On Te Voit

On Te Voit, Ken Meaux

On the day before we set off on our bicycles for Cycle Zydeco, we explored Lafayette, LA. First, we went downtown, where the setup for the town’s zydeco music festival was well underway. We also found the Acadian Cultural Center, a national monument, on the outskirts of town. In its museum, which celebrated the history of Cajun culture were artifacts from colonial times to the present. I particularly enjoyed the etymology of the word Cajun. 

  • L’Acadie – French colony in eastern Canada, now Nova Scotia
  • Acadien – Resident of Acadie. Exiled by the British, many eventually resettled in southern Louisiana.
  • Cadien – Simplified pronunciation of Acadien. Often applied to other Louisiana French cultures as well.
  • Cajun – English language pronunciation. Used for any descendant of Louisiana’s French-speaking melting pot.

Acadian Cultural Center

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In other news, I fixed the Prius! It wasn’t exactly a monumental endeavor, but I am rather proud of my achievement. On our trip to Florida, the rear passenger window was smashed in a break-in. We got the window fixed on the road, but later, we discovered that you couldn’t open that door from the inside. It wasn’t the child safety locks. I had contemplated taking the Prius into the dealer to get it fixed, but I knew that would be expensive. What got me started was cleaning the car. Comparing both rear interior door handles, the tension on the one that didn’t work was noticeably less than the one that worked. I went on YouTube U and struck gold on the very first video. It explained how to take the door’s interior trim off. It also explained how to disconnect the interior door handle from the door latch. It uses an arrangement similar to bicycle cables. When I watched that part, I was convinced that that was the problem. Sure enough, I was right. It ended up being only a fifteen minute job that cost me nothing.

Known Unknowns

Along the Natchez Trace, in northern Mississippi, stones mark the graves of thirteen Civil War Confederate soldiers. Their names are unknown. Even when they died is not clear. They could have been wounded at the nearby battle of Shiloh in 1862. They could have died while serving under General Nathan Forest, when he passed by here in 1864. Or they could have been guarding the Tupelo headquarters of J.B. Hood’s Army of the Tennessee at the end of the war. Their names might have been recorded on the original markers, but they have long been lost. In 1940 a Mississippi senator had headstones placed, but they were soon stolen. The park service placed the current replacement stones. The markers face the Trace, so that travelers might read and remember. People have decorated the graves with little Confederate flags and plastic flowers. All of the stones have pennies placed on top of them. One of them had a Panda Express fortune on it that read, “You are going to have a very comfortable life.”

Natchez Trace

Melrose NHP mansion

We got on the road earlier today than yesterday. Spent the morning touring the Melrose, an antebellum Natchez mansion that is now a national park property. At 30, its builder was one of the riches men in America, a real king of cotton. Lunched downtown Natchez at the Cotton Alley Café, before heading off to the Natchez Trace. Four businessmen at the adjoining table were enjoying a power lunch. They were all connected to the Mississippi electrical grid business.

We eventually made it onto the Trace, 444 miles at ~50 MPH. It took us only a little longer to drive all the way south to Louisiana. We were hoping to score a campsite and there were plenty that were available. They were all too [g]natty for us though. Our miracle potion of vanilla extract did not live up to its hype. The bugs always asked for chocolate or strawberry first, but settled for vanilla. We bailed and snagged a hotel in Jackson, MS.

We got a late start on the Trace, but made Mile 100. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but there is lots to see, beyond the gorgeous scenery. So far, the road was repaved just last year. Combine pavement like butter, with no traffic and the pretty countryside and I could drive all day. Tomorrow though, I’ll share the wealth with Anne, she deserves her shot too.

Windsor Ruins

Speaking about not wanting to miss your shot, Aaron Burr was tried for treason out here. Sorry Hamilton fans, but he was acquitted. We detoured off the Trace to see the Windsor Ruins. The 23 pictured columns are all that is left of what was once the largest antebellum mansion. Its owner-builder died the week after it was finished, all on the eve of the Civil War, kind of prophetic, don’t ya think?

Extra Dynamite

Extra Dynamite

The pictured crate of dynamite is at the NYC Transportation Museum. It is part of an exhibit that describes the digging of the subway system. It makes a nice visual, but what intrigued me more it the title of its contents. What is “extra” dynamite? It’s a different formulation that is less explosive than regular dynamite (40% strength), but can be more safely handled. But why is it called extra?

Is it because you would need more of it than regular dynamite or is it just a marketing ploy, making more out of less? That’s not the only mystery. Why is it also affiliated with the Red Cross? That doesn’t make any sense at all. As near as I can tell, Red Cross Extra is DuPont’s brand name for this type of explosive. I found a 1916 company catalog that listed this product and described it as a low freezing insensitive explosive, suitable for situations without water troubles. 

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Last night, we celebrated Christmas in February, with Joanie. Why the delay? A gift that Anne had bought was on backorder and just arrived. I fixed shrimp and zucchini pasta in an alfredo sauce, with garlic bread. It turned out pretty good. We exchanged gifts and had rum bunt cake that Joanie had brought for dessert. On the eve of Valentine’s Day, we enjoyed our very little Christmas together.