Competitive Sports dictates my family vacations. Between baseball, basketball and volleyball, we have traveled to many places we would have NEVER chosen. So, this summer, as usual, we traveled to a small town, New Iberia, Louisiana for the AAU baseball championships. Loading our vehicle to the max (there are five of us, two are teenage girls), we traveled 4 states in one night (Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana). My Mom always tries to educate us on the places we are going: population, industry, etc. Dad and us teenagers just usually focus on where we want to eat next. That works best for us.
And looking for humor along the roadtrip keeps us laughing. Such as the World’s Largest Fireworks store in Mississippi – with the huge “NO SMOKING” sign over the door!
New Iberia, Louisiana seems to be famous for rice, tobasco, and sugar cane. And, this July, they are known for rain. I stayed with my teammates in a Days Inn, New Iberia, Queens City Drive, because it was close to the ball-field – but the ball-field was underwater. So we traveled Southeast Evangeline Thruway quite a bit to the Rajun Cajun field!
One dreary day during a rain delay, we toured the Tobasco plant. When we do educational, informational sidetrips, we make sure we are not hungry. Interestingly enough, the guy that invented the sauce was a New Orleans banker who decided as a hobby to experiment with a pepper plant given to him as a gift! But how did he figure out how to put the mash into old Jack Daniel barrels, pour salt from his own salt mine (salt mines right there on his Avery Island) on top of the barrels, let them ferment for 3 years, then mix 24 hours more and bottle to sell? This family is still operating the plant 100 years later – and a salt mine, and a wildlife refuge on an island with loads of alligators and huge bugs! Plus a bizarre buddha surrounded by misquitos (but the buddha has a glass hut).
My Mom was right, in one remote area, and a place that only cost $1 to enter, I was both entertained and educated about resourceful Louisianans!
Because we also like to sample local cuisine, we decided to try the restaurant Gator Cove. It was my teammates 18th birthday, so we wanted to eat something crazy. Gator Cove was supposed to be a bus garage, but the bus didn’t fit. So the owners decided to make a restaurant instead. Inside was a stuffed 13-foot gator that we had fun taking photos with. We all tried fried gator – and yes, it tastes like chicken! There was the oddest stuffed squirrel that sparked discussion. We all decided it had to be similar to a “jackalope” but the locals said it was from Siberia – not to be confused with New Iberia. Thanks to the internet, we double-checked – it was! What an odd animal.
So, we don’t just play our games, we try and experience the uniqueness of an area. Louisiana has not disappointed us. Of course we play in the championship game tomorrow..........
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