February 20, 2012

Looking for a Cajun Barn

Tim and I took advantage of our unplanned weekend in Lafayette, Louisiana, by relaxing, doing a few errands and continuing our exploration of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.  One of the park’s six sites happens to be in Lafayette.  Located along the Vermillion River, the Acadian Cultural Center interprets the history, customs and language of the Acadians who settled Louisiana.

After watching a rather heavy-handed movie about the history of the Acadians and their exile from Nova Scotia, we spent a bit of time talking with the ranger on duty.  She was a delight, and we had a wonderful conversation about theories of interpretation and ways to engage diverse audiences.  I hope she is able to implement some of the ideas that she has developed.

We really have met some of the most enthusiastic, knowledgeable and dedicated rangers at parks throughout the country.  I’m convinced that the National Park Service has some of the best employees of any government agency, or any private company for that matter.  Some of our best conversations on this trip have been with these people.

Spring Is Arriving in Southern Louisiana
This morning we detoured south from Lafayette to Abbeville, Louisiana, to check out the town that figured prominently in the project that brought me to Rocky Mountain National Park in the first place.  That project involved preparing a nomination to the National Register of Historic Places for a barn on the west side of the park.  The barn was built in 1942 by Frank Godchaux, Jr., who lived in Abbeville.  Talk about a small world.  I never thought I would visit the area that influenced the design of that historic barn.

The barn in Rocky Mountain National Park is a local adaptation of the Cajun barns that are found almost exclusively in southern Louisiana.  Frank Godchaux sketched a barn that was familiar to him, and we wanted to see if we could find any barns around Abbeville that might have influenced the design.

Little Buckaroo Ranch Barn in Rocky Mountain National Park
We really didn’t find much, since we didn’t take the time to drive many of the back roads, but we saw a few barns with somewhat similar characteristics.  This certainly was far from a professional survey, just a fun “look-see.”  Even though we came up short, we had a good time looking more closely at the buildings in the landscape.

This Isn't Exactly What We're Looking For
This One Is a Little Closer
We continued our drive through southern Louisiana and passed hundreds of rice fields that happened to be flooded from the recent rains.  We drove through Gueydan, the duck capital of America and made our way back north to Lake Charles and the oil refineries.  We then crossed the state line into Texas.  Yes, Texas!  We are actually in Texas.

Fuzzy Ducks
What Happened to the Scenery?
We actually arrived in Texas earlier than we had originally thought.  Because the crazy weather of the last two weeks had caused us to reroute and then delay our trip, we came to the conclusion this past weekend that we would not make it back to Memphis or to Arkansas.  I’m sad about that, since I had really wanted to visit there, but we’ll save that part of the country for another time.  

We're in Texas!
I know it sounds odd that we “don’t have time” to go somewhere, but we actually have a schedule to keep at the moment.  We are meeting Kevin in Austin, Texas, on March 3, and need to finish seeing what we want to see in east Texas and the Hill Country before then.  Because, after our weekend in Austin, we have reservations in Big Bend National Park starting on March 7.  It’s very odd having a deadline again, since we’re used to doing what we want, when we want, but it will be fun to visit with Kevin again.


  1. Life has all kinds of ups and downs. I am sure you will get back there again. I am sure that Texas will have lots of that Black Gold to see, which our country runs on. Love A

    1. A, That's one of the things I love most about this trip. If we are not able to visit a particular place, another one that's even better is just around the corner. I'm sure we'll find beautiful sites in Texas. Sarah

  2. Barn hunting! What fun! Glad you got to do that. It's probably a good thing you went on to Texas. Texas is a looonnnng ride! ha ha LV

    1. LV, It was fun, and I am glad we decided to leave for Texas when we did. Texas is huge, which I knew, of course, but it's hard to decide just where to go. There are so many choices. I think we'll be here for a while! Sarah