Category Archives: USA

BLACKPOT – South Louisiana Festival and Cookoff

On our swamp walk we met a group of girls from Tofino, also road trippin’ through the states. They told us about Blackpot, a Cajun shin dig, in Lafayette. They unfortunately couldn’t fit it in, so we just traded travels tips and went our separate ways.

As soon as we got to Blackpot I knew I’d like it. Camping was $10 and RV parking was $30. Mark and I were hoping to get away with just paying the camping fee and sleeping in the van. However, when we went to purchase our tickets the lady just shrugged her shoulders and said, “sleeping in your car, is sleeping in your car”. Free! The way it should be. We could also take in our own drinks, just no glass.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Tickets were $30, but this also included free samples from the cookoff competitors. The categories were Gumbo, Jambalaya and Cracklin’s. I was in heaven.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The dancing was awesome. Mark and I were way too intimidated to get out there until it got dark and crowded.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

When Brounie was traveling with us, we called Mark “Chats Galloway”. Whenever we couldn’t find him, he was usually chatting away with someone about cars, Australian Flora…and who knows what else. Well “Chats Galloway” was chatting away with some guy about Cajun music and the complexities of Cajun dancing. Next thing I know, we are drinking moonshine from the trunk of his Toyota Camry. We got the Jolly Rancher flavour, because “the ladies love it”. It was pretty much lime cordial flavoured whisky. Gross!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToo much?

My love for Canada seemed to grow simultaneously with my love of Paul Simon. His music was a staple on our camping trips, road trips, ski trips and everything in between. His album Graceland is a frequent flyer in the van. After the festival we were driving along listening to it, when this song came on:

Screen Shot 2013-11-11 at 10.10.39 PM

Well Paul…. I’ve got some ideas.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Bayou Becci and the Swamp Things

A trip to Louisiana wouldn’t be complete without visiting the swamps. Everywhere we went in New Orleans, we saw brochures for the Cajun swamp tours, but as usual, we figured we could find our own way there. So we packed up the van and headed south until we hit the levee.

When the storms hit, this wall is supposed to hold back the high waters… most of the time it works.

I took my Becci to the levee…

The bayou on the other side of the levee is teeming with life. Fish were jumping everywhere.

The bayou on the other side of the levee is teeming with life. Fish were jumping everywhere.

Van jambalaya

Van jambalaya

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I had my heart set on paddling a canoe through the canals but nobody would rent us one, so we settled for the walking trail in the Jean Lafitte National Preserve, which was actually a great alternative. 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We were mostly there to see what kind of swamp critters we could find.  And we saw plenty.

Some little…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Some big…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And, some way too close for comfort.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This venomous pit viper was right next to the boardwalk, and it didn’t seem scared by all the foot traffic, it just waggled its head a bit as we walked (ran) past. Real creepy scary.

All in all it was a perfect little day trip, so if you’re ever in New Orleans and don’t want to spring for a swamp tour, I recommend taking a little drive down to Jean Laffite and going for a walk.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

See ya later alligator.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

New Orleans

Good food, good music, beautiful architecture and buckets of sassiness and soul. That’s New Orleans! It might just be our favourite North American city. I’m not ready to write that in stone, but it’s definitely up there.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASouthern comfort food. So good.

Street Party.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Mardi Gras Beads. Mardi Gras Beads

We didn’t even go to Bourbon Street and avoided the French Quarter for the most part. It was pretty touristy and hectic. We did brave the crowds though, for the famous beignets (deep fried donuts) from Café Du Monde. We rented a room in a beautiful house that we found on Airbnb. The house was in the Bywater, which suited us perfectly. It’s a quieter area with lots of hidden gems.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABreakfast on the porch.

We were in New Orleans from Monday to Thursday. Still, there was a lot to see and do. Our  host had a list of great local tips, which made things easy.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABacchanal. Wine, food, music. Awesome. 

Turns out BJ’s, a Bywater dive bar, rips on Monday nights. Guitar Lightnin’, followed by King James and the Special Men. The band also brought red beans and rice which were “free ninety, nine”. I love this city.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

So Mark and I did our usual city routine. We cruised around on our bikes, ate ourselves silly, browsed thrift stores, saw lots of live music and checked out a couple of museums. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Buttermilk Drop Bakery                                                       Dusty Musty

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERATreme Brass Band at D.B.A

The Backstreet Cultural Museum was a highlight after watching Treme (the TV show about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina). They have a number of past Mardi Gras Indian costumes on display.  We also went to the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). Turns out it’s free on Wednesdays…yeeoow! The Gordon Parks exhibition was awesome. It’s a series of black and white photos from the late 40’s of young Harlem gang leader, Red Jackson.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAComparing tans. Sculpture garden, NOMA. 

We totally blew the budget, but it was so worth it. I was inspired by the food and now have a special place on my taste buds for Cajun and Creole style cooking.

Other Honourable mentions:

Lil’ Dizzy’s – Cafeteria style Treme restaurant. Catfish Po’boy and gumbo.

Cake Café – Bywater café, good breakfast. Delicious grits.

Maurepas – Bywater farm to table style restaurant. Goat tacos. Char-grilled oysters.

Ignatius – Local cuisine. Garden District, Magazine Street. Fried green tomatoes and alligator sausage.