Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Back from Lafayette

We've been busy the last couple of days. Alana had to be in Lafayette for a meeting on Monday, so all three of us drove down there Sunday night (I took a vacation day; Logan took the day off school with his teacher's permission).

This was the first time I'd been in that part of the state. I'd been down to New Orleans, but never further south in Central Louisiana than Alexandria. Lafayette is a neat city. It's the heart of "Cajun country". The accents are cool, the kind of regional accent folks think is common throughout the state when it is not. Lafayette is bigger than Monroe, big enough to support two Lowe's and two Home Depots! And it has actual electronic stores: Circuit City and Best Buy. (Monroe is saturated with retail outlets, but the one thing that's really needed but is missing is a half decent electronics store. The only places we have for computers are Office Depot, Wal-Mart and Sam's Club.)

The first place we went to, after touring around looking for our hotel, was a place to eat. We ate at Prejean's. Outside the place looks like a big cabin, inside it's more like a large barn. They have live Cajun music and some excellent food. Alana had the alligator. I had probably the best crab cakes I've ever tasted. We had boudin (pronounced BOO-dan) balls for an appetizer. They were excellent, made even better with the creamy sauce served with them. My crab cakes came with dirty rice. I like Zatarain's packed dirty rice mix, but this stuff was the real McCoy, served in a ball. Very tasty! Alana and I finished with creme brule, which they served with whipped cream on top. About the only thing I didn't care for was the corn macque choux, but that was easily ignored. The place was a little pricey (averaging around $18 for an entree) but the State was paying for Alana's, so we didn't mind! Alana did hear about some other places that served good Cajun food for lower prices, but we were very happy we ate at Prejean's.

They have a web site: Check out their menu, and their live web cam! (If you watch the web cam, we sat at the small table along the right hand wall, third small table from the front. The web cam shows about half the dining area, if that, and it was easily a third to a half full when we got there at 7 pm on a Sunday.)

While Alana was at work, Logan and I tooled around town. We dropped her off and then checked out Acadiana Book and Comic Shop. The store sold some card and clix games, and some D&D books, but not much else game wise. We were there for about 40 minutes, checking out the stuff. Logan, who had spent his allowance this week already, still somehow managed to come away with three Star Wars comics.

The woman at the counter asked if Logan was home-schooled, or there was a holiday. I explained that it was neither, that we were visiting from Monroe. She said, "But you're not from there originally, are you?" I replied, "Uh, no," with a smile. She then asked, "Are you a damnyankee?" I laughed and said, "Actually, I'm from further north than that." Logan chimed in with, "He's from Canada!" We then got into a short discussion. She had recently heard that Canada has a higher life expectancy than the U.S. and she was wondering why. I said it was the health care system. One thing about living in Canada, you don't have an excuse for letting a health issue get really serious before seeing a doctor. I find that I tend not to go to the doctor as often as I should down here. After all, if it's going to cost me $15 per visit as a co-pay I want to make sure that I'm really sick before I get checked out. Tie that to people that don't have health insurance, and it's no wonder Canada has a higher life expectancy.

Anyway, after our visit we went back to the hotel so that Logan could do his homework. We took Sabine with us, to save $35 on kennel costs! The La Quinta where we stayed took pets. Oh, Sabine is mostly blue heeler. On the way down we stopped at Alana's step-sister's place for a birthday party. The next door neighbours have a blue heeler. The colouring and the head shape are very, very similar to Sabine. Sabine is a little shorter, and has black and brown spots; perhaps she's half beagle? At any rate, Sabine was happy to see us.

Logan finished his homework, we checked out and went out for lunch. The weather was beautiful. It's wet today, but Monday (and yesterday) were cool and sunny. The car never got above 75 degrees inside, making it pretty comfortable for Sabine in her crate.

After lunch we went to another comic store, though this was one that sold games as well. I believe it was called And Comics Too. We were there over an hour. I saw a few tempting things, including the Angel roleplaying game, but all I bought was more dice. Yeah, like I need more dice! These were sets for my Call of Cthulhu miniatures game, the one I've been designing for years. Oh, and Logan managed to come away with a pack of football cards, and a bookmark. (I don't think he's spoiled, do you?)

They didn't have much in the way of miniatures: some Reaper fantasy figures and some Warhammer stuff. They had Carcassonne and a couple of other German "designer games", but nothing that really grabbed me. Their roleplaying selection was all over the map. Like a lot of places, they had a smattering of supplements for a number of games but none of the core books, or they'd have a core book but no supplements. D20 games took precedent, but they did have some GURPS and other stuff. I was happy to see that they had Feng Shui supplements, though they didn't have the rule book. Go figure. So far Little Wars in Baton Rouge is still the best game store in the state. The prices at this Lafayette store were a bit high, too (on the stuff that wasn't pre-priced; their Axis and Allies and clix games were quite a bit higher than around here). Still, they were an actual comic and game store with a heavy amount of games! That's far more than you can say about Monroe.

Oh, and they had a permanent Warhammer 40,000 battlefield that completely enthralled Logan. He so wants us to have a big miniature wargame set up. One of these days...!

We drove around some more. We got to the mall and found a Hot Topic that had the first two Invader Zim DVDs! We bought volume 3 on sale earlier this year and had been looking for the other two. Sweet, lemony fresh victory is mine! Alana called us while I was writing down Christmas present ideas for Logan in the EB Games store. We picked her up, and drove her back to the store so that she could get World of Warcraft. Yes, my wife may get sucked into online fantasy games!

After that, we had supper (IHOP, nothing to write home about) and then drove home. I made the drive from Monroe to Lafayette in just under three hours.

If Lafayette taught us one thing, it was that we are most certainly in the wrong part of the state! Lafayette has much more of the stuff that interests us than is found in Monroe. Alana found the folks there to be a little less... shall we say "straight laced", too. Although quite religious, apparently the Bible Belt runs through Louisiana somewhere north of the I-10.

We didn't get to any touristy places, but for the food alone I'd visit Lafayette again!


JAM said...

It's always nice just to get out of town sometimes, no matter where you go.

I'm not into RPGs but last year for Christmas, one of the things my then 17 year old daughter wanted was the complete DVD set of Invader Zim. I got them at Best Buy. I buy taquitos all the time just to show her the box and have her squeal "Taquitos!" like Grr does.

I was talking to my Big Sis in Monroe a few weeks ago and mentioned, "Why don't you just go to Best Buy or Circuit City for it?" for whatever we were talking about, and she told me that Monroe still had neither. I was shocked. I guess I'm spoiled. Plus the Best Buy closest to us has a music section about 3 times the size (literally) of any other Best Buy I've ever been in.

I could go for some dirty rice right now, even Zatarain's.

Allan Goodall said...

It's always nice just to get out of town sometimes, no matter where you go.

Yes, it is, especially if you don't have to do it for work!

I buy taquitos all the time just to show her the box and have her squeal "Taquitos!" like Grr does.

Our 7 year old boy does the same thing. He's taken to quoting GIR all the time! *L*

Of course, I find myself quoting GIR a lot. And I'm such a geek; I created a Zim theme for my phone. The Doom Song is my standard "don't know who's calling" ringtone, and I have specific ringtones for everyone else. Alana's ringtone for me is the same as mine for her: GIR screaming, "Wooooohoo! Hi there!" It makes people jump! *L*

I was talking to my Big Sis in Monroe a few weeks ago and mentioned, "Why don't you just go to Best Buy or Circuit City for it?" for whatever we were talking about, and she told me that Monroe still had neither.

It's odd that no one has built a Best Buy or Circuit City in Monroe/West Monroe. The closest are in Shreveport and Jackson, MS. Maybe Monroe can't support one on its own, but apparently Monroe is an important retail area because it draws folks from a wide area in Louisiana and Arkansas. It's the reason they built a Target here, and an Old Navy.

There's a new commercial development going up in West Monroe. I'm hopeful that they'll build an electronic store there, and maybe a Barnes and Noble.