Swamp Tour, Alligators, Fishies, and Family Fun
Believe it or not, the craziness of Bourbon Street and New Orleans in general is not why we decided to visit. One of Erik's uncles, and Godfather, lives near New Orleans, so we had family to visit! Erik's uncle Dave was nice enough to let us stay with him for the week and even just being at his house felt like a vacation. I mean this is his backyard...
Something really cool for me was getting to sit in this truck. It belonged to Erik's dad, who passed away when Erik was in high school, so I never got to meet him. The truck was sent down after Katrina to help the family out with rebuilding. Well, Erik's dad loved his truck. That was obvious from his meticulous oil change logs! Erik and I sat inside it and he said it still smelled like him and that this was the closest I'd ever get to knowing his dad. It was kind of sad, but also a really awesome moment. Family history! It's the best.
When we first started talking about taking this trip, Erik said the only thing we HAD to do while we were in town was a swamp tour. He remembered doing one when he was a kid and felt like it was classic Louisiana. Alligators, Spanish moss, bayous, and ginormous trees that seem to go on forever. It was awesome. I loved when our boat would take us through little bayous off of the main river where you just feel completely surrounded by lush green. Our guide was from Cajun Encounters and seemed to know everything about the gators down to the individual scars that each one had. You could tell he spent a lot of time on the swamp! He got the gators to jump for us and eat hot dogs and marshmallows. It was pretty cool.
The people who live in the houses above use boats to get around! It's called the Indian River Village and they mostly fish/hunt/trap for a living. They have to drive their boats to a parking lot if they need to take a car somewhere.
We also visited the National World War II Museum (where Uncle Dave works!) which I found surprisingly powerful. I've never been a huge museum person. I get tired of reading all the signs and feeling like I could have learned all this from a book. But this museum does an amazing job of making you feel the enormity of what that war was, not just to our country but to the world. I kept thinking of my little, history buff brother and how much he would love that place.
But by far, our favorite thing we did on this trip was hanging out with family. Seriously, we had so much fun. I didn't know these Heidenthals very well. We'd only met once before briefly. But it didn't take long at all before I felt like family. Erik and I were talking one night during the trip about how we wished his cousin and his wife lived closer to us because we'd get together all the time. I mean, Tammy made us banana foster and risked burning the house down for us! When we were leaving, they said the exact same thing to us. We had so much fun just sitting around the table telling stories and getting to know each other.
They even indulged me in a family picture :) I love when people succumb to my camera addiction!