Tuesday, October 5

Day three of still being in Texas. Apparently, it’s kind of big.

We woke up and went in search of breakfast items for the crew. We found a Subway a couple of blocks away and grabbed some breakfast wraps to get us going. Filled with artificial egg and funny bacon, we hit the road to finally eave Texas and get to Sulphur, LA.

We made pretty good time through Texas, but ran into some rush hour traffic in Houston. It was the first real traffic we hit in the entire trip.. And as you know, with great traffic comes great adventure. We were stuck in a far left lane , and needed to get right. The crew van was following us, and when we shifted lanes at the last minute, a truck got between us and the van, and they ended up exiting the highway. Luckily, it wasn’t that hard to get back on track, and we caught up with each other in the next thirty miles.

We made a quick gas stop and I found another thing to add to my new favorite foods: Bacon flavored Sunflower Seeds.

I called Jolene Cole to let her know that we were on our way and should be there by 6pm, and she told me that we were all going to a Ducks Unlimited banquet tonight in a town called Hayes, LA. Ducks Unlimited is a conservation organization, and they have these banquets once a week in different towns for the different chapters.

We were thinking that we would just meet them at the banquet because we were running a little behind schedule, but Jolene said that she was waiting for us at their place, and we should come there first. Something had caught fire on I-10 and the interstate was closed off, so we would have to take the back roads to get to the banquet. We arrived at the Cole’s house, and pulled into the driveway, and noticed some people waving at us from across the street. As it turns out, the post office makes everyone put their mailboxes on the same side of the street, so we had actually pulled into the wrong driveway. But Jolene told us that a little old lady with no family lived there and would have welcomed us with open arms.

Jolene had told us we could stay at the house if we wanted and have some home chicken and sausage gumbo, but both Tod and I were all gung ho for going to the banquet, so we all piled into her Suburban and headed of for Hayes, LA. I think both Tod and I were glad we didn’t have to meet them at the banquet, because these back roads were pretty tiny and dark as the sun set. Jolene gave us a brief tour of the area as we were coming through, filling us in like we were old family who had been gone for too long, and just now getting back home.

While we were on the road, Jolene’s husband, Jody, called to get our food order. We had the choice between steak, or fish and shrimp. Of course, this being Louisiana, we had to get the fish and shrimp plate.

We turned a corner on this dark road and we saw the lights of Aucoin’s Cajun Restaurant, and as we pulled in we saw the full extent of what we were getting ourselves into: row after row of pickup trucks, both old and new. It was really funny to me, because I am used to coming to a restaurant to find Mini Coopers, or Smart Cars, and various others small sedans, you know, city cars. But not here, here you need a truck. Roads flood here all the time, so a truck is a necessity.

Tod an I lived here in Louisiana as a kid, and I remember hating it here. I think it was because of the school I went to, it was a half military kids, half townies. And it was at that delicate time where you are just starting to blossom into who you are supposed to be when you grow up. For whatever reason, I was picked on, a lot, by the kids from town. Once, I got a phone call from a girl who asked me if I would be her boyfriend, and then the next day at school she acted like it hadn’t happened and they all laughed at me. There was a guy who decided he wanted to fight me and tried to picked fights with me every day. It was not a fun time for me in Louisiana.

Walking into Aucoin’s, all of those bad memories were washed away. The people were so friendly, the food was so good, it was like a different place completely.

Tod’s friend from scouts, Richard, was here at the restaurant to help with the auction. He is quite the Emcee. He brought Tod and I up and had us talk to the group about what we were doing. Then we got our plates of food and sat down to have our first real meal. I mean real because for the next three days, were going to have the best food of the entire trip!

The meal consisted of fried catfish, fried shrimp, French fries, and fried dinner roll. It was so good. They know how to cook comfort foods here. Jody told me that the dinner rolls are sometimes stuff with shrimp or crab before they fried and they call them pistolettes.

After dinner, they started the auction for items to help raise money for DU. It was a hoot! The auctioneer, never stopped making sounds. I say sounds because both Tod and I are sure that other than the actual numbers he would say, no other actual words were coming out of his mouth. To try and recreate, it was like, “One and a quarter manamanamanamanaman one and a half manamanamanamanama one seventy five.” It was totally cool. I was all smiles as we watched the auction happened. Richard was a spotter during the auction, he stood at the back of the room looking for bidders, and would holler out to help the auctioneer keep the bidding going.

There were some great items being auctioned off; several shotguns, knives, portraits and paintings, hand carved items, hunting weekends. There were so many things and they raised so much money for Ducks Unlimited, it was a really cool experience.

After we had all finished and the money had switched hands for the items, we piled back into the Surburban and headed back to the Cole’s house to crash out for the night.