In parallel posts I’ll be guessing at what the racers among you will do as they go down the Tech and what the rest of you who come down will do, on your shore leave. So, for you landlubbers, here’s a possible day 1. I say possible because your options are a lot more wide open than the racers’. We only have one way to go, and we’ll go as fast as we can. You, on the other hand, have all day and can stop any time you want. My research is uncovering a lot of interesting places and things to do in this part of Louisiana and I’m listing them on the Teche for Tourists tab of the blog. But my imaginary day just picks out a few possible stops.
You got in on Thursday you checked in to a bed and breakfast in Washington. The bed was great and you slept in as long as you could before getting up for the breakfast. Then it was off down the road to Port Barre to see the 7:00 am start of the race. It’s only 10 miles so it didn’t take long. And Port Barre isn’t big; no rush hour traffic around here. After the start you visited with some of the other fans for a few minutes and walked a block up Saizen street to Bourque’s Supermarket for a cup of coffee and to pick up some of their jalapeno sausage cheese bread.
It was going to be a long day and you might needed something to keep up your strength as you drove around. Besides the bread there were a number of other, uh, interesting commodities to consider. You couldn’t remember the last time you ran across hog lard, cracklins, and beef bouille in your local supermarket You weren’t sure about cracklins but they were still hot and the ladies gave a taste. And beef bouille? You discovered that it’s essential for making boudin but it’s better not to list what part of the cow goes in it. Then it was back to Washington to pack up the suitcases, stroll around town a bit. You started the day there with a visit to the Washington Museum and Tourist Center on Main Street and a trip to Magnolia Ridge Plantation and Gardens.
If you had turned south toward Arnaudville (only 18 miles away), you’d have been on the way to Grand Coteau. The Acadamy of the Sacred Heart is here. This is the only shrine at the exact location of a confirmed miracle in the United States. This miracle lead to the canonization of St. John Berchmans. You thought about cruising over to Leonville to check in on the race but decided to head straight for Arnaudville to visit the Bayou Teche Brewery and pick up a six pack of their LA-31 Smoked Biere to take back north.
You know you’re a Cajun if you think Lafayette is the capital of the United States
Next you headed over to Lafayette. This is the biggest city you’ll hit on this tour and there’s a ton of stuff to do. You took a tour of Acadian Village, seeing some homes as old as 1800, and learned about the way of life of the early Acadians as they worked to make a way of life in Louisiana. Then it was over to St. John Cathedral for a look at this beautiful example of religious architecture. Some time resting under the St. John Oak outside; a 500 year old oak that’s 9 feet in diameter and spreads 210 feet across was just what you needed to get ready for more exploring. Then it was off to the the Alexander Mouton House and Museum, a stroll through downtown Lafayette, a quick stop at the Blue Moon Saloon and… on the road again to
Breaux Bridge. If Lafayette is the US capitol, this is the capitol of Louisiana. It was time to take areal break from the car, watch the racers come through, and visit one of the great restaurants. Breaux Bridge is where Crawfish Etoufe was invented so you just HAD to get some. You remembered that asking for crawDADs would immediately label you as a yankee but the friendly locals somehow picked up your foreign accent. Not unexpected when you heard their accent and realized that, while the map had West Bridge Street the street signs said Rue de Pont Est. You knew you were really in Cajun country.
The last stop for your first day was St. Martinville. Over to the bed and breakfast you’d selected, then St. Martin de Tours Catholic church, followed by a visit to the cultural heritage center and a little exercise. A walk around the historic district was enchanting! Finally, time to take your lawn chairs over to the bayou, watch the racing action, and relax at the TdT first night party.
End of the day and it was time to retire for a great sleep. Gotta rest up for more work tomorrow.