Rayne, LA & Beaumont, TX - 02/23/2012

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Today we were finishing our drive to Texas!  We are so excited! We will also be glad to get out of Louisiana - not that we didn't enjoy it!  The humidity is pretty bad, plus the roads are even worse.  We are tired of bouncing all over the place!

Rayne, frog capitol of the world

Roadside America is a website that lists all the unusual attractions in the country.  It's where we found out about the curved house in Indianapolis.  And I looked on their website to see if there was anything along our route worth stopping for.  I found it: Rayne, Louisiana - frog capitol of the world.  A trio of French brothers began a booming export business in Rayne - frogs.  Thus, Rayne became the frog capitol of the world.

Roadside America listed a giant frog statue in Rayne, and since it was just off the interstate (and we hadn't passed it already), we stopped.  Who doesn't want a picture with a giant frog - with a top hat, no less!  It was easy to find, about a half mile from the interstate, across from Frog Bar and Frog Foods.

Crawfish hole

We parked and hiked over to the statue.  On the way, though, all over the field, we saw these little mounds.  We thought they might just be swamp-land ant hills.  We later learned they are crawfish holes.  Since the ground stays so wet, the crawfish don't have to dig far to hit water.

The frog was pretty cool.  The kids had a good time taking pictures with it.  As we started back to the RV, there was a candy and ice cream store right next door.  We decided to have a look.

Oh the goodness!

The Candyland Cottage and Ice Cream Shop was so neat!  The owner Stuart was super nice and took all kinds of time with us, showing us around, explaining things, and taking pictures.  It had all kinds of nostalgic items: an old soda fountain, antique toys, and signs.  But it had a huge selection of candy and fudge, too, plus hand dipped Blue Bell ice cream.  Yum!!  We all had some ice cream (of course!), and looked around the store.  They had a huge jelly bean section with my favorite kind - Pomegranite!  Those are really hard to find, especially without being mixed with other kinds, so I got a big bag.  The kids all picked out something, too.  Michael wanted gummy worms and bears, Chrissy and Rachael both got some malted milk balls.

Stuart, Jim, and the 26 lb. gummy bear!

Another really cool thing they had here were their giant gummy bears.  Yes, that's right, GIANT gummy bears!  One weighed in at five pounds, but the most impressive one was a whopping 26 pounds!  Who could eat that?  The owner, Stuart, said one man purchased one as his groom's cake for his wedding! Different idea, but neat. They also had giant gummy worms, which Michael tried unsuccessfully to get us to buy.

Enjoying our ice cream

Historical marker at the church & cemetery

After we had done some damage there, we headed to another Roadside America attraction: The Wrong Way Catholic Cemetery.  This is featured in Ripley's Believe It or Not as the only cemetery in the US where the graves run north-south, instead of the traditional east-west.  The story goes that the town used to be located five miles south of where it sits today.  When the railroad came through, it bypassed the town.  Knowing how important the railroad was, the residents picked up and moved everything to near the railroad.  Yes, they loaded up the buildings and moved them - even the cemetery.  Once everything was being laid out, and the graves had already been reestablished, they realized that the graves were facing the wrong way.  Instead of causing additional trauma to the families, plus the added expense of redoing everything, they left it as it was.  So this is another of Rayne's claims to fame.

In the cemetery

A Confederate States of America Soldier's marker

We saw headstones for Confederate States of America Soldiers, with no adjoining crypts.  We called our family historian, Uncle Jack Ellis, who had two possible explanations.  First, the marker would represent a Soldier that didn't come home.  Second, some states established cemeteries to honor their fallen Soldiers.  The crypts were moved there and a marker was placed in the local cemetery.  Thanks Uncle Jack - you're the best!

After spending a lot more time in Rayne than we anticipated, we got back on the interstate.  One of the best parts of traveling like this is that when we see something neat like that, that we want to explore further, we can.  We aren't on a fixed schedule and it allows us a little more flexibility.  God has blessed us in being able to do this!
Big star for a big state!

We weren't far from the Texas state line, and once we crossed over, we stopped at their welcome center.  They had tons of information divided by region, and we found a lot of things we were interested in visiting throughout the state.  There was a long boardwalk, too, that went over the surrounding swamp.  You could walk and learn about all sorts of wildlife and history of the area.  There was also a resident alligator!  We took lots of pictures there and let the kids run off some energy.

Resident swamp gator

Next we went into Beaumont, Texas.  This town is the site of the first big oil boom.  There is a museum for that that we plan on visiting tomorrow.  But for now we headed into downtown Beaumont to visit another Roadside America attraction - the world's third larget fire hydrant.  This is about 24 feet tall, and painted like a dalmation.  It sits across the street from the Texas Fire Museum. We had to take a few pictures of Sam next to the fire hydrants. There are also a memorials to Texas firefighters and to the World Trade Center firefighters.

After pulling out of there, we drove down to Nederland, which is a town just south of Beaumont.  Here there is a life-sized windmill as a tribute to the Dutch settlers of the area.  Tex Ritter was also from Nederland, and the park with the windmill is named for him.  The museum was closed, so we will try to come back tomorrow.

The Nederland windmill

It made for a full day of giant things.  Would you expect anything less from Texas?

More pictures in the Photo Gallery.

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