Deep South Trip Day 1: Texas to Lafayette LA

For my first day of driving, I planned to drive from Austin to Lafayette, Louisiana. I double checked to make sure everything was packed in the car. I wanted to make sure I didn't miss anything for the long road trip I was about to take. With the boxes I was going to take to Michael, the car was a pretty tight fit.

I pulled the 2017 Focus out of the garage. I then let it update the Sirius Radio and pulled the 2007 Focus into the garage.

I closed the garage door and hit the road. It was a bit of a cloudy day.

Today I would take all the back roads to Louisiana. The two-lane highways would take me through all the little towns along the way. The scenery of the rural areas would be a lot less generic than if I stayed on the interstate.

As I started to get into East Texas it became more wooded.

You could also tell you were in East Texas by the liquor stores in the middle of nowhere.

You could also tell you were in a rural area by all the Dollar Generals you passed. It seems Dollar General is a staple of small-town Texas.

The woods eventually turned into a huge lake. I saw that Lake Livingston was pretty big overall. I might have to explore it soon!

Soon I was back to big trees again. This time I could see some swamps.

I made it to my first stop of the day, Jasper, TX. Here I stopped at a Brookshire Brothers. I filled up the car and had lunch. I ate a meatloaf sandwich and washed it down with an energy drink.

After eating and relaxing a bit, it was time to hit the road again. The clouds looked a little more threatening this time.

While the clouds were threatening, there wasn't any bad weather. I kept driving until I hit Louisiana. One thing I was going to miss was the 70-75mph (110-120kmh) speed limits of Texas. Louisiana's slowed down to 55mph (90kmh).

Northern Louisiana seemed very wooded and got flatter as I drove south. In many ways, it reminded me of when I drove from Winnipeg to Thunder Bay (minus the potential for blizzards). The difference in the Winnipeg to Thunder Bay drive is it started with flat and open areas. It then got more wooded. This drive started wooded and then got flat.

It was flat enough that there were sugar cane and rice fields. I even saw a crop duster spraying those fields.

When I was driving I saw some people riding horses into town. The funny thing is I rarely see this around Texas.

I kept driving and saw more rice paddies.

Soon, I was getting close to Lafayette.

Instead of turning and taking the interstate, I kept going straight to continue on the back roads.

My uncle actually lives in Youngsville. I got there with a little time to spare, so I headed over to Nunu's Fresh Market. Nunu's is a local grocery store that my uncle recommended for finding local products.

I found a treasure trove of local products!

After Nunu's, I headed to my uncle's. Their dogs decided to say hi.

After a little bit, my cousins and their families showed up. It was good to see everyone again since my last visit to Lafayette was in 2015. We all started to catch up and relax a bit.

One thing about Southern Hospitality is you don't go hungry. If you do, it's your fault. My Aunt Connie started making some crawfish étouffée. In the meantime, we munched on appetizers. I brought some Yellowbird hot sauce from Austin. Everyone was putting it on everything, including celery.

I cracked open a beer, and suddenly a Cosmopolitan Blue Martini appeared. I had to double fist it for a while!

Before you know it, the food was done!

I loaded up my plate!

The crawfish étouffée was out of this world! In Central Wisconsin, Cajun food is almost unheard of. Even in Austin, it is harder to find (you really have to go to East Texas). I have had crawfish étouffée in Austin at Papadeaux, but it didn't even compare. You bet I was back for seconds!

I was pretty stuffed when dessert came out. It was a King Cake. This is another local Louisiana thing. The King Cake is an extremely rich cake. It is made for the Mardi Gras celebrations to indulge before Lenten fasting starts. Inside is a little plastic baby that is supposed to represent Jesus. Some traditions have it that the person who gets the baby in their piece of cake buys the next cake.

My first day on the road had a lot of driving through the back roads of Texas and Louisiana. Besides my stop in Jasper, I pretty much drove the rest of it through. It was good to get to Lafayette and see my aunt, uncle, and cousins. After sitting around and talking for a while, everyone left. It was starting to get late, and we needed to get to bed because the next day was planned to be exciting!

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