We spent the weekend in Louisiana, camping at a state park outside of New Orleans. After driving several hours across the southern states on I-10, we drove through the city traffic to arrive at Bayou Segnette State Park around 6:30 in the evening. We couldn’t see much of the park, but it was a warm evening and set up was pretty easy. The girls and I organized the pop up while Jon made dinner over the campfire. Besides the disconcertingly loud rustling from the bushes just behind our site, the evening was pleasant. We finished by watching a couple episodes of Gilmore Girls before bed.
On Saturday, we spent a leisurely morning getting up and moving for the day. We decided to head into New Orleans for the afternoon. Finding parking near the French Quarter was a bit challenging, but not even half of a Philadelphia (the standard by which we now judge all challenging parking situations). We finally pulled into an outdoor lot along the river, just behind Cafe du Monde, where we had decided to start our visit with cocoa and beignets.
The girls loved the sights and sounds of the French Quarter, which, I admit, always charm me as well. We applauded street performers, shimmied down streets to the sound of loud, live jazz music, and admired the art hanging along Jackson Square.
It was a lovely afternoon of exploring, but, though we were tempted to stay longer, we knew we were in danger of spending too much money if we didn’t get back to camp for dinner! We stopped to pick up some firewood and a few groceries on the way back to the state park and enjoyed another evening at camp.
On Sunday, we visited a nearby plantation museum to finish off our study of southern life and culture. The Destrehan Plantation was a good visit. It offered a straightforward and informational approach to understanding the French plantation culture of Southern Louisiana, the lives of the enslaved people in the region during the early 1800s, and the family who had owned the plantation for over a century. It didn’t glamorize plantation life, which I appreciated, but shared the facts. I found the exhibits and information very interesting. I was particularly fascinated by the museum exhibit pertaining to the slave revolt of 1811, known as the German Coast Uprising. The exhibit included detailed information regarding the enslaved people who participated in the uprising from the numerous riverfront plantations, including Destrehan, and their ultimate defeat and execution. The exhibit also included painted scenes of the revolt created by a local artist.
The kids were equally fascinated by the elegant home and the documents pertaining to human ownership. An inventory list from the early 1800s detailed the value of each slave (from $5 up to $1,500 depending on their age and skill) and a bill of sale was displayed as well. While I find studying this part of our history personally distressing, I do think it is really important for our kids to reflect on the past and understand how it shapes the present; Destrehan Plantation was a good place to learn in that regard.
When we returned to camp, just before sunset, we decided to pack up as much as possible in order to get an early start in the morning. We packed up, showered, did some laundry, and got as ready as possible for an early start (not our forte) before settling into our new routine of an episode of Gilmore Girls before bed. Late in the evening, after a very nervous bathroom run, we had an exciting moment of learning the source of the nightly loud rustling, which had been making us all a little skittish about leaving the pop up after dark. Turns out, it wasn’t an alligator, as we had suspected. It was a family of armadillos!