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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Updated: Taking a Budget Road Trip, Part 1: The Basics

On June 21, 2011, I published Part 1 of my Take a Road Trip series.

Update: With my definition of a road trip as three or more overnight stops, there's nothing in the original publication I would change.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Taking a Budget Road Trip: Part 1: The Basics

What is a "road trip"?

I define "road trip" to mean:

A trip one takes in a personal motor vehicle that includes:
  • Overnight stops in three or more locations; and
  • Considerable driving distance between the overnight stops. 

I leave the definition of "considerable" to the driver. For some, considerable might mean two hours; to others, it might mean eight.

2006 road trip to Nova Scotia: Camp Meade, Vermont

What is a "budget trip"? 

Definition: A trip that I can afford.

Afford means I have the money on hand, and its not from my emergency or long-term savings accounts. It's OK if I need to charge some trip expenses, but only if I know I'll be able to pay the charges in full after I return from the trip.

These are what consume a road trip budget:
  • Lodging
  • Gasoline
  • Restaurants
  • Alcohol consumption, if any
  • Admissions and activity fees

Below are general tips I follow to manage my road trip budget:  
  • Use lodging that costs $70 or less per night, though I always strive for $50. 
  • Eat in a restaurant only once per day, occasionally twice. Go picnic-style for my other meals. 
  • In a restaurant, drink water instead of soda, iced tea, or alcohol.
  • Bring my own alcohol, if any.
  • Avoid souvenir purchases.
  • Choose and ration my splurge activities carefully.
  • Choose my travel partners carefully. By this I mean: Select a travel partner whose definition of "budget" is similar to mine. 

I'll talk about some of the above in more detail, later.

2006 road trip to Nova Scotia: Cape Breton bakery

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Opelousas: Square Coffee

Java Square Cafe, Opelousas, Louisiana.

Opelousas has a very pretty historic district that is both north and south of I90. The courthouse square is at its center.

Java Square Cafe, Opelousas, Louisiana.

The earthy-toned Java Square Cafe, which was a bank long ago, looks across 190 to the square.

People often ask me, "Why'd you move to Opelousas?" One reason is that it is gosh-darn pretty.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Lafayette: A New Icon in Town

Lafayette public art, Louisiana. March 2015.

It was an immediate hit! I first saw it in March when it was pink and pristine, before a breast cancer awareness event.

Lafayette public art, Louisiana. March 2015.

The next time I visited, following the event, I saw that hundreds of people had inscribed it with testaments to loved ones alive and gone.

Lafayette public art, Louisiana. March 2015.

 The oversize letters, spelling L A F A _ E T T E, invited children to climb over their angles, and for folks to fill in as the missing Y. Genius design!

By May, the piece was painted blue.

Lafayette public art, Louisiana. May 2015.

The interplay between people and this sculpture - a joyful public art.  

Lafayette public art, Louisiana. May 2015.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Lafayette: Franco Fun Debut

Franco Fun at  Cite des Artes, Lafayette, Louisiana. May 2015.

Music and other creative arts are so damn accessible in South Louisiana. It will be one of the many things I'll miss when I move on to my next temporary home. 

In most other parts of the US, one must make arrangements to go listen to music or go dancing or view art. It requires a special effort. But in South Louisiana, such endeavors are a part of the weekly rhythm of the life here. You can go dancing on a Saturday morning, a Saturday afternoon, a Saturday late-afternoon, a Saturday night, a Sunday afternoon, a Sunday night, in early evenings on several days of the week in the spring and fall, and of course, late at night at the bars. Got kids? You can take 'em to most places. 

Franco Fun at  Cite des Artes, Lafayette, Louisiana. May 2015.

It was special to spend a Wednesday evening as an appreciative audience member of Franco Fun, a choral group comprised of French immersion teachers in Lafayette.

Franco Fun at  Cite des Artes, Lafayette, Louisiana. May 2015.

I will miss all this, indeed.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Loreauville, Louisiana: Clifton Chenier Club

In front-ish: Paul Wiltz, Corey Ledet, Lynn August, Lil Buck Sinegal. Clifton Chenier Club, June 2015.

Anytime I see something related to Loreauville, Louisiana, I feel a little peak of curious energy. The name "Loreauville" is associated in my brain with three things that don't necessarily make rational sense, but the brain does what it does:
  1. The word "lurid;" 
  2. Dave Robicheaux' references to the Loreauville area as an example of great wealth alongside wide and deep poverty; and
  3. The name of a Florida village in an apocalyptic classic, Alas, Babylon, called Pistolville, a marginalized community of Canary Island descendants, kept at arm's length from the Anglo community. (BTW, here is a mini-doc on Canary Island descendants in Louisiana, and here an article.)

Clifton Chenier Club, Loreauville, Louisiana.

The Clifton Chenier Club is outside Loreauville, and the owner (a nephew of Clifton Chenier) was hosting his annual Clifton Chenier Birthday event. I so love how this cavernous club is smack among sugar cane fields. There's a mammoth barbecue alongside:

Clifton Chenier Club, Loreauville, Louisiana.

Mr. Chenier greets you when you walk in:

Clifton Chenier Club, Loreauville, Louisiana.

And looks appreciatively upon all the goings-on within:

Clifton Chenier Club, Loreauville, Louisiana.

Hahahaha, this reminds me of the Fiesta de San Francisco de Paula in Tularosa, New Mexico, when the parishioners carried St. Francis out to the pavilion so he could view the dancing also:

San Francisco de Paula, Tularosa, New Mexico. 

Sadly, there weren't many people who attended the Clifton Chenier Birthday event, possibly because it was on a Saturday afternoon only, plus the admission fee? I don't know. But the music was grand, with many of the musicians having been performers for decades, and a lot of them who played with Mr. Chenier back in the day.

2015 Clifton Chenier Birthday poster. Credit: Clifton Chenier Club.

It's tempting to take some of the musicians in South Louisiana for granted - so easy to forget they travel around the globe, preaching the gospel of zydeco and Cajun / Creole music and culture.

A friend of mine who lives in Toronto had the good fortune to hear zydeco for the first time recently and she used the best word to describe the experience: "infectious."

A slide show of the Clifton Chenier Birthday below:

There were other performers at the event, but I'm practicing with a new (to me) camera, and any other photos I took were miserable.

The club interior is low-lit and cozy even though it's huge. The stage, with its backdrop of Mr. Chenier and jewel-tone purples, golds, and emeralds, glitters. An assemblage of tables and chairs that are reminiscent of church basement halls across the US.  Ample dance floor.

No diet soda, though. I ran into a similar situation at the International Rice Festival in Crowley last year - I could not find a diet soda Any.Where. ... Oh wait, there was a moment in time, early on, apparently, when the vendors had Diet Dr. Pepper. I'd as soon drink from the Bayou Teche.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Opelousas: Outside My Window #6

It was the tree outside my front window that sealed the deal for me in my Opelousas apartment.

Opelousas, Louisiana. April 2015.

But the trees outside my bedroom window are just as compelling. I like to lay in my bed and do nothing but look at the branches and leaves outside. Sometimes I see wildlife. I often hear mockingbirds.

It is a luxury.

Friday, June 19, 2015

Opelousas: Stories in a Cemetery

Myrtle Grove Cemetery, Opelousas, Louisiana.

Myrtle Grove Cemetery in Opelousas is right across the street from the "Old Village" - Vieux Village - which is also the site for the Music & Market series in the spring and fall. Which means you can listen to music while you saunter over to the cemetery.

Myrtle Grove Cemetery, Opelousas, Louisiana.

What is the story here? The clothes look fresh and clean. Where is their owner? What is he wearing now?

Myrtle Grove Cemetery, Opelousas, Louisiana.

This story we already know. Empty bottle, empty dreams. I see several homeless men who frequent this area. I always wonder what they thought about, dreamed about, when they were eight-year-old boys, and what happened on their way to being the husks of men they are today.

Myrtle Grove Cemetery, Opelousas, Louisiana.

What ungodly creature lives in this house - the cemetery hosts a colony:

Myrtle Grove Cemetery, Opelousas, Louisiana.

A hint: They are edible.

Myrtle Grove Cemetery, Opelousas, Louisiana.