Location: Christmas Eve @ Orchard End
Book: ‘Christmas with Mr. Pickwick’ by Charles Dickens
Not long after waking up in Alabama we found ourselves beneath unusually blue skies – at least for having just seen severe storms pass – in Mississippi. We were debating for a while where we wanted to stop while we were there. North of us was the De Soto National Forest, and south of us was the Gulf of Mexico. I had wanted to go into the National Forest, but Antonia really wanted to ride along the coast. So we decided to take a southern route and head for Biloxi, Mississippi. After getting off the highway we almost immediately found ourselves on the coast and right before us was ‘The Lighthouse Pier’. So on a whim we turned into the half-filled parking lot and explore for a little bit. We even found root beer in glass bottles at the visitors center and it make for a nice little break.
One of the coolest things about driving through Mississippi (and Louisiana for that matter) is that the highways become mile long bridges through swamps and bayous. These bridges, as they rise up, become their own vistas in a world that is mostly near or below sea-level. One truly feels like they are on top of the world when really they are at one of its lowest points.
We arrived in Louisiana at 5:07pm. I remember this distinctly because the welcome center (for some odd reason) was open until 5pm. When we got there the doors were locked, and there was no way for me to pick up a map, postcard, or coffee (the people at the beautiful welcome center in Mississippi told me that Louisiana gave out free coffee). This was a huge disappointment, but the weather was beautiful and so we walked around outside a bit before moving on.
We continued on the highway / bridge system with the destination of Breaux Bridge, Louisiana. Due to time we were unable to stop in New Orleans – like every visitor to Louisiana does. Breaux Bridge is the town that Antonia’s former college roommate lives with her husband, and our plan was to stay there for a few days. (It is also a town that was hit by a Tornado just the day before). We arrived just before dark and unpacked knowing we’d stay in one place for a full day for the first time since we left.
It was quite exciting to have a full day to be tourists while we were in Louisiana. We woke up a gracious breakfast and after eating went to check out an opportunity to do a swamp tour at Lake Martin. After booking a tour at 11:30am we decided to go back into town to get some coffee. As we drove through we found a quaint cafe called, ‘Joie De Vivre Coffee and Culture Cafe’. It was such a fun place to enjoy a coffee, look at artwork and let homes exclaim, ‘Vroom’ every time a car passed by.
After coffee we headed back to Lake Martin and somehow made it through a 2 hour boat tour with Hobbes – we had to pass him back and forth the whole time. A nice lady from Alabama kept pulling things out of her purse to entertain Hobbes (like a flashlight from the Grand Canyon and a fan from New Orleans). We learned a lot about the alligators, birds, and the swamp in general. It was a really fun and informative tour.
Following the swamp tour we explored Breaux Bridge a little more and went out for some authentic Cajun food with our friends. I wanted to have everything while we were there, but that would have been a bit pricy. So I just got some Alligator filets and the Shrimp Gumbo, while trying some of my friend’s crawfish. Afterward, when we got back to our friend’s house it was a beautiful evening to just sit outside beneath the giant Blackjack Oak and watch Hobbes run around. Later, my friend Cody played me in NHL 94′ and I got creamed, sadly.
It really was nice to have a break and to just spend time with friends, but before we knew it, it was time to be on the road again. Before leaving I had to buy a new tire for the blazer (because the front passenger tire was super worn). So I woke up early and headed to Walmart to get one while Antonia slept. Once we had the new tire, we ate some donuts from the ‘Cajun Market Donut Company’ (I’m not sure if they were better than Krispy Kreme or not), and made our way north toward Texas.
Louisiana really is a beautiful place. I wish we had more time to explore there and maybe tour a Plantation, but maybe another day.
Books for these few days included:
‘ Three Famous Novels’ by William Faulkner (Biloxi, Mississippi)
‘The Awakening’ by Kate Chopin (Lake Martin, Louisiana)
‘Oliver Twist’ by Charles Dickens (Breaux Bridge, Louisiana)
‘This Side of Paradise’ by F. Scott Fitzgerald (Breaux Bridge, Louisiana)