Backtracking here just a smidge…John and I went to Sodolaks in Snook, Texas while volunteering at Washington on the Brazos. At the advice of the Travel Chanel, we were instructed to try their Chicken Fried Bacon. I’m not a bacon fan, yes I know, very un-American of me, but they raved about it and John was willing to give it a try. After finishing the plate, John did mention that it would have been more enjoyable if it had been thick cut but my ity bity bite still confirmed that I don’t enjoy bacon. Another item crossed off John’s Bucket List.
Before leaving for our New England journey, the long awaited, albeit 20 years too late, grand opening of the Woodlands Whole Foods had arrived. Our daughter Liz convinced us that we should be one of the first patrons, being 30 year customers of Whole Foods in Houston. We reluctantly arose from our comfy bed at 6:00 a.m. and met Liz in The Woodlands out in front of the store. We stood in line, in the drizzle, to hear the key speaker mispronounce “Galatas Elementary”, and oddly enough, “organic” in the same paragraph. In the parking lot stood a grand old silver bullet RV which was offering free hot coffee/cocoa/tea to the chilled crowd. The company was Allegro Coffee Company and because LilyPad is an Allegro, we had to capture the Kodak moment.
Selling everything including you home and moving into a motorhome to travel full time puts most of us into the category of “a few cards short of a full deck” which is likely how we can survive living this way. Now we will spend the better part of a month having repairs done to LilyPad before picking up our New England bound trail.
First stop on our journey was Eunice Louisiana for some Cajun spicy tail pinching, head sucking and dancing far into the night. Meeting up with two other Tiffin couples in the land of dang good, slap yo mama spicy Cajun food and Zydeco music, we arrived at Lakeview Park and Beach RV Park late in the afternoon and set up camp. Full Cajun emersion began almost immediately upon arrival. The Tiffin gang came knocking, inviting us to “come with” for dinner at D.I’s in Basile, Louisiana.
Arrived just in time to be seated before the entire restaurant filled to overflowing with massive amounts of extended families. The live Cajun music and the smell of blackened grilled oysters was overpoweringly delicious and we stuffed ourselves comfortably before turning our attention to the musicians.
An elderly couple walked gingerly to their table but rose to the floor once the music began. They held onto each other for stability as they danced across the wooden floor, the man’s finger tips tapping accordion cords gently on his wife’s back. You cannot help yourself from having some body part moving or tapping to the Zydeco beat. It is legendary dancing and party music!
On the way home we passed dozens of flooded rice fields with their first crop being harvested by boats with nets. So many huge juicy crawfish all lying in wait, fattening up before being pulled up, plunged into giant spicy hot boiling tubs and served up with red potatoes, mushrooms and corn to adoring “mud bug” fans across the south. A spicy pinch of heaven. The field’s next crop, already fertilized by the “mud bugs” will be rice.
Saturday morning we visited Fred’s Lounge, an infamous bar in Mamou known for some of the best Cajun music around, cheap drinks and the ability to start throwing back cold ones early in the morning. The lounge has been hosting its Saturday-morning Cajun music broadcast since 1962 and is live, rowdy and all in French. The plan was to arrive early, suck down a healthy morning beverage, a.k.a. Bloody Mary and spend some time people watching. Several diesel buses outside with engines chugging away, along with cigar and cigarette smoke changed my plans and kept me at a distance but John went in to look around and it was as they say, if you don’t get there by 9 a.m., it’s standing room only.
We were invited to a family crawfish boil by our Tiffin friends to be held at a nearby cousin’s house. The host made a killer jambalaya with the perfect amount of spice and heat. The meat used was his own homemade smoked sausage and pork. His son was busy manning the humongous pot for the crawfish. Bag after bag of crawfish were turned out of the amazing custom crawfish pot that sat in front of their backyard smokehouse.
Home baked goodies closed out the meal with every single bite enjoyed by the group of about 30. Super yummy. Friendly comradery afterwards in a comfortable back yard enclosed kitchen/living room to let it all settle and then back to LilyPad for some outside time for KatieBug before we rest and get ready for our nighttime entertainment adventure.
The parks entertainment for the night was Geno Delafose & French Rockin Boogie at the dance barn. Free entrance for those that were camping here overnight. Beer was only $2.00 and the special was Margarita’s. The two lines of bellies up to the bar never diminished. This was a drinking crowd.
A jam packed and dimly lit barn waited at the end of the line, those waiting puffing on their cigarettes as fast as humanly possible before entering the no-smoking bar. I had to take out my mask, never fun. The rest of the group had already arrived and saved us chairs. When the musicians were tuned up and started their first set, it was so packed and so loud that I was taken aback at how I could have done this year after year in my 20 and 30 somethings. Near us, after wobbling a few times, a man standing next to a garbage can sprawled out in front of our table and into John’s fast acting arms. Lifting him up quickly, his friends helped steady him against a barn beam.
After only a few songs, our group decided the noise was to overwhelming but I told John I was not leaving without dancing at least once. We squeezed our way onto the dance floor. The music was so loud that my eardrums hurt and I got woozy so we left to enjoy what was left of the night in the quiet solitude of LilyPad’s interior, ears ringing until noon the next day.
We were amazed that throughout the night it was quiet, with no noise from any of the party crowd. It crossed my mind that we might have temporarily lost our hearing from the multiple six foot tall speakers that were blasting sound across the barn’s small dance floor, me being dumb enough to demand a dance only inches away.
Awoke and completed all our household chores before our group of six left for the 29th Annual World’s Championship Crawfish Etouffee Cook-Off. All sorts of crazy mixed among the arts, crafts, home baked goodies and a plethora of Etouffee booths.
We had three cups of Etouffee, then fried Etouffee rice balls, some fig pie, more Etouffee and several ice cold beers while enjoying another less deafening Zydeco band, the Dixie Club Ramblers.
Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse brought the masses of bouncing children to a temporary halt for picture poses being snapped by parents, brightly colored necklaces sporting plastic crawfish dangling from their tiny necks.
Added to my bucket list is another visit to this festival next year, dragging as many of -our friends and family as possible. Entrance was free, 8oz cup of loaded-with shrimp Etouffee was only $3.00, beer only $2.00 and water/soda only $1.00. The pavilion was covered, had room for lots of chairs and the music was the perfect level. No wonder the state of Louisiana claims the happiest population in the U.S. You can afford to have fun, eat yummy food, dance, party and keep well within budget!
Poking around the historic town area, we came across a small lovely cemetery, Saint Paul, all graves being above ground which is the norm for cemetery plots in Louisiana.
Our campground went from totally deserted weekdays to overflowing on weekends, full of families enjoying the outdoors, lots of kids biking and running, fishing and dashing all over the roads and through campsites. The small lake was surrounded by bar-b-q-ing families, everyone playing music and enjoying the perfect weather. The best part was the real flaming campfires instead of pits of chocking smoke. These Cajuns know how to put heat in their food and build flaming fires! Quiet time is 10:30, strictly enforced and was adhered to all three nights.
Our site was at the end of the row, at the back of the park, near the water and very quiet considering how full the park became on Friday.
Monday morning we were off again, Movietown being our overnight. More of a permanent transient housing situation than an RV park. People living in the cabins full time, some with children and only a few places were vacant for short term stays. Clean, quiet, not a destination park but good for an overnight.
Arrival at McKinny’s RV repair was late in the afternoon so we took an empty space and settled for the night. Early next morning began the sign-ups at the Tiffin Service Center, McKinny’s RV, Bruce’s body shop and HHH Repair.
It started with the explanations of damage and ended with exasperating pleas of “get it fixed correctly this time” for the repeat repairs with Tiffin. Hope for the best, prepare for the worst and take big deep breaths to keep calm…something I didn’t do with the manager. The conversation turned into blood pressure rising frustration when he calmly stated, “we don’t know how you treat this RV so it could be your fault”. The cracking wood on all of the passenger side front slide cupboards and drawers were our fault? Then why did you change the design the very next year to brace up the cupboards? I explained that if it weren’t fixed correctly this time, I would fly back and strangle someone. He said he was going to call security! Hard to imagine how an overweight, gray haired old lady is much of a threat to a full grown man. John poked me several times and I regained my composure.
First stop was for a new front passenger slide topper at McKinny’s who tried to sell us a gray color when ours are cream. Seriously…as if it weren’t bad enough that we live in campgrounds. They ordered the correct color and it should arrive next week.
Next it was off to Bruce’s a few blocks away so he could repair and paint the outside damage from the dumb commercial lawnmower. We packed up a few things to stay in the nearest decent hotel, an hour away in Tupelo, MS, to stay clear of the strong paint odor. We stayed at La Quinta in a nice enough room but the cleaning chemical smell was overpowering so we left to tour the area and hoped the room would air out.
Tupelo is the town where Elvis, the King, was born January 8, 1935 in a small simple house built by his father. First introduced as “The Hillbilly Cat”, then introduced by RCA Victor as “the hottest new name in country music” Elvis songs appeared on the country charts more than 50 times.
Unless you are a serious Elvis fan, the cost to tour the Museum, chapel and house is a bit steep but to walk the grounds is free. I was interested in seeing the house and the chapel and TripAdvisor pictures of the insides were more than sufficient for me to enjoy the beautiful day. We walked around, read all the in-ground plaques surrounding Elvis’s birth-home and read those posted around the grounds.
The chapel, Assembly of God, was also tiny and unadorned. It was said that Elvis enjoyed singing the old African hymns of his childhood, minus, I’m sure, of the gyrating hip action he acquired as he matured.
Near the chapel sat a replica of an old outhouse, one that would have been used by poor Southern families in that time period. The one Elvis’s family used was shared with the patrons of their local church and it was well documented that the Sears Catalogue, not toilet paper, was the wipe of choice.
Plaques on the side of the museum gave a description of what it was like growing up poor in the South, written by a childhood friend.
Undercover and on loan from the Tupelo Auto Museum is a 1939 Plymouth, same year and model of the car that Elvis moved with his family from Tupelo to Memphis in 1948.
After taking a few pictures and wandering around, we drove into town and walked through the Tupelo Hardware Company where Elvis got his first guitar for his 11th birthday. His mother Gladys offered him a bike, Elvis asked for a 22 caliber rifle but settled for a guitar at a cost of $7.90.
The store is a step back in time with century old hand made drawers that store screws and drawer handles of porcelain. Upon entering, the antique glass and wooden cases were filled with assorted hardware items, some left over from decades ago.
We took a leisurely stroll around downtown Tupelo, past the courthouse and noticed guitars were unquestionably a well-used theme in Elvis’s birth town.
Back to the room, the cleaning fluid odor did not dissipate. Up early next morning, headache firmly settled in my forehead, the horrid squeal of the shower faucet causing me to reconsider another night. We packed up and will take our chances with the paint smell inside LilyPad for the next few nights.
Picked up LilyPad in the midst of a gusty dust storm swirling round the all-look-alike Tiffin coaches. We pulled up to our space to find someone had parked their car dead center. Between the chemical smell, noisy shower, paint smell, dust and someone parking inconsiderately in our space, I was, for the thousandth time, not a happy camper.
Some described camping in a motorhome as “Glamping”. Those “some” certainly are not living in their recreational vehicle full time. Big storm tonight, the weekend is a total down-time as no one works on weekends. Sunday is Easter. Monday morning we hit the floor running.