From Alan –
Population = 1,106, latitude 30º 24’, longitude 90º9’, elevation 24 feet, average January low temperature = 40.7, Average July high temperature = 92, average sunny days = 218, annual snowfall = 0, annual rainfall = 58.7”
Madisonville is a quaint little town on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain in Louisiana. It is an old town, established in 1800, before the area was even part of the USA. A walking tour of the town passes by fine examples of classic Creole and Acadian style houses. Whenever the sidewalk comes up against one of the massive live oaks, resplendent in little ferns and Spanish moss, the tree wins. There are two rush hours here; school kids being released from school and commuters being released from work. Otherwise, the pace is measured by the rhythms of daily life in a small town.
Something most Northerners do not realize is that Mardi Gras is part of a season, not just a one day party. Everywhere in Louisiana, from 10 days after Christmas until the day before Ash Wednesday, it is Carnival season. Every town, large and small, has it’s Krewes that throw parties and parades. Our first Saturday night is the parade in New Orleans for the sexy, satirical, and raucous Crewe du Vieux. All afternoon, the French Quarter has been filling with rowdy partiers, dressed for craziness, drinks in hand, wandering the streets and bursting out of the bars. Finally, just after dark, the sirens wail as police clear the streets. The parade is on! The floats are obscene, political, funny, or all of the above. Colorful, sexy, costumed marchers follow along, tossing beads, candy, and stickers to the fans. Marching bands belt out the distinctive and infectious rhythms of New Orleans marching jazz. It is wonderful chaos, loud and colorful.
On Thursday we cross the Causeway again, 24 miles of arrow straight bridge over Lake Ponchartrain, this time for a concert by Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas. They are playing the Rock N Bowl. It is more than a little challenging picking our way across the city to get there after a leisurely afternoon exploring the French Quarter. Rush hour traffic is oozing out of the downtown, rattling over the pothole-ridden cheese grater streets. Once we finally do find the place, it is a fine old joint! The food is good, the beer is cheap, and Nathan and the guys have the whole place jumping. Et toi! Hate to leave so soon, but it is a long drive back across the Causeway.
No trip to Louisiana is complete without a deep dive into some amazing cuisine. Willy Mae’s famous fried chicken, po boys with oysters, po boys with shrimp, roast beef po boys, dripping with gravy, BBQ shrimp and grits, enormous muffalettas, homemade boudin, jambalaya, gumbo, and on and on. You have to try it all, to hell with calories. I’ll diet in the next state. And, of course, there are lots of beer breweries here, making some excellent beers. A big Thank You to Erin and Brian at Covington Brewhouse for their hospitality and fine beer!
The best thing about Louisiana though, is the people. Everywhere we went, the people were fun and funny and interesting and interested. Our landlady in Madisonville was the absolute best! She is a great mix of old timey Southern hospitality, modern fun and feisty career woman, and party animal. We hit it off over a batch of Sazeracs and became new old friends right away. We’ll see you again, Sarah, you and your great friends, next time we pass this way. How often do we get the chance to be leprechaun grandparents?
Next up: Abita Springs