A Weekend in Lafayette, LA

It's been a while since I've been to Lafayette. Actually, it was almost three years! My last visit was in 2015. As I said in my previous blog post about Lafayette, most people in Wisconsin don't move more than 50 miles from where they grew up.

My dad had six other siblings, and my uncle was the only one who moved away from Marshfield, WI. Everyone else lives within a 10-mile radius of Marshfield. The interesting thing is my parents actually did a stint in Louisiana in the early 1980's.

The economy was horrible, and that's the only place there were real jobs. My uncle was down there already so my dad followed suit. When things slowed down in Louisiana, my parents moved back up to Marshfield. My uncle decided to stay.

I do find it kind of crazy that we both ended up about 6 hours away from each other in the southern part of the United States. I guess it's also is a bit crazy that it's been almost three years since I've been to Lafayette. All the traveling I did for TABC, and things I planned up north got in the way of traveling further east.

Well, that three-year stretch was going to end when I planned a trip through the Deep South. I would be passing through Lafayette, so it would be stupid to keep driving and not visit family. When I was making the initial plans, I reached out to my uncle Bince to see if they were free. If you're wondering why they call him Bince, it's because it's a childhood nickname. I was told he sung the itsy bitsy spider wrong. It came out insy bincy spider, so they started calling him Bince. That nickname has stuck ever since.

My uncle Bince and aunt Connie were free the weekend I had planned to go east. That Friday, I hit the road for Lafayette. That night my cousins Shannon and Amber came over with their families. We had some amazing crawfish etouffee cooked by my aunt Connie, as well as a few drinks.

The next morning, my uncle was going to show me around the area. We ended up hitting a lot of awesome places , and I got to see the best of Lafayette. I found an amazing wheat beer at Parish Brewing Company called Cane Brake. I got to see the Tabasco plant and also the Jungle Gardens conservation area of Avery Island.

We then took in some more nature at Rip Van Winkle Gardens. This is where my cousin Amber got married. Later that night, we had some awesome shrimp queso at J.J.'s Pizza. I also discovered I like shrimp on my pizza. Before ending the night, we went over to my cousin Shannon's house and visited a bit more.

On Sunday, I had to leave to head further east. Before I left, I got a tour of Sam's Kamp K9. This business was started by my aunt Connie in 2005 and has grown ever since. Connie has since retired, and Amber has taken the reigns. It looks like she's continuing to keep a good thing going. On a future visit, maybe I'll have more to report!

Besides all the cool places I got to see, I got to take in a culture very different from my own. While I have lived in Texas almost four years, I'm still very much a Midwestern boy. I'm not sure if this will ever come out of me. I know I am very Wisconsin to the core.

Often times, Southern culture gets a bad rap. There are many unsavory stereotypes about it. The media also likes to propagate these stereotypes. From an outsider's perspective, it can seem like a bad culture that you wouldn't want to associate with. While there might be things you can criticize, you can also do this with every other culture.

What I got to see was the best of Southern culture. One thing I've found about Southern Hospitality is you don't go hungry. The food is also really good, so you don't have to choke it down. I know I was stuffed the whole time I was there. I had to politely decline even more food because I was ready to burst with everything I ate.

As I said, I'm very much a Midwestern boy. I'm used to the quick industrial pace where everything moves much faster. While this is still pretty much the pace I do things, being shown a slower pace is relaxing. It's nice to take things in stride and not be as rushed doing it.

A final aspect of culture I took in was the family aspect. I got to spend a lot of time with my aunt, uncle, and cousins there. My cousins brought their families along. I got to see Amber and her husband Anthony along with their new daughter Harper. This was the first time I got to meet Harper.

I also got to see Shannon and her husband, Neil. Their daughter Isabella has grown so much since the last time I've visited. She is the sweetest little girl, and I enjoyed telling her my travel stories. I even showed her the map of all the places I've been and blogged about. She made it hard for me to leave by begging me not to go. Hopefully, I'll have a bunch more map dots I can show her on my next visit.

It was good also catching up with my aunt and uncle. My dad's side of the family is very close. I got to see my other uncles all the time. Since my uncle Bince was so far away, I only saw him and his family every here and there.

In many ways, it is cool to talk about things, especially with my uncle. We relate since we both broke the Wisconsin moving rule. We also have more of an entrepreneurial spark. He has very much assimilated into the Southern culture. It's interesting hearing his perspectives on things. We might not always see eye-to-eye, especially on some issues, but his perspectives make me think.

I just wanted to say I had a great weekend in Lafayette. Thanks to my uncle Bince for showing me around the area. I discovered a lot of cool things. Thanks to my aunt Connie for making some amazing food! Thanks to my cousins who were there all weekend with their families. The quality time we spent was great! Finally, thanks to everyone for showing me the great things about Lafayette. I can't wait for my next visit, and I'm sure it'll be another great time!

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