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Wandering Off The Beaten Path

Updated: Feb 16, 2022

When one things leads to another, you end up here. A ladies-only road trip across the U.S. was the last thing I expected to be doing in the middle of a pandemic in 2020 (a necessary wedding trip), yet there I was with my sister and adult daughter. As my daughter (introvert) can attest, traveling with either my sister or me (extroverts) is fun, exhausting, sometimes frustrating, and involves much standing around waiting for one of us to finish talking. My beloved sister has even more of a penchant than I do for striking up conversations with complete strangers. It's a blessing, even if we don't realize it at the moment (we needed caffeine--need I say more?). This is how we ended up:

-->Craving coffee-->finding the only Starbucks (in Target)-->having my sister take a side trip to Ulta Beauty-->waiting around for her while she conversed with the staff about where to find an authentic Cajun/Arcadian experience-->traveling a gravel road with few directions (not the first time this trip)-->fantastic local preserve! These photos were taken on a warm June afternoon at Cypress Island Preserve located between Breaux Bridge and Lafayette Louisiana. The Nature Conservancy has more on the Preserve here. It's been battered around by a hurricane since our visit, but I'm happy to see online that even if some boardwalks need repair (check before you go if you need wheelchair accessibility), the gators are right at home and the locals who visit are taking in the nature.

Excuse the "covid" haircut on me in one of the photos below, but I'm trying to keep it real.

We had been on the road for hours at this point with many more to come, thus we didn't see it all. Plenty of fun was being had by others on Lake Martin, where the preserve is located. In fact, the entire area is part of the historic Atchafalaya Heritage Area, touted as "America's Foreign Country." There are numerous Swamp/Arcadian tours available, some even by kayak. However, given the plethora of alligators (except when the chill is in the air), unless you are a skilled kayaker, I'd probably opt for a swamp or air boat group tour. Some who offer this are below. We didn't have time to use any of these, so check Tripadvisor or Yelp for reviews. Some are fancier than others (one is just a 5-person boat).

If you've been on any of these, I'd love to know your experiences. There is so much to see in the U.S., but I'm willing to backtrack to do this place again and spend a full day.

Our day of Cajun/Arcadian experience continued, as we discovered Chez Jacqueline in downtown Breaux Bridge. Fewer alligators, but more wandering off the beaten path.


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