LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULER!

MONDAY

I woke this morning to the sounds of diesel engines.  Some of the 70+ coaches that did not arrive yesterday or before were starting to roll in.  I sat out and talked to Manny our neighbor while Bonnie went to get her hair cut.  Before we knew it it was time to head over for registration.

Registration was a real event, so we grabbed our chairs and headed for the pavilion.  Everything was well organized and Bonnie met me there when she got back.  We got in line and grabbed our packets that came in a nice insulated lunch bag.

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there were tables with beads and other hand outs all set up to browse.

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All the while a local Cajun band played and entertained us.

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An executive chef also fried Cracklins and served boudin with swamp water to wash it all down.

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The crowd was still growing when I took this picture.

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We met a lot of new people and it was nice to put faces to the names I have seen and communicated with online.  We took some time to review our schedules and then headed back to the coach to rest a bit.  We have the Welcome activities and Hors d’oeuvres at 4 and then dinner at 5:30.  I see fried alligator, catfish and boiled crawfish on the menu along with sides.  I can see we will not go hungry here.  There are tours and activities every day starting at 8am so we will be busy.  Let the Good Times Roll.

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We went over at 4:00PM for the opening ceremonies and of course there was more to eat, wings and chicken sandwiches.  The girl scouts presented the colors and we sang the Canadian and our National Anthem.  The Mayor of Rayne spoke to us and welcomed us.

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He was quite entertaining.  Roy and Vickie Warren the Rally Masters are on the stage with him.  The planning for this rally has taken two years.  We were seated at a table up front.  With Jim and Natasha she is called our Mom for this rally and will keep an eye on us.

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Natasha

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The alligator, catfish, and crawfish, along with the potatoes and corn on the cob were all delicious.  Top that off with a couple pieces of King Cake.

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Then the Cajun Band entertained us and when they went on break there was a drawing for door prizes.  Bonnie won a gift card for $25 at Valero.  We were back to the coach just before dark to relax a little.  Tomorrow starts at 7:30am.

TUESDAY

Early start today.  We were told to be ready to meet someone at the door of our rig at 7:30am, wow thats early for us.  I was up and ready when just before 7:30 there was a knock on the door.  These two young men from Beaver Coach Sales were delivering Beignets, yummy.  They came all the way from Oregon.

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They also delivered the local paper which had a whole section on our Beaver Rally.

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Today we were split into 2 groups 70 some per group.  Our first tour was at a music shop where they build “Cajon Accordions.

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This is who builds them and he is 2nd generation as his Uncle first made them.  A new is over $3200 and is backordered quite a few months.

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He gave a very informative talk and really held our attention.

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His wife finally knocked on the door so that the next group could get in.  We exited out the back and walked around the front.  I stepped on about an 18″ garter snake and that caused a little excitement, not with me because I did not notice it until I others pointed it out.  We looked around the shop at the instruments and Bonnie bought a CD.

Then it was time to head to Kelly’s Landing for lunch and it was also the location of our afternoon tour about rice and crawfish farming.

We arrived and Kelly’s and noticed his big toys.

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There was much more all around the place plus he has a huge John Deere toy collection inside and some other tractor brands also.  We had a nice lunch of Crawfish Étouffée, rice, bread, and cake for dessert.

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Then we wend outside to see and hear a talk on a crawfish harvesting boat.

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Then back inside and Mr Kelly entertained us and educated us in a most comical way.

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Crawfish trap, as you can tell the ponds are not very deep as the tops stick out above the water.

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In  fact they grow rice in the fields one year and crawfish the next.  The rice stubble becomes food for the crawfish.

After Mr Kelly finished we headed back to the Coach and caught a quick nap.  I woke up at 4:00pm and we headed over to the pavilion to see a demonstration from Josh our executive chef on how to make enough Jambalaya to feed 65 people in a big iron kettle.

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Josh said he has all sizes and says it is the only way to cook Cajun food.  He also shared his recipe and techniques.

We missed the first part but got there as he browned the pork, then he added and browned the smoked sausage. Then it was the green peppers and onions.

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Then all the spices.

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He then added some water and some mushroom soup to thicken it and and some caramel color to get the color he wanted without affecting the taste.

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Then all he had to do was add the rice and let it cook.  That finished the demonstration.  We had less than an hour until dinner time so we headed over to the convention center where we eat.  We sat down on a bench and chatted with some of the other members and just enjoyed relaxing.  Time passed quickly and it was time to eat and enjoy the jambalaya, black eyed peas, rolls, salad and ice cream for dessert.  Then we were entertained by another evening of local music.  Wow it was a full day and tomorrow is another.  So I better get some rest.

WEDNESDAY

We were up early again today, hope this is not the beginning of a habit.  We headed over for breakfast and then jumped in the car for about a 45 minute ride over to Lake Martin and a swamp tour.

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When we got there the boats were ready and as soon as the others arrived we headed out.

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There was some real beauty in the swamp lots of birds and other animals.  It was hard to get a good focus from the moving boat but I managed a few.

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This is Lake Martin that is now a managed Lake and Swamp they protect the gators and some of the birds here.  Also they manage the water levels.

 

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This is the base of the tulip poplar.  It has leaves and drips tannic acid into the water that keeps the mosquitos away.

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These are bald cyprus trunks the other predominant tree here

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This is the oldest tree in the lake and is over 500 years old.

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The hollowed out stumps are good to take shelter in if you get lost, beware of the wasps that also like to nest in them.

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These are cyprus knees that provide oxygen to the trees

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We saw lots of turtles

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This 55 gal drum was a deer stand years ago when the lake level was low enough that the ground would dry.

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This is an Osprey Nest you can see the head of one that is sitting on the eggs.

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We got up close to several of the gators, this one is about 14 feet and one of the larger ones in the lake.

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This one is keeping an eye on us

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Lots of birds, one whole area is closed off as a rookery.

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Lots of young gators, they grow about a foot a year for the first five years.

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This is a momma gator.  There were 30 or 40 of last years hatchlings around her.  We stayed until she started to move which meant enough move on.

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These are on top of the old nest

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Headed back we spotted this bird nibbling

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I almost missed this one as it blended in so well.

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Back at the landing the second half of our group was ready to head out.

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This afternoon we feed the frog.  Which turned out to be a modified game of bean bag baseball but we all had a good time and my team won.

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Bonnie had great form.

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Then a quick trip to the coach before we headed over for the evening meal and entertainment.  We had seafood gumbo with shrimp, salad and cake for dessert. The gumbo was a bit bland but the hot sauce helped some.  Most agreed it could have been spicier.

Then we had a great Cajun Comedian who had us all belly laughing.  He was really good.

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Then we had an illusionist and magician.  He was ok but maybe we were sitting to close and could figure out some of his tricks.  But he did some neat tricks that fooled us all.  It was a good evening of entertainment.

Of course we had the nightly drawings, sadly neither Bonnie nor I won tonight.  Tomorrow is the big drawing, maybe then.

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Well this blog has gotten quite long and its time I get it posted.  Suffice it to say we are keeping very busy here at the Rally and are having a great time.

Thanks For Checking In!  LAISSEZ LES BON TEMPS ROULER!