Connect with local Rory Partin and hear his favorite places to see and things to do in Southwest Louisiana.
The ROAMies, husband and wife duo Rory and Alexa (James) Partin, are not only accomplished musicians, but also avid traveling companions that have experienced many destinations around the globe. Rory, a 6-foot gentleman with an 18-piece Big Band that loves a good steak, grew up right here in Southwest Louisiana, while his wife, Alexa, a 5-foot vegetarian that has been named Hot AC Artist of The Year at the LA Music Awards, has also found a fondness for the Lake Area. Fans demanded they combine musical efforts, and The ROAMies was birthed. They’ve decided to share what they love about the region in this 13-minute audio clip filled with inspiring stories and fun memories!
Alexa: We love scenery and cities when we travel, but we find it's even more fun when we can connect with someone local and find out what they love to do and see. So, Rory, you just happened to be the local in this case.
Rory: That's right I'm actually from Moss Bluff, an unincorporated town across the river from Lake Charles. I grew up there. Lake Charles is my stomping ground.
Alexa: We're going to dive in and tell you a little bit about Rory's favorite places to see - and things to do in Southwest Louisiana. Rory, tell us just a little bit generally what you love about Southwest Louisiana, and then we'll dial-in into some specifics that you recommend for people to do and see when they visit.
Rory: There is a culture and heritage that we all are very proud of. You know, the license plate also says “Sportsman's Paradise," and really it is. I mean, if you like outdoor things to do it is an amazing place to go to. It's a great place to grow up. Family is really important, and everyone around loves food! Oh my goodness, the food is amazing! I think it's probably the best food in the world, but I'm just saying. It's hard for me to eat seafood anywhere else in the world because I've been so spoiled with good Cajun cooking.
Alexa: All right. So tell us a little bit about when you were a kid?
Rory: We lived less than a mile from the Calcasieu River. My brother and I used to always walk down to the Calcasieu River, and we would go fishing off the bank and stuff. And as we got older, you know, we would go water skiing on the river and things like this and that. There are so many things that I love to do that we did growing up, that I still enjoy when I go back home. I love to do them. So when I was a kid growing up, I loved it when we would go to the old family station wagon, or later the LTE, or whatever the boat car was at the time, cause we had a large family, and we would get our dip-net -sometimes a cast net - if you want to catch some shrimp- and an ice chest with drinks and sandwiches. We would also always pack some string and chicken necks. Those not from Southwest Louisiana may not know what the chicken necks are for, but we'll get to that. We would head South on Highway 14. We’d go pass Boone's Corner to Highway 27 and keep on heading south into the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge. I think the drive is officially called the Creole Nature Trail now. So if you are in Southwest Louisiana visiting there, you should drive the Creole Nature Trail south into the Refuge. That’s one thing about Southwest Louisiana, we have loads of wildlife refuges. We’ve got the Cameron Prairie National Wildlife Refuge, Sabine National Wildlife Refuge, Rockefeller Refuge, and the Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge. So if you are an outdoor person and you like to see amazing things in nature, Southwest Louisiana is an awesome place to go. All right, so we’d head south, and we’d go down to the Cameron Prairie. And once you get past Boone's Corner and start heading south just before you get into the Prairie, the Creole Canal starts to run alongside the road. So we would drive on down and find a place you wanted to stop on the canal. By the way, it's really cool as you're driving down that road to be looking for alligator- to see how many alligators you can count. All kind of reptiles, and crazy big birds and stuff, and nutria rats, oh yeah nutria rats, and you try to count these critters. So you drive along the canal, and you find a place you want to stop, and we'd stop and take all the stuff out of the car. We would fish, and if the fish were biting, we might take the cast net and throw it and try and catch some shrimp. If all else fails, either because you know the fish weren't biting, or maybe wanted some crab for dinner, here's where the chicken necks come in. You take that string you brought, it could be something as simple as a kite string. You tie chicken neck to the end of it, and you throw it out in the canal, and then you wait. You’ll feel the string starting to shake a little bit now and begin to get kind of tight. You pull it really slowly up towards the bank and you can see these big ol’ crabs hanging on and trying to eat your chicken neck. And that's when your brother, or somebody you know, takes the dip net and catches the crabs. At one of the refuges, there is a footpath, basically a shell footpath, that will go out into the marsh right into the Cameron Prairie. At the end of it, is a raised wooden platform that you can climb up on and see for miles around. It is really awesome. I think, personally, that the marshes and the swamps are beautiful, and so to be able to walk through that and see everything is just amazing. You have to be careful of snakes -cottonmouth- they're all over the place down there. Alligators are all over the place. Matter of fact, it was not uncommon that as we walk down the path there would be an alligator covering the path. Alligators are incredibly fast. If you've ever seen a lizard run across the ground, imagine that - like, you know, a hundred times bigger.
Alexa: So you might want to study alligator safety 101 before visiting. ;)
Rory: I love it down there. We'd also take trips down to Holly Beach. So if you keep heading south down the road I was talking about, you go to Holly Beach, and it's like any other Beach. We go down and swim, we built sandcastles, looked for shells, and then we'd also go take a seine net in waist-deep water and walk out of the water and catch whatever gets into the net. It's really cool. All kind of crazy fish and stuff; it's a lot of fun!
Alexa: Rory, any other things before we wrap it up here?
Rory: If you like fishing for big mouth bass or white perch, we call them white perch, Lacassine National Wildlife Refuge is an amazing place to go and fish. And of course, you know, from November up until into March for watching migratory birds. There's a little area down there called Pintail Drive. It’s a circle drive you can go around and there are tens of thousands migratory birds from geese, to ducks, to all kinds of stuff! It's like watching Wild Kingdom or National Geographic! I mean, it's really cool.
On another note, Southwest Louisiana is also an amazing place to go play golf; Southwest Louisiana has really nice Municipal courses. Mallard Cove, Graywood Plantation, The National, and Frasch Golf Course. Other great courses of note in Lake Charles include The Country Club at Golden Nugget Casino and Contraband Bayou Golf Club at L'Auberge Casino Resort.
Alexa: How about a little bit about your favorite restaurants to visit?
Rory: My favorite food is boudin! If you've never had it, it's a gift from God! Hackett's has the best boudin in my opinion. There's smoked, and their smoked spicy is off the charts! Really good. Also, the lunch plates have really good great homemade food at Hackett's. It's really inexpensive and so good. For great local seafood, Steamboat Bill's, and some really good food is at Cotten’s and also at Tony's Pizza, a Lake Charles landmark.
Alexa: Now being the vegetarian that I am, I love Tony's Pizza! They have a whole wheat crust I love, and you can put broccoli and spinach on your pizza, if you want!
Rory: Why would you do that to a pizza? You got Tony's Pizza, okay, for the good pizzas. And, check out Downtown Lake Charles now. They've redone the downtown area so you can take a walk down there to hear some great music, enjoy really good food, and have great places to hang out. So I would encourage you to visit Southwest Louisiana. It's an amazing place to go. Especially if you love outdoor life. Very, very friendly culture….you need to go! It's where I'm from, you know. Southwest Louisiana has a lot to offer.
Alexa: So make plans now to come visit and experience Southwest Louisiana in your own way. Chicken necks are optional!
Rory: Thanks in advance for writing in and sending us your feedback! And we look forward to answering your questions on future podcasts. Let us know what you want to hear, keep in touch with us, and join our mailing list at info@TheROAMies.com.
Alexa: Thanks for listening, and thank you again to the Lake Charles Southwest Louisiana Convention & Visitors Bureau. Follow us at www.theroamies.com where you can hear our music, not only on the website, but also on Spotify, iTunes, and Amazon, as well as our other podcast episodes. Also, please connect with us on Instagram and Facebook at @theroamies. Alright, see y'all next time!