At the River Walk in New Orleans were 22 plaques describing interesting facts about the mighty Mississippi River. One thing we learned is that this mud-laden water has flowed over 2,350 miles and takes about 66 days to get from Lake Itasca, Minnesota to the Gulf of Mexico. Our crossing of the Mississippi River was a unique trip, according to one of the plaques. Because Louisiana is the only state divided by the river, and New Orleans the only city that straddles it, this is the only place you can cross the river without crossing a city or state line. Oh yeah, we felt unique after leaving New Orleans.
On other days our excursions around the area took us to a Plantation and a Preserve.
Between New Orleans and Baton Rouge are nine majestic historic plantations known collectively as the New Orleans Plantation Country. The roots of these lavish estates began in 1718 with the founding of New Orleans. Most plantations produced sugar, which provided their owners with the kind of vast wealth it took to build these huge estates. To keep their place in history, the homes have been authentically restored to their original style.
We chose to tour the “Grande Dame of the Great River Road,” the Oak Alley Plantation, which is a protected National Historic Landmark. It is named after its distinguishing feature, an alley or canopied path created by a double row of massive live oaks about a quarter mile long. They were planted in the early 18th century, long before the present house was built. The alley runs between the house and the Mississippi River.
Mint Julep seems to be the favorite drink in this area, and they had a little bar set up at the house. It was still early in the morning, but we didn’t want to seem out of place. So, with a Mint Julep in hand we strolled the grounds after the guided tour and admired the majestic oak trees close-up.
On another day we took a trip to the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Barataria Preserve, which is 14 miles south of the state park where we stayed. The preserve’s 23,000 acres include bayous, swamps, marshes, forests, alligators, nutrias, and over 300 species of birds – lots of them. After a brief stop at the visitor center, we meandered down the boardwalk trails (Visitor Center Trail and Palmetto Trail) and dirt trails (Bayou Coquille Trail) which wind through the preserve. Here is the trail map, or you can enjoy a self-guided tour or explore with a cell phone tour.
The swamp critters we encountered are quite fascinating.
The rest of our days at Bayou Segnette State Park were spent cooking seafood, for just outside the park is a bustling Seafood Market. And we got busy, cooking and eating, and on other days we simply enjoyed the frequent visits of the Northern Cardinals, seven of them at one time!
After this stop, we need to double up on our exercise!