Westward!

After almost 2 weeks apart, our family is back together again! And after unanimously voting Atlanta one of our least favorite cities, we packed up the stagecoach and are headed west.

First stop was Louisiana for 3 amazing nights with family. For anyone interested in exploring the great state of Louisiana- let me know! My sister-in-law, Lori, and brother-in-law, Chris, are top notch tour guides. We teased that Lori’s just one horse short of opening her own carriage tour business.  She’d be great at it!

Cathedral of St. Louis, New Orleans   French Quarter, New Orleans

We were able to tour Ponchatoula, New Orleans (N’awlins), the French Quarter (‘The Quarter’), Magazine Street (an amazing 4-mile stretch, which I’ve been told is the longest street in America with privately owned small businesses occupying the space), Hammond, Southeastern Louisiana University (where our niece, Gracie, is studying her little heart out), Kliebert’s Alligator & Turtle Farm (aka home of the original Swamp People) and the unique landscape along the way with an amazing amount of insight and historical knowledge from our personal guides.

Bourbon Street, New Orleans   Cathedral of St. Louis, New Orleans

 

Kliebert's Alligator Farm  Kliebert's Alligator Farm

At one point Oscar turned to me and said, “How does Lori know so much after just 3 years living here?” Well, that’s how she is. She knows her stuff and immerses herself in the community she calls home. I love that. Her husband’s family has deep roots in the area and they have done a fantastic job exposing their children to this part of their heritage.

We experienced the famous Muffeletta (which I had, and still, refer to as a ‘Mufasa’), crawfish (which tastes like… shrimp), the Mississippi (which makes you feel small), alligators (which are frightening), southern humidity (which makes you feel like you’re a stick of butter melting) and southern accents (which I absolutely adore).

Muffeletta, Frank's in New Orleans  Crawfish in Ponchatoula, LA

Fun at the Mississippi River   Alligator sittin'

Louisiana was fantastic. I loved getting to spend time with Lori, Chris, Gracie, Jacob and Mari. We laughed a ton and got to know each other better. Good times. We loved getting to know the area our family calls home better (and in a way we would have never achieved had we traveled here alone and reliant only on google/tour books).

I will say, the first time someone said “Yes, ma’am” to me, I just about lost myself. “How old do I look, kid?” But I suppose going off in a tirade on a topic such as that would be counterproductive to my point. So, instead, I smiled and reminded myself that they’re kiddos and to them everyone’s older. I felt better.

The majority of the time I was in absolute awe by everything around me. And I tried to take it all in. I really did. But there’s just no way. So… we’ll be back for more. I hope Lori and Chris will be up for it!

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Souvenirs from this part of the trip:

–  Isaac scored a camo shirt from Kliebert’s, which I’m assuming he’ll be wearing when he hunts all those alligators in California, and an LSU hat from a place called N’awlins Sports (where the woman called me ‘baby’, and I am told this is normal). He’s set.

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– I took with me, and plan on using often, something I loved and couldn’t bear parting with… Y’all. I am hooked on saying y’all. So, I decided to adopt it. I can’t wait to see how California responds to this.
– Oscar also didn’t actually buy anything. But he did leave something… and it happened at the exact moment the tour guide at Kliebert’s said, “Dawnt git too faw fum da groop. We got snakes in doze woods and su’times they come out by da trail.” He lost his soul right there. I could see it in his eyes.

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Day 17: Heading to San Antonio, we stopped in Baton Rouge to visit with our niece, Miranda. She lives in a great city- I was surprised by the size of Baton Rouge. It reminded me of Chico, only larger and with an enormous football stadium. (Oh… and it’s humid as all get-out!)

Texas-Louisiana border

Texas-Louisiana border

San Antonio was a quick 1-night stop, and we crammed as much into it as we possibly could.

From our hotel we walked down to the River Walk and hopped on the River Cruise (we had to- Lori suggested it and she knows her stuff!)

San Antonio River Walk Cruise  20140722-152631-55591618.jpg  20140722-153019-55819438.jpg

20140722-153020-55820330.jpg  20140722-153021-55821364.jpg

In order to get a good feel for the lay of the land, and see more of the city in a short amount of time, we headed to the Tower of the Americas, hopped in an elevator and headed for the clouds, 622 feet from the ground.

20140722-153301-55981622.jpg  20140722-153302-55982483.jpg  20140722-153303-55983388.jpg  20140722-153400-56040367.jpg  20140722-153359-56039923.jpg  20140722-153359-56039135.jpg

 

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There were definitely some deep breathing exercises and calming self-talk going on for me as we ascended to the top in the glass-walled elevator. And guess what? I survived, just like I knew I would(n’t). 😉

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