Sunday, January 3, 2016


Destination: West Monroe & Baton Rouge, Louisiana
Thanks to a few back-to-back holiday weekends we managed to do a lot of traveling this week, making our way from Hot Springs, AR to southern LA. Our first day in LA was 87 degrees, but mostly it's been chilly and a little rainy. So far no major flooding in this region, but it may be coming soon. We are loving the cajun seafood and very friendly people in this area!
We attempted to visit the Cat Island Wildlife Refuge near Baton Rouge, only to discover the road was completely under water and currently being better utilized as a boat ramp.. 

We were craving some of those delicious looking southern boiled peanuts at our local market, but after checking the ingredient list we noticed they had MSG so we decided to make our own! Soo GOOD! We ate the entire 2 lb batch all in one day and are already planning on making more. 

Here's the recipe I made up based on the spices we happened to have on hand and the (lower) level of sodium we were looking for:

Boiled Peanuts

  • 24 oz bag of raw, unsalted peanuts in the shell
  • 2 heaping Tbs of granulated garlic
  • 2 heaping Tbs of powdered onion
  • 2 heaping Tbs Cajun seasoning
  • 1 Tbs Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup salt
Mix everything in a big pot, add enough water to cover and simmer on low for at least 3 hours. The longer you cook them the more tender they get.

RV park office in West Monroe
One thing I learned on this trip so far is that you just don't know what awaits you at the next destination. We stopped in West Monroe not knowing what to expect, and I am going to have to say Hana had to drag me kicking and screaming out of that town. To give you an accurate description of my personal experience it would take more than a blog entry, so I will admit that I am a little overwhelmed to try an compact our time there in a small blog entry. I would say this is the first place that we really had experienced true southern hospitality.

    The Campground Bayou D'Arbonne was a respectably quiet place on the Bayou where you could see people living in houseboats on the water. The park manager, Naman, went beyond what he was expected when helping us to get settled in. He even took the time to get us some boards and make sure our rig was perfectly leveled. The next morning he was out helping our neighbors power clean the rv they had for sale. I would have to say by the end of the week he became a friend. Anyone that will share a good portion of venison they got bow hunting and spent the time he did teaching you how to effectively fish for channel cats is a friend. Since my catfish lesson I have already pulled in three big ones, and am betting on getting one tonight. 

James & Naman
When I asked Naman for a church recommendation he sent us to the White Ferry Church of Christ which is where the Robertson family from Duck Dynasty goes. I am not one to chase famous people around, but my dad loves the show and was going to boyott the television station when they considered taking the show off there air.  There was no way we weren't going. We did see several members of the family there, and from what I could see is that they are really down to earth guys that are active in the church. 

    Even better than spotting the Duck Dynasty guys, we met some new friends at the church. They were nice enough to treat us to lunch at a really nice place called Cotton, which was an excellent representation of Louisiana cooking. A week later I can still taste the crawdad hush puppies if I try hard enough. We had a great time talking with our new friends, Mark, Janna and the girls, and they really left us with a great first impression of the town.

  One night I was smoking some of my trout on the grill when I saw something black moving towards me in the darkness. I didn't stick around long enough to find out what kind of chupacabra it could be. An hour later I took a walk and saw it coming down the street towards me and thought it might be one of those dangerous ferrel pigs. The next day I found out that the pig belonged to someone who lived down the street. She bothered some of the people and dogs around us, but I loved that pig. By the end of our stay that pig had the police called on it, so the owner had to keep it in a pen in the back yard. I missed taking walks with that pig, but I was able to stop and visit with her before we left. She was pacing around her pen contemplating on how to get out when I got there. I brought her trout and corn on the cob, which she appreciated. I could tell because she licked the trout clean off my fingers before she started on the corn. I was  happy to see her eat some real food since I learned her diet consisted mostly of dry dog food and Little Debbie cakes. There was some talk that I could have taken that pig if I wanted to. All I have to say is be on the lookout. One day you may pass James and Hana's Traveling Barnyard on the road.

This little piggy came to visit us.
    The campground was small and peaceful. Most of the people camped there were longterm residents. There was one woman who took a small utility trailer and turned it into a home with a kitchen and everything else she needed.  For the most part it didn't look like a bad life to me. We all have different needs when it comes to comfort. Some need more space, while others need less. One way or another it is a lifestyle that behooves you to let go as much clutter in your life as possible. The neighbors that I did talk to I that community were very friendly, and would give you a helping hand happily if you needed it.

   I imagine a lot of people would go through West Monroe might miss out on some of the charm that another person like me would find. I suppose what really made an impression on me was the friends I made. When looking for a place to settle down even for a little while you look for certain things that would make your home ideal.  Maybe I have a soft spot somewhere for people too, because it was a sad day for me to leave West Monroe. I am hoping we will return at some point on the trip, or another time in the future. I would even go out of my way to spend more time there, and hope to one day be able to go to the White Ferry Church again.

This town even has Duck Commander wine!??