Monday, November 19, 2012

The Big Easy, Part 3

I know it's taking me forever to post about this trip . . . I think I have one more post after this one about New Orleans and then we can move on to something else! 

Part 2 ended with a carriage ride tour through the French Quarter. The next morning was Wednesday, and Chris still had half a day of conference to get out of the way before we could enjoy the rest of our time sightseeing and playing. Once again, the children and I hung out in our hotel suite while Chris was at his conference. I knew he'd be finished around 1:00pm, so I had us all ready to walk out the door the minute he walked in.

We really wanted to tour a plantation home while in Louisiana, and there were several to choose from within about an hour or so drive from our hotel. Most of them closed around 5:00pm, so we were fighting against the clock a bit. After leaving our room around 1:00pm, stopping to eat lunch (which is not a quick stop with two littles), then driving a little over an hour to the plantation, we arrived with a just over two hours to tour. It ended up being plenty of time, but I hate feeling rushed!

The drive to the plantation was beautiful. We drove through a lot of swamp land (and over the longest bridges I've ever seen in my life . . . some were over 20 miles long!)  and were also able to see some lovely fall foliage. Chris had told me that if I watched carefully in the swamp land, I may see an alligator. I was very doubtful of this, but I did see one! It was really neat to see one in the wild! I got way more excited than I expected I would *grin*.

Because of location and hours, we chose to visit Oak Alley Plantation. It was stunning! My photos do not even come close to doing it justice.

Oak Alley was a sugar plantation. Brianna is standing by one of the old sugar "bowls".

The trees on the property were phenomenal. I'm not sure I've ever seen trees so huge.

The plantation consisted of many buildings, but the main house is the most famous (and beautiful). There is a quarter mile canopy of giant live oak trees (that are around 300 years old) that leads to the main house.

We didn't know how the children would do on a tour like this, but they loved it! They truly enjoyed running around (while we were outside) on the property. I think they were happy to be out of the carseats and stroller for a while.

I thought this bridge was cute, and Brianna thought she needed to pose on it :-).

Here is a great example of how large the trees are. Can you see Brianna?

Isn't the oak tree canopy gorgeous? It was breathtaking in person.

The tour of the inside of the main house was only about 35 minutes long, so we decided to do it. Both of the kids did great, and we were all happy that we went for it!

This is the dining room (with our tour guide):

I am standing on the main stairs, taking a photo down into the foyer. There was actually nothing too incredible about this house, but it was pretty.

The next photo is of one of the bedrooms upstairs. One thing I found quite interesting was that all of the chairs, beds, and doorways were very short. The beds in the photo below are adult beds! I thought they were childrens' beds at first. Even the doorknobs were very low on the doors. Well, according to our tour guide, the average height for a male in that area during the early 1800s was 5'6" and the average height for a female was 4'10". Isn't that crazy! I'm not sure I ever knew that before!

This was the master bedroom (complete with crib):

There is a beautiful balcony on the second floor that overlooks the oak tree canopy. A fellow tour participant took this photo for us. See Brenson waving at the camera? :-)

Brianna was most impressed with the tour guides in costume! She kept calling them princesses and wanted her photo taken with our guide.

There were actually huge oak trees all over the whole property. I love this photo of Brianna running to me.

My sweet girl!

One more family photo in front of the main house:

After leaving the plantation, we took a shorter (and less scenic) route back to New Orleans. I had heard that  the cemeteries in the city were worth seeing, so before heading back to our hotel, we drove to one of the largest/oldest cemeteries in NOLA (Metairie).

What makes cemeteries in NOLA unique is that all the tombs are above ground. Since the city is built below sea level, they cannot bury their dead.

I took these photos as we were driving by because the cemetery was no longer open to the public by the time we got there. You can definitely get the idea of what it looked like, though.

It was certainly unique - and even quite beautiful in its own way.

As we were driving around looking for this cemetery, we got detoured through an older neighborhood of HUGE, gorgeous houses. Now, we were in the city the week before Halloween, and I will always remember the overabundance of Halloween decorations that were EVERYWHERE in that crazy city. As you know, I'm not a huge Halloween fan - and I certainly don't like the demons, goblins, ghosts, and scary side of it - but New Orleans embraced that junk like I've never seen before. Some of these houses were probably multi-million dollar structures (and certainly the ones we saw in the Garden District were and this applies to them as well), yet they had fake cemeteries in their front yards, skeletons flanking their front doors, witches hanging from their trees, goblins flying around their house, and all kinds of other {tacky} Halloween hoopla. Chris and I were amazed. That's just not something we see much of in our part of the country.

After getting back to our hotel, it was about 6:30pm. We were all worn out from the days events (especially the littles), and decided to just have a pizza delivered to our room :-). We're not big pizza eaters, so the fact that we did this twice on our vacation was a pretty big deal. And Brianna certainly thought it was good stuff. After eating, Brianna and I snuggled in her bed and watched Full House together. We don't have televisions in any of our bedrooms at home, so this was also a special little treat. That moment was so simple, but a very sweet memory from our trip.

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