Michabelle Inn

Operation Caracal, Part 4

Days 9-10, December 29-30

I’ve been saying that this trip was largely free form, and with no advance planning. That isn’t entirely true. Lisa and I have been wanting to have a weekend away, as a belated anniversary celebration. The opportunity to set up such a trip didn’t present itself until now. After discussing it with Lisa’s parents, we arranged to leave Caitlin and Michael with them, so Lisa and I could spend an overnight at a regional hotel, inn, or bed & breakfast.

After doing some research, we settled on the Michabelle Inn, a historic house within Hammond. This was perfect, because we didn’t want a long drive. We already had another one of those approaching, and didn’t need another.

Our little getaway started on the afternoon of December 29, when we went to lunch at a local restaurant, Café Nola. We were advised to not let the appearance of the place fool us. We had passed this place earlier in the week, and from the outside it doesn’t look like much. On the inside it looks like a sports bar. But the smell of food was enticing, so we ordered. Lisa had the grilled shrimp Alfredo, and I had the pasta fazula. The food was great, and even the lunch sized portions were generous. If you’re ever in this area, check this place out. Trust me.

After lunch, we did some sight seeing around Ponchatoula. It was a cloudy day, but the temperature was pleasant, and we took some photos of the historic buildings.

We were surprised to see a statue of G. K. Chesterton, because as far as we know the man had no connection to this area. This little mystery warrants further investigation.

Ponchatoula was an important railroad town in the past. If you look at a map of the area, you’ll see that many of the major streets run parallel to the railroad tracks. Today, the railroad is still an important freight handler. But for passenger and other commercial traffic, it is now second fiddle to the regional Interstate highways (I-12 and I-55). Even so, the earlier importance of the railroad is evident.

In the photo below is Old Hardhide, an alligator that lives in an enclosure near the Ponchatoula country market building. He is sort of the town mascot. Apparently he “writes” a column for one of the local newspapers. I would hate to be his stenographer.

After this, we ran a few short errands, then headed back to Hammond to check into Michabelle.

Statue, front fountain


This place was built in 1907 as a private home, and was converted into an inn in 1998. It was added to the National Registry of Historic Places in 1982, and is often referred to as “McGehee House” after the original residents. The current owners include a descendant of this family.



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Christmas Present

The Vedeckis family Christmas tree, 2014

Christmas of 2014 was a break from tradition, in that we chose to travel. The reasons for this massive road trip are described in another article, but Christmas of 2014 will be spent in Hammond, Louisiana.

Typically we spend Christmas day partly at home, and partly in Maryland, where my brother lives. In recent years we have spent time with Lisa’s family during the summer months, but this particular year that didn’t happen. So this time around, we spent Christmas with Lisa’s family. Her parents live in Hammond, while her two sisters and their families live in the surrounding area. The Vedeckis home in Hammond will be hosting a large family gathering worthy of Norman Rockwell.

My father-in-law is largely Lithuanian in extraction, and for many Christmases he sets up a traditional Lithuanian-style Christmas Eve dinner. I’ve been to two of these in the past, and they were both great. I suspect this one will be no exception. For my part, I brought some Virginia red wine to go with this dinner. I hope it goes with the entree.

My father-in-law and son at the Christmas tree.





Vedeckis Clan portrait, Christmas 2014
Front Row: Caitlin Pugh, Nicholas Farley.
Middle Row: Lisa Pugh, Kathy Farley, Mary Vedeckis, Michelle Bardwell, Zoe Bardwell, Mya Bardwell, Fox Bardwell.
Back Row: Richard Pugh, Michael Pugh, Wayne Vedeckis, Ian Bardwell, Gabriel Farley, Gregg Farley, Darren Bardwell.


Photo credit: Trevor Dunaway

Christmas of 2015 may be a totally different story.