Oaks Residents Trek South for Avery Island Adventure and More

April 22, 2019

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On a recent spring Tuesday morning, a group of Independent Living residents from The Oaks of Louisiana piled into cars for an overnight adventure to New Iberia, La., and tours of Shadows on the Teche and Avery Island.

It was a wonderful adventure full of sights, history, culture and delicious South Louisiana cuisine.

The weather was perfect as the group traveled down I-49, anticipating lunch at Lea’s Lunchroom in LeCompte. While some of the group had been to the landmark restaurant before, it was a delightful new experience for others. Of course, everyone ordered Lea’s famous ham sandwich – sliced home-baked ham, ground ham, lettuce, tomato and pickle – and finished the meal with a slice of pie. One bite and it was easy to understand how Lea’s went from making two pies a week in 1928 to almost 65,000 pies per year today!

A stop at the Acadian Culture Center in Lafayette gave residents a visual portrait through exhibits of the origins, migration, settlement and contemporary culture of the Acadians (Cajuns) who settled southeast Louisiana. 

The final stop of the day was Shadows on the Teche in New Iberia. The 3,750 square-foot home built between 1831 and 1834 is one of the South’s best-known plantation homes and was built on the bank of the bayou for wealthy sugar planter David Weeks. Residents toured the home and the grounds and were given a vivid picture of life for the four generations that made Shadows on the Teche their home.

A full day ended with dinner at Little River Inn, one of the oldest restaurants in Acadiana with more than 87 years serving seafood and steaks to locals and out-of-towners.

The next day was a feast for the senses: seeing the beauty of Avery Island, home of Tabasco Brand Pepper Sauce; smelling the different varieties made; and tasting Tabasco as many in the group had never done before – in ICE CREAM, among other Tabasco-infused offerings. Jelly beans. Spicy chocolates. Pepper jellies. Spicy Olives. Pickled okra. Steak sauce. Ground mustard.

The day began with a tour of the Tabasco Factory, a self-guided tour that included a variety of buildings and multiple exhibits and short movies. Residents witnessed the growing process of the pepper plants from seedlings to full-grown plants; visited the mash warehouse to see the Tabasco aging process; viewed and smelled the aromas of the stirring vats and learned about the bottling and shipping process around the world.

A driving tour of Avery Island’s Jungle Gardens, a 170-acre botanical wonderland, followed and included marshes and bayous inhabited by wildlife, gorgeous Oak trees with Spanish moss, turtles, a Buddha and a stop at the white egret rookery for a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see hundreds of nesting egrets.

After lunch at Avery Island’s 1868 Restaurant, it was time to start the journey home. An unplanned and sweet surprise for the residents was a stop at Poupart Bakery in Lafayette. Inside, residents perused the wall-to-wall cases filled with pastries and cakes and baskets of breads. Purchases were made and everyone returned to their cars.

Tired. Full. And wondering where the next trip would take them.

“This was a great trip,” Gretchen Bell, Garden Apartments resident, said. “The length, the itinerary, the food – everything was so well-planned. I especially enjoyed seeing Avery Island again after not having been there since I was a child.”

Millie Marquess, Tower at The Oaks resident, agreed. “There was so much history.  It was very educational and a fun trip. It’s great that we have opportunities like this as residents at The Oaks.”