Sunday, October 30, 2011

Louisiana Vacation 2011

The kids and I just got back from a vacation to Louisiana with my sister and her daughter, to visit our family that lives there. I was born in Louisiana, and while I have lived in Wisconsin since I was 9, I was raised with a strong appreciation for all things Cajun!

It was a good trip. A little tough, without Tim, but for the most part it was worth the extra work. 

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It’s an 18 hour drive from our house to my Dad’s in Baton Rouge. One the way down we split up the trip, doing 12 hours the first day, getting a hotel in Memphis, TN and driving the following 6 hours the next day, arriving to my dad’s early in the afternoon.

On the way home, we decided to try to get it home in one day. We ended up making the trip in 17 hours and 10 minutes, with two stops – drive through and potty break for lunch, and an hour dinner break in Springfield, IL. We were home in our beds by 11:30pm.

Sunday

We left Sunday open to relax with my Dad after the long drive there. IMG_0040Treyton saw his first “real gun” and “real sword” at my dad’s place, which come to find out, were two of the things that made his vacation “cool” (his own words). IMG_0039

We had lots of visits with family planned, but we also scheduled in some fun daytime activities to see and experience as much as we could of the Louisiana area.

Monday

The first full day there, we went on a swamp tour in Lafayette (which is about an hour from Baton Rouge). This was THE highlight of the trip for Treyton.

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We were pretty lucky to be on a tour with only one other couple, an older couple that didn’t seem to mind the kids too much. It was a 2-hour tour, which I thought was just long enough but the three girls thought it was a little long :)

IMG_0094We saw at least a dozen alligators, two of which were between 10-12 feet long and actually touched the boat we were in. (Yes, we were holding on to the children pretty tightly at that point!!) IMG_0056 I knew we were going to enjoy the tour and learn a lot about the area, but I was actually surprised by how pretty the swamp was.

IMG_0057I also knew it was a habitat crawling with life, but I will say it was a whole other thing to experience it, we never went more than a minute or two without seeing a new creature, plant or tree. IMG_0059We saw LOTS of different birds in the swamp, but my favorite one was the blue heron, which we got pretty close to. IMG_0064Treyton really enjoyed the entire tour, asking the tour guide lots of questions, and moving around to see everything Butch pointed out.

IMG_0067Peyton, did not enjoy sitting on her mama’s lap the entire time, but she managed to make it through the tour without upsetting her mama too much :)

IMG_0068I’m so grateful that the weather was so nice while we were there, high 70s and sunny, not too humid.

IMG_0069Alexa did pretty well for the first hour, and complained quite a bit the second hour, but she said she enjoyed it.    IMG_0099Our swamp guide’s name was Butch, and he was very informative of the swamp plant/tree life as well as the wildlife (birds, alligators, frogs, spiders, etc.)

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Tuesday

IMG_0138We visited the Baton Rouge Zoo on Tuesday.

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We took lots of pictures going in to the zoo, because the kids each had a different place they wanted to take a picture at.

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When we were going into the Zoo Treyton had specifically asked to see the Tigers, and Alexa asked to see the flamingos.

IMG_0157Alexa is now saying that flamingos are her favorite (I’m pretty sure it’s because they’re pink :))

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We took the train around the zoo, the same train my sisters and I took when we were little. 

IMG_0153     IMG_0156Peyton and Audrey (born 7 weeks apart) were not able to ride in the same stroller with one another, due to their incessant need to fight with one another, the entire trip!! I have never seen two children at this age actually “fight” the way that these two did, I have no idea what their deal was.  IMG_0167Treyton was in charge of the map, he did a great job keeping us on track to see all of the animals we wanted to. IMG_0180 After looking at the animals, we made a trip to the gift shop to get our keychain (we get a keychain for every attraction we visit) I let the kids each get a huge sucker, which they ended up only eating a few bites of :)

IMG_0184On Tuesday night we had the chance to visit with our three half-sisters and their beautiful families.

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Here are all of our kids.

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Wednesday

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Wednesday we headed to New Orleans with my Dad.

IMG_0284New Orleans, is a city so full of culture, I loved just walking around, hearing the street musicians play, and visiting a few of the shops. IMG_0369

Because it was a Wendesday, it really wasn’t crowded at all, which was nice having 4 young children to keep up with.

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We went down to Jackson Square and walked around.

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We walked around the French Quarter and down Bourbon Street a few blocks.

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I was a little worried, with what the kids might see but gracefully, God protected them, and it was thankfully an uneventful trip.

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I used our visit down there as a teaching opportunity to talk to Treyton about Katrina. A week or so ago we got a library book about hurricane Katrina, which Tim read to the kids, so Treyton was somewhat familiar with what had happened. I told him how Hurrican Katrina happened days after he was born, how hard it was on the people who lived in New Orleans and how long it has taken to rebuild the parts of the city that they have. This was easy for him to understand because he only needed to think about how old he is.

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Little story, while walking down the street, I wanted to get a picture of Dad and Treyton, so I ran up ahead a little ways and told them to “freeze” ---- this is what they both did. What knuckleheads!! IMG_0324

 

Our last stop in New Orleans was the famous “Cafe du Monde” where we ordered as many beinets as we could. IMG_0345 It was a messy treat, but well worth the powdered sugared clothes!!

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IMG_0350Audrey couldn’t even keep her shirt on her tummy it was bulging so much after her treat!!   IMG_0368

Thursday

By Thursday the kids were exhausted, we were all sleeping in the same room, which I think kept them from having decent sleep, on top of not taking their usual daily naps, meant I had children that look liked this….

IMG_0391We had plans to visit an outdoor rural museum on Thursday, but decided to keep our activities to the morning, and relaxing at Dad’s in the afternoon.

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We went to visit Mike the Tiger on the LSU campus, where we met up with my Uncle Randy for a few minutes.

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That afternoon and evening we met up with several of our other family members, my Aunt Kathy came in the afternoon and ate dinner with us.

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After the kids went to bed my Uncle Tommy and Aunt Belle stopped by

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as well as my cousin Chris, his wife Shea, their adorable son Darius and their 2-week old, 6 pound 6 ounce daughter Brooklyn.

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Friends

IMG_0379Treyton met a group of boys at my Dad’s apartment building, every day that he could, he would ask to go out and play football with them. These boys only had a small plot to play football on, but they played almost every day.

IMG_0373They were very kind and even though they were older than Treyton, they were very gentle with him and didn’t treat him like a “little kid”.

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Food

The food we ate while there was AMAZING – there is nothing like Cajun Food. The first night there my dad made us seafood gumbo, which had oysters, crawfish, shrimp, fish and sausage in it – super yummy!!

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Also on the trip we ate crawfish etoufee, chicken and sausage gumbo, fried catfish topped with crawfish etoufee, a fried seafood platter and beneits. The food alone was worth the drive down!!

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It was nice to see so many family members and to experience some of the Louisiana culture with my children. Because my dad allowed us to crash in on his apartment, it also ended up being a pretty cheap vacation, which doesn’t come along too often.