Before leaving Lafayette, LA, we wanted to see The Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.
This magnificent structure, originally called l’Église St-Jean du Vermilion, is a historic Roman Catholic cathedral. It was the first church in the Lafayette Parish, founded in 1821 on property donated by Jean Mouton. This structure was completed in 1916 in the Romanesque Revival style, and it is absolutely a wonder to behold. The Cathedral features a museum with memorabilia and exhibits about the history of the Cathedral and the parish. On the property of the cathedral lies a structure that competes in magnificence.
The ancient, majestic tree stands sentinel to the Cathedral. Many speculate that the first pastor, Michel Bernard Barriere, selected the specific plot of land for the church parish due to the grand oak tree, which would have been 275 years old at that time (1821). This mammoth oak, located to the right of the church, is the third oldest member of the Live Oak Society, an organization dedicated to the preservation and appreciation of mature live oak trees in the United States. The near five-century-old tree measures 9 feet in diameter, with a circumference of 28 feet 8 inches; it stands approximately 126 high with a spread of 210 feet across. This last measure was taken on May 30, 2008. If you look closely, you can see the struts that were erected at strategic places to hold the heavy limbs, that hopefully prevent them from breaking off. This tree is a must-see. You kind of just stand there in awe.
Our last day in Cajun County was everything we ever expected and wanted. We were turned on to a place called Whiskey River.
Just getting there was fun. We had to drive up to the top of the levee, and drive the gravel road on top. We were pretty sure we had gotten lost and were on the wrong road. In the distance, we saw cars ahead, so we kept going. On the other side of the levee, down at the edge of the swamp, was an old wooden dance hall – Whiskey River.
No food is served inside, only drinks. But there was a food truck outside for anyone who was hungry. Inside – oh my. It was fantastic. There was a $10 cover – so worth it. The floor was packed with people talking and dancing. Many of it was in Cajun Creole, and we couldn’t understand a word. Quite frankly, with such heavy accents, we could barely understand when they spoke English. The music was great and the musicians? None other than my favorites, Jamie Bergeron and the Kickin’ Cajuns.
Me with Jamie
Tim and I had a blast, and we even managed to dance a two-step with the crowd. Outside was another thing that blew me away. I wanted to see real people in real swamp houses, kind of like the opening sequence to the TV show “True Blood”. And right there, across from Whiskey River, was just what I wanted to see. People sitting on the front porch of their cabins, just sitting and fishing.
Sooooooooo cool! If it weren’t for the mosquitoes, I think I could stay awhile.
And did I mention there are Drive-Thru Daiquiri Stores ???
I keep thinking it’s a speed trap !!!
We said goodbye to Louisiana, moving on to Florida. But first we drove through a small piece of Alabama on our way. The welcome sign for Alabama is, for me, the greatest one.
The part of Alabama we drove through was so completely unexpected. Gigantic homes, sitting on large horse ranches, reminiscent of Kentucky horse farms. Except that the ranches /farms in Alabama were a stone’s throw from the Gulf. Waaay cool! Our route took us through the town of Fairhope.
A pretty little town, with flowers, upscale restaurants and shops – just beautiful. A town anyone would be proud to call home.
FLORA BAMA – No fanfare – no signs, just a pedestrian crosswalk and a sign that says FLORA BAMA, the boundary between Alabama and Florida. Once in Florida, we headed for Pensacola Beach. Before we turn around and head west again, we wanted to see part of the Florida Panhandle, a place we had never been, and wanted to visit. Tons of RV resorts and campgrounds, but Tim found a beautiful campground for us in Gulf Islands National Seashore – Fort Pickens. It is a strand of dazzling white sand beaches, wild and pristine, nestled between the Gulf Coast and Pensacola Bay. When we arrived, the sign said, “Campground Full”. There was a ranger on duty, so we asked if there was any space at all for us, even for one night. He found a spot for three nights – Lucky Us! ( See review for Gulf Islands National Seashore – Fort Pickens Campground)
We pretty much had the beach to ourselves…
My guy enjoying the beach.
In the campground,we met a couple who turned us on to a free concert that was being held on the beach in the middle of town. (Shout out to Jim and Bob) We got ready, and off we went. The featured act was the Emerald Coast Blues Boys.
I’m Ready for anything!
Once the music started, everyone was up and dancing non-stop. We weren’t sure what to expect, but the group was pretty darned good. Actually, the 8-piece band was great.
Panorama of the beach and stage after sunset. (Click pic to enlarge)
After the show, we headed for Crabs We Got Em’, a restaurant a few doors away. Mmmm, mmmm, good. Check out our review in the Food Pages.
We woke up the next morning to teeming rain. Gotta’ have a few of those days, right? So today we’re just going to hang out in our little “house”, and read and relax. Next day – uh oh – rain again. We decided to take a drive to Panama City Beach. It was not what we expected. It is totally built up – with tons of shops, piers with amusement rides, and many high rise buildings.
We passed through a planned community called Seaside. It was pretty spectacular, with beautiful pastel homes, and a town square with about eight vintage Airstreams used as food carts.
The post office is small but unique. It isn’t really a post office per se, it’s a place to mail letters that get picked up once per day- no windows or employees.
This building is actually a “mailbox”.
On the way home from Panama City Beach, we stopped in Peg Leg Pete’s for dinner. (See review in food section). It was another great meal.
We’ll be in Fort Pickens for another night, then we’re off and running. We have to meet our cousins, Joyce and Sarah, in Utah. Together, we’re going to explore the national parks there. But that’s a long way off. We have miles of adventure before we get there.
See you in Mississippi…