Before I continue with our time and adventures in Louisiana I wanted to touch on something that we have mistakenly left out of our recent posts. While we were travelling throughout the western side of the US, we occasionally met new folks (Tony & Richard – hi again!) – but for the most part we were alone and kept to ourselves. I think this was partly because we were still just getting the hang of all this and weren’t going out of our way to be social – but also there just weren’t many opportunities. Since we started out again at the start of 2017 we have been meeting SO many awesome people and making friends! I know I’ll forget some of the names (or didn’t catch them to begin with) – but wanted to give a shout-out and big thanks to the great folks we’ve met along the way and hope our paths cross again: Roch & Monique, Matt & Kimber, Nate & Laurel, Chris & Barb, Bryan & Caitlin, Mark & Harriet, Kim & Theresa, Wayne & his dancing wifey, Harold, Arcade, Wild-Man, Dennis & Gail, Lynn & Max, Earl & Ann, Joshuah, Sandy & Gary, Yvette, Barb & Chad, Nathan, and many many many others. Also, thanks to Sid (one of Bryan’s old co-workers and friends) for coming a long way to visit us for lunch when we were camping near Galveston. We had a fantastic time! Being away from all of our friends and family has been rough – but meeting and making new friends on the road has been wonderful!
Baton Rouge was next on our Louisiana tour. We were super fortunate to find a $10 a night campground that was just a few miles from the city and right on a levee bike trail. We took full advantage of this trail when we headed into the city to explore. The area near the old and new capitol had some beautiful architecture (these buildings were the primary examples) – but for the most part it was filled with what I found to be boring and nondescript office buildings. I should say that we only spent one afternoon here – so we could have easily missed some of the more interesting parts. What was cool about Baton Rouge, though, is that it’s ON the Mississippi River — this part of the river is super wide and bustling with huge ships coming and going.
It turns out that Baton Rouge is celebrating its 200th year and in the old capitol they had a bunch of activities to help celebrate. These were really intended for kids, but they were free and fun – so us old farts took part coloring pictures, etc. Good times!
Living on the road isn’t always bike rides and sightseeing – chores, errands, etc. still need to be done in each new city – the only difference is that we have to seek out new places all the time (e.g., new laundromat, pet food store, hair salon). Bryan was due for a haircut, so one of the days in Baton Rouge he found The Hair Factory. This was like no other hair salon we’ve ever seen!! On Fridays you get a daiquiri with your haircut. I repeat – you get a frozen alcoholic beverage while you’re waiting to get your hair cut. And the haircut was only $10 bucks – a true deal if you ask me! It was a Friday and we were in a college town, so the place was packed. While Bryan waited in line, I went to the dive-bar next door where I had to pay for my daiquiris 😦 Bryan later shared that a girl was passed out in the hair salon – apparently one too many daiquiris. LOL! This place was beyond interesting and yet Bryan still got a great haircut.
On one of the days, we did a long drive south of Baton Rouge. The road is known for its number of plantation museums/attractions; however, we were more interested in the ABUNDANCE of gas, petrochemical, and grain operations. The scale of some of these were immense. Because of the natural presence of oil in this area and the proximity to the Mississippi River (and thus the entire world)- this area is dominated by this stuff. It seems that everyone in this area has something to do with either gas/petrochemical or fishing.
NEW ORLEANS AND SURROUNDING AREAS
After some recommendations from other full-timers, we decided to stay at a state park in Mandeville, LA. This is a beautiful town just north of New Orleans across Lake Pontchartrain. This area is called the Northshore and it was awesome!!! Weaving through the Northshore is a fantastic rails to trails bike path called the Tammany Trace. We took this twice to the town of Abita Springs (over 60-miles biked total!): once to visit the Abita Brewery (Hi Dennis!) and next to attend their Mardi Gras parade (our first). Everyone was concerned that our first Mardi Gras parade was going to be so low-key and a bit dull. We didn’t mind in the least and had a great time. Neither of us thought we’d be able to tolerate the crowds and chaos of a parade in New Orleans – although we heard that the quality of the floats, costumes, and performances are second to none. Maybe someday…
Even with the Mardi Gras celebrations ramping up, our visits to New Orleans were pretty tame. Our activities revolved mainly around history and food! We hit up a few museums and did a really interesting tour through the French Quarter and along the river with the National Park Service. We also did a day-trip south of New Orleans to visit the National Park’s Barataria Preserve and then an unexpected side-trip to the town of Lafitte to see some puppets (thanks Josh!). I’ve never been much of a history buff, but the history of New Orleans and Louisiana are extremely fascinating. Thanks to an incredible gal at the Lafayette visitor center earlier on our trip, we learned the basics. Then as we have continued through the state, we just kept learning more and more. I cannot get enough and already have a few books on my list to learn more.
We absolutely LOVED our time in Louisiana! Can’t say it enough: the food, people, history, culture, music, nature, etc. were all truly spectacular. Move over Idaho, Louisiana is now in first place 🙂
An update from Gemma and Schnabbies: