Wednesday, August 31, 2011


This is the view from my hotel room here in Lafayette.  I thought the contrast between the swimming pool and the river was pretty funny.  So today is our second day out in the country, we began by making a brief stop at the Acadian Culutral Center.  I loved all the pictures they have of the cajun life style, it just looks so fun!  My favorite was a picture of a little girl holding a baby nutria, I had never, ever heard of a nutria before but I think they are pretty cute! Plus the little girl looks exactly like my mom when she was that age and since she used to dress cats up in little night gowns and give them bottles full of cream, I like to imagine she probably would have held baby nutrias if she lived in this part of the country.

Our next stop of the day was at another beautiful plantation home called Shadows on the Teche.  It was built by sugarcane planter David and wife Mary Weeks. David and Mary Weeks were wealthy growers of sugarcane; they owned four plantations this one was built in 1831 and was designed for social entertainment.  Shadows on the Teche is an excellent example of the Greek revival movement that was sweeping the nation at this time.  One thing that I found to be so uniqe about the lay out of this plantation is that there are no hallways connecting the different rooms.  To get from one room to the next or even from one level to the other you had to go outside and use the galleries or outdoor staircases.  It was a very different design, but that most likely comes from the fact that it's main purpose was to entertain guests, not live in for long periods of time.

The plantation had beautiful grounds and was close by the river, it was a very peaceful estate.
One thing I love about the South in the spring is all the magnolias are in bloom and look gorgeous.

After our plantation tour we drove to Rip Van Winkle Gardens for a lovely lunch. The Rip Van Winkle Gardnes surround the winter get away home of actor Joseph Jefferson which was built in 1870.  While Jefferson played many roles throughout his career, it was his rendition of Rip Van Winkle that garunteed him his fame, he played the role more then 4,500 times, and that is where the gardens get their unusual name. 
After his death in 1905, Jefferson's heirs sold the house and land on March 15, 1917 to John Lyle Bayless, Sr. of Anchorage, Kentucky. His heir, J. Lyle Bayless, Jr., began developing formal gardens surrounding the Joseph Jefferson home in the late 1950's, so all the credit for the beautiful gardens goes to him.

There are quite a few peacocks patroling the grounds, this is one of Reggie's favorite aspects of the gardens, so while everyone was sitting down to lunch he took me and bethy on a hunt to find all of the peacocks that were hiding.

After lunch we had a little while to wander around the gardens.  A wedding was scheduled for later that day so it was all set up for the ceremony which was fun to see, those myan looking structures were a unique addition to the garden's landscape.  The exotic Rip Van Winkle Gardens is a massive scale-down from wilderness to flower in a design of interlocking small gardens, splashes that seem like passing suggestions of Paradise and responses to a need for peace and beauty. These small gardens include a collection of delicate camellias flourishing in three connecting gardens; a Japanese garden, heavy with Oriental ambience; a modern rose garden and seasonal plants enhanced by subtropical plantings of bamboo and banana plants, giant-blossomed magnolia and sago palms.

After lunch it was time to visit the Tabasco factory!  Here we learned about the process of making Tabasco sauce and it's history.  Then we got to bottle our very own ginormous bottle of Tabasco sauce and try many of the different treats they make using their various kinds of sauces.

Apparently the founder of Tabasco had an awesome pet bear, for those of you that know me well you know I am extrememly jealous of this.  I would love to feed a bear a bottle while it curled up on my lap, no matter how big it was.

When it was time to bottle our own Tabasco we got to wear these festive aprons.  So we bottled some sauce then put all of the traditional stickers on the bottle.  For the back they gave us a personalized sticker where we got to write in our own special name.  I wrote Miss Eliza because I thought it sounded nice and southern.  My dad's was my favorite, he wanted a name that had his same initials MCJ and something that fit into the trips theme so his tabasco reads " become the private stock of Mr. Cajun Juice...." hahaha good one pops!

At the end of the tour we got the opportunity to shop around their general store and to try some of their various concoctions.  Some of the things I tried were their tabasco soda, tabasco ice cream and a lot of their different sauces.  The soda and the ice cream were pretty nasty in my opinion, but very fun to try.
They gave everyone four sample bottles, one of each of their top selling sauce flavors, how cute are they.
My ice cream sample
That night we had a quiet dinner at our hotel and then I watched Morning Glory, the movie with rachel Mcadams and Harrison Ford, with my parents.  It was nice to have an evening to relax, after all we are on vacation!

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