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Old 11-27-2006, 05:54 AM   #1
BeemerChef OP
Wandering Homeless
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Joined: Jul 2003
Location: Living under the Stars...
Oddometer: 3,329
"The Oasis of my Soul", 9th year on the road...

It does not get much better than this... I still have not made it to Texas... changes... why not... no schedule... I am now allowed to do so, or not to do so! I am in New Iberia, Louisiana. Seems like I am never going to leave this State... at least I know that I will never go hungry... It is morning as I am posting this... a great ride and experience from yesterday... but my mind is already on lunch!... The weather has been cooperative, the rig is running good, I feel healthy and.. overweight. I have decided to spend 5 more days here, visiting friends and everything that surrounds me... including cooking a couple dinners for them. Can't loose my touch in the kitchen... My Blogging format is still not finalized... my own website is still under construction... and somehow I feel Christmas right around the corner... with no plans what so ever... Oh! well... might be a quiet one in some woods celebrating with Mother Nature this year...

My goal on this Journey is to linger the back roads, no more flying by with the past tunnel vision riding style from point A to point B. I am now in New Iberia, Louisiana, no, I yet have to make my way to Texas... that will not happen till Saturday. This is Crawfish Country, and honestly, after 40 years of Professional cooking... I had no clue how Crawfish was... made!
Yesterday was my first ride since the rig has been put back together, Walt has done an incredible, as usual, job. It has been a couple decades since my last road incident and all day I could not help feeling a bit eery as my subconscience kept replaying the events of a couple weeks ago coming up upon just about every curve, and the sight of abundant sugar cane fields was not helping!
I guess I will get over it! I better...

Steve and I had stopped on a deserted back road, and as he was explaining me about the Crawfish fields, with definitely and element of surprise on my part, a truck pulls up, the driver asking us if we needed help. As I thanked him, telling him that we were just taking a break and getting an education, he turned out to be the owner of the Crawfish pond!... Kenneth... a 63 year old Cajun nice man with a French accent which also suit me fine to practice some of my maternal language. Obviously the man has a passion for his fields as he invited us to see his boat and operation... This is what I call “luck”... we were about to have a personal tour!

The boat as you can see is totally custom made! Costing all together around $20000... with a Honda engine, a second engine to propel the front wheel and hydraulic galore! Kenneth is deep into his explanations, he has 3 boats and the harvesting is a one man deal... Hi main employee is actually he told us, he 77 year old man that works twice as fast, using his expression, “those young ones!”.

The fields are rice fields... irrigated by a system of canals with the help of water pumps, fresh water as sea water will kill the rice. The Crawfish season is short, running just a few month through March, and the crop is alternated between both products... I had no idea that the Crawfish was always underground, even with the rice being grown in its own season, the fields are then plowed giving an opportunity for the females to lay their eggs... and this is where the harvesting boat comes in play.

I could not believe that he wanted to give us a ride in his boat and show us all about the harvesting! The man has a passion for it and went into every detail there is to know! Almost as if tomorrow I could start my own Crawfish business!... right! The fields are flooded with fresh water and short poles are in place next to each trap, the orange collar that you are seeing being held is an extension allowing the trap to be in deeper water. Bait for the Crawfish... a dead smelly fish! The season is just beginning... they are still small and the harvest is done every 2 to 3 days right now.

The front wheel literally walks the boat, can raise it and lower it and is also the steering mechanism... as with your ride! The rear two tires also can raise or lower the boat, just following the flow... a front wheel drive. Of course I started thinking why not try it on the snow, maybe fitted with two front wheels, snow... frozen lake... as rugged as it is built it should not be a problem!

Normally Kenneth said the rice crop is gone by now, but because of past hurricanes the rice season has been bad. Salt water has come in, killing the crops, and so the rice has been left, not fully grown attracting thousands of birds which are also a problem. Rice cultivation, as again I had no clue, is an expensive proposition. He normally will lease 1600 acres and the loan to grow it runs about 1 million and above. After paying the land owner his 20% he is lucky to break even with little profit or no profit all depending on the weather.

So back to the Crawfish... as a harvest was just done we could only see a few when Kenneth pulled some of the traps. They will also get bigger as the season goes on... he is selling them to a restaurant that comes and picks them up in 30lb bags. One man operation, steering the boat... stopping at every trap, pulling it out and emptying its contents on a harvest table which has 14 chutes where the bags are hanging... just a matter of pushing the Crawfish into those bags... tying them up and securing new bags... all day long... each row... changing the harvesting direction each day.

You can see the harvest table with also the chutes which have a hinged trap door. I asked him how much Crawfish he ate... he prefers to sell them! The industry is incredible, we had some the other night and 5lbs per person just about does it... you can do the math and figure how many pounds is consumed... how many pounds are also hand cleaned... lots of works for such a little creature, but... Oh!... so good..

Spirit stayed behind while we took this little excursion. He was not happy about it but calmed down pretty quickly. He has been so stressed out since the rig incident a couple weeks ago... his
excitement getting into that sidecar is just not the same and while we ride, the funniest thing... instead of looking ahead he sits sideways and keeps staring at me! As he bailed out about 5 feet before we came to a stop, I keep thinking as we ride bumpy roads... will he try to bail out again at some point if he feels the need?... or will he trust me that we are just on a bumpy dirt road... time will tell I guess!

This is some serious front wheel drive!... has its own little engine... everything on this boat is custom made, even the awning! Kenneth calls it the “Cadillac”... and I don’t blame him as we did see some other boats build for the same purpose... only one wheel up front, small, no rear tires, no hydraulics... no “Cadillac”!!!

But this was not all!... Kenneth had a few more surprises for us. Seems that, well, besides the Crawfish and rice harvesting, he has much more to offer. Like duck hunting and if I remember well, I am sure you will correct me if wrong, this is a trap for Wood Duck... There is a Camp as they call it around here and is rented by the day for avid hunters coming south from the cities.
Not only duck, but the land also hosts a dozen deer stands... and a couple ponds for fishing.

Land as far as one can see... an oil rich land as Kenneth only wished he also had an oil rig like his not so distant neighbors. Unpaved roads everywhere, which I am sure turns into that nice slippery Louisiana mud when the rain is here.

This might have looked like a canal, but was not. One of the fish ponds that also acted as a levy protecting the fields. Everything here is so weather oriented, all man made to protect each area from each other, and, unfortunately still, Mother Nature takes its toll quite too often destroying crops and everything else on its path.

This is the bigger fishing pond with its feeder... which will make the fish, brim and sea bass, come to the bridge like walkway... This was set up like a non advertised outdoor resort! I am sure that everyone coming by keeps Kenneth busy, between eating the Crawfish harvested in season, deer hunting, duck hunting and fishing... many cows also, but that is his job!

On another front... I have skipped any kind of Thanksgiving report this year... as Team Redneck, he must have not been as full as I was that night... jumped the gun and posted this great thread... with... MY pictures...
It was a great day, my first Holiday no working... and helping in the kitchen was a blast surrounded by all these women into food... you saw the spread... there was enough to feed us twice if not more.

My timing in New Iberia has coincided with visiting some very close friends from Florida... also staying here, and how can I go on my way when I have the knowledge that I might not see them for a while as I head West... slowly but surely for the vast lands ahead of me.
My Karma has held up it seems like... I am, what I call now... urban camping... have been loaned a pool house with all the comforts of a home... once again! Good food is abundant here... I am waiting for my camping days to arrive so I can loose some weight... The real donuts are great in the morning... all this rice and Crawfish and Shrimp has me going sideways...

I need to “publicly”, so you all know, “Thank” Walt, Paulette, Malissa and Olivia Ledbetter... yes... Team Redneck family... including Walter and Mary, his Dad and Mom, for their hospitality and beyond... accepting me as part of their family during a stay that was going to be short... but ending up being lengthy because of mechanical failures. I doubt it if this journey today would have been the same without Walt’s ability and willingness to help me out! Never tell the man “you cannot do it”... as he will prove you wrong an will do it better than anyone else! And still... I know that their doors are still open if the desire and need arises! I miss you guys...

My troubles with Blogging are still there!... I have gone over my limit regarding the allowed usage of Bandwidth... TypePad however has been awesome and has given me the time to change for right now to this actual format... Baldy has bent backwards to also accommodate me... and the construction of my Website barring the same name is still under construction! My knowledge into these matters is limited and every day I am trying to learn a new step, at the same time, reformatting the old! Eventually things will go smoother... not that there is a lack of things to do to write about!

Ah!... and to end this... some of these creatures that were so good the other night... much work to eat... will get better as they get bigger... but after a few pounds of those... lips burning... it does not get much better!

I wont have a chance... dependay on the day's connection to always post all my text here... wish I could! But it is always on my Blog...
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