By Eilene Lyon
We picked up a rental car at the New Orleans airport and headed to our hotel – a reasonably priced national brand right on St. Charles in the Garden District. For our brief stay in the city, we could take the trollies wherever we needed to go.
We took the St. Charles streetcar as far as Tulane University and Audubon Park where we strolled around and through a nearby neighborhood. Then back the other way to visit the renowned Lafayette Cemetery.
For the afternoon, we went downtown and walked Canal Street to the river. It was “Navy Week” and there were many tall ships moored near the aquarium. Had a huge lunch at the Crazy Lobster on the waterfront.
We stopped briefly at the Jean Lafitte National Park visitor center. Lafitte was a French pirate/privateer who supported the U.S. during the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812. We then walked around Jackson Square and the French Quarter. I would not want to be here during Mardi Gras. We are both more than a bit crowd averse!
The next day we visited a Creole plantation called Laura. The tour there is excellent and it was interesting to learn about the differences between a Creole-style plantation vs. an English-style one. Laura is also unusual in that the women of the family ran the business.
The main house is small compared to the grand plantations you think of, but well-designed to stay cool in the oppressive southern heat and humidity. Of course, enslaved people provided the bulk of the labor on the plantation. The tour included the still-existing slave quarters.
After the somewhat less-than-stellar bayou tour, we headed out to Grand Isle for the bird festival. We asked a local where to find the Jean Lafitte Woodlands (a Nature Conservancy property) and she replied, “I never heard of them, and I’ve lived here my whole life.” That sums up how much this place is geared toward tourism.
Signage was terrible, but we managed to blunder our way to where we needed to be anyway. There are no hotels on Grand Isle, so we stayed in Galliano. (There is camping in a state park on the island.)
One day we stopped in Houma and toured their Terrebonne Waterlife Museum – which we found very informative. We got an added treat meeting a true “Cajun” (Acadian) who was there for a family association meeting in the building, and he gave us a long rundown on the Acadian story.
I mentioned in my previous post that we visited Avery Island and toured the Tabasco Factory and bird refuge. Afterward we had lunch at the Rip Van Winkle plantation and gardens (where we saw the brilliant peacock). We also watched a raccoon climb a tree, leap to an adjoining tree, and go down into a cavity where it probably had a den with babies.
We decided to do our own “swamp tour” by canoe at the Lake Fausse Point State Park. Most of the wildlife we saw there were thousands of crawfish. And of course, no trip to Louisiana would be complete without a visit to a crawfish shack.
One of our last stops was Baton Rouge. We didn’t have time to see much, but we had an excellent dinner at a restaurant near the university campus. Through our entire stay, we had beautiful weather and everything was so lush and green. April is a grand time to visit the Pelican State.
Feature image: Jackson Square in downtown New Orleans
P.S. If I vanish for a bit in early June, don’t be alarmed. There are a couple probable causes:
- I haven’t figured out the WordPress block editor.
- I’ll be busy setting up my new computer. I so can’t wait to get rid of the piece of junk I’ve been using. My productivity should see a big improvement.