Author Topic: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR  (Read 2182 times)

Offline saw50st8

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saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« on: January 28, 2020, 11:53:29 AM »
Our original winter break plans had been to drive to Virginia and West Virginia, but the weather was supposed to be snowy and unpredictable.  Instead, we opted for to go down to New Orleans. I have been to New Orleans twice (once as a kid, once for business) and loved it. My oldest wanted to hit a new state on his own quest to see all 50 states. I looked for last minute flights and Spirit had a sale for $91/pp from EWR to MSY from Sunday morning to Thursday evening so that sealed the deal.

Flying Spirit is fine if you know what you are getting and have realistic expectations. We paid for one piece of checked luggage, which only covers 40 lbs and each brought a small personal item.

Day 1:

We landed in MSY and grabbed our minivan. I billed this trip as "warmer than NJ or Virginia" to my husband and it was, but it was still freezing. It was in the low 40s when we landed and we were really happy to have our winter coats. Louisiana is not usually that cold in the winter, but it is not a true warm weather destination.

We drove to Bayou Sauvage for some nature trails. Since the area is marshy, the trails have wooden boardwalks. We saw plenty of birds, learned about the knees of cypress trees and saw plenty of swampy marsh. It was a great nature trail – between the two areas we stopped in, we were there for about an hour. In the summer, the pond at the Madere Marsh boardwalk has visible alligators but none were visible when we did our walk. 

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Then we drove to Mississippi, where my older two sons marked visiting their 21st state. We went to Beauvoir, the home of Jefferson Davis. The home is located on the shore in Biloxi and there is a small museum and a tour of the home. The architecture of the home is really interesting and my kids loved that the boys lived downstairs without real walls or adult supervision. You can see all the rooms on the main floor including the "presidential library."  The tour guide kept my kids engaged the entire time (the tour was an hour long) with interesting stories. After the tour, we walked to the graveyard behind the property to look at the tomb of the unknown soldier.

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Our last stop for the day was at Lighthouse Pier. There is plenty of easy parking. You can only get tours of lighthouse early in the morning, but it is right at the beach. My kids played in the sand and we watched birds swarming all over the shore. As the sun was setting, we left to our hotel.

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We stayed at a very nice SpringHill Suites (https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/gptsh-springhill-suites-gulfport-i-10/)  right off I-10 that had rooms to accommodate 6 people. The couch had a pullout trundle for one and one of my kids slept on couch itself. There is a pool but it was way too cold to go in. There were plenty of kosher options at Breakfast (bagels, English muffins, cereal, yogurt) and one of the women who worked there knew all about kosher and had been to Breadberry.



Offline ltttc

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #1 on: January 28, 2020, 09:56:19 PM »
Sounds interesting as we're on a 50 state mission too! Thanks for sharing n looking forward to the rest.

Offline saw50st8

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #2 on: January 29, 2020, 01:46:37 PM »
Day 2:

Our first stop Monday morning was a swamp tour at Honey Island Swamp with Cajun Encounters.  The tour takes you through marsh and swampland to find as many animals as you can find. They do warn you that in the winter, you are less likely to see alligators and it was freezing when we were there (high 30s, low 40s). Our tour guide did a great job of finding 4 small alligators for us to see. We also  saw egrets, a bald eagle, nutria, wild boar and raccoons. The swamp is really beautiful. The tour guide was funny and took us to areas without a lot of other boats. Cajun Encounters also has a relatively well priced gift shop and my kids convinced me to get an alligator head for our fireplace mantle. Considering that it is one of the largest swamp tour places, it didn't seem crowded or overrun.













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After the boat ride, we drove to New Orleans and stopped at Waffles on Maple in Metarie. Everything we tried was delicious and it was by far my kids favorite place we ate out the entire trip. We tried both sweet and savory waffles, paninis, pizza, grits and crepes.





We checked into the SpringHill Suites on Canal. It is in a shared building with Townplace Suites. The hotel has a parking lot about a block away but we opted for the lot across the street. It was $6 for 12 hours or $20 for 24 hours so we opted for paying every 12 hours by app. You get in and out privileges (it is basically an unattended lot) but they do check. We saw a few people who got a boot overnight. After dropping all of our stuff at the hotel, we walked to the French Quarter.

The first thing that we saw on our way was the hard rock hotel catastrophe. The area has been cordoned off and supposedly made safe, but the catastrophic destruction is evident. My kids were fascinated by the scene.






Next, we continued on to the French Quarter. Our plan was to do a self guided walking tour, but we decided on a whim to do a 5 in 1 Haunted History Tour. The tour office billed it as “family friendly” but it really was not. My 11 year old loved it, but my younger kids didn’t get as much out of it. It was still worth it – we heard about Pirate’s Alley and lots of stories about ghosts, zombies, hauntings, voodoo and the history of New Orleans.  It is definitely gruesome so if you don’t want to hear about a young man falling and having his entrails spill out, this tour is not for you.



We walked back to our hotel via Bourbon Street so we got to see the street lit up at night.






Offline saw50st8

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #3 on: January 29, 2020, 01:46:59 PM »
Sounds interesting as we're on a 50 state mission too! Thanks for sharing n looking forward to the rest.

How far into your mission are you?

Offline ltttc

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #4 on: January 30, 2020, 05:49:16 PM »
How far into your mission are you?
Exactly halfway. I don't count a state if it was a stopover, neither does standing on a tri-state marker count in my book ;)

Offline SSLPhD

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2020, 09:44:08 AM »
Looking forward to the rest.
AK,AZ,CA,CT,(DE),FL,HI,(IL),ME,MD,(MA),MI,MN,MT,NV,NH,NJ,NY,OR,PA,(RI),TX,UT,VT,VA,WA,WI,WY

Offline ltttc

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2020, 07:07:58 PM »
Looking forward to the rest.
@ SSLPhD Why are some of your states in parenthesis?

Offline SSLPhD

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2020, 04:38:03 PM »
@ SSLPhD Why are some of your states in parenthesis?
They're pass-through states.
AK,AZ,CA,CT,(DE),FL,HI,(IL),ME,MD,(MA),MI,MN,MT,NV,NH,NJ,NY,OR,PA,(RI),TX,UT,VT,VA,WA,WI,WY

Offline saw50st8

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2020, 07:53:07 AM »
Day 3:

We started our day at the Barataria Preserve, as recommended by  @skyguy918 . Unfortunately, there were no ranger guided tours that day. The trails are on boardwalks and well maintained. We didn’t see much in the way of wildlife (it was cold!) while we were there but it was a nice nature trail and close to New Orleans. We did see birds, shells, cypress trees, beautiful swampland and the tracks from a wild boar.











We drove back to New Orleans and went to the Aquarium. We debated becoming members so we could also go to the Zoo and Insectarium as that was more affordable than purchasing individual tickets but we weren’t sure if we would be able to go to the other places. There is a parking lot right outside the Aquarium and it is a fortune.  The aquarium is relatively small but my kids had a great time.  We started with the 3D IMAX movie , which is included with admission. There are many places to stand and see fish swimming all around you or over you. They have some really weird fish (like ones that look like rocks!). They have a few shows to see the animals too – we watched a sea otter show and penguin feeding. We also opted to feed the stingrays ($2/pp) which was definitely a highlight.  Then we went into the bird sanctuary – hordes of birds swarm around and land all over everyone. They go anywhere – inside your sleeves, inside your pockets, on your hair. We had to tear my kids away from this area when it was time to leave.



 










Then we walked along Woldenberg park, where we passed the Holocaust Memorial. We continued on to Café Du Monde. The beignets are absolutely light and fluffy and just as delicious as I remembered.  My kids would have eaten as many as we would let them, but we opted for 2 each. We walked around the French Quarter a little bit more, stopped to watch the streetcars (we didn't ride them)  and then returned to our car.











For Dinner, we went to Kosher Cajun,  a deli inside a grocery store and if you have realistic expectations, the food is delicious and fun. We tried jambalaya, rice and beans, fried “shrimp”, a fish fillet sandwich, deli sandwiches and the requisite hot dog for my picky son.












Offline saw50st8

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2020, 07:55:13 AM »
Exactly halfway. I don't count a state if it was a stopover, neither does standing on a tri-state marker count in my book ;)

I'm with you!

When I was nearing the end of my quest to see all 50 states, I had a problem with Arkansas. I had technically been there but basically had just gone over the border. To avoid any problems of which state was my 50th, my mother and I started our last trip in Arkansas and finished in Minnesota so there was no question.

The only state that I haven't slept in is North Dakota. I will definitely go back there one day.

Offline saw50st8

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2020, 09:32:55 PM »
Day 4:


Our day started driving on the Lake Ponchartrain Causeway, the longest bridge over water in the world at 24 miles. At times you can’t see land in either direction, but there are plenty of cops at each turn around!

 



We drove to Instagator Ranch to learn about alligators. They start off teaching you about alligators and conservation and comparing alligators to cows (it is a farm and hatchery). They release 10% of the alligators to the wild and use the rest for food and to make products. They also have a tailless alligator and a crocodile to see. They also showed us how they harvest eggs in the wild. After the information, they brought us to one of the long houses where alligators are kept and we fed them marshmallows. Then we went back outside and were able to pet an alligator (whose mouth had been taped shut). We paid extra to take a picture with the alligator. Unfortunately, they don’t give you the digital copy (just a printout) so I would ask them to take a picture with your own camera. Then we played with alligators in the touch pool. The alligators are all really small and kind of cute and my 6 year old asked if we could bring home an alligator for a pet. My kids loved playing with the alligators.

 







When the tour was over, we drove over to Folsom to Global Wildlife Center.  I had been there over 20 years ago and really enjoyed it; I knew it was a place that I wanted to bring my kids back to. It is a nature preserve where the animals roam free. They have trucks that you can sit in and feed the animals. We sprung for a bucket of feed for the 6 of us because I remembered how much fun it was. We fed deer, cow, camels, llamas, and giraffes. They all come up to the truck and eat right out of your hands. There are also zebras and kangaroos onsite but you cannot feed them.  Hands down, this was my kids favorite activity.

 




















On our way back to New Orleans, we stopped at the Tchefuncte River Light Station. You can only see it but not get close to it, but you get a nice view of Lake Ponchartrain.




 

For dinner, we stopped off at Casablanca. The food was good but we found the portions pretty small compared to the price. We tried the cigars, shwarma sandwich, moussaka, couscous plate, shish kabob and schnitzel.

After dinner, we went up to the rooftop deck to check out the view:




Offline ltttc

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #11 on: February 27, 2020, 07:09:18 PM »
Were there any names listed on the Holocaust Memorial?

Offline SSLPhD

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2020, 08:42:08 AM »
@saw50st8  Your TRs are some of my favorites, as they're most like trips I'd take.  Any chance you can continue?
AK,AZ,CA,CT,(DE),FL,HI,(IL),ME,MD,(MA),MI,MN,MT,NV,NH,NJ,NY,OR,PA,(RI),TX,UT,VT,VA,WA,WI,WY

Online justmeha

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instead of writing "+1" and clogging up the thread give a like!

Offline saw50st8

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Re: saw50st8 Louisiana and Missisippi TR
« Reply #14 on: May 04, 2020, 09:11:48 PM »
Were there any names listed on the Holocaust Memorial?

Not that I saw, but we didn't go close to the sculpture. I think there were names of donors on the back of the sign.