Saturday, March 29, 2014

March Madness on the Quilt Trail

We had such an incredible time in Louisiana, and I haven't shared nearly enough.  We definitely ate our way through Ponchatoula--our hostess, Ann, cooked up some crab pie that was just delicious!  She also took us to the Millside Restaurant, where we saw another of her quilt block creations: 
The catfish and shrimp represent two of the types of seafood served here, and of course that meant that we had to sample two different Po Boy sandwiches.  Oh, wait--they had soft shell crab, too, so Glen and I split three sandwiches!
Oh, and I forgot to mention the gumbo.  Of course there was gumbo!  Incredible.

Our favorite part of the meal was a new experience for us both--crawfish!  Here I am with Ann and our second platter full.
I realized as soon as I looked at these guys why I never liked crawfish in Georgia.  Ours are about 1/4 the size, which means that there is almost no meat inside--just not worth the effort.  In Louisiana, it's a whole 'nother story--and we savored every bite.  I got pretty good at getting the meat out of the tail, but Ann prepared a few just to make sure I had plenty. That's a good hostess for you!

Everyone tells me that I write about food a lot, and I know that I do.  But that's part of traveling, isn't it?  But just for the naysayers, here is a photo of a place where we didn't eat. The name just made me smile.  Mind you we didn't avoid the place for any particular reason; we just had plenty to eat already.

OK back to the quilt trail.  Here is an awesome quilt block created by artist Rolly Bruce. He is quite a glass artist; every window in his home has a different design!  Isn't this incredible?  It is on plexiglass, so that it will withstand the weather. I will challenge you to find out more about this block on the Louisiana quilt trail by checking out their website:

We hated to say goodbye to Ann Boudreaux and Ponchatoula.  It really felt like leaving family behind!  But the great thing about family is that you can always go home again--and we will.

This was one of the times I was SO glad that Glen does most of the driving--the bridge across Lake Ponchartrain to New Orleans--scary!

I had planned a weekend in New Orleans, and of course that meant--yep, food!  We saw Commander's Palace on Top Chef last year, and it looked pretty cool.  So--Sunday Brunch started off our day.  That's Glen in my favorite shirt.  Real men do wear pink!

We had a good walk around the historic cemetery.  I expected to see a lot of French names, but many were German.  I am going to have to look into New Orleans history a bit more, I think.

SO--I started off calling this madness.  Yes, it got crazy from there.  First, a drive to Ajax, LA, where we stayed in a nice RV park and paddled the Red River.  Both of us forgot our cameras, so you will just have to take my word for it, I guess.

Mt. Pleasant, TX was our next stop.  It's not a barn quilt, but it's a pretty cool barn painting, don't you think?  Even in the rain!

Driving north towards Tulsa, we passed through a lot of hilly countryside.  I was surprised, as I expected nothing but flat land. And, as usual, I got a kick out of some strange strange place names--how about this one? 
We also passed through Paris and Bogota before we got to Deport.  Maybe that was someone's name--I don't know!

I was so proud of myself for finding a parking spot in Tulsa right next to the Arkansas River. It looks so wide on the map--had to be some good kayaking there!  oops. It's wide, alright, but not much by way of water.
Luckily, there is a really nice bike path along the river, and we enjoyed that today.

March madness continues tomorrow as we head to Kansas!  Stay tuned . . .

Thursday, March 20, 2014

"March"-ing off to the Quilt Trail!

It has been a long winter, but it's finally time for the big tour--EIGHT MONTHS on the quilt trail!  We have rented out the house, so there is no turning back now.

Yesterday, we drove to Ponchatoula, Louisiana to see the Louisiana Northshore Quilt Trail.  The "Northshore" refers to the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, so we are not too far from new Orleans.

Ruby--the bus--was spiffed up just a bit recently, with some new paint around the top and a nice polish--I think she looks great!  The  little car with the kayaks and the bikes--yep, it goes with us too, towed behind our home on wheels. We are ready!

Here are Glen and Gracie in our parking spot at the home of Ann Boudreaux. You can also see her quilt block, which is one of the first on the trail here.

This is one of the first blocks we saw--a Ponchatoula Strawberry inside a traditional quilt block.  Another of Ann's wonderful creations. Ponchatoula is known for strawberries, and their annual Strawberry Festival is huge! Too bad it's next month.

 Yesterday, we visited a turtle farm run by Ann's nephew, Keith.  I learned so much!  I had no idea that those little baby turtles that we used to have as pets were banned--apparently because they often carry salmonella. Keith explained the process by which the eggs are made disease-free--and ready for shipment all over the world.  But the US government still won't allow turtles of less than 4 inches to be sold.  Who knew?

 Here are Ann and Glen with the quilt block that Ann created for Keith's farm.  If you look closely, you can see red markings on the sides of the turtle's head.  He is a red-eared slider, native to the area.

Ann is spoiling us--wonderful dinner Tuesday night at Cafe NOLA (I had pasta with eggplant, crawfish, and andouille).  Yesterday we enjoyed lunch at Paul's cafe--a family-run business. I had never tasted cabbage casserole, but I am going to get a recipe soon--yummy stuff!

The quilt block here includes the coffee that Paul serves starting early each morning, the strawberries for which Ponchatoula is known, and Paul's work as a fireman.

Just outside of Paul's--I couldn't resist this shot!

After lunch, we headed to Kliebert's  Turtle and Alligator Farm. They call themselves the original Swamp People, and sure enough I found Mike Kliebert on the show's website as part of the first season's cast. Here is T-Mike (that means "petite Mike," kind of like Mike Jr.)  He seemed so fearless as he showed us how to handle a big guy. You can't tell, but we were on the other side of a fence.

We finished the beautiful day--our first full day of this tour--with Ann's Ponchatoula crab pie.  Oh, yeah.