Vermilionville Historic Cajun Village, Lafayette

We enjoy history but don’t often visit all the places we could. For example in Oklahoma City we were within walking distance of the Cowboy Museum and never went, but we have been to Dodge City and Deadwood, and we’ll hike miles to see some petroglyphs over going to a Native American Museum. I guess you could say we’re more into tactile history than walking around in buildings.

While in Lafayette we explored as many of the Wildlife Reserves, National Forests and parks that we could for hours in all directions and were running out of things to do nearby. I have a special place for Cajun music and history, maybe it’s the whole “French Canadian” association, since I’m apparently, in part, French Canadian; And I’ve always been interested in Cajun French, Cajun Music, etc (everything but the food basically). Our last weekend in the area we found a restored Cajun Village just a few miles from where we were staying and decided to skip canoeing for some history.

I may geek out a bit because I love restored mining towns, settler villages and the like and this place was more hands on than most. Some of them have an entire plexiglass wall between you and the contents of the homes, others have a velvet rope or simply a painted line and a sign but Vermilionville was all about getting to know the conditions people lived in and what life was like.

We started off with a little watershed conservation walk through, just past the gift shop, and learned how the Louisiana delta was formed and what kinds of snakes (Susa had just gotten bit a few days earlier), insects and animals lived and thrived in the region, then we moved on to a rustic looking building pumping out the sounds of live Cajun music.  Apparently this is a regular thing but this weekend they had a rather famous female (aka rare) Cajun musician, Sheryl Cormeir, the Queen of Cajun Music. Her husband was (singing) and a whole mess of talented local musicians of all ages were playing in a syncopated unison.

We stayed for several songs and story telling, which was pretty fascinating, then went on on our meandering tour of the rest of the village.

The village featured a spread of little houses with no roads, only walking paths between. Also included was a chapel (catholic), a smithery, a schoolhouse, a cemetery and a hand driven ferry. The ground themselves were gorgeous, a healthy pond in the middle, the Vermilion River to the side and dozens of Live Oaks covered in air plants and vines. We spent our time walking around and exploring every building, many of which had actors in era appropriate clothing who would tell you about the home or process.

In one home a woman explained the tedious nature of making cotton into yarn and then weaving it into clothes. A single shirt could take 8 months to complete (mostly the gathering cotton and converting to yarn part) so most or all of the women in the village would at some time be involved in making the yarn and clothes.

In the chapel a woman dressed as a nun sat making rosaries out of what appeared to be beads, they were in fact seeds that grew in the region in a perfect black or grey, already with a hole through the middle. They were a great source of trading with the indians in the day and were used for rosaries and jewelry similar to the ones she was making.

In the school a man sat making violins, literally making violins just as if he was in a wood shop – while an older man sat at the front of a few rows of seats talking about cajun music and playing a bit of fiddle music.

What surprised me the most was how cool all the buildings were. It was at least 90 outside and high humidity and every building whose doors were shut was as cool as an air conditioned room. The walls were thick and plastered, so as long as the place was kept closed up it stayed perfectly cool. It completely destroyed everything I imagined about life in the South for people back then (at least rich white people). They didn’t sit around in 50lbs of peticoats and wigs fanning themselves, passing out 3 times a day from the heat, they sat comfortably indoors making yarn.

As far as restored villages go, of all the ones we’ve been to, Vermilionville was the best, or sort of neck and neck with South Park, Colorado since I love mining towns. It certainly was the most well kept, the best for the price and the best for the experience. It also made me want to visit as many of these places as I can during our travels. Maybe we don’t want to visit every Folk Art Museum along the way, but we’ll take the real deal any time.

Fiddle Maker, Vermillionville Vermillionville Girl Vermillionville House Woodshop Schoolhouse Desk Bedroom in Vermillionville Sheryl Cormier Fiddle Vermillionville Vermillion River Vermillionville Sign Vermillion House Vermillionville Cemetery Schoolhouse, Vermillionville

Dog Friendly Padre Island National Seashore, Corpus Christi

Although San Antonio has lots of perks and attractions, one of them is not natural areas or state parks (aside from a couple nice city parks). We had not seen the sea since we were on the east coast back in 2011 and had fond memories of playing in the Gulf on the west coast of Florida – especially this specific time where we got slapped in the face by tiny fish while playing in some huge rolling waves.

We decided one weekend, after running out of things to do in the city that it would be fun to take Sherlock to see the Gulf of Mexico. It seemed like the Gulf should have been a lot closer to San Antonio from maps (which we usually look at while zoomed out more than in it seems) but it took a flat, straight 2 hour drive, then more time milling through the slow Corpus Christi traffic for a while before we finally reached the Padre Island National Seashore.

We didn’t really know what to expect but at least had the impression from the park’s website that it had a dog friendly beach in some areas, *as long as it wasn’t directly in front of the visitor center. We arrived in the visitor center parking lot and headed towards the beach regardless of the rules (mostly least to see what the beach looked like). In both directions spanned a sparsely populated beach with plenty of places to sit, but we still ended up in front of the visitor center after we noticed we weren’t the only people with a dog, and no one seemed to be complaining.

The sand was clean, soft and not too hot. The weather was breezy and mid 80s, though the sun was a bit intense as we found out later from our collection of sunburns. Overall, May was the perfect time to visit a Texas beach in regards to weather but the water itself was completely unappealing to me and Sherlock. Sherlock because of the intimidating waves and me because to reach the water you have to walk barefoot through mountains of sea plants (some of which I’ve been known to have nightmares about) and the sea weed continues out into the water and wraps around your legs more and more every time a wave hits. Not so fun for the claustrophobic or people paranoid about things lurking under the water (like I am for example). I built a lean-to for Sherlock to stay out of the sun and we mostly sat on the beach after having a short run while Ross swam. Overall it was a lovely beach and a beautiful day, I personally don’t go to the beach to swim,  so for me it was great, and I ended up with the least terrible sunburns. Poor Sherlock now wears a hat everywhere on sunny days.

We arrived late and stayed til after 5 but there was a cafe and gift shop that we missed out on seeing, from debris left around the tables it seems they seve fruit bowl cocktails! Next time, oh yes.. next time.

Padre Island National Seashore Beach Padre Island National Seashore Beach Fancy drinks at Padre Island National Seashore Beach Gogobot Towel at Padre Island National Seashore Beach Gogobot Towel at Padre Island National Seashore Beach Ross Swimming at Padre Island - Gulf Coast Texas Sherlock at Padre Island Sherlock at Padre Island Sherlock at Padre Island Sherlock at Padre Island Sherlock at Padre Island

Beer Drinking Around the World: The Who’s Who of Beer Lovers

Wherever we travel we make it a habit to try the local microbrews. Whether in a mix pack of bottles from the store or at the local pubs, we’ve tried an impressive number of beers – though never really bothered to document our interest in beer drinking.
No matter where we go the beer is pretty good, depending on what you’re into. We both like a good stout (especially a chocolate one) but Ross is more prone to drink a summer ale or amber ale, where as Kat usually sticks to darker beers, IPAs and anything with chili pepper in it (when available).
As far as outside the US, I (Kat) have been pretty disappointed with Spain (Barcelona), Uruguay and Argentina, where you can only get some average quality lagers made locally and maybe a Guinness (has fish in it) or Stella Artois. The UK has a pretty good variety though, and I’d like to check out more beers in the South, Scotland and Ireland next time we visit – I want to see that mythical beer “so thick you can stand a spoon up in it” (I mostly hope it doesn’t exist but I want to try it if it does).

It’s pretty crazy what the difference in price and quality can be from one country to the next and I look forward to one day paying .59 cents for a beer in the Ukraine!

Price of Beer Around the World

Infographic by: financesonline.com

New Nerds on the Road Banner!

When we first started out on the road in our 1973 Class C Van one of our goals was to find a street/graffiti artist who would tag up the van for us with the Nerds on the Road website and logo. Unfortunately we upgraded to our trailer after 6 months, a while before we really reached any big cities where some talent might be found and ultimately decided against altering the trailer so we could easily resell it (of course that didn’t happen). After 4 years we haven’t even managed a custom licence plate cover.

So I’m happy to say that has changed, and we not only have a work of art with our name on it, we have an official NOTR banner (or as Ross calls it, “Blanket of Arms”)!

Created with the talented gifts of Isabel Anderson, Ross’s mom, this awesome and so perfectly thought out quilt represents us perfectly! It’s full of tons of camping, animals and nature, and a big sky full of stars to represent our love of all things nerdy! The logo itself was executed in a most perfect font and the top left corner on the back is signed by Isabel herself (in embroidery).

We had initially planned to hang it on the wall in our office so we can stare at it all day while we work, but we were told it’s meant to be used and so we shall! (with care).  It’s the perfect size and thickness for a picnic blanket and summer camping blanket, and in the winter, a lap blanket. For now it makes it will make its home on the back of our couch where the pets enjoy sitting and looking out the window looking at nature (or spying on neighbours, depending on where we are).

I can’t imagine a better banner for our little gaggle of geeks. Thanks so much Isabel!

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