November 27-29, 2018
This is a small town along Bayou Teche (teche means snake so basically it is Snake River). They have a small old town main street near the river but the spot we enjoyed the most was their city park on the other side of the bayou. We were seriously hiking deprived. When we asked campground hosts if there was anywhere to hike, we got wide eyes and the question “Hiking? You want to hike?” People boat down here. They don’t seem to hike. Maybe it’s the snakes and gators… and swamps. There’s a lot of squishy ground in southern Louisiana. Whatever the reason, no hiking trails were to be found where we camped, BUT we found the beautiful park with full trees and a hiking/jogging trail so we took full advantage. At one point the trail led over a little bridge with happy ducks swimming around… and nutria. We’d never seen them before. A local referred to them as water rats. They are rodents and look a bit like miniature beaver or muskrats. They had a little turf war while we were watching but went back to their own sides of the bridge and settled down. As a side note, one of the Cajun cookbooks I bought as an eBook talked about cooking nutria and said “We even make our rodents taste good.” Maybe that’s what they need to save the wetlands that are being destroyed as the nutria move in – good recipes. Create a demand and it will reduce the supply.
New Iberia’s claim to fame includes one Jazz musician and one best-selling author. The music that inspired Louis Armstrong was William G. “Bunk” Johnson who worked in the rice and cane fields during the day and played in the “Banner Band” at night. Armstrong brought Johnson to New Orleans and international recognition. The author is James Lee Burke, author of Dave Robicheaux mystery novels.
A large part of New Iberia burned in the Great Fire on October 10, 1899. The Gouguenheim Building, shown below, helped contain the inferno. Its stucco walls and metal roof were more fire resistant than any neighboring building. Firemen chose it as the stopping point for the fire and pumped water onto the building to keep it from igniting. Before it was brought under control more than 50% of its business district had been destroyed.
This alley has an interesting background. In 1837 Frédéric Henri Dupérier donated the land for St. Peter’s Catholic Church, shown in the distance. He asked that the alley remain open for his family’s convenience when they walked to church from his home directly across Bayou Teche. He wanted to be able to see the church from his front porch. His home was later purchased for use as a convent and school. The alley remained open to accommodate the nuns and their students.
We spent three nights in New Iberia at the KOC Kampground. It was very convenient and had everything we needed but we weren’t overly impressed with the campground itself, mainly because it had very few mature trees. I need trees. People that rely on satellite dishes prefer no trees so there were plenty of campers set up enjoying the moderate temps and beautiful sunshine. The campground has several shower houses, a laundry, swimming pool, fishing pond, camp store and more. One man has been wintering there for over 15 years. There are some long term people there and we actually requested a site back in among them since that is where most of the trees were. It was OK. A little muddy with a “concrete picnic” pad, no picnic table though, but otherwise fine. It is extremely convenient for touring New Iberia, Avery Island and Jefferson Island. There was road noise but not too bad considering we were right off the highway. They have several pull through sites right up near the entrance that are under gorgeous live oaks. She said we couldn’t book those. I think they save them for overnighters so they don’t have to unhook. Those sites might get more road noise – but they get BIG trees!
Konriko Rice Mill
Their claim to fame is possibly being the oldest continuously operating rice mill in the country.
They have a nice little gift shop with cool Louisiana gifts and rice products.
You pay a small fee for a movie about growing rice and a short tour of the first floor of the old mill. They have a mini mill that shows you how the rice travels up and down the three floors during processing which was pretty cool. Those little salt shakers hold rice at the different stages of processing.
The machinery is old belt driven wooden machines. It was interesting but it isn’t one of our must do items.