|I did NOT take this picture.|
And we weren't even able to stay long enough for the full guided tour.
But Oak Alley (in Vacherie, LA) is beautiful.
Back in Summer 2003, right before I started my last term of student teaching (which near about killed me. And, NO, that is NOT hyperbole or exaggeration.), Michael's family went on a family vacation to visit his grandparents in Mississippi.
I hadn't ever met a good chunk of his mom's family ... except for one aunt and her daughters, really. So I was nervous. Not only about making a good impression (as the Yankee girl that I am) ... but about travelling so far. AND making it back in time to start my term of student teaching.
It was an interesting trip. I usually travel with a bit of an itinerary -- What all do I WANT to do? Where are the places that I REALLY want to visit? Where, if we have time, should we stop?
I know that when I was REALLY little, like when I was two or three, my parents and some friends went to Louisiana. I have absolutely NO recollection of this. Except for some photographs and a memory of wearing a shirt that said "My parents went to Louisiana and all they brought me was this lousy shirt." It was a blue shirt.
This trip was different. I was traveling with a LARGE party. I had to check luggage (SO NERVE-WRACKING!! And this was even BEFORE all the TSA stuff REALLY got started. ... The only other plane trips that I'd been on [that I could RECALL] had been with my Dad. From Eugene to Portland and then to LAX and back. Twice. ... Well, that was the plan. The second time, the return trip went LAX to Seattle to circling Eugene to landing in Portland and taking a bus to Eugene. SUCH A LONG DAY. UGH). There was a layover in Las Vegas ... so I got to see the strip. From a distance, sitting in my seat the whole time.
One of my sisters-in-law, T1, had her birthday. And Cousin K (traveling with us), did some magic.
She talked a passenger into singing to T1 ... and talked the flight attendant into letting him do it OVER THE LOUDSPEAKER ... and so it was a full sing-along around 9 PM at night.
Where T1 was serenaded with the traditional birthday song of .... "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling."
Good times. Good times.
(And thank goodness for my repeated viewings of Top Gun, so I actually knew the lyrics!)
I made a good enough impression on people. Michael's Aunt S seems to still adore me. Which is VERY flattering. And I didn't come back with a Southern drawl that I couldn't shake. I sounded VERY Yankee the whole time I was there. And I think they appreciated that I like Grits. (Yum!) ... Although, I was too scared to try fried catfish (I really don't care for fish. I'll eat a tuna salad sandwich every so often. Or fish sticks on occasion. Or some clam chowder or Tilapia or Crab Rangoon ... but I haven't gotten a real love for seafood overall.)
I also got to walk around Bourbon Street in New Orleans. A drunk guy puked and it splashed on my shoe.
I've never been so grateful for NOT having been wearing flip-flops in my entire life. EVER.
I liked the architecture ... but, let me tell you something: Word to the wise -- "Gentlemen's clubs are NOT for real gentlemen. *shudders* Calling those places "gentlemen's clubs?" That is a HOUSE OF LIES. With a TOWER OF LIES on top. Sheltered by a ROOF OF LIES.
Because a REAL gentleman wouldn't solicit women to parade their goods in a state of undress.
A REAL gentleman would treat them with respect. And worry about their self-esteem.
I had really hoped to tour a graveyard down there ... since I'm obviously full of morbidity and ISSUES. (But, you know what? Michael wanted to, too. So THERE!) ... But we didn't get the chance. :(
We did get to go to a NASA museum. I don't know if it was in Lousiana or in Mississippi, though. (I wasn't driving.)
There still, sadly, are lots of race issues down there. I, for my part, did my best to look everyone in the eye and smile at them, regardless of skin color.
Because, as an abolitionist, that's my job. ^_^
And I got to learn what 'Nana Peppers are when we all went to Subway.
T1 got them on her sandwich, thinking they'd be like peperoncini peppers. But they're not. And they're pickled with dill. Which she didn't care for. But, hey, we learned something new. ... And that they're called BANANA PEPPERS by the rest of the continental US.
Michael had worried me by telling me that Grandpa I's accent was heavy enough that I should't worry if I couldn't understand him.
Um ... there was no problem.
(I had a harder time understanding my first boyfriend's dad. He was soft-spoken and in about the lowest register I've heard a speaking voice be! Nice guy, that dad. We don't quite share the same interests or sense of humor. But he was a nice man.)
So I worried SO MUCH about THAT for nothing.
(Unfounded worries are much better than the founded kind, though. So I was okay with that.)
But, overall, it was an interesting trip. I got to see a lot of the country as we flew over it. I got to meet lots of Michael's aunts, uncles, cousins, and his grandparents (Seriously, I have a total of seven first cousins. Technically eight ... but I only learned about that one about eight years ago. I've never met her. ... Michael has enough cousins on EITHER SIDE that he loses count. THAT'S A LOT OF COUSINS!! ... Whereas, I can keep track of ALL my first cousins AND more than a handful of first-cousins once removed. Because our families are smaller, I guess. And it's not that ALL his folks are from the South, so it's not like smaller families are a Yankee thing. Still, I just am boggled at it. Probably since I'm an only child. Who knows?)
I got to visit places I hadn't been before. And, best of all, I got to do it with Michael by my side.
Even though I was away from Ginger-cat and Diana-cat for just over a WHOLE WEEK. That was unprecedented. But they were fine.
At least the downstairs neighbors didn't have ANOTHER fire while we were gone. *rolls eyes*