March 3rd through 10th, 2024

We left Texas and innocently thought we'd get our motorhome inspected on the way in Baton Rouge. Getting into the place was easy but getting out was very difficult. It wasn't a great start to our trek through the southeastern part of the United States, but it only got better from there.

We felt so fortunate to spend a long while in New Orleans, or "NOLA" for short. It was our first time in Louisiana, and we added that state to our list. We were in River Ridge, a town that faded out of New Orleans, and that kept us close to the action (and even closer to other spots) while staying out of the madness that is NOLA. The coach was surrounded by beautiful, massive oak trees covered with Spanish Moss. We even had our trailer at our site, which we always like. The KOA was a great spot to spend some time.

The drive there was a good time, too. There were big bridges, and our mouths hung open as the highway stretched for miles and miles on concrete posts above the swamp. It even took us across the southern end of Lake Pontchartrain, which seems crazy until you realize the huge lake is actually very shallow. It was the first time we'd been around and over that much water, and we couldn't wait for our time there to begin.

Our first adventure was on the Creole Queen, a big Paddlewheel boat. It left the wharf near the Port of New Orleans where we saw big cruise ships docked and leaving the city. Cool! The boat tour was awesome, and it took us to the big dock at the Chalmette Battlefield, one of our many destinations at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. New Orleans has some fascinating history, including the Battle of New Orleans at that location. We learned all about the battle and Jean Lafitte, a pirate up to no good who changed sides and helped the United States in battle. The National Historical Park has six different sites and we managed to see five of them before we left Louisiana.

We were down in the Central Business District at the wharf, and we stopped in the Cafe Du Monde location there, of course. We waited in a long line to pick up our beignets, and then we sat down to eat them. Neither one of us really loved them, but now we can say we've had them.

We walked into town a bit to visit Carmo, a wonderful, tropical cafe that serves vegan food. It was an amazing experience, and everyone was so friendly. We'd definitely visit again the next time we're in town.

We had many other experiences lined up, so the next time we left our home in River Ridge we headed west, away from NOLA, to the bayou. We had to do an airboat tour and see some alligators, of course! We did the small airboat adventure, and it was worth the extra money. We zipped through larger sections of water and lazily toured the narrower sections. We had a great driver, and it was just what we were looking for -- we wanted to zoom around the bayou, and alligator sightings were much less important to us.

The airboating portion was perfect, but the gator portion wasn't great. Instead of seeing wild alligators, the ones we saw were largely trained to come to the airboat to get their fill of marshmallows fed to them on a stick. Most of the people on the boat were given the opportunity to feed one that came to the boat, Monica included (she wasn't thrilled about it). The boat operator actually kissed it on the nose, it was tame enough. Next time, we'd find a tour done by a national or state park.

We chose that company largely because it was near another site that was a part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, Barataria Preserve. It's in a swampy area of the bayou, with a lovely boardwalk that let us go for a walk out over the water -- about a foot above it. We were lucky and made it there in time for the guided tour, which was awesome. Near the end of the boardwalk, the guide told us all about the five-foot alligator sunning herself about five feet from our feet. She was well known to the park, and the ranger told us about how we were supposed to treat these wild animals. It was nice to hear that type of education compared to feeding them people food.

We had already packed so much into our first week in New Orleans, but the best was yet to come. Robin was coming for a visit! We saw and did a lot more before it was time to leave NOLA, and we loved it. Stay tuned for the next post!

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