This year the Geezers Spring Tour divided into two tours, since the vote for where to go was evenly divided. The first tour was to go to Lafayette, LA, for Mardi Gras and the second was to go to Fredericksburg, TX in April to see the bluebonnets.
Everyone is back from Lafayette. The group consisted of Ivory and Maxine Grayson, Gene Hall, Fred and Bonnie Kamp, John and Kay Shenk, Jim and Penny Speck, and Steve and Cynthia Wade. Unable to attend were founding Geezers Jim and Freda Foreman and Joe and Margaret DiMonico.
The plan was to arrive in Lafayette the day after Valentine’s Day, ride five days, and leave the day after Mardi Gras. Many Geezers drove the 600 mile trip in one day. Others took two days. The Kamps and Gene Hall took two days because Bonnie had to return some stuff at the Gainesville, TX mall. The Specks took several days coming from Arizona in their RV.
The weather was cool but not bad. Afternoons were warm. There was the threat of rain for about three days, but nothing significant emerged. We did have rain on the return trip for about 50 or so miles.
All of our routes were set up by the Pack and Paddle, an outdoor shop in Lafayette. We rode the Wilderness Trail Ride, the Breaux Bridge Ride, and the St. Martinsville Ride (site of the Evangeline Tree of Henry W. Longfellow fame). We found excuses not to ride to Abbeville and New Ibieria, which required about 25 miles of sagging each. If you ever need any such excuses please contact us. I think mainly we were out of shape because of all the bad weather in Oklahoma.
All of these rides had variations, permitting a person to set his own distances. We drove to New Iberia to see the tabasco plant at Avery Island. The tour of the plant included a history of the McIlhinneys, who founded the tabasco plant well over 100 years ago, and an explanation was given of how the peppers are harvested, packed with salt in barrels, stored for about 3 years, and the residue made into their famous sauces, of which there are now six varieties. The barrels are obtained from Jack Daniels, who only use them one year. After the tabasco folks use the barrels for about 20 years they are ground up and sold for barbecue fuel.
We tried to arrange lunch at Breaux Bridge and St. Martinsville (site of the Evangeline Oak). However, Breaux Bridge was a sea of Mardi Gras celebrants, and the eating places in St. Martinsville were closed on Mardi Gras. We did find a hole- in- the- wall place in St. Martinsville and had tasty if humble fare.
Lafayette has many good eating places and we usually patronized such places in the evening. We certainly had plenty of Cajun food. One evening the Specks hosted an al fresco pizza, wine, and cheese party at their RV site. Many of the eating places had Cajun bands and Penny sought on-site instruction in Cajun dancing.
We had the opportunity to attend any number of Mardi Gras parades, but we only attended two. The girls collected so many beads that they could hardly lift them. We attended the Friday Night Parade in Lafayette which had many sophisticated floats and lots of marching bands. We attended the country parade in the small town of Church Point, which consisted of about 60 floats led by about 30 horsemen. The floats were less sophisticated than the Lafayette floats, most were tractor drawn, had a porta-pottie, a barbecue grill, and a sound system powered by portable gasoline generators. Some local people recognized us from when we attended the parade 5 years ago, in particular remembering Freda Foreman.
We had no injuries, but Maxine came down with the shingles, and she and Ivory left early. The Shenks also had to leave early because of commitments at church.
Fred explained to us the derivation of the Lafayette street names of Kalliste Saloom and Pinhook. But this was so bogus that we will not tell it here.
We had fun and we are glad to be back.