Day 191 – 3/9/21 Gator Chateau, Boudin and Crawfish Boil

We checked out Oil and Gas Park, where the Gator Chateau is, then had another crawfish boil for dinner in the town of Jennings.

It’s warming up around here, the overnight low was 52F so the furnace ran just once or twice, and the forecast for today is a high of 73, but it will likely get a bit warmer than that.  

Early this morning, it felt like a repeat from yesterday morning.  The sunrise was peaking through the window of the trailer, but ahead of us, so I could only get a picture of the fireball slipping through the window.  Then Bella woke up on her own earlier again, at 6:40 today.

Bella started doing her school work soon after she woke up.  She worked on school pretty much until 2:30pm, and got all caught up.  Well, mostly as she’s missing a lot of science assignments so I gave her some to work on today to catch up slowly.  But, she didn’t throw tantrums or create big fights.  We helped her with math and such through the day, and I think she’s starting to click with her time based math.  She had a unit test to do, and we helped her a little, but she’s getting there.  Later Carol and I commented about how it was similar with Bia, she had a hard time getting time math, but eventually it clicked and she just went.

Bia woke up on her own, but pretty close to her normal time, her only complaint was that Bella was in her spot, but we traded spots and she started getting ready for school and got going.  I had to go to Walmart get milk and didn’t see her finish getting ready, but I know she’s pretty good about it, and am sure she was right there on time.  She had a good day, it was longer than usual as she was also done around 2:30, but she is all done.  She needed help a few times, but most of those times just asked her teacher for help, which was what the teacher wanted.  It feels like Bia is hitting a good groove again, and it will definitely help that we don’t have crazy schedules ahead of us, and mainly will have more cadence and longer times in the same places coming up as he hit Florida.   Maybe, the fact I blocked Youtube within the router has helped too, just maybe.  Hahahaha…. Distractions is what makes it hard for them, so I also logged Bella out of Hangouts because she was talking to Lulu more than doing work sometimes.

With both girls up and running, I went to Walmart to get milk and chocolate milk powder as we ran out.  I got milk last night before we got home, but forgot it in the truck.  Dang it.  I went to Walmart which is like 2 minutes from here, got milk for everyone, got Ovaltine malted milk powder as they did not have the usual nesquick, got some donuts and was back quick.  I also got a lubricant with degreaser for the bike’s chains as they are looking pretty dry and rusty, and some have a lot of gunk in them.  I’ll use that when we get to use the bikes again, so it starts working right away.  After I got back, I finished writing and did a bit of work, then went out for a run.  I had chosen to go to the Sam Houston Park, which is nearby, that way I could check it out and get my run.  I drove there, and as I got close, I could see smoke coming from the area, and when I was right in the block of the park, I could see what looked like a controlled fire right at the park, and when I turned into the gate, it was “Closed for Renovations”.  It looked like the hurricane destroyed a ton of the area, and maybe they were burning as it was easier to clean it up.

Well, no running there for me, so I decided to go downtown by the lake.  That was a nice choice. I just parked by the lakeshore, in the park, and was ready to go.  I had to pee really bad, but the bathrooms were closed, so I did what I had to do. Hahahah I went behind the building in a spot I didn’t think people would see me, and did it.  I ran from where I was parked, which is by where they have a tank, some canons, etc. down towards the levy, and into a nice neighborhood with pretty big nice homes.  Some of those big houses were pretty cool, like from movies when they portray the south.  There were a few smaller ones that were on the water, but they were quite nice as well.  I enjoyed that run very much, with so much history and local stuff to see.  On my way back, I had to find another place to pee, hahahaha… I guess I drink a lot of water.  After I got back, I showered, we ate, I helped the girls finish school and we were ready to go.

Carol woke up, helped the girls here and there, and her work with Bella to study for the test she had was working it seemed.  Then she worked on lunch and even made a new batch of oatmeal cookies, with banana this time.  Everything was awesome!  She did the dishes afterwards, and then took a nap before we left for our adventure.

We left camp around 3pm and headed to the Oil and Gas Park, in Jennings, which is where they have the Gator Chateau.  The girls had seen the flier for the place, and it said you could hold a live baby gator, and they were excited to go see it and hold one.

We had a quick 30 minute drive there, pretty much all on I-10 East.  The actual park is not that big, and the Gator Chateau is a small building right in the park.  We walked in, and there’s a reception with some souvenirs.  The guy checked us in, showed us the “infant” gator that was in the tank right on the desk, and told us to just go into the gator room where someone else would help us.  Easy, free.  We walked in and there’s a pond in the middle of the room, with hand rails, and a few 3-4 ft gators in there, and a big snapping turtle.  The girl soon came by us and asked if we wanted to hold a baby gator.  The girls were a bit hesitant at that point, but Carol said a big YES, so the lady grabbed one from the tanks behind her and brought it to us. 

The gator had a name, “Filé”. hahahaha… coincidence or not, that’s steak in Portuguese.  And then the girls were feeling more confident, so they sat down and got to hold the gator.  First Bia, then Bella, then Carol, and I did too.  We had a great time.  It was very cool to hold the little 2 ft gator Filé.  It actually liked to be petted, so it was even more fun.  The gator has a soft belly and hard shell on top, and it’s pretty much room temperature.  It was pretty cool to do that. 

Apparently at that age they are basically only eating this mushy beans or peas thing, so no meat yet, so they don’t bite you, but it is in their instinct and when they get to be 5-6 ft and are considered adults, they are released and their natural instinct takes over.  That little one could already take a piece of finger out, if it tried, but the little dude was really relaxed as we all held it.  It just chilled there and enjoyed being held. 

The lady that was helping us was local, and fueled by Carol’s questions, was explaining all kinds of things about life in the bayou, about the animals, hurricane impact, what people around here eat (which is a lot more than you’d expect, including squirrels), about food, how to catch stuff, when to run away etc. hahahahah. She even showed pictures of her own house when the hurricane hit last year.  That was quite amazing, to hear from a local who was born and has lived here all her life, and had all kinds of stories to tell. 

The best story for the girls was about how the crawfish are always ready to fight you.  The lady said when it floods, the crawfish get out of their muddy spots and move around, often crossing roads in the hundreds, and they are so feisty that as you drive by they pull up their pinchers and point at cars as if saying “I’ll fight you, come on”… she told that story and enacted the crawfish and the girls loved it.  They repeated the “I’ll fight you” all night.  Carol was enjoying learning all of that the most.  I eventually went outside to schedule a work call I got an email for, then eventually the girls came with ice cream in their hands. 

Carol was taking longer, so we started walking around a path in the park, that would lead us around the park’s pond.  We were going slow, so Carol could catch up.  Carol finally left the office when we were half way around, though it was only 1 quarter mile (path was a little more than half mile).  While we were walking there, the girls were having their DippinDots ice cream and telling me all about the stories they heard from the lady.  When Carol caught up she was all excited with all the recipes, recipe books and all the stories she heard and things she learned.  This was an awesome stop, and I’m super glad we did it.  We finished our walk around, the girls played in the playground for a few minutes, and we were off to find some food before heading back.

Carol learned more about Boudin (say boo-dan) and wanted to try it, so we found a place called Boudin King and went there.  It was take out only, so we had to call in from the parking lot and wait a few minutes then drive through.  We got a mild and one spicy.  The boudin is rice with pork (or chicken) stuffed in a real casing (tripe).  As we left the spot, Carol opened up the mild one to try, but the casing was a bit soft and it grossed her out so she didnt want to try anymore.  I tried it and it was yummy, but I didnt take any casing on my first try, I just pulled out the content through the hole and ate it. 

We then drove to a restaurant that had crawfish boil, Bia wanted to try as well today.  When we got there, there was a 15 minute wait, so while we waited, I had some of the spicy boudin and Bella tried the mild.  The spicy was really good, not too spicy actually, and the casing was not as thick.  Then Bella tried the other one.  I told her to bite into the side as the “shell” was a bit chewy.  I didn’t tell her what it was, I mean the casing, and she bit into it and loved it.  She ended up eating the whole thing by herself!  That was awesome.  We had half pound of each and she was done.  She said her lips were burning a bit and wanted water. Hahahaha   She likes pepper! (At least some). I had a little bit of mine, but saved the rest for later since we were going to have dinner.

We got into the restaurant and were a bit shocked… NO ONE had a mask on, but us, and it was pretty packed.  Tables were far enough apart, but still felt awkward and not very safe to be there.  We took a chance and stuck to it, but decided we’d keep our masks on while being waited on, and only remove to eat and drink.  We ordered a crawfish boil that came with shrimp and crab, mild since that was the least hot one, since Bia was going to eat too.  I got a small shrimp boil and asked it to be the spiciest they had.  The food was actually pretty good.  Bia tried the crawfish and was ok with it, but eventually stopped eating and just stayed with shrimp.  She didnt want to try the crab.  It was a bit spicy for Bia, but she had a bit of food, not much.  Bella then tried too and loved the crawfish and the shrimp, even as spicy as it was, so yeah its official, she likes a bit of spicy food.  Bella actually ate a good amount with Carol.  We pretty much cleaned up all the plates and were good.  I don’t think Bia ate enough, but she said she was not feeling good.  I think the looks of the crawfish may have disgusted her a bit. hahahah…

As we were leaving, some lady started a conversation with Bella and Carol as Bella had a skirt that looked like a tennis skirt, and eventually the lady invited us to have lunch at her restaurant tomorrow, for FREE.  Wow!  That was pretty cool and nice.  We likely won’t go as I want to make sure we get to New Orleans early afternoon, so not sure I want to stop and risk arriving there with bad traffic.  I got the check, and it was actually pretty cheap, we paid and left.  If it weren’t for the mask situation, I think we would have had a better time there.  Bia kept her mask on most of the time, she really worries about this and gets very uncomfortable in situations like this.  In hindsight, we should not really have stayed there.

From there we drove back, it was a bit late, so we needed to get back and get the kids to bed.  It was a quick 30 minute drive back, then we all showered and went to bed.

We had a nice day checking out the Gator Chateau, learning about local culture and cuisine and finished with another great crawfish boil.

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