Before talking about today's discoveries, let me bring you to where I am staying now.
Habitat For Humanity in Slidell is very appreciative of my desire to help and has a place for me to stay with full hookups! I got to the RV Park in back of a Baptist church before noon on Friday. Frances met me there and got me a site, a t-shirt, and a magnet for the car or RV. I was told that people are quitting a bit early because it's Good Friday and also decided to take tomorrow off. So I don't start until Monday and can still stay here for nothing! I promise to work hard to earn this spot.
Nine of us went to Ryan's Buffet for dinner. Let's see - there was Frances and Bill, Ron and Judy, Jim and Jan, Josh, and a woman I didn't meet yet. The buffet was way bigger than Country Buffet in Latham Circle Mall and the food was very good! Josh is 23 and we were all amazed at how much food he ate - I think he had some of everything they had to offer!
Today, I decided to try the driving loop that was in the Reader's Digest book about great places to see. I got a late start (and forgot my camera!), so decided to take the Interstate to the furthest point and come back the southern route. Well, it took almost 3 hours to get to the exit east of Lafayette. I got to the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic Site about 2:30 and didn't expect to see much. It was going to be a quick stop before getting to the factory where they make tobasco sauce and have tours.
But I found the place a bit fascinating and also learned that the tobasco factory closes at 4 PM and it will take 1/2 hour to get there. So, I passed, and got involved with this place. I learned how the word Creole came about (french colonist), and how they got settled in the area. I didn't know that the settlers from Nova Scotia were uprooted by the British and sent packing because the British wanted to take over the area and the Acadians weren't letting them. So, the french exiled people and the homeless Acadians worked together to forge a life in southwestern Louisiana. Imagine living way up north, then way down south! What a chanbe for the blood! What both areas had in common, making the Acadians able to survive, was swamps! Swamps in Nova Scotia!!
Okay, so this place showcases a typical farm of the Acadians and a typical farm of the Creole people. The Creole farm was run by a wealthy family, so the building (a raised Creole Cottage) was made of brick and cypress logs. They first had a cattle ranch, then tried to develop an indigo plantation, then sugar and that made the money. The Acadian house was smaller and not made of brick. There were separate buildings for the outhouse, the kitchen, and the unique oven. The oven looked like an igloo to me, but it's made out of clay, compacted and processed moss, and limestone. That stuff holds the heat for over a day after a wood fire burned for a couple of days. All their food was cooked in that at once.
With all that, why is it named Longfellow-Evangeline? good question. I'm still not sure! Supposedly it was the meeting place of Evangeline and Gabriel, ill-fated lovers. Longfellow heard of the story and wrote his poem here. Since it tells of the arrival of the Acadians, it put the place on the map, and the town memorializes him for it. That's my take on the situation, and I'm sticking by it. It would have been nice if they had a gift shop where I could buy postcards and at least look at his famous poem Guess I have to go to a library or online to read it and learn some more!
Trivia learned - a slave pulled a string attached to an overhead makeshift fan at dinnertime. The slave was called a punk which is derived from the India terminology for a lower class person doing a menial job. The job he did was to "shoo the fly" where we got the term shoo fly from. aside - The pie must have attracted lots of flies to get the name - I think it is almost all sugar - I'd probably like it!
The drive back was scenic, but I eventually got on a major highway (Rte 90) to get back. I ended up going across the causeway over Lake Pontchartain and it was a highlight of my trip! First, I knew it was a toll road and I was prepared to pay but there was no fee for going north! I have to find out how much it costs to go South because the bridges (one for each direction with about 6 crossover opportunities) are 24 miles long! And I couldn't have timed it better! The sun set while I was over water and couldn't see land on any side!