Saturday, July 25, 2015

Saturday States: Louisiana


State Nickname: The Pelican State

Year of Family Trip: 1995 and 2004

City Visited: New Orleans

Can't Miss Tourist Attractions:
Mardi Gras World, Cafe du Monde, Jackson Square, Bourbon Street

We spent the week of my 21st birthday (how can that have been 11 years ago already?!?) in New Orleans, Louisiana.  We did a little bit of everything on this trip from a swamp tour to Mardi Gras World to Cafe du Monde to Bourbon Street.  I absolutely fell in love it!  Our family trip was my first time experiencing the Big Easy, but I've been back at least a half dozen times since then.  Without a doubt, New Orleans ranks in my top five favorite US cities!

A Special City

In fact, the city is special to all three of the Heflin kids.  For me, I turned 21 there and had my first hurricane to celebrate in 2004.  For Jordan, he proposed to Jen there when we took a college spring break trip with a couple of our buddies in the spring of 2005.  For McKinley, it's home to his beloved Saints and he watched Super Bowl XLVII there with Chris in 2013.  NOLA is the best!

Cajun Wild

When we visited Texas in 1995, we managed to swing through Louisiana for a brief visit on our way home from Houston.  As soon as we crossed the border, McKinley went totally nuts.  He became what our family deemed as Cajun Wild.  It's difficult to describe the level of his unruly behavior.  McKinley went so bonkers that we STILL talk about it over 20 years later.  Maybe his wild ways were part of the reason we got pulled over by the police for running a red light.  From the passenger seat, Mamaw confidently attempted to convince the policeman that the light was most definitely yellow when we went through it.  Our van was in a complete state of mania at this point.  McKinley bouncing off the walls...literally, Mamaw continuing to explain the situation from her viewpoint over and over, and pretty much everyone else either panicked or telling someone else to be quiet.  That's probably why the officer let us go with a warning in the end.  I think he was just wanted to escape our little bubble of insanity!

Eduardo - International Man of Mystery

We always loved playing in the pool when we stayed in a hotel.  Being in New Orleans in the middle of the summer was certainly no exception.  Enter Eduardo.  We met him and his daughter while getting in a few quality rounds of Marco Polo at the pool.  As it turns out, he was some type of fancy government official visiting from Mexico.  When we parted ways at the pool, we said our goodbyes and didn't think much of him again.  Then, one night we were venturing along Bourbon Street taking in all the wild behavior and attempting to collect beads in the most modest way possible when Dad receives an insistent tap on his shoulder.  It was Eduardo!  Took us a minute to recognize him sans swimming trucks, but sure enough our friend found us!

I got Baby Jesus!!

On my birthday, we spent part of the day riding along the river in a paddle wheeler and the other part of it soaking in all that Mardi Gras World had to offer.  We were able to try on costumes, see tons of floats used in the parade, and learn lots about the history of Mardi Gras.  Toward the end of the tour small pieces of King Cake were served to each guest.  The guide explained that in each King Cake, a small Baby Jesus figurine is hidden.  The person that receives the piece with Baby Jesus inside gets to host the next party.  Imagine my surprise when I lifted the fork to my mouth and found out I was the lucky winner.  I got Baby Jesus!!  I was convinced my family arranged for me to get that piece, but the guide said they did no such thing. I couldn't believe it!!

Alligator Food

One of the most interesting experiences we had during our trip was the swamp tour.  The guide was Cajun through and through.  His accent was thick.  And that's saying something since we're used to country slang.  We managed to understand enough of his story to realize he was the resident alligator wrangler.  And he told us a little secret - alligators like to eat marshmallows.  I'm not entirely sure how he discovered this fact, but judging from his one wooden leg I'm not so sure I want to find out!

Have you ever been to Louisiana? 
Do you love New Orleans as much as I do?

Andrea :)

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