Abbeville, Louisiana - December 11, 2006
This is Cajun country. The Cajuns are of French ancestry and were rounded up in Nova Scotia and expelled in 1755. They settled in Louisiana and are known for fantastic crawfish gumbo and zydeco music, featuring the fiddle and the accordion.
There are lots of things to do here. There is the McIlhenny Tabasco hot sauce factory to visit for a two-hour tour and the agrifactory where crawfish and rice are grown in the same fields. It takes three years to make the Tabasco sauce. It's marketed in 100 languages and the entire world supply is produced on 2,300 acres on an island just a short distance away. Just down the road in Abbeville are eight municipal tennis courts (scores 6-0. 6-1 in favor of Mrs. Phred)
In Morgan City, 60 miles east, there is a 110 foot tower with 61 carillon bells cast in Holland (a photo op) and an oil rig museum.
The carillon bells are closed on Monday and the gates are locked, so we have crawfish gumbo and wait for the 2 PM tour of Mr. Charlie in Morgan City. Mr. Charlie is the first offshore drilling platform. It was constructed from 1952 to 1954. It’s a submersible platform capable of drilling in depths of up to 40 feet.
Mrs. Phred and I are the only people who show up for the 2 o’clock tour. The platform was retired in 1992 and sold for $10. It is currently used to train oil service workers. The company that sold the rig now pays the new owners thousands per worker to train new hires. The old rig is amazingly complex and I listen intently but only understand and absorb a small fraction of the drilling technology. This training program is said to have reduced oil rig worker turnover by 49 percent.
Today rigs float in place in deep water and thrusters keep them in position by monitoring GPS signals.
We are staying in Betty’s RV Park. Betty has a class act in a Louisiana bayou. She has 15 RV sites situated around her house. Every evening at 4 she has a social cocktail hour. We were advised by other travelers to stay here to get a taste of her gumbo, which is made from chicken, sausage, jalapenos and vinegar. I am told that her small RV Park is rated as one on the 25 best in the U.S.
I refuse to suck crawfish heads, but I really like the tails.