Thursday, April 21, 2011

From Lacassine to Iowa

"Mostly cloudy" was the forecast for the day. As we headed west from Duson (LA), the skies were behaving according to the expected state.

Our plan was to travel a counter-clockwise route from just west of Lafayette to Lake Charles, then head south to LA Route 82, travel this southernmost highway as it turns north to Abbeville, and then continue north completing the circle, reaching Lafayette.

We left I-10 at Jennings and headed west on LA 90 through Roanoke, Welsh, and Lacassine. Entering town, we saw the huge structures shown here. We would imagine that these buildings of the Hardy Rice Dryer company (a Division of Farmers Rice Milling Company, Inc.) are not all that unusual or special. After all, rice is one of the (if not the) main crop of southwestern Lousiana.

But to me these simple structures have a beauty all their own.

The overcast sky seemed the perfect frame for these giants of the region.

The palette of the grays of the sky seemed to stretch the borders of the similarly gray-toned structures, increasing the imposing quality of the rice dryers, especially when shown in silhoutte (left).

These rice dryers share this same quality of towering landmarks for the towns of this region as that of the grain elevators that mark the landscape of small towns in the Midwest.

I think there is a special beauty to these nondescript gray rectangular blocks that hide the sensitive mechanisms that monitor temperature, humidity, moisture, and the stirring process for the rice stored inside.

Whether it is the "skeleton" showing through the building's "skin" (right)

or the decorative "body painting" on this section of the wall (right), these markings add distinguishing qualities to these basic utilitarian structures.

It started to drizzle as we left this town of 400 and headed west to the town of Iowa ("I-oh-way"), Louisiana.

We took a brief tour of the town, which was the fastest growing city in Calcasieu Parish over the last ten years, adding more than 330 residents to go from 2,663 to 2,996 residents.

Passing the water tower and making a short drive down the main street through town reminded us of many small towns in the state of Iowa.

Mimi's Treasure Box was one of the more colorful shops in town.

We headed west for a short distance before turning onto LA 397. While waiting for a train, we took these photos of rice dryers and storage towers. The yellow buildings of the Farmers Rice Milling Company, Inc. were newer and more eye-catching, but it was the weathered towers across the highway that drew more interest.

We continued south on LA 397.

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