We left Holly Beach headed for Little Chenier country, mostly because Jim wanted to have a look at the area where the Movie Little Chenier was made and because it was on the Creole Nature Trail. We did two trails and found one bird and I didn’t want to do anymore of this vast and much vaunted refuge. We were quickly understanding that it is the wrong time of year to come here for you travelers who may want to try it. Arrange your trip in spring or summer.. The migration is over, the alligators get cold and sleep most of the winter, and then you’ll see the wonderful wildlife, birds and butterflies we were hoping to see.
We stopped by a bridge and poked around and took some pictures.
A beautiful pelican. I guess I’ll never get used to these huge birds being as common as crows around Southern Louisiana.
At Holly Beach we had a gorgeous sunset and sunrise, helped along by drifting smoke. As we moved along the road, we saw several people burning what I learned is called cain grass. The grass is burned and new grass feeds the cattle.
We came to a gravel road. This big rig doesn’t turn just anywhere and we decided we’d take a circular driveway at the end of the pavement, and then the fun began. By accident or destiny we mat a crazy coonass Cajun hollering at us from what we thought was a bait shop. We learned later his name is Dirty Miller. Well, that is his most used name. He was born Pravate Miller, pronounced pre-bow.
He and his girlfriend, Rachel Hebert, (he calls her Ray-Ray) do not accept no for an answer. Y’all gotta eat and we were not getting away without joining them and other friends who know to show up on weekends where the party is at, for cowboy stew. Pravate’s mother used to have a restaurant and he teaches all of his buddies how to cook.
Here’s the stew…
And a picture of a picture of the cook in action. We ate it with a coleslaw that was different from any other I’ve tasted. Both were delicious and we enjoyed a second helping like we’d never been fed. The cook shack, gathering place, is loaded with souvenirs, pictures, crazy signs and all kinds of fun stuff. A hurricane took his house and he has a fifth wheel beside this neighborly gathering place. After, eating, I joined him in a cowboy dessert- a little chewing tobacco.
He lost his house to Rita, and Ike flooded up to the dark straight line on the bottom of the cutting board. We saw signs everywhere of uprooted trees, piles of wood and debris where a house once stood. Pravate says, “Dirty Miller is a crazy coonass cajun and I’m never gonna leave Chenier. Life is about havin’ fun. You good people, we gonna have fun.” And we did.
Dirty Miller works for the Parish, but on the side he takes people alligator hunting. He has taken Hank Williams Jr.’s son and Donald Trump’s son, hunting gator. He collects everything gator. This knife is made from a piece of gator jawbone.
A gator foot cell phone holder.
He showed me pictures of his grandson on a gator he caught. He has twin sons and a daughter. There is bound to be another gator hunter in the family. In fact, Dirty Miller has a pet gator that he calls up from the swamp, that he feeds. He took us for a ride to take pictures of birds and the gator, if it was home. Being winter and all, he doesn’t come up much this time of year. In fact, Dirty Miller told me about the cain grass, and how ranchers burn the grass for their cattle.
We road his property, the very gravel road we avoided. We met cattle.
The truck would flush herons and egrets, majestic birds as common as crows. I delighted in flushing them and trying to get pictures of them flying from the truck.
We would see four to five egrets feeding in a bunch. We saw more birds on Dirty Miller’s property than the refuges. What a treat.
And, hundreds of these little ducks Dirty calls poudous. He says they are good eatin’ These and some other ducks would flush and tippy toe across the surface of the water and weeds before taking flight.
Dirty owns a 50 millimeter Smith and Wesson, chrome. He fired it. I couldn’t hold it with one hand, I had to use two.
I couldn’t believe he took one shot and hit the can after a day with plenty of V.O. But he did. It got late in the day and we ended up spending the night on the driveway. I don’t remember names very well…
This is little Finley and her mom and dad. She danced and smiled for me.
This is Mammou. He thinks he is human and follows his human around all the time. We talked a good bit about the movie Little Chenier and learned that Dirty’s friend Abe Welsh’s boat, the Sara Jane was in the movie. And, Al Manwellow, (hope these names are right) was part of the band that played the tunes for Little Chenier. Everyone in the Little Chenier area knows the movie of course. Dirty told us his friend got $500 a day for use of the Sara Jane. Now that’s a lotta moola!
In the morning, we danced to Cajun music while RayRay cooked a shrimp, crawdad,and crab omelette, enough to feed a small army.
We’ll surely come back some day because by accident or destiny we met a crazy coonass Cajun known as Dirty Miller. An unforgettable character, loving and warm, and his sweet RayRay. There were some tears shed on parting. They brought us a jar of homemade hot sauce before we left the yard. We traded beads, bonded like family, and boarded our rig, (without blogging- no signal) and drove off to that place just around the bend to our next adventure?