5. Across The Country (Oct. 2013 - May 2014) travel blog

Martha, Chigee, Pete, Maurine

Martha with a Dobbin house

Laurie & Paul

Laurie, Martha, Paul, Morgan & Bryce

Martha, Chigee, Maurine

John, Pete & Marianne

BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir

Pete Meditating at BAPS

Gate to BAPS

Chigee & Marianne

My new INKKAs

Wade Cooper Concert

John & Marianne at Concert

Pioneer Acadian RV Park

Viva La Waffle!

Collin Cormier, Chef

Swamp Pop

Virginia & Chigee

Hamilton Hall

Lafayette High School

Mighty Lions

Poupart Bakery

Old Antique Shop

Old Antique Shop

Lake Martin


Great Egret

Snowy Egret

Great Blue Heron

Egrets & Roseate Spoonbills

Reddish Egret

Snowy Egret

Barred Owl


Cypress Knees

Reunion Friends

Some of The Guys

Girlfriends at Jo's


Getting Organized!

Class of 1964

Chook, Colleen, Corey, Julie & Lydia

Scott, Julie & Gay

Jasmyne, Jack, Molly, Lydia & Chook

Colleen, Gay & Collin

Lydia, Chook & Molly

Jack & Jack

Jasmyne, Jack & Soleil

Jack & Soleil

Houston. We stayed at Westlake RV Park, chosen because it was fairly close to the friends we visited. The Park was only about a year old and very nice. It even had a dog wash station, just like a pet spa. So Soleil got a very thorough washing, a little trim and looked beautiful.

We had lunch with Martha McGinty and Maurine Leggett, friends of my parents and our whole family in Lafayette. They were much younger than my parents and as it turns out now, not way older than me.

Valli (more than me) and I used to child-sit some of their kids. It was such fun visiting with people who knew me awhile ago and knew my parents. We reminisced and also did lots of catching up. They took us to lunch, then to Martha's home for coffee and dessert.

(The little house Martha is holding is one of many my dad make in the Acadiana style. It was Maurine's who passed it on to Martha when she downsized her home.)

Later, we visited Martha's son, Paul and his family, enjoying their great patio and their grandson, Bryce.

Paul looks a lot like his dad did. A lovely evening.

Soleil liked the fenced-in backyard and a kid to play with.

The next evening we had dinner with Marianne Kaye and John Minear. Marianne and I were at Cottey Women's College together in 1964-65. We re-connected a few years ago through Diane D. Mattis, another Cottey friend. We've gotten to know each other again through Facebook and email, but not in person, which is always better. I've not met John and they'd not met Pete. Again, we found out more about each other and enjoyed a delicious meal in their charming home. Soleil loved it because there was another fenced-in backyard. Lucky dog!

The next day we went with Marianne and John to BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir, a Hindu center.

It's one of a few large Mandir (churches) in the US. What a beautiful structure!

The marble and limestone came from Italy and India, was all carved in India, then shipped in pieces to Houston, where it was reassembled. It's being added to so some scaffolding and construction equipment around.

At the Mandir we left our shoes at the base of the stairs and went to meet a young man who gave us lots of information about Hinduism and the Mandir. He was in school India and only been in the US for about 8 months. He spoke very good English although his accent challenged us sometimes. Among the four of us, we usually understood what he was saying.

There is one main god, with lots of sub-gods (not his term) which he compared to the sub-gods of Jesus and Mary in Christianity and something else in Islam, but I didn't catch those references. The gods inhabited the statues which were very elaborately carved, covered with gold and other metals and gems, and dressed with fancy clothes. The carvings represented their gods and many many animals - very intricate and beautiful made. Their religion is one of peace and acceptance of all religions.

We went through a small museum, which informed and extolled all the famous people in their culture through the ages, their inventions, and accomplishments. In the gift shop were books, foods, altars, spices, herbs, etc. Again, everyone was very helpful and friendly. In a small cafeteria we ate lunch, a delicious array of Indian foods. We missed the mid-day prayer service although we did hear the chanting. A wonderful experience.

We got mail from our mail service in Pensacola -- and I got my new Inkkas.

Shoes made in Peru by Inca women. It was started through a Kickstarter campaign by some women in the US. Lots of cool colors and styles. Get you a pair!

In the evening we took a picnic to a benefit concert by Cooper Wade, a country singer from the area.

It was for an organization, Carrie's heart, he helps support for families of children with significant disabilities in the Houston area and in Mexico.He is the father of a young girl with significant disabilities. The setting at a large outside mall was attended by lots of families and children, as well as people enjoying dinner at nearby restaurants. Beautiful evening with friends.

A wonderful visit with good ol' friends -- one of the fun benefits of our travels.

Then, on to more memories -- Lafayette Louisiana -- my hometown. The reason and only definite date we had since leaving Vermont was for my Lafayette High School (LHS) Class of 1964 Reunion. 50!! We stayed at Pioneer Acadian RV Park, right on Bayou Teche in Breaux Bridge.

It was a little close to the interstate, but we had a spot in the back behind trees which helped a bit. It was also LHS class of 1974's reunion, which my cousin Tommy was in, as well as the owner of the RV Park. We invited them over to see how they'd look in another 10 years! (Some of us looked better than they did, I think.)

One of our first stops was for lunch at Viva La Waffle, a food truck.

It is owned and chef'ed by Collin Cormier, my cousin Julie's son (2nd cousin).

Talk 'bout good! He also recently started Swamp Pop, with four unique varieties of soda pop made with pure cane syrup.

Try it! It's starting to be distributed nationwide.

We caught up on Lafayette and its growth and change. We also checked out some old meaningful spots. We also visited a Lafayette treasure, Virginia deGravelles, mother of sister-in-law Claire (of bro Spike). V was also a friend of my Mom and known by me all of my life. She is up on all happening in Lafayette, sharp as ever, and loves to visit. We spent a fine afternoon with her .

On UL at Lafayette campus, we saw Hamilton Hall, which was Hamilton Training School, which I attended from Kindergarten through 8th grade. We, of course, had lots of student teachers, dietitians in our cafeteria, and many opportunities.

We drove by Lafayette High School on our way to find frozen crawfish (which isn't hard to find here).

LHS is home of the Mighty Lions! I'm not sure but our class may have donated the lion statute.

We also passed by Poupart Bakery on Pinhook Road. Poupart's has a very special meaning to our family.

Our Hat Party is named "The Poupart Hat Party" because we had their French bread at our first hat gathering, and Dad/Dobbin's hat was made with a loaf of Poupart French bread!

Also on Pinhook Road is my parents' old antique shop building.

Originally, it was on Evangeline Throughway by Dad's oilfield equipment company. Someone bought it and moved it to her home. It looks like it's not being used.

I spent an afternoon at Lake Martin, watching and photographing the rookery.

It was nesting time and thousands of birds were in the cypress and other trees. Amazingly beautiful! Snowy Egret, Great Egret, Great Blue Heron, Little Green Heron, Roseate Spoonbill, Reddish Egret (I think).

I visited the Nature Conservancy building, where I spotted a fledging Barred Owl.

Then I walked the boardwalk out over the swamp and the levee path, where I came upon a gator chilling in the sun on a log.

Lafayette High School Class of 1964 Reunion. Friday night alumni gathered at Don's Seafood, downtown, for an informal casual time to begin to try to identify each other.

No, that can't be you! Wow! You look good! Haven't changed a bit! (???) Many I did remember, especially those I hung out with more.

After visiting with anyone for awhile, I saw that "high school" person there. We had a very fine turnout and certainly missed those who couldn't make it. Laissez les bon temps roulez!

Saturday JoAlice Carter Cronan had some "girlfriends" over for brunch to her and Brooks lovely old home in New Iberia. More precious time to visit, laugh, reminisce and enjoy each other.

After so many years we still found that heart of what we appreciated of each other from long ago. As someone mentioned where could you find a group of women who could laugh at the same silly things, with the same south Louisiana sense of humor.

Spending time at Jo and Brooks home was great. We explored everywhere, appreciating authentic condition of the home and the furnishings and art which complemented the home. Also, such beautiful wood throughout! Soleil made herself at home in their home and yard and soaked up all the loving. Just as with Pete, many people who had never met either, said they felt they already knew them both.

Saturday evening at the City Club in River Ranch was more organized and "casual chic", as the invitation indicated. I had to google "casual chic" to find out what to wear. Not that it would matter, with my rather limited RV wardrobe, I would have worn the same thing no matter the "attire" requirement! And, getting something new would mean getting rid of something in my closet. That's an RV Traveler's rule! Anyway, people wore whatever they wanted, of course! We had more time to visit, even sit and have a real conversation, with at least some classmates. Trivia, a photo show, a DJ, and a class photo brought back more memories of our era.

We did have good music! I'm so joyful and thankful I made it our reunion. It was a blessing to celebrate those classmates no longer with us and cherish those still living the good life. 50 years gone in the blink of an eye. As Dorothy, one of the key organizers of our reunion said, "The difference today of your 50th reunion is that you realize that you have more life behind you than you have ahead of you. Relationships become more precious, the renewed ones and the old ones."

Sunday evening we spent time with some of my cousins, with dinner at Julie Benoit (cousin) Cormier and husband Jack's home.

Their son Collin, wife Jasmyne and new son Jack were there.

Collin is the Viva La Waffle guy and the Swamp Pop guy. Such a creative entrepreneur! Gay Cloninger Lauck (cousin) and husband Scott. Chook (cousin), wife Lydia, daughter Molly, Cloninger. Tommy (cousin), wife Colleen and son Corey.

Jack's sister and mother.

All of these people can cook!! We ate well, shared some old family memories and caught up on current living. Oh, and had some juiced-up Swamp Pop! Baby Jack stole the show, especially when with his grandpa and Soleil.

(Soleil again enjoyed the house, yard, snacks, and loving.)

Family is a beautiful thing -- and I'm thankful I have many kin.

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