From LA to NOLA (Part 3): Gators Gonna Gate

Note: This is Part 3 of the From LA to NOLA series. For Part 1, click here.

When Rona, Evelyn, and I went to Anchorage last year, we had a rental car so that we could take a day trip out of Anchorage and explore Alaska even further. For this trip to New Orleans, we decided to do the same.

On Sunday morning, Rona and Shelena went to pick up the rental car and soon enough we were off to our first stop of the day: Destrehan Plantation. We did have some technical problems along the way as Rona’s GPS got possessed by a demon and wound up leading us to a cemetery. The GPS was telling Rona to drive through the cemetery, but we ended up turning around instead and eventually reaching our destination.

LouisianaCemetery

The Destrehan Plantation was established in 1787 and produced indigo and sugar cane during the 1800s. The plantation’s main feature is the mansion which was originally French Colonial but had been renovated by its owners over time to carry some Greek Revival features. We took a tour of the site itself, including the mansion (unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take pictures inside), and then we were free to explore the grounds.

DestrehanGuide

DestrehanColumns

DestrehanPlantation

DestrehanKitchen

There was a candle-making demonstration under one of the shacks so we decided to learn more about the different techniques that were used. We also learned about courting candles, which were used by fathers to narrow down the time their daughter could be courted by certain suitors. If the candle melted down to a certain level, then time was up. The guy doing the demonstration told us that this was where the phrase “getting the short end of the stick” originated from as suitors who a father did not particularly like may have gotten shorter candles to speed their time up. I thought that was interesting, which is why I wanted to share this tidbit with you, dear reader.

CandleMaking

I should also mention that when we were looking up the weather for the weekend that we were going to be in New Orleans, we found that it was supposed to be a weekend of rain and thunderstorms. We lucked out with Friday and Saturday, but Sunday was when it actually started to have bouts of rain and we didn’t stay outside in the plantation for too long. We had a reservation for an airboat tour of a swamp later that day and that was still a bit of a drive away.

RainyLouisianaBridge

We did stop to eat first at Restaurant des Familles. I had the stuffed crab (with dirty rice and carrots) and some southern iced tea. We also shared crab boulettes, which is basically like a crab meatball. Everything was delicious, but unfortunately, we had to rush off for the airboat reservation. I really wish we could have stayed longer and appreciated the food a little more because it really hit the spot. Alas, there were gators that needed to be seen.

StuffedCrab

Boulettes

Rona had booked us a swamp tour with Airboat Adventures in Lafitte, Louisiana. The building where we had to check in had a bunch of nifty alligator-related thing to look at including some actual, live alligators swimming around in an enclosure. There was also a large taxidermied one too.

TaxidermiedAlligator

Alligators

Once everything was ready, we boarded our airboat and were off with our guide and two other people. We decided to pay a little bit extra for the smaller boat and it looked to be the better decision since some of the bigger boats just seemed way too crowded. We cruised out of the dock for a little bit before seeing our first alligator out in the swamp. This one was also apparently the largest that we were going to see all day and our guide fed it a couple marshmallows, referred to as alligator crack.

SwampTour1

After exiting the quiet zone, we started zooming faster and that was pretty exhilarating. We went deeper into the river and managed to see some more medium-sized alligators swimming around in the water. Our guide was very knowledgeable about everything and told us stories about getting bitten and other interesting tidbits about the animals and plants in the area.

SwampTour2

SwampTour3

SwampTour4

One of the highlights of the tour was being able to hold a baby alligator. I was a little fidgety with it at first, but the little guy is pretty adorable and it kind of reminded me of that scene with the egg at the end of the Eddie Murphy version of Doctor Dolittle.

GatorsGonnaGate

Airboat

We coasted around some more before heading back to the dock and trying to figure out what we should do next.

SwampTour5

SwampTour6

AirboatAdventuresGroup

Let’s go to Mississippi!

Yes, that was actually an idea and yes, we actually decided to just get up and go. There wasn’t really anything else in the area and by the time we got back to New Orleans, a lot of the other attractions we haven’t seen yet would have been closed so we decided to cross the border into Mississippi just because we could and headed for the Walmart Supercenter near Picayune. Now, I don’t particularly like Walmart and I refuse to shop at the ones back home, but this was what we were doing. We were actually not there for too long before heading back into Louisiana for some dinner.

MississippiStateSign

The rain and thunder started to pick up a bit while we were driving, but we found shelter at Copeland’s of New Orleans. Our waiter, Matthew, was a very enthusiastic guy who talked to us a lot and made us feel really welcome in the restaurant. I got the pecan crusted catfish and that was amazing, but the best part were the biscuits, which were probably the best that I’ve ever had. It had the perfect texture and this melt-in-your-mouth kind of goodness that I wish I knew how to replicate.

PecanCrustedCatfish

It was a long day, so we headed back to the hotel to knock out. We already went out drinking the previous two nights, so this was a welcome rest.

Check out other posts in the From LA to LA series:
From LA to NOLA (Part 1): Southern Comfort
From LA to NOLA (Part 2): Laissez Les Bon Temps Rouler
From LA to NOLA (Part 3): Gators Gonna Gate
From LA to NOLA (Part 4): The Voodoo You Do

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