Apr 25, 2014

Texas April 2014 - Boudin & Bar-B-Q

We took off to Texas again at the beginning of April for a little post-winter vacation. We visited Houston and San Antonio last year, and have just fallen in love with the entire place. This time we extended our vacation to 10 days and took a jaunt over to Lafayette, LA, for the weekend, and down to Corpus Christi after stopping in San Antonio again.

I've never been to Louisiana. I know very little about it except what I've seen on TV or read in books. It's all alligators and vampires, right? Joking! But since Lafayette is just 3 or so hours from Houston, we thought, why not?

In looking for things to do there, we saw that the Marshall Tucker Band was playing on Friday night. Suddenly Tom was all in. Southern rock? Yes, sir! Unfortunately, we got stuck in traffic due to a nasty car accident in Lake Charles and missed the concert by just thismuch.

So we found ourselves a funky little diner for a late meal and vowed to get up early the next day. On Saturday we hit a couple of farmers' markets and walked around downtown. We visited the Cathedral of St. John and St. John Cemetery. On the church grounds is the St. John Oak Tree, a nearly 500-year old live oak with a diameter of over nine feet. The branches spread over 210 feet across. It's just gorgeous.

I was fascinated by the cemetery. We don't have anything like this at home. I hope it's not impolite to take pictures of the tombs - I just found them so beautiful. Even the ones that were falling apart.

We toured around the University of Louisiana (where a student called me "ma'am" when we stopped to ask for directions. Ma'am!). There is a walkway around the quad called The Walk of Honor, and it's made up of tiny bricks, each one with the name of a graduate, going back to the very beginning when the university opened in 1900. That's such a nice thing to do - to know that you're a part of the history of the school.

There's also a swamp (Cypress Lake) in the middle of campus - check out the cypress with moss hanging from the branches. So spooky. We didn't see any alligators but we did meet this "swamp squirrel", as Tom dubbed him, looking for handouts near the cafeteria. That guy wasn't shy at all.

We then visited LARC's Acadian village. Seven of the eleven buildings are authentic homes of the 19th century, donated by the families of the original inhabitants. Tom was especially interested as he grew up just south of the French Shore in Nova Scotia. We would have liked to have seen the village at Vermilionville too, but we ran out of time.

I, of course, found some turtles. It wouldn't be a vacation without turtles. These are red eared sliders and are quite common in Louisiana.

We stopped by the Boudin festival in Scott in the afternoon. Scott is the "Boudin Capital of the World". Have you ever had boudin? It's a sausage made of pork, rice, and spices. We didn't have any sausage, but we did have boudin balls - the same mixture, but with a spicy pepper jack coating on the outside that is then deep fried. Hands down, this was the best thing I ate the entire trip. I'm completely obsessed now. I think I'm going to have to try to make my own.

That night we ate dinner at Poor Boy's Riverside Inn. This restaurant was friendly and relaxed, like being invited to eat at someone's home. If that someone had room to seat 100. They specialize in seafood, but it's all done in a down-home country style. This is where we tried alligator for the first time. It's pretty good!

The next day, it was back to Texas and the long drive to San Antonio. We stopped in Luling for barbecue - because you have to. We had planned to eat at the City Market, but it's closed for dinner on Sundays. Instead we went across the street to Luling Bar-B-Q. Tom had sausage on a bun, I had the ribs. OMG, they were so good. They didn't even have any sauce on them, just salt and pepper. Maybe this was the best thing I ate on the trip.

While in San Antonio, we visited the missions again, this time getting to tour all of them as well as the Alamo. Last time we only had the chance to see Mission Espada and Mission San Jose.

While at Mission Concepcion, we saw this poor little dog limping around the picnic tables. He didn't have a collar and was pretty skinny, but he was also fairly clean, so I don't think he'd been on his own for very long. It looked like his toe was broken or dislocated. He wouldn't let anyone touch him, but he was willing to share my steak taco and drink some water. I think if we'd been driving home instead of flying he'd be with us now.

We stayed at the Omni La Mansion hotel right on the Riverwalk. This was the hotel I spotted on our last visit and wanted to stay at. It was a gorgeous place, but in retrospect, I don't think it was worth the extra money just to be so close. Maybe in the summer when there are more flowers and there is more going on. You can check out our last visit for the details of Riverwalk itself.

The second half of our trip was spent in Corpus Christi, and then bumming around in Houston/Galveston. I'll save that for another post as I'm sure you've reach your limit for today.

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