by Barb Turner, Publicity Chair
The 2016 FCRV Retiree Rally will be held March 15-21 at the Terrebonne Civic Center, 346 Civic Center Blvd., Houma, Louisiana, 70360. The early days are March 11-14 to give you time to explore the surrounding Cajun Country prior to the rally.
Cajun Country? What is a Cajun? “‘Cajun’ is derived from ‘Acadian’ which are the people the modern-day Cajuns descend from. These were the French immigrants who were expelled from Nova Scotia, and eventually landed in Louisiana after decades of hardship and exile. Hearty folks from many backgrounds married into the culture, including Germans, Italians, Free People of Color, Cubans, Native Americans and Anglo-Americans. French or patois, a rural dialect, was always spoken. Due to the isolation of the group in the southern locations of Louisiana, they have retained a strong culture to this day.”
Houma is ‘Cajunicity’ – the joie de vivre, or love for life city. The swamps (bayous), the food, the culture, historic places….there is so much to see & do during your early bird stay.
Many have undoubtedly seen the History Channel’s Swamp People TV series. You’ve probably marveled at the swamps of Atchafalaya Basin, 2,500 sq. miles of swamp and vast wetlands, exotic wildlife, breathtaking flora, reptiles big and gigantic. Maybe you’ve had a desire to see the basin in person. How to see the swamps and wetlands? Visit http://www.houmatravel.com/ which will provide a list & information of businesses that will ‘get you into the swamps.’ Prepare for a thrilling journey into the area’s mysterious swamps with professional guides. Experience the unique eco-system from flora & fauna, beautiful, colorful birds, and, yes, the reptiles including the ancient kings of the swamps, the ferocious alligators, some measuring up to 13 feet in length. Experience the Swamp People environment ‘up close & personal.’
Another way to see the Huoma Cajun Country is in your own vehicle. Route 182 (also known as Louisiana Highway 182) stretches across a large part of southern Louisiana. Route 182 is a scenic stretch from Lake Palourde in the west, down through the southern end of Houma, and then back up to Louisiana Highway 1 by Raceland. Although it’s all beautiful and unique countryside, the parts around Houma, Louisiana are simply the best.
State Route 315, which is known as Bayou Dularge Road, will take you south, past the Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge, Lake De Cade and deep into the bayous themselves. The wetlands south of Houma, Louisiana are home to alligators, snapping turtles, otters, wildcats, black bears and over 250 species of exotic birds.
Mandalay National Wildlife Refuge established in 1996, is located in Terrebonne Parish, 5 miles southwest of Houma, Louisiana. It is one of eight refuges of the Southeast Louisiana National Wildlife Refuge Complex. Put the refuge on your ‘to do’ list while in Huoma.
Seafood Lover? If you get on Grand Caillou Road (Louisiana Highway 57) from Route 182, you’ll go south past Lake Boudreau and Shrimper’s Row, down to where the road becomes Bayou Sale Road and turns north at Little Caillou Road. This is a great excursion from Route 182, as you will get to see Lake Quitman and the Cocodrie Marine Terminal. The route also takes you north, via Highway 56, through an area known for some of the best seafood in Terrebonne Parish.
Enjoy Cajun cooking which is defined as a home-cooked style that is rich with the ingredients at hand in the new world the Acadians settled into. A one pot, hearty meal is typical in Cajun cooking.
If museums, cultural centers, and historical sites interest you, your early bird days can keep you busy visiting rustic 18th century trapper cabins, antebellum plantation homes, art galleries, the downtown murals, and the Chauvin Sculpture Garden of over 100 life-size concrete statues created by famed artist Kenny Hill.
Little is known about the reclusive Kenny Hill, a bricklayer by trade, born around 1950. In 1988, he settled on some property on the bayou in Chauvin (pronounced show-van), Louisiana—population 3,400. Hill pitched a tent as his home and, over time, built a small rustic home that demonstrated an interesting use of space and attention to detail. Then, in 1990, without explanation, he began transforming his lush bayou environment into a fantastic chronicle of the world as seen through his eyes.
Less than a decade later, more than 100 primarily religious concrete sculptures densely pack the narrow, bayou-side property. The sculptures are a profound mixture of Biblical reference, Cajun colors, and the evident pain and struggle of the artist’s life. Most figures—black, white, male, female, child, or solider—are guided, supported, or lifted by seemingly weightless angels. The unique angels, some inviting passage, others prohibiting, vary from blue-skinned, bare-footed, and sightless to regal celestial figures clad in medieval garb with the black boots of the local shrimp fishermen. (5337 Bayouside Drive, Chauvin, Louisiana 70344 (985) 594-2546. Open Monday – Sunday 8 AM – 5 PM)
For geocachers, there are over 20 locations to find. When you locate 20 or more caches, you will receive a signature Houma Travel geocoin.
Bob & Rita Letellier, Louisiana members, suggested that I share the Lake Peigneur sinkhole disaster. Lake Peigneur was a 10-foot deep freshwater body popular with sportsmen until an unusual man-made disaster on November 20, 1980 changed its structure and the surrounding land. On that date, a Texaco oil rig accidentally drilled into the Diamond Crystal Salt Company salt mine under the lake. Because of an incorrect or misinterpreted coordinate reference system (the drillers thought the coordinates were in the Universal Transverse Mercator coordinate system when they were in transverse Mercator projection) the 14-inch drill bit entered the mine, starting a chain of events which turned the lake from freshwater to salt water, with a deep hole.
It is difficult to determine what occurred, as all evidence was destroyed or washed away in the ensuing maelstrom. One explanation is that a miscalculation by Texaco about their location resulted in the drill puncturing the roof of the third level of the mine. This created an opening in the bottom of the lake. The lake then drained into the hole, expanding the size of that hole as the soil and salt were washed into the mine by the rushing water, filling the enormous caverns left by the removal of salt over the years. Another explanation is an underwater stream naturally eroded into the enormous salt plug, inevitably making a sinkhole below the lake, which could have been exacerbated by Diamond Crystal illegally and dangerously mining in certain areas.
The resultant whirlpool sucked in the drilling platform, eleven barges, many trees and 65 acres of the surrounding terrain. So much water drained into those caverns that the flow of the Delcambre Canal that usually empties the lake into Vermilion Bay was reversed, making the canal a temporary inlet. This backflow created, for a few days, the tallest waterfall ever in the state of Louisiana, at 164 feet, as the lake refilled with salt water from the Delcambre Canal and Vermilion Bay. The water down flowing into the mine caverns displaced air which erupted as compressed air and then later as 400-foot geysers up through the mineshafts.
There were no injuries and no human lives lost. All 55 employees in the mine at the time of the accident were able to escape thanks to well-planned and rehearsed evacuation drills, while the staff of the drilling rig fled the platform before it was sucked down into the new depths of the lake, and Leonce Viator, Jr. (a local fisherman) was able to drive his small boat to the shore and get out. Three dogs were reported killed, however. Days after the disaster, once the water pressure equalized, nine of the eleven sunken barges popped out of the whirlpool and refloated on the lake’s surface. Visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ddlrGkeOzsI which documents this disaster and visit Lake Peigneur while in Huoma.
Plan to attend the 2016 Retiree Rally and enjoy the surrounding Cajun Country with your fellow FCRV retirees in March.
As the time comes nearer to the Retiree Rally in Houma, I am looking forward to going back to that area. I was impressed with the people at the Civic Center. They are anxious to show us their part of the country. The Tourist Bureau (see Barb’s mention of the website) is full of information for this area, and they are anxious for us to come to Houma. As you can see, there is a lot of history in the area, and there are many things to visit, to see, and, of course, eat! If you like seafood, you will be in heaven.
Get your registration in soon so we know how many people to plan for.
We look forward to seeing you there!
Again we invite everyone who can to attend the FCRV National Retiree Rally in Houma, LA. We have made great plans and have lots of volunteers to help us put on one of the best rallies ever. We invite you to come early and visit the surrounding area, as there is so much to see. In Barb Turner’s article for this issue of Camping Today, she has outlined lots of places to visit.
We have great music plan for the rally; so bring along your dancing shoes and let’s ‘Let the Good Times Roll.’ We have a big brass band, easy listening music, Cajun, and some vocalist as far as the entertainment. This is a variety; they should please just about everyone. And, of course, we have our own FCRV members in the variety show.
If you have not registered, please do so as soon as possible so we can get a count of how many to plan for as far as meals and such.
We look forward in working with everyone and of those we have not really met, we would like you to come by and introduce yourselves to us and let us get to know you as well.
Six months to the rally, not far away; so start making your plans now.
Hope you see everyone in Houma, LA.
Retiree Rally 2016 entertainment chairs George & Debbie Walters announce the entertainment they have selected for the rally in March.
The Big Fun Brass Band, Dixieland, direct from New Orleans, will open the week on Tuesday evening, March 15th. Basically, the name says it all. BIG FUN is a New Orleans style brass band comprised of professional musicians from New Orleans, Mandeville, and Hammond, LA. The group is dedicated to bringing the music and atmosphere of New Orleans to events of any kind. All of their members are classically trained, and have performed with multiple jazz groups in and around New Orleans. They perform Dixieland standards, popular brass band charts of today, and everything in between. The members of BIG FUN are dedicated to bringing the great music and relaxed atmosphere of New Orleans with them wherever they go!
Eddie McDaniel, guitar and vocals from Gulfport, Mississippi, will entertain on Wednesday evening, March 16th. His bio says, “What can you say about Eddie McDaniel? Music, that’s what, and lots of it! Of the 3,000 or more songs he plays and sings, most of them sound just like the record. In fact, sometimes people ask if that’s really him singing. That’s what we thought when we first heard him perform for the ‘Wrangler Star Search.’ We knew he had star quality, and he proved it when he went to work for ‘Silver Dollar City,’ now ‘Dollywood’ in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.
“Archie Campbell, of ‘Hee Haw,’ said it one time when he said, ‘This boy can play and sing anything.’ In between local casinos and private parties, Eddie currently performs several times a year at ‘Universal Studios’ in Orlando, Florida, and at the Disney Boardwalk at Disney World Resorts. Traveling by himself or with other members, he can deliver the sound you are looking for. Playing a variety of music like no other around, he can perform for five people or more than 600. He is one of the most accommodating, humble and friendliest people you will ever meet, which is immediately evident upon meeting him. ‘Eddie is a great guy, he’s always got a joke and he’s always smiling.’”
Thursday evening, March 17, will be our traditional Variety Show featuring our very own campers. Plan ahead, practice, and become a part of this wonderful evening!
Cajun Music Preservation Society All-Stars, traditional Cajun music played on traditional Instruments, will perform Friday evening, March 18th. The Cajun Music Preservation Society (CMPS) was formed in March of 2014 to promote live performance of traditional Cajun music in southeast Louisiana, provide a venue for professional Cajun musicians to play together, and provide opportunities for musicians of various backgrounds to learn traditional Cajun music. To ensure traditional Cajun music remains viable in southeast Louisiana, the CMPS hosts a jam every other Wednesday at family friendly locations and invites musicians of all skill levels and all ages to join in. The Cajun Music Preservation Society was awarded a Gulf Guardian Award in July 2015 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agencies Gulf of Mexico Program. The award was 3rd place in the Environmental Justice/Cultural Diversity Division and recognizes the group’s effort in preserving a significant coastal culture. The loss of Louisiana’s coastal wetlands could potentially lead to a loss of Louisiana coastal culture and diversity, and the Cajun Music Preservation Society has been working to ensure the traditional music culture persists and thrives. Since May of 2014, the CMPS has hosted nearly 30 jams with more than 55 individual musicians participating in at least one jam. In addition to the jams, the CMPS promotes Cajun music by bringing together professional Cajun musicians from established bands to play as a cohesive group called the Cajun Music Preservation All-stars. The young musicians of the Cajun Music Preservation All-stars will provide a high-energy upbeat performance featuring traditional authentic Cajun music that will be a crowd favorite! The group is local from Huoma, LA.
After the crowning of the new FCRV International Retiree King & Queen on Saturday evening, March 19, the Houma-Terrebonne Community Stage Band, music of 40’s-70’s Big Band Music will provide the music for the King & Queen Ball. The Houma-Terrebonne Community Stage Band began when a group of musicians started gathering to play music associated with well-known swing and society bands from the 1920’s to the early 1960’s, including standards and classics from the likes of Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Count Basie, and many more. This group became an arm of the Community Band for the enjoyment of live audiences. The stage band’s repertoire has grown to include many of the more listenable and danceable contemporary pieces. The stage band performs at many types of public venues for several types of events.
Plan on enjoying the 2016 Retiree Rally entertainment in Houma, Louisiana, March 15-21. Register now.