TX/LA - Feb 7 - 23

To provide some heat while in Port Lavaca, TX, JAK created a portable fire pit using corrugated cardboard, pine scented candles on clearance, and a recycled cookie tin.  He learned this from the couple we met at Rockhound state park.

We also tried a couple nights of fishing from the lit pier in the fog but did not catch anything.

We cooked "nopales" one night. This is the "leaf" of a prickly pear cactus.  Make sure to remove spines!  We grilled it.  Similar to a green pepper but with a bit more "slime" texture.

After a week in Port Lavaca (for a very reasonable rate - $130/week) we departed for Austin.  Along the way we stopped to visit family friends who run one of the largest quail farms in the country - Texas Quail Farms.  You can find their all natural birds at Whole Foods and other retailers.  

Todd, the founder, gave us a tour of the operation.  The day after we visited they had 11,000 birds hatching!

Our first night in Austin was filled with good times with long-time friends from MN who had moved to TX just after we moved to Indiana.

The next day we visited with a good friend from Daddy's law school.  Mark is one of the hardest working, strongest people that Daddy knows.  He's the only person we know who has finished an Iron Man. And he did it during an extremely windy and unbelievably hot day in the southern US.  He was diagnosed with an aggressive cancer last November.  Please join us in prayers for his continued strength, determination, and the witness of faith he is to others.

We visited the Texas A&M campus and another great natural history museum where "Jason" the anthropologist spent 30 minute answering JAK's questions about which dinosaur was bigger and how they use dino-scat to determine herbivore v. omnivore v. carnivore.

We also ordered a Texas Americano from an amazing automated machine in the student lounge.  The system would text you when your order was complete and hold it warm until you arrived.

That evening Aunt Elyse and Luke arrived. This was a much anticipated visit!  We headed out the next AM for Shipley's Donuts.  It did not disappoint.

That night we visited the Cloran's in Austin.  It was a very fun evening playing in the pool, Wii in the game room, tag outside, an outstanding dinner, and great conversation.

The next morning we packed up and headed west from Austin to Perdernales Falls state park where we went hiking and exploring.

But best of all, we simply hung-out and enjoyed our family....and the mud;)

It was Valentines day.  Todd from Texas Quail Farms had given us the fresh quail eggs when we visited the farm and this seemed like the occasion to use them. We also picked up Texas Quail Farms quail at the local H.E.B. for dinner.  Luke and Daddy cooked the dinner.

Because of Presidents day, the park was booked for Sunday so we had to relocate to Cottonwood Creek RV park nearby. The kids immediately headed to the woods which are filled with the best climbing trees "EVER"

That evening we were treated to another great evening at Aunt Elyse's friends, Bill and Lisa, in nearby Dripping Springs.  Grilling, shooting bows, and good laughs made up the evening.

We had lunch the next day at the original Salt Lick BBQ and spent more time hanging out and playing in Texas hill country

On Monday the Cloran's had to head home.  We were sad to say goodbye but are excited that we will see them again in Florida in April.

After the airport drop off, we headed to Houston to get our dash A/C fixed.  Daddy had tried to triage the issue without success.  It turned out the "expansion valve" was corroded and not functioning.  After a few hours, Dixie Air had the issue resolved and corrected.  We are ready for summer now!

We covered close to 400 miles that day crossing into Louisiana after almost a month in Texas. We stayed at the Breaux Bridge Walmart.

The next day we toured the area visiting Lake Martin, the Bayou Teche, an LA swamp, an outstanding cajun lunch, and a highlight of the Longfellow-Evangeline State Historic site. There we learned about the Creoles and the Acadians and the varied cultural history of this unique area.  We also met a family with 3 young girls from Canada who had stayed in the same Walmart the night before.  They are headed the opposite direction around the US.

We had planned to stay a couple days in Breaux Bridge, but after the full day, we were ready to move on. This is one of the many benefits of not having reservations and being flexible.  We won't be able to continue with this flexibility when we head east next summer, but for now, it's a relaxing way to travel.

We headed south. We wanted to get as far into southern Louisiana as possible.  We stayed the night in Galliano, LA

The next day we headed south again. We knew we were close when the miles of road turned into MILES of bridges!  After an hour we reached Grand Isle State park.  This is the only state run park on the gulf in Louisiana.

The park is very well maintained...and currently very quiet.  This area has been wiped out numerous times, most recently by hurricane Isaac.  The people here talk about how rebuilding isn't even a question. They rebound and rebuild. This is their home.

Melissa has become an expert at gaining the highest quality inside scoop from the locals. Within minutes of arriving in Grand Isle, she met a fellow camper named "Luke".  Accordingly to Luke's wife Joyce, Luke didn't like to give up his fishin secrets.  After 52 years of marriage you'd think Joyce would know Luke better;) Within 5 minutes at his camp, Luke offered to be our personal Louisiana fishing guide for the next 24 hours.

He took Daddy and JAK with him that night fishing until 11pm.  The next morning he was awake at sunrise and ready to go.  When they had to leave that morning he gave us all his bait, his firewood, and more stories than could fit in a book.  He was a true, quiet LA gentleman and our new best friend in Louisiana.  Using his advice and locations, we caught 6 redfish the next day including enough for a dinner.

The kids found an abundance of hermit crabs and held an Olympic race.  We are still waiting on the winner...

Currently the crabs are living with us at the campground and providing endless entertainment.

We've arrived in LA just in time for the Mardi Gras festivities. We plan to head towards New Orleans on Monday to check it out.

Quote: A kind lady approached us at the grocery store this AM and exclaimed"Why, weren't ya'll the family we saw in church with the three cottonheads?" "Welcome to Louisiana, ya'all enjoy your visit!"

We thank God for all the great family and friends we were able to see over the past couple weeks.  We ask that you join us in praying for those who are ill.  May God bless you and your family.