Reaching a milestone in marriage is a big deal. Especially since the average divorce rates are 50%. I had been dreaming of our big 20th Anniversary for about the previous five years. I had huge adventurous trips I had been dreaming of like climbing a mountain or exploring Yellowstone or sailing through the Bahamas. Imagine my surprise when Lee said our big twentieth would be a driving tour of Louisiana. To be honest I was less than excited I was a bit disappointed actually. First of all we both grew up in Louisiana. I have seen most all of the state and done all there is to do...... or so I thought.
Lee DuCote had just published his first novel Fields of Alicia and he was well into his second Waterproof, which is based on a legendary treasure that may or may not be buried somewhere in Barataria Bay. He was really wanting to explore some lesser known areas of La and some areas that even us growing up there had never been to. So being the encouraging and ever compromising wife that I am I obliged him on this journey. After all there are two people in a marriage and who am I to deny him something he was so excited for. In fact his excitement was contagious and as our trip approached I was gaining excitement also. Just Lee, myself and the open road. And of course knowing my husband and his penchant for surprising me I knew he would not let me down and have something super fun for me along the way.
The day of our trip had arrived and as we packed the car I was even more excited to be embarking on this week long journey. As we back up the car out of the garage point it down the driveway, say our travel mercy prayer as we always do, Lee looked over at me and I thought here it is here is my surprise!!!!!! Lee pulls out a copy of Fields of Alicia places it in my lap and said "no phones this week I would like for you to read my book". Yes I am a school nerd and read research journals and periodicals but NO I do not read for fun and NO I had not read one of my husband books. I know not a very supportive wife. So I gave in and thought this is fine, it will keep me off my phone and I could do something that would make him happy. I had heard enough about the novel that I know I would like it however I do NOT like to cry and I knew it would be an emotional book.
We made our way down to Cajun Country, better known as the I-10 corridor. Cajun country is vastly different from the New Orleans Creole culture that the world associates with Louisiana. Our first night we spent in New Iberia in the cutest BNB. After living on snacks on the way down we were excited to get our belly's full and the only thing on our mind was some good gumbo. Clementine on Main did not disappoint. That had to be the best bowl of gumbo I have ever had and I grew up on the stuff! There is rich history here as another author James Lee Burke lived here when he wrote his Dave Robicheaux series and Lee was super curious to retrace his steps.
While here we also explored Shadows on the Teche located on Bayou Teche which is the area where Lee's grandmother grew up. One of my very favorite things about the south are the magnificent live oak trees that cover the grounds like protectors knowing that their rings contain all the history, stories, events and feelings that surround these historic places. The photo options here are numerous.
Next up on our romantic anniversary road trip was Avery Island, home of the world famous J.L. McElhinney Tabasco Factory, museum and gardens. This place is EXTRAORDINARY. As you cross over Hayes Coulee on Hwy 329 you leave what you think Louisiana should look like behind. This is an Island as it is surrounded on all sides by water. It is a salt dome that makes the water and composition unique and what makes Tabasco taste so good! As you pull into the grounds the visitor center greets you. You can take the plant and museum tour, visit the store, eat some fantastic food including Tabasco Ice Cream! There is a playground for the kids and a driving grounds tour for the adults! The McElhinney's have a rich tradition in conservation so the grounds are studied by scientists and there is even a bird conservatory located there. So much history, and beauty!!!!
I have to admit I was loving this trip so far. I was 2/3 way through Fields and was entirely caught up in the romance that my thoughtful husband had created around this trip of a lifetime. However, we both were craving some people and nightlife so of course with a quick skip over to New Orleans for the night we landed at an oyster bar and a wonderful night in a suite downtown! The next morning of course we had to have some beignets from the famous Cafe' Dumond and a nice walk around Jackson Square and the French Quarter. And of course Lee took me to see one of his bucket list places Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. This is the home or business of the infamous privateer Jean Lafitte in the early 19th century. It is located on the infamous Rue De Bourbon (Bourbon St.) at the corner of St. Philip St. Built in the 1770's and now a bar this place is super cool and of course the ghost stories that come out of here are interesting.
As we trace the steps of this privateer our journey leads us to Lafitte located in the heart of the Barataria Basin 30 minutes from NoLa down Hwy 45. As Lee continued his research for Waterproof I was becoming really intrigued and did not expect anything different when we pull up to the Lafitte Marina except more research.
There Lee meets a gentleman and informs me he is taking me Red Fishing! I was so surprised having heard for many years how fun fishing for the bull reds was. Of course Lee knew I needed some adventure in my life and this was perfect. Not only were we out on the water seeing where smugglers ran but the possibilities of hidden treasure right beneath us made this trip really unique.
Of course I caught a big fish and was hooked (yes pun intended) on this sport! My adrenaline was pumping and this was just the icing on the cake of a great road trip through La.
In case you are interested in getting off the so- called same ole NoLa trip here is a Bucket List of things to do in Louisiana.
Lafitte Harbor fishing
Houma, La Fishing, history,
By the way I did finish Fields of Alicia, I highly recommend this book. Not because my husband wrote it but because its a beautiful story of loss, redemption, love with a few surprise twists and turns alongside some cooky characters.
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