orleans Grapevine Bar & Bistro, New Orleans – One of the few wine bars in New Orleans, this restaurant also had good food in addition to a nice wine selection. We had Gumbo and New Orleans BBQ Shrimp (heads and all!).
We are back home for 2 weeks while we diet and prepare for our next house sitting adventure on Halsey Island, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, stay tuned!