Walking in the Steps of Dave Robicheaux from The Neon Rain (New Iberia, LA)

Normally, the night before a trip, I'm finishing up last minute packing and checking things off my traveling to-do list.  Important things like making sure the pantry is stocked with pet food and treats and the camera battery is charged.  This time, however, I was hovered over a mug of hot tea, underneath my blanket with a wad of Kleenex in my hands. Apparently, it was my turn to battle the allergies that had plagued my entire family the past few weeks.  My nose couldn't decide whether to be stuffed up or runny.  Each nostril had its own agenda.  The thought of crawling out of the chair to go to bed drained me.  How was I going to drag myself to New Orleans for Mardi Gras?  The trip had been planned for months (for years, in my heart), and I was determined to make it.  After a generous swig of NyQuil that night and a handful of steroids the next morning chased with an antihistamine, (Thanks, Dr. Bartz) I began to make my come back to the land of the living.  Both nostrils were open for business.  After a hot shower and some caffeine, armed with Kleenex and the above-mentioned steroids, we packed up the car and headed out.  New Orleans, here we come.

As a fun side-trip, we decided to spend the night in New Iberia and spend some time seeing the sights there the next morning.  My husband is a big fan of the author, James Lee Burke. 

The Neon Rain, James Lee Burke's first novel, gives birth to Detective Dave Robicheaux. Burke creates a flawed, complicated man who finds himself battling his inner demons as much as the criminal element in New Orleans, Louisiana. A true Cajun personality, by the end of the book, Robicheaux has moved back to his native town of New Iberia, Louisiana. (Also, James Lee Burke's hometown.) Part of the charm of New Iberia is walking the streets described by Burke in his many best-selling novels.

Despite the abundant sunshine that morning, the weather was miserable.  Steady wind gusts of up to forty miles an hour quickly dropped the temperature into the forties.  Not at all helpful for someone trying to keep their nasal passages happy.  Thank God for medication.  Determined to be a chipper little tourist, I bundled up, strapped on the camera, crammed more Kleenex in my pocket, and made the best of it.  Surely, the wind would stop soon.

Strolling along Main Street, which is lined with historical homes, one definitely gets a sense they have stepped back in time.  The homes are tucked among hulking oak trees cloaked in Spanish moss that resembled sea creatures rising up from the depths. "The Shadows" is a Classic Revival-Style home with a beautiful garden area that offers scheduled tours to the public.  It was built in 1834 for David Weeks, a sugar planter.

A short walk downtown leads you to the Bayou Teche, a 125-mile waterway.  Not only is the bayou part of Robicheaux's stomping grounds, but on November 3-5, 1862, fighting occurred here during the American Civil War.  Despite weak obstructions placed in the Bayou by General Alfred Mouton, four federal gun boats bearing twenty-seven guns made their way up the Teche.  The gunboats fired on the Confederate ship "Cotton", although the ship was not seriously damaged.  Today, a charming boardwalk frames the side of the water, backing up to the historical homes.

After a brisk walk on the boardwalk, we headed out to Avery Island, to the Tabasco Sauce Factory and gardens.  While there, we sampled vanilla ice cream spiced with hot sauce.  I was hesitant to try it because of my scratchy throat and temperamental nose, but boy, I'm glad I did.  It was wonderful.  Creamy with just a wee bite from the pepper.  If we would have had storage for it, we would have bought a couple of gallons.

At dinner the night before, we had gotten a recommendation from a very sweet waitress for The Boiling Point Restaurant as a good spot for an authentic Cajun seafood lunch.  My husband was feeling adventurous and ordered grilled alligator.  It was his first time trying it, and it got a thumbs-up.  As a snuffly vegetarian with no appetite (especially for alligator), I stuck with a steaming cup of coffee.

We visited with some very friendly locals before heading back on the road to New Orleans.  The wind was still gusting horribly, and it seemed even colder.  I felt like the gods were conspiring against me this trip. Turning on my seat warmer, I settled in for the ride, enjoying the warm sun coming through my window.  Allergies be damned, I was headed to Mardi Gras!! Does she make it? Stay tuned . . .


  1. Thanks for visiting our town, New Iberia. Wish you could be here next weekend for Dave Robicheaux's Hometown Literary Festival. Next year it will be April 6-8, 2018. Please make plans now. We throw a really good time as we explore James Lee Burke's world written in the character and times of Dave, but have the authentic Cajun culture to expand into through literature. You'll love it. Check us out at EventBrite.com (search the festival name) and see the fun things we have, free and paid tickets. Love to see you back in the heart of Cajun Country.

    1. Thank you for your comment. The festival sounds fun. I hope to return to your beautiful city soon. :)