Riding eighty miles east on I-10,we quickly arrived at the majestic Atchafalaya Basin swamp, the largest wetlands marsh in the United States.  Twenty two miles wide and over 150 miles long, this wetland covers 1,400,000 acres.  Home to giant alligators, raccoons, barred owls, horned owls nutria and native bear and hundreds of species of other birds, it is a beautiful nature preserve.  

 Ricardo and I are exploring the small towns that thrive in this basin.  first we were off to the Atchafalaya River Highway, leading into the small town of Butte La Rose, a quaint but beautiful town of 600 cajun and Creole folks.  Next we headed to the city of Breaux Bridge, The Gateway to Crawfish Country.

A stop at the elegant restaurant, Chez Jacqueline, owned and presided over by Madame Jacqueline herself.  A native of Paris, France, Jacqueline cooks every order fresh and wonderful.  She and Ricardo quickly bonded while we sampled her Seven Layer Chocolate cake ("made by my own hands"  she assured us.  Breaux Bridge is home to many unique antique stores, one specializing in guitars and another in antique watches and clocks.  I was at home.

Finally, taking Jacqueline's advice we were off to  Martin Lake, a lake known for it's mangroves, alligators and colorful Cajun folks.  And who did we meet?  Bryan Champagne, of course.  Bryan was born and raised on the banks of Bayou Teche, where he still lives and runs an outpost, The  Wharf.  Tomorrow we have to be back at the Wharf at 9:30 AM to go on a two hour boat tour with Bryan.  Rain?  yes we got wet several times today and heavy rain is predicted for tomorrow.  But Ricardo is not made of sugar, he will not melt.