When the weather is cold and nasty in the northern US as it is now, I like to collect counties in warmer parts of the country. Having found an incredible airfare from CMH to LFT, I jumped on the opportunity to escape winter. One thing I’ve discovered about flying into less well-traveled destinations is that there is a better chance of a FC upgrade, even for someone with relatively low status with an airline. My MileagePlus Silver Elite (courtesy of the Marriott partnership with United) paid off nicely this time. While I was unable to get an upgrade on either flight between CMH and IAH, I did get upgraded both to and from LFT. Sure, the flight is only 35 minutes, but it’s much nicer sitting up front with a “medicinal” beverage in hand.
After arriving in Lafayette and checking into the SpringHill Suites, it was off for a mini-meetup with seatexan. More about that later.
Before dawn on Saturday, it was time to hit the road. The cities of St. Martinville, New Iberia, and Franklin all lay southeast of Lafayette, while the rest of my planned stops were all west and north of town. In order to make sure I filled in all the gaps on my maps, I headed east on US90. By the time I reached my first stop in Franklin, the sun had risen so it was light enough to take pictures. Everything was so peaceful that early on a Saturday morning. Just behind the St. Mary Parish (counties in Louisiana are called parishes) courthouse in Franklin, l snapped this photo of Bayou Teche. The still water, lined with trees dripping Spanish moss was an image I saw several times over the weekend. For those of us who live up north, this is what we imagine when we envision Louisiana bayou country.
The day progressed as I drove west through Abbeville, Crowley, and Jennings. Along the way, there were flooded rice fields everywhere. I was fascinated by the flat-bottomed boats with small paddle wheels instead of outboard motors. Apparently the rice fields are also home to crawfish and the paddle-wheel keeps them from harm. Crawfish and rice. What could be more perfect for Louisiana?
One of the more scenic parts of the weekend was in Cameron parish along the Gulf of Mexico. The low-lying parish is one of the largest in Louisiana by land area, though it has one of the smallest populations (less than 7,000). Parts of it reminded me of the Florida Everglades. I chose to drive through the Sabine National Wildlife Refuge and take the ferry across the Calcasieu ship channel (which connects Lake Calcasieu to the Gulf of Mexico) to the parish seat of Cameron. The crossing barely took 5 minutes. Here’s the less-than-half-full ferry about midway across the channel.
The day ended at the SpringHill Suites in Lake Charles. Neither the SHS in Lafayette nor the one in Lake Charles was remarkable, though I would recommend both for anyone traveling in the area. On Sunday, I turned north heading up toward Natchitoches (which I learned is pronounced NAK-ə-təsh), before turning back to Lafayette for my flights home. The journey covered about 800 miles over the two days, during which I visited all of southwestern Louisiana, reaching 19 parish seats. Here are the before and after maps.
What I love best about traveling to different parts of the country is the opportunity to meet up with members of this community. As mentioned earlier, on Friday evening I enjoyed a lovely dinner and exquisite conversation with our very own seatexan. I'll just say this. If you haven’t met her, you’re missing out. She's a class act.
Before heading home on Sunday, I met up with SeaTexan again, but this time she was able to get razorbackfan and bikinchris to join us. Does it surprise you to seem them wearing Arkansas Razorbacks gear? It shouldn’t.
I’m off again this weekend for another very short trip. I’ll be in Missouri this time. The plan is to visit almost two dozen counties. Look for details next week.