Fountainblue State Park in Louisiana…

Thanks to blogger’s new pic uploading, you get a huge picture of Caleb   :)
Not sure how it happened, but it’s pretty cute, huh?  😉
Earlier this week we spent 2 wet, muggy nights at Fontainblue State Park just north of New Orleans.
Despite the less than desirable weather, we really enjoyed our time there!
The park is beautiful, and they even have cheap laundry (big deal if you travel with 10 kids! LOL!).

Tuesday night Beth and I went into town for a few groceries.  We went to Albertsons in the nearby town, and asked the man working at the meat counter what Boudin and Crackins were.  We kept seeing restaurant billboards for them, and wanted to know if it was something that we could ‘heat up’ at home, or if we had to go to a restaurant for them.  We were looking for a local eating experience – something that we wouldn’t have back home.  The meat man was super nice, and showed us where we could find boudin (pronounce boo-dan); boudin is a sausage made with meat (often pork but could be anything), rice, and seasonings.  Sausage made with rice didn’t sound too bad, so I picked up a variety of kinds.  He also filled us in on cracklins, which are fried pig skins (and that we would have to get them at a restaurant), sold us some boudin (meat)balls, and told us to pick up some hog head cheese at the deli.
So we did…

Hog head cheese is not a cheese at all.  I’m not really sure what it is, other than it cannot be good for you!  LOL!  Supposedly it’s meat and seasonings in a ‘gelatin’, which most people slice and eat on crackers (in front of a Lousianna Saints game preferably).  Hmmm.  I didn’t care for it, but Bethy tried it too and said that they guys would like it, so I got a pound of regular and 2# of hot.  For the record, 3 pounds of head cheese is way too much even for our family.  They didn’t eat even one.  But, they are working on it…
The butcher also told us about ‘ragodin’ (not sure how to spell it), but it is sausage made out of Nutria – you know, that over sized rodent we saw in TX.  I really wanted to find some, but had to go to a specialty store, and never made it.  The guys would have loved the novelty of eating sausage made of the meat from a huge rat!!!  :)

We sat out that first stormy night at Fontainblue watching a movie, then got up the next day, braved the rain (yep, it was STILL raining – I hate this storm!) and drove down into New Orleans…

Where we went to the Jean Lafitte (Lah-feet) National Historical Site and Preserve.  The JLNHS actually contains SIX separate sites, one in Lafayette, which we would have visited if I had been organized and realized it was there…
The site that we visited first on Wednesday was the Barataria Preserve in Marrero (southwest New Orleans).  We chose this site because it was all about bayous, swamps, and marshes!  All things we don’t have at home!

They had a nice visitor’s center, where the kids enjoyed doing the Jr. Ranger program.

and checking out all the different fun little details that went into the displays.

The girls especially enjoyed the animal bingo.  Meant to be done outside on an adventure walk, the ranger told the kids that they could complete it in the museum since it was still pouring outside.

The rain did lighten up (never did stop), and we really wanted to go check out the swamp, so we ventured out in the drizzle to walk some of the trails.   They were all raised boardwalks, which was great because the ground was all underwater!

We found it fascinating and beautiful.  Everything is green here, and the flowers are starting to come out, including this giant blue iris.

It rained off  and on, but the kids were troopers, and we enjoyed our tromp through the swamp!

We thought this park was one of the most interesting that we have been to.  We are still pretty intrigued with the whole bayou/swamp/wetlands thing down here.  It is so incredibly unique.

(and the spider lilies in the picture above were beautiful!!!  I only saw these 2, but it is only the beginning of spring here!).
Moss and vines grow on everything down here!  Besides their own bark, the trees more often that not have hitchhikers.  There are vines growing up them, green lichen covering their bark often with splotches of red or white contrasting lichen also, Spanish Moss hanging prolifically from the branches (we wondered if it hoarded the chiggers down here like it does on the east coast; we didn’t dig through any to find out!)

After our lovely walk down a couple of raised boardwalks (and the excitement of finding a dead tree frog on the walkway), it was back to the visitor’s center for a movie on southern Louisiana culture, and to finish up those J.R. booklets.  The books were super easy (the park has a new program being written – we’ll be back in 2 years to check it out! ;), and after picking up a kids chapter book on Jean Lafitte for a read-aloud, the kids had their work checked and were sworn-in as Jr. Rangers.

On our way out of the park, we saw a huge nutria, and the kids saw a deer.
This park was so beautiful – we really would like to come back on a day with nicer weather and more time to just roam the park.  The bayou country is so fascinating to us.

It sure is nice to be back on the road, and being reminded of just how little of God’s wonderful creation that we have been able to experience so far.  So much to see, so little time before we have to be at our next scheduled destination.  I hate travel schedules 😉

Lilla Rose

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