Veni Vidi Amavi

“I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list.” -Susan Santog

Veni. Vidi. Amavi. We came. We saw. We loved.

Ask anyone who knows me my favorite place to travel and they will all tell you the same thing. New Orleans, Louisiana. You will probably read several blogs from me about New Orleans, because there is so much to write about and see. Every time we go, whether I am traveling with my husband, my children or my mom, I always learn something new and see something I haven’t seen before. I have learned, through the years, that New Orleans is a place people either absolutely love or don’t like at all. I can understand the feeling of not liking the city. If my focus is on Bourbon Street or if what I see is the dirtiness of the city, I would probably dislike it also. That isn’t what I see. Occasionally we walk down Bourbon Street, just because we like a good laugh at some of the things you see there, but for the most part, we enjoy the actual city and what’s around it. When wandering the streets of the French Quarter, try looking past the dirty and into the old. New Orleans was founded in the Spring of 1718. The city has endured fire, war, and weather…she is a survivor. If you have been there and didn’t enjoy the city, I hope this post encourages you to give it a second chance.

Not everything about New Orleans is inside the city. There are some amazing things to do outside the city limits, as well as within. One of the best family trips we have ever been on was when our children were 13, 14, & 15. We started the trip bright and early, driving to the National Military Park in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Drove from there to West Monroe, Louisiana where we went to Duck Commander (yes, it has been that many years ago!) and stopped by Haskell Donuts for a quick breakfast. Drove down to Natchez, Mississippi where we saw the Grand Village of the Natchez Indians and the Indian Mound. We continued from there down to Baton Rouge, Louisiana and the LSU campus, where we saw Mike the Tiger VI, and then drove into New Orleans. For this trip, we stayed at Avenue Plaza in the Garden District and got Jazzy Passes to ride the streetcars into the French Quarter and back. We introduced the kids to French Market Restaurant, where they tried their first boiled crawfish before burning their mouths on the White Chocolate Praline Bread Pudding, just because it’s so delicious you can’t wait to let it cool. We enjoyed a walk along the Mississippi River on the way to Cafe du Monde, where they ate their first beignets. And this is where we stopped the typical “must see/must try’ tourism spots in New Orleans. Not that we don’t LOVE the bread pudding at the French Market, or a walk along the Mississippi. We do. These are two things we typically do every trip. For this specific trip, we wanted to enjoy more. Our favorite stop this visit was the Jean Lafitte National Park Barataria Trail. Here we walked a small boardwalk with no railings, amongst the wildlife of the swamps, sharing space with snakes, spiders, alligators and more. We saw some of the most beautiful views we have ever seen, all without anything more than a few boards separating us from nature. And spiders.

Spiders. I hate spiders. My children, now grown and beginning their lives as adults, will still revert to childish laughter when asked about this specific trip and the spider web. While I encourage EVERYONE to take this trip and enjoy the wonders of the Barataria Trail, WATCH OUT FOR THE SPIDER WEBS!!! To this day, my oldest wishes he had gotten my encounter with a spider web on video. We all noticed the spider web with the rather large Argiope spider, more commonly known as the zipper spider, and even commented on it. My children walked under the web, I turned to talk to my husband, and walked directly into the web. How did I walk into a 5′ web with a 4” spider that I NOTICED? To this day, I have no clue. Did I tell you I hate spiders? I DETEST them! According to my family I started to scream and run backwards, all while trying to get the spider and web off of me, running from my husband who was trying to help, without noticing the spider was still in what was left of the web, and that my children were doubled over laughing uncontrollably. So again, enjoy the beautiful walk, but watch out for the spiders!

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