Pambling Roads ~~ Louisiana

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Pambling Roads ~~ Louisiana 

 

Welcome back to Pambling Roads, where we are documenting our travels in the United States (and Canada) to “meet the Americans”.

Our first stop on our trip was in Marianna, Florida. We have been to the area before and would recommend staying there. There are caverns there, above ground that you can tour. If I remember correctly, they are the only above ground caverns in the state of Florida. We stayed at the Comfort Inn in the suite that had the Jacuzzi, making it a great way to start our sabbatical.

Taking the back roads to Louisiana was awesome. We drove parallel to US-10 (on 90 and other various roads that paralleled 10) knowing that it literally crosses the United States along the southern states just like US-10.  Our primary goal in Louisiana was to visit the plantation homes and New Orleans. There is so much to see in Louisiana that we plan on returning in a few years and will most likely tour the state for a few weeks and submerge ourselves in its history.

We stayed in Slidell at the LaQuinta, perfect as usual.

 

      Oak Alley 

 

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This sugar plantation, an antebellum home, is located in Vacherie, Louisiana. It is the one you most likely see in many photos depicting southern plantation living. It is what many would consider the epitome of southern plantations. I would guess that it is most likely one of the most photographed homes used as a reference to southern antebellum homes.         

The first thing we noticed about Oak Alley was driving by the estate before we even enter the area. The road to the home offers a magnificent view of the back side of the plantation where you see a walkway graced with old Oak trees approximately 300 years old.

Oak Alley has been restored to its original magnificence, lovingly rejuvenated as a jewel of the River Road Plantation homes.

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      Along with a guided tour, we walked the grounds and enjoyed many sites on the 25+ acres. A few things you may want to see while there, the Garçonnieres, the reconstructed slave quarters, the Overseer’s House, of course the main home, and the Alley of Oaks.

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      The original landowner of Oak Alley planted twenty-eight oak trees in two rows leading to his home from the Mississippi River creating a majestic entrance. The property was purchased by a Creole businessman who had the home built for his wife, attempting to lure her from the New Orleans life to that of a plantation mistress. The home has been restored to its original beauty. It is a classic antebellum home, a grand plantation home including the grounds and other building on the property.

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The tour of the home and grounds (about 25 acres) is informative and the guides are in mid-19th century costume. The slave cabins are a reconstruction of the quarters the plantation had for their slaves. The full 25 acres is not open for touring, however, that does not take away from the tour or the beauty of the home and grounds.

There are cottages on the property that can be rented for overnight stays, as well as, offering rental for weddings and special events. The gift shop is huge and right next door to the gift shop is a café that serves Creole dishes. The blacksmith shop is right near the restaurant and gift shop. It was part of the plantation’s original forge.

Café and Restaurant at Oak Alley

It was obvious that the server was not a happy camper. Her perpetual frown was not inviting, to say the least. However, the food was mouth-watering, exquisite. We would return and eat there but we would definitely make sure we did not get “miserable waitress” who acted like we were an inconvenience.

Oak Alley Plantation

 

St Joseph’s Plantation

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St. Joseph’s is right next door to Oak Alley. It is definitely one of the homes you do not want to miss. It is on over 1000 acres with the majority of the acreage still being used as a private residence and working, family owned corporation, sugar cane plantation along with the sister plantation, Felicite, next door.

St. Joseph’s was owned by the Richardson family -- H. H. Richardson, one of America's most prominent architects of the 19th century was born in the house.

Over time it changed hands several times until after the Civil War when the home was sold in a Sheriff’s auction.  The historical ancestral twists and turns of the era have weaved intricately among the family members of the neighboring plantations of Oak Alley, Laura, St. Joseph’s, and Felicite (St Joseph’s sister plantation).

As we made our way to the entrance, a gentleman was working was working outside on bricks of the walkway. We stopped and spoke with him, being the way we are, full of questions. Jim Simon was quite happy to chat and answer all of our queries. We quickly learned that Jim was a family member who once lived in the house behind the main home and lived in the main home temporarily.

Joan and Mike Boudreaux were both welcoming with gracious southern style.  Joan was our tour guide. She and her husband are also members of the family who own St. Joseph’s plantation and the sister plantation nearby. We chatted with Joan and learned that she is 6th generation — “raising cane” pun intended.

We watched a video before the tour, very information and fascinating at the process that is done with cane and sugar production.

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St. Joseph’s is a family oriented business, tours are done by most family members. Many of the repairs and reconstruction project was done by the family as a joint effort to bring St Joseph Plantation to its former glory.

 

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      Like Oak Alley, there are several buildings on the property that you can see, slave cabins, schoolhouse, kitchen, chicken coop, carpenter shop, blacksmith shop, and more. They do have private residences there, please be careful and make sure you know which buildings you may or may not enter for viewing. We look forward to returning to St Joseph’s and possibly seeing Jim Simon, Joan and Mike Boudreaux again. They were wonderful people and we enjoyed every moment we spent at the plantation.

The plantation is also available for private functions and weddings as well.

 

St. Joseph's Plantation

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/stjosephasugarcaneplantation

 

We ran out of time and were not able to see Laura Plantation. It was highly recommended by several people.

Laura Plantation

 

 

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Abita Mystery House

 

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A collection of oddities, antiques, and collector items. Every square inch of available space has something to see. The gentleman at the counter was welcoming and open to questions. People in the area were very pleasant and friendly.

Abita Mystery House

 

Abita Brewing Company

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We toured the brewery (at no cost) located in Covington, LA. They had a video which was informative, although difficult to hear, but that’s okay because we were having so much fun. The tour was fascinating. The beer was excellent and we will most likely purchase some before we leave the Louisiana area. They do sell the beer in 48 states.

Abita Brewery

 

There was a bit of trouble at the check-out counter in the gift shop section. We went to purchase some Abita Root Beer and the cashier told us they did not accept cash. (Yes, you read that correctly. They do not accept cash) It was a six-dollar purchase. No major purchase here. My husband handed her our credit card and she swiped it. It did not work correctly so she entered it by hand—incorrectly. She then put the numbers in again—incorrectly and the credit card company locked our card and denied the sale.

The minute we arrived to our vehicle, we called the credit card company and learned about her mistake. The immediately “unlocked” the card and we went on our merry way.

The cashier did not tell us she made an error putting in the credit card. The credit card company explained to me when I was on the phone that it had been entered incorrectly twice, red-lighting the purchase, and they immediately put a lock on it, creating the denial.

Honestly, being over 1000 miles from home with a locked credit card was not a happy feeling.

I don’t understand how they can have a gift shop and not accept cash. Isn’t there a federal law or something that says that cash must be accepted for all debt, public and private?

 

After our tour, we stopped and had a late lunch at Ol Dan’s Restaurant.

It is a very small restaurant. The food was excellent and the service was pleasant and right on target. The atmosphere was nice and relaxing. (Located across from the Abita Brewing Company)

Ol' Dan's Restaurant

 

Cracker Barrel in Slidell, LA

1-10 service road

Cracker Barrel

 

Ashley was our server, great service! The food was excellent and everything came out in a timely manner. It was busy and we expected service and food to be a little on the slow site. Nope! It was awesome.

 

The Outback in Slidell, on 190

 

Friday night we were expecting it to be packed (it was) and we were expecting to wait at least a half hour before we were seated. The wait was not as bad as anticipated, the server, Jeremy, was at our table within seconds, greeting us. Within less than a minute he was back taking our order for drinks, which arrived almost immediately. We know what we wanted to order and boom, within ten minutes our food was on the table. He checked back more than once and made sure we had everything we needed. Then, heavens forbid, he pre-bussed our table when we were finished.

That is how a restaurant should always be run! That is the type of service a restaurant should always give their clients and that is how the food should be prepared and served.

The Outback - Slidell

 

That is three restaurants in a row that we went to that had “right on” service and food. Perhaps many other restaurants should take a few lessons from the Louisiana restaurant industry.

 

For those of you driving in the New Orleans area. The rest of Louisiana drivers were not like this. This warning is for the New Orleans area only. Be prepared! I am amazed at how many stupid people out there that are texting and driving. What is worse, we were on I-10, so we had people texting and driving, swerving in and out of traffic, tail-gating, and speeding around, in and out and every which way.

The drivers around NOLA (New Orleans) are rude and pushy, worse than they drive in NYC and Boston—if there is three feet between you and the car in front of you, it is an open invitation for them to change lanes and take the space in front of you.

Another thing … they wouldn’t budge. If there was an opening for us to move over, they sped up so we couldn’t change lanes. At first we thought it was just that one obnoxious driver, but no! They all did it. We tried moving over, several times, so we could get to the exit to go downtown and no one would let us over. So, guess what? We didn’t go.

NOLA traffic is horrific! I would rather drive in Boston, in a snow blizzard, with bald tires, sick with the flu, during the worst traffic time of day.

 

Thank you for taking the time to read about our adventures traveling the United States. It has been a great adventure, meeting the Americans, and meeting people from all over the world. Have you been to any of the places I have mentioned? Do you have stories to tell as well? Share with us, we want to hear all about it! Take advantage of comment section below and tell us your stories.

 

Thank you,

Have a good moments day,

Pam

Next stop: TEXAS

 

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