San Rafael Valley, AZ ~~ Photo by Bill Haas

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Betty Bernard doesn't just operate a renowned RV park.  She is, frankly, the entire reason people flock to Abbeville year 'round and year after year.  The park itself is small, a little on the crowded side, yet her guest register includes "regulars" who come back repeatedly.  Betty holds forth every afternoon, regaling guests with her Cajun stories and non-stop laughter.  She is a concierge who loves her "job" and will help you with recommendations for places to visit, dance, listen to music, food to try and anything else in her power to make sure you have a memorable visit deep in the heart of Cajun Louisiana.  Meet Betty Bernard with one of her favorites, a chocolate martini!
big and small, truck campers to 40+-foot diesel pushers.  But the novel draw during my recent visit was the 1965 White 3000 that pulled a converted mid-1940's Trailmobile that had been used as a carnival wagon.  That remarkable big green machine is home to a full timing couple from Michigan who has made sure it contains every creature comfort imaginable -- except Lazy Daze windows!!!!  Jan and Bob most graciously gave frequent tours.

Most of it lovingly donated.  Betty can't have too much kitsch, and she prizes all of it. She is particularly fond of frogs and decorated toilet seats!!

start promptly at 4:00 p.m.  If someone needs an excuse to party, then it's called a "going away party" for anyone who left yesterday.  Oops!  Sorry you missed it -- guess you'll just have to come back!  Sometimes guests use the Happy Hour to make tomorrow's dinner plans: potluck, crayfish feed, or a visit to one of the lip-smacking, finger-lickin' Cajun eateries in the neighborhood.  Good times are non stop.

Ever wonder where Nova Scotians go in the Winter?  Some of them end up at Betty's.  And if they're from Cape Bretton, most likely they were born with an instrument in their hands!  Lucky us -- no cover charge, no donation box, just a whole lotta spontaneous, entertaining talent!!!

LOUISIANA! Holly Beach after Katrina and Rita, 2005

Last month, I traveled the same route into Louisiana that I'd taken in May, 2006, eight months after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.  Several little communities along the Gulf in Cameron Parish were destroyed.  This is what was left of Holly Beach following Rita's landfall in 2005.

Hope Springs eternal.  This sign reads "We will rebuild!  Don't bulldoze slab."

Holly Beach after Ike and Gustaf, 2008

As the community started to rebuild, roads repaired, the playground remodeled, electricity restored, along came Ike and Gustav in 2008.  This is what Holly Beach looked like in March, 2009.  I'm amazed at the capacity of these people who live on the edge with its horrendous risks.  Some give up, most just keep putting one foot in front of the other.  But they all sacrifice, and they all help one another; they are extraordinary.  And even bird houses are erected on stilts!

And through it all, sturdy oaks still stand tall.


My sole reason for visiting Austin was to spend some time at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. Glory be.....I must be doing something right!  I hit the jackpot.  Or at least a Triple Header.  Not only was the Center celebrating its annual Wildflower Festival, it had just finished a garden sculpture installation, and an Arts & no Crafts show was underway.  Come marvel with me at this lovely tribute to Mother Nature's Spring bounty.
One of a trio of resident Red Eared Sliders.  "I AM smiling, and no, I don't eat pennies OR dimes"!

A Garden of Eden wouldn't be complete without a snake!

I not only experienced some lens envy, I wished I could still stoop, twist and bend like that!!