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CULINARY THRILL SEEKING: Louisiana long-way road trip

A late-Friday request for a Lake Charles pick up lead to a glorious October road trip. With a chill in the air we set out through Pleasure Island with sunny skies above.

My husband and I took a brief walk along the beach and I found a tinted shell I refer to as “pumpkin spice.” Louisiana’s state birds were in abundance doing their pelican thing on those breakers that head up to Holly Beach. The Cameron Parish library can point you to regional adventures.

I brought scraps to feed the seagulls but it had been so long since I took the ferry in Cameron that I didn’t recall they ask you to stay in your vehicle for the brief passage. We were the hungry ones after docking and focused on the sign for Anchors Up, a fun roadside seafood place where we shared an order of soft-shelled crab. A sea-themed covered seating area lets the breeze flow until you climb back up the stairs to get your order at the window. Families, locals, tourists and bikers seemed to be into the kickin’ shrimp and burgers.

Follow signage to Cameron Parish National Wildlife Refuge to Pintail Drive and Boardwalk. Here’s where I thanked the great state of Louisiana, Sportsman’s Paradise, for my first gator glimpse on the side of the road. The Pintail Drive boardwalk offered a peaceful area for birding and foliage. The dragonflies enjoyed it as much as we did. The visitors center is across the way with another whopper of a gator, another boardwalk and some very entertaining automated Cajuns in a display.

My daughter had called to request a ride home from a baby shower, and that’s where we got some neighborly hospitality. Carrots in a pitcher full of water highlighted a Beatrix Potter Peter Rabbit theme with carrot cupcakes, hummus and pasta salad. Guests kindly gave us their picks for further culinary adventures, so we stopped at Peking Garden in Lake Charles, where the mom-to-be, whom we call “Cool Amy,” had her bridal rehearsal dinner some time ago. Get the egg rolls, they said, and we found them huge and flavorful and addictive. That’s all we ordered, as we then headed for the Blue Dog Café in downtown Lake Charles.

The Blue Dog features Rodrigue paintings, of course. Live music enhanced our meal of Whiskey Bay Flounder with seafood wontons and duck quesadilla.

Homecoming weekend meant downtown areas were full of fancy-dressed young people, their double sets of parents and their personal photographers. We enjoyed the lake area full of photo ops and people playing Pokémon Go. We even tried some of those cool poses as the sun set on the water.

Then we hit both L’auberge du Lac and Golden Nugget for walk throughs. Talk about all night action with concerts and families and reunions and beach volleyball. I confess we didn’t play one game, but we thanked Lake Charles for a lot of fun.

darraghcastillo@icloud.com