Louisiana – Take It – Leave It

Louisiana started out so great.  Happy to put Texas in the rearview mirror after two weeks, we bombed across the border into Louisiana, and slid immediately into Comeaux Restaurant (on the advice of the ladies in the Welcome Center).  omg!  I found myself eating cheesy cajun fries.  For breakfast!  Kind of a shrimp-y, cheesy, spicy sauce over double-dipped french fries.  Unbelievably wonderful.wpid-20150320_104612.jpgWe rolled into the KOC Kampground (not KOA), in New Iberia.  James Lee Burke sets his Dave Robichaux series of mysteries in this town, and, being fans, we wanted to see some of the locations, and have breakfast at Victor’s Cafeteria, one of Dave’s hangouts.  Corny, but….  For any of you who enjoy audio books, this series is the best.  The reader, Will Patton, simply carries you into the action.

Our campground was nothing special, but we didn’t have many choices.  We’ve spent far too much time in RV parks this trip, and it has taken a toll on our attitudes.  It’s just not camping.  But, sometimes, to get to the location you want, there are sacrifices to be made.  This one was one of them.  The bonus is that there are HUGE grassy areas in the park.  Room to wander around with Jezzy.  A “stocked” pond for fishing.  The first day there, I was horrified to wander over to the pond and see Asian carp jumping out all over the place!  Anyone from the Great Lakes area knows the huge battle we have on our hands to keep these invasive predators out of our Lakes.  One of the campers was out there with a bow and arrow, trying to shoot Gar.  (This may have been the beginning of the whole Louisiana slide).

Move to Day 2.  Our plan was to cycle to Avery Island, home of Tabasco Sauce.  They offer factory tours.20150321_103341We checked out the roads to the area, and decided that they were NOT cycle friendly – 55mph State highway with zero shoulder.  So, we tossed the bikes in the back of the truck, and drove out there – intending to take the tour, then cycle around on the Island.

The tour is LAME!  We were shown a film that was at least a dozen years old, and SO hokey!  It showed the McIlhenny family members personally hand-selecting peppers for production, stirring the pepper mash, etc.  Really??? We were led past the bottling line (not running), and into the ‘museum’, where a another film (sorry, the audio isn’t working) was the star.  It was all so stupid.  Then, they herd you into the store, and go get the next group of suckers for the ‘tour’.20150321_110756We allowed ourselves to get further sucked into Avery Island, and pay $8 each to cycle through Jungle Gardens.  But, this was beautiful – we passed by amazing, gigantic Southern Live Oaks20150321_11483520150321_11501320150321_130432saw a nesting ground for egrets20150321_12515620150321_121452passed under an amazing arch of wisteria, which must have been ancient, judging by the thickness of the trunks.20150321_124211and saw alligators20150321_115726and tiny little alligators!20150321_122338Azaleas were blooming, and it was gorgeous everywhere.20150321_122954There’s a Japanese garden, complete with a Buddha which was created back in 1100.  But, if it was stolen, should it really be in Avery Island, LA?  20150321_12273020150321_122821But, it certainly is in a gorgeous setting.20150321_122446It’s a gorgeous area.  Happy that we were able to spend time there, and especially happy that we could do it on our bikes.  I added to my snake sightings with this one,20150321_130650and had a rather large snake of unknown origin practically crawl over my foot.  He moved quickly into the hole in the base of this tree.20150321_125718A German tourist, with a rather excellent-looking camera, and I had a brief conversation about this situation.  I felt he should get up close with his camera to peer inside.  I’d be ready a safe distance away to video the action.  He didn’t bite, and couldn’t convince me to reverse roles.  Bummer.  Would have been fun.  I am WAY over my snake quota for this trip !

We did manage to have breakfast at Victor’s Cafeteria on Sunday morning on our way out of town.  OK.  Guess you have to be a fan to appreciate it.

The drama accelerated about 30 miles into our journey to Vicksburg.  As we rolled along I-10, a semi passed us, and gave us a little honk.

“What’s that?”, I asked John.

Just an “I like your trailer”, he thought.


About a minute later, he hollered, “Holy shit!  I gotta pull over.”  The Fireball’s wheel was smoking.  We’re not going anywhere.  About two hours later, the AAA wrecker finally gets there, and it becomes obvious, after a while, that he doesn’t have quite the right equipment to get the Fireball onto the flatbed.  It’s ugly.  He’s plowing up turf with the rear stabilizers of the Fireball.  We’ve got all our blocks and gear out, trying to help.  Finally, the Fireball is on the trailer.20150322_151503We follow the tow truck into Baton Rouge.  This is a sight you never want to see…20150322_152541The loading problems were multiplied at unloading time.  The angle of the flatbed was too steep to offload the Fireball.  The rear stabilizers were dragged along the concrete, and the trailer jack dragged across the bed of the truck.  We feared that the Fireball was actually going to be dropped off the back of the bed.  It was agonizing.20150322_161348Again, John stepped in – got our Lego blocks and cone out.  The tow driver had a semi-faulty jack which he maneuvered into place, and we finally got the trailer off the tow.  Our jack is all screwed up from being dragged across the trailer bed.  That will be a whole ‘nother episode with AAA.

We finally left in search of a hotel.  John was back on site at 7am  Long story short…..they were able to get a new bearing and brake shoes for the damaged side.  It was unknown if they would fit or not, or if the axle was too damaged.  Fortunately, it all fit.  But, as we are pulling out (seven hours later), the trailer brakes don’t work.  Back and forth, on and on…..they finally tell us that “the supplier” says that the brakes may not work for 40-50 miles until all the coatings on the parts wear off so that contact can be made.  I’m not buying it.  We had new brakes and bearings installed last year (in Louisiana, CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT??) and they worked immediately.  Frustration boils over on all sides, and the service manager tells us that he doesn’t even know if we had brakes when we came in, and he has done everything he can do to make things work.  He tells us to drive 50 miles, and return if the brakes still don’t work.  He’ll adjust them.  Yeah, right.  We’re confident that the truck brakes can handle stopping the relatively light weight of the trailer, so we pull out at 4:30pm.  It’s been a very long day.  We’ve spent $600 for a new bearing and brake, plus another $100 for a hotel room. Exhausted and a wee bit cranky.  Nervous and unhappy.  Don’t know if we can actually stop the Fireball if push comes to shove.  Get the picture?

We’re now in Vicksburg, MS.  Not sure if we have brakes or not, but we’ll probably find out for sure tomorrow morning when we hitch up.  (trip was flat, we never had to back up) In any case, we’re confident that we can get home without incident.  The only brakes I want to worry about between now and then are those on my bicycle.

Vicksburg is pretty cool.  But wet!  They had 5″ of rain here last week.  Our campground (another weird spot) is saturated.



12 thoughts on “Louisiana – Take It – Leave It

  1. If you don’t already have them, may I suggest a set of Bearing Buddies and a grease gun, if you can use them on a trailer that has brakes. They worked very well on the trailer for my bass boat, never had a bearing issue in 10 years.

    I may have to go into the RV repair business, it sounds as if few of them know what they are doing, other than raking in the dough.

    On the plus side, you shot some great nature photos!


    • Gee, thanks for the photo compliment, Jerry. I’m not sure if I total?my understand the whole issue we have with brakes/bearings. We have electric brakes. Seems like only one side is working right now – the side with the new bearings/brake shoes is NOT working. John is confident that we’re have enough brake power to get home, even if we have to rely solely on the truck brakes. Happy to have a minimalist trailer!

      The bearings thing??? Repair shop told us we were rare case to have our bearing type go bad (yay, us!!). Guess you should have that discussion with John about that. Maybe we can all have that conversation after a hike and some ribs on the grill one day after we get home.

      Hope work settles down for you soon. 55 hours a week is okay for a week or two, but not so good long term.

      Take care of yourself. Hope we can go for a walk soon .


    • The Live Oaks look so mysterious, don’t they? The Southern Live Oaks are so much more dramatic than the Coastal Live Oaks we saw in Texas at Goose Island SP.

      I’m ready for less drama, more peace. Enough, already!


      Liked by 1 person

  2. OMG – first let me say that the photos of the Fireball on the flatbed (also getting on/off) were horrifying. I can only imagine what a sad/sick feeling you must have had following that beloved trailer down the road. All’s well that ends well – hope you have a safe, uneventful trip home!

    I loved the other photos – every one of them! What a trip you guys have had!!!


  3. I’m so sorry to hear of your troubles, it would have been my worst nightmare come true. Loved the Avery Island biking episode. I got home to 70 degrees and a cold in the chest, minus the housing for the battery & gas bottle (the WY winds took it). So I was lucky. Be safe!


  4. Holy Cow, Batman! Your adventures are always on steroids! Sorry about the brakes. I can remember a trip back when I was a teen where my parents pulled an overloaded pop-up camper cross country going way too fast for those little bitty tires. I think we popped three or four tires along the way and never at a convenient place or time. Same results: lots of waiting and then paying way too much for a replacement=frustration. At least you found some low cholesterol french fries to eat along the way!


  5. That bike ride sounds beautiful. I’m so sorry to hear about the trailer issues. Things like that can really turn a fabulous trip into a nightmare. Unfortunately, I can relate…. been there, done that. Safe travels and hope you’re able to enjoy the rest of your journey :-)


  6. Wow! What an adventure! I would name the live oaks “Snake Trees”. Very cool. And I would ship Buddha back to its owner. Gorgeous scenery. Hope that saved what was a very frustrating mechanical experience. Be careful on your way home. Hope to see you soon.


  7. Oh, campshaws. . .I am sending you as many positive energy vibes as I can muster this morning. Your story gives a whole new meaning to “Laissez les bon temps rouler.” Beautiful pictures of Avery Island, though, and the stolen Buddha story is a classic. Not surprised the McIlhenny tour turned out to be a bunch of hype–so much around New Orleans is. At least you saw gators that weren’t being lured to airboats by idiots handing out chicken parts! Safe and happy travels to you. Mississippi is another place I want to tour someday, but first I am going to buy spare brakes and bearings and keep them in the Toyota.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jen, save your money on buying beatings. We were told that this “just doesn’t happen” with T@DA-type bearings. Just part of the Crankshaw magic, I guess. Breaks working today. Yay!

      Mississippi is saturated! Standing water everywhere. Wait to come ’til you hear they’re having dry spell.

      See you soon.


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