My Montana

My Montana
My Montana

Friday, October 14, 2011

Best Welcome Center on I-10

I've been visiting friends in South Louisiana and saying goodbye.  Many of my favorite places are in swamps and the Atachfalaya Swamp has many such destinations. And I love the Cajun Culture and food. The Welcome Center at Butte La Rose, in the middle of the Atachfalaya Basin, is both a rest center and a little museum that has displays about the Cajun and Houma  Indian Cultures. It is a beautiful, interesting place and stimulates lots of my memories of good paddles, good friends, and good food. And all the Louisiana Welcome Centers give away free coffee.  So, on my way from Hammond, Louisiana to Galveston, Texas I just had to stop there and grab some memories.

The Welcome Center has a lovely front porch that recalls those on the cabins and houseboats of the Cajuns.

Relaxing Place
The inside is full of wonderful exhibits that tell the story of life in the Atachfalaya Basin. This place serves to jog my memories of wonderful paddles in the swamp.

The brown pelican is the Louisiana state bird so there are lots of statues of them

Bateau with crawfish traps

Ducks in the outdoor exhibit
 This picture reminds me of the time Hulin and I spent a long Thanksgiving weekend in the Basin. We were there with lots of duck hunters and  a few deer hunters. We found the last leg of one circular route silted in  and were forced to turn around and go back up a waterway that had about a five mile current against us.  We ended up stopping at a deer camp and begging a ride back to our campsite. The owner told us that that is the way the Atachfalaya is - it can build and island in a couple of years or silt in a deep Bayou just as fast.  And I found it fascinating to be on the same stream and be paddling with the current, then have no current and finally be paddling against the current.


Part of a display of animal statues in the picnic area

Pictures and items are mixed into interesting displays

The movie is fun and lets you see Basin life

Cajun Music
I love to listen to Cajun music. Click on the captain to sample it. The Cajuns lived a rich and happy life on very little money. Their music reflects their joy of life.

Indian Display
 This picture reminds me of the time I went on on of the organized  Bayou Lafourch Paddle and camped at the house of the Houma Chief where we were served Indian fry bread  with fillings - a kind of taco - and were treated to dancing in full costume as well as a discussion about the way the Indianslive today.

Crawfish gets fixed many ways in Cajun culture 

 This exhibit reminds me of all the wonderful crawfish meals I've had:  Crawfish bisque, crawfish ettoffee, crawfish quiche, soft-shell crawfish po boys and boiled crawfish, my favorite. Five pounds of crawfish, a few red potatoes and a  couple of ears of corn, all cooked in the highly seasoned crawfish boil really hit the spot.

Me and the Bear
 The bear was in a glass case and the reflections were too bad for a good picture, but I thought this was funny.  Bears were almost extirpated from Louisiana but there is now a Black Bear Restoration Project  to develop more lands as bear habitat. When I went on the Bayou Teche Paddle this year, I learned that the Bayou Teche NWR was established to provide habitat for the black bear, but because of a shady deal, a good buddy of the Louisiana politicians got to sell his land  for the refuge, which is NOT good habitat for bears. They mostly go off refuge and eat garbage. The closest I've gotten to a black bear in Louisiana is to attend the Black Bear Festival in Franklin, La. My close encounter with a black bear was when I was riding my bike in a state park in Pennsylvania. A huge dog ran out of one of the cabin driveways.  Then I realized it wasn't a dog but a black bear. Fortunately, he realized I was a human and ran the other way.

I-10 is elevated for about 18 miles across the Achafalaya Swamp

The Atachfalaya Swamp is a mix of open water, streams. forests, and land that is periodically dry, then wet.

This was not the prettiest scene I passed but I had to get my nerve up to stop on the side of the interstate, and grab a picture.

I made it to Galveston in time for supper with my friend, Natalie.  She is leaving today for a week of paddling on the Rio Grand, doing an 80 mile stretch. I'm taking care of the pets, house and garden.  I have a couple of paint projects, if I get bored. AND I'm going to throw a little slumber party for a few friends - we'll be eating good, birding, and paddling.