Lassez les Bons Temps Roulez!

I’m finally taking my post-bar trip – a week-long vacation in Louisiana. I’m so excited to be here. I haven’t been back since I was 6, which makes it 22 long years. It’s strange because I’m from here, but there’s so little that I really remember. I only have fragments of memories of places and events. It’s great to be able to finally place those memories. Of course, it’d be a little bit better if I wasn’t placing those memories during a tropical storm, but you take what you can get!

My mom (who I dragged with me on the trip so she could show me the sights!) and I arrived yesterday afternoon. We were a bit concerned that we might have trouble getting here because of the weather, but we were absolutely fine. In fact, we actually arrived a little early! We grabbed our luggage, picked up our rental car and headed into the City. We are staying at the Queen Anne Hotel in New Orleans, which is really great.

The hotel room, which even has a fridge and a microwave!

After settling into our hotel, we headed out to the French Quarter.

St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter.

We ended up eating dinner at the Gumbo Pot (which was awful, by the way), and then walked around (despite the crazy winds and rain!). Our final stop that evening was for dessert at Café du Monde.

Beignets!

The beignets were just as delicious as I remember them! (Of course, the taste of beignets remains within my memory fragments… 🙂 ) Then, we returned to the hotel to get warm and watch LSU trounce the Oregon Ducks. Go Tigers!

Today, we headed south. We drove down to Houma, which is my hometown and found the first house I ever lived in.

My first home.

I have no memories of that place, but it was cool to see.

Then, we headed farther south to Morgan City to go to the Shrimp and Petroleum Festival, which has happened every Labor Day weekend for the last 75 years! We had a blast, and ate tons of tasty foods!

Shrimp and Petroleum Festival.

Check out all the foods offered! How to choose??

I started with the alligator on a stick and cracklin' (fried pork rinds). Yum!

We ate so much good food! We enjoyed fried alligator, cracklins, crawfish bread, and boudin balls. Mmmm. And bizarrely enough, we sat down at a picnic table across from a couple who knows my family! The guy used to work for my father’s cousin and knows the family really well. Only in Louisiana would this happen! I love the small towns.

Win your pets!

The carnival games offered pets as prizes! You could win fish, turtles, iguanas, bunnies, and even pigs! Amazing. If only I could take those home…

On our way back up to New Orleans, we swung by Thibadeaux to see my mom’s alma matter, Nicholl’s State University. And we ended up driving right past the church where my parents got married.

Where my parents got married.

The storm was raging the whole time and we experienced a ton of rain and wind. I think we missed most of it, though, and it should be all cleared out within the next 24 hours or so. The damage caused by it was pretty evident, though.

Flooding from Tropical Storm Lee.

While this appears to be a building in a lake, it really is just a building on the street with a large parking lot. Couldn’t tell that now, though!

Just a little water...

Clearly, Tropical Storm Lee has left it’s mark. But, the residents will get past it, as they also always do. Heck, many of them attended a fair in the middle of it! Got to love the resilience!

The camping was great… except for the camping part.

Isaac and I finally made it camping this past weekend! We had a lot of plans over the weekend, but we squeezed in the camping trip. On Saturday, we helped some friends of his move into the house he moved out of so he could move up to the Big City with me (the are renting it from him while they look for a new house). Then, we attended the birthday party of a house (yes, a house – it’s now 100 years old), where I met some of Ike’s coworkers. That was great. Then, around 7pm, we finally headed east to go camping. We only decided to go camping this past week, so we had very little options in places to go camping because almost everything was booked. We ended up reserving a campsite at the Sun Lake Dry Falls State Park, which is about 3.5 hours from here. We finally got there around 10pm, set up camp and went to bed.

Our tent, for the first night.

Sleeping the first night was fine, though a bit loud because there was a group of singers in a camp not too far from ours. Also, the gravel – not too comfortable (surprising, right?).

In the morning, we got up, went for a walk and went swimming.

The Sun Lakes Dry Falls State Park.

On the way to the swimming spot.

Isaac, super excited at the prospect of getting in the water.

After some hiking, we stopped back at the water hole, where Isaac went swimming (again), and I read my book.

Life could definitely be worse!

Then, we took a drive and headed up to the Grand Coulee Dam, which I had never seen before. It’s quite impressive.

Grand Coulee Dam.

Hiking.

That night, we cooked up some dinner, made some S’Mores and played some Scrabble (we won 1 game each).

Concentration!

S'Mores!

Since we have about 5 tents in our apartment, we decided to bring a couple different tents to see which ones we like best. So, we set up a different tent for our second night.

Our two tents, side by side.

Camping was pretty bad that night – there were some extremely loud people in nearby campsites which prevented me from falling asleep for quite a while (Isaac had no such problem). Just after I finally fell asleep, I woke up suddenly, knowing it was about to start raining. As we were in the desert and had spent a day enjoying a cloudless sky, we had no reason to suspect that it would rain. So, of course, we hadn’t put up the rain fly. *sigh* Nor had we put away most of our stuff. So, I woke Isaac up, telling him, “It’s starting to rain!” He didn’t want to move, not expecting the rain to get bad. As it quickly start pouring on us, he finally realized he had to get up. I rushed outside, grabbed the rain fly and threw it over the tent. Then, we hurried up and tried to put everything in my car that would get ruined by the rain. Oy. Then, since the rain started dying down a bit, we headed over to the

restrooms. By the time we were ready to head back to the tent, the rain had started coming down heavily again, so we had to wait it out a bit. It was quite the night.

In the morning, the sun was shining brightly again and it looked like another beautiful warm day in the dessert. So, we went for about a 7 mile hike.

Umatilla Rock.

We hiked out from our camp, found the Umatilla Rock Trail, took that trail, and then hiked back.

Perch Lake.

We hiked past Perch Lake to get to Dry Falls Lake, which we hoped to be able to swim in. No such luck, but it was a lovely hike. And Isaac did jump into Perch Lake.

Isaac in Perch Lake.

That evening, the winds started up around 5pm and did not let up all night. I had no idea how loud wind could be!

Our tent for the 3rd night - after we put up the rain fly.

I kept laying there, hoping that the winds would stop… I could not sleep for the life of me. Eventually, around 3am, I climbed into the back seat of the car to try to get just a couple of hours of sleep. It pretty much worked – I at least slept a little. I noticed that a fair amount of the other campers took off in the middle of the night.

In the morning, we packed up our campsite, left the park and headed home, with a brief stop for a hike at the Lake Lenore Caves.

The view from the trail.

Either the caves themselves were hard to find or they were less than impressive.

The "Caves"?

It was a nice little hike, though.

So, overall, we had a great time during the days – the whole camping part, though, was a bit rough. That’s definitely not a campsite we’ll be headed back to. I hope we can get some more camping in before the good weather ends…