On to Betty’s!

We’d heard about a place called Betty’s RV Park in Abbeville, LA: intriguing, glowing stories. After the death of her husband, the cherished RV lifestyle was no longer the same for Betty Bernard, so she decided to open her own RV park where the road could come to her. It has: beyond her, or others’ wildest expectations.

There’s a sign at the entrance that reads, ‘You’re caught in Betty’s web.’ We were skeptical, as we inched our way into an extremely crowded settlement of large RVs parked cheek-by-jowl, to the point we weren’t sure we’d want to squeeze in.

We muttered to each other, ‘Well, it‘s only for 3 days, after all’, but Betty came out and expertly guided us to a spot, then told us Happy Hour would start at 4:30. We’d heard that this was one of the great features. We attended, BYO, and met the most amazing crowd of interesting, lively people who soon felt like family.

Happy Hour 4:30 every day at Betty's

Many people first came for a few days and ended up staying longer. Many have returned the following year for weeks, staying longer, into months, and eventually for a season. It happens! We added three more days, but to do so we had to move to a different spot. This is called The Betty Shuffle and is a rite of passage for those who surrender to the web. Our new friends nodded knowingly and congratulated us on now being truly one of them.

Saturday morning at Betty’s, two musician friends, Cal and Dan had asked me to join them in a jam session Sunday afternoon. Dan, the guitar-player, is a lovely software retiree  who’s collected notebooks full of lyrics and tabs, and constantly learning on an exquisite guitar his wife, Merlene, gave him. Cal, the keyboard-player, is an equally sweet man who’s never had a lesson, can’t sight-read, but can improvise just about anything brilliantly. (How I envy that gift!)

Dan, Léna and Cal

They also told us we had to go to Le Café de Musée in Erath, not far down the road. (It’s actually a bar adjacent to the Musée Acadien, a densely-packed collection of Erath memorabilia and Acadian history).

Every other Saturday at 2:00 PM this bar is the home of a Cajun jam session. A rotating group of musicians, singing, playing guitar, pedal steel guitar, drums, and, of course accordion, jam for four hours and people get to drink beer, dance and enjoy.

Sometime after 4:00, the wait staff suddenly brings out to-go containers of dinner for all–for free! Great beef-stroganoff, gumbo, bread, and sliced peaches for dessert! Talk about Southern hospitality!

I’d sung exercises in the shower, wanting to live up to what I’d told them of my long-ago folk-singing history, but cigarette smoke in the Museum Café had done me in, and I woke up Sunday raspy as a raven. I feared I’d make an utter fool of myself. I began to dread failure. It had been so long since I’d sung. So, when Cal and Dan started jamming, on Sunday, I let loose a few tentative notes, then just sat and listened. They seemed to think I had a voice and asked for a song.

Betty

Their kindness and my heart carried me, back into full-bodied, soaring song, still there, still remembered. Even the body said, ‘What the heck, this CAN happen’, and it was pure, breathing joy. After singing the ‘House of the Rising Sun’, (which I’d so much wanted to wail down Conti St. in NOLA, but knew I’d get ticketed for busking without a permit). I just jammed: jazz-liberated, knowing my voice would go where I felt it to go, through my whole vocal range, braiding with the sounds of these two wonderful musicians, and yes, I flew. After so long, I thought that was all gone, Lyme-dead. No so. Thanks guys. You’ll never know what you did for me.

At Betty’s, birthdays are important. One Saturday arrival had a birthday on Sunday, but as Betty was expecting to magically park 3 arrivals that day, a celebratory lunch outing was out of the question. As most area restaurants are closed Sunday evenings, she decreed an evening pot-luck to celebrate. It was truly a great pot-luck! Betty’s is just superlative!

Betty also has guests stop by her happy hours. We met Kristi, one of the “Swamp People” from the History Channel and singer Judy Bailey.

Kristi and Judy

We’d re-upped twice at Betty’s and were almost persuaded by all to extend further, but we wanted to get the famed Zydeco/breakfast at Café des Amis in Breaux Bridge and knew that getting there from Betty’s would be too far. So, we hooked up and left for Breaux Bridge.

Thanks y'all!

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