Anne Jay visits Louisiana with Lauren

11First off, I just have to say this: I may be a bird, but getting on an airplane is a scary thing.  I never really fly that high in the air!  Luckily, I was snuggled safely in Lauren’s carry-on for the entire flight (I read a fascinating Nylon magazine and polished off a few granola bars that Lauren forgot about), only coming out to investigate when I was sure we were safely on the ground in our destination state: Louisiana, the home of JHU_Lauren’s friend (and penpal since 7th grade!), Ashley.

09Like Eleanor on her trip with JHU_Mandy, I immediately came into close contact (too close for me, really) with a member of the canine species.  His name was Scruffy and he was Ashley’s very, very, very energetic Yorkie-poo.  He was respectful, just sniffing me and occasionally nudging me with his nose, but my little blue jay heart was beating faster than I knew it even could the entire time he was getting to know me.  Sure, he looks cute and harmless, but you just never know when a dog is going to get bored with being friendly and just want something fluffy to gnaw on.

10But I survived, luckily, because our first major trip was on the second day we were there, and I didn’t want to miss it!  Our goal was to make it to the Mississippi Gulf Coast … and, after driving for two hours in the wrong direction towards the middle of Mississippi, we finally reached Gulfport.  This part of Mississippi was hit really hard by Hurricane Katrina in 2006 and is slowly being rebuilt again; surprisingly, though, it was still absolutely breathtaking.  I can only imagine what it must have looked like before the hurricane!

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08When we were here, we walked out onto a lonnnnnngg pier where there were people relaxing and fishing, and I accompanied Lauren on her first step into the Gulf of Mexico!

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07Two days later (the day after we saw New Orleans, tried crawfish, and rode on a streetcar for the first time), we went on a tour of some beautiful plantations near Ashley’s hometown.  First, we stopped for lunch at Cajun Potato, where I had an amazing Chicken ‘N’ Gravy Baked Potato and a lemonade.  It was a weird concept, for a blue jay used to eating bird seed and Maryland crab cakes, but it tasted great.

06Afterwards, we drove to see Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie.  The first part of the plantation you see is its “front yard,” where there are two lines of oak trees that stand a perfect 80 feet apart from one another.  It’s hard to believe people actually lived here … it is definitely bigger than the Admissions office birdhouse that I’m used to!

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05The grounds themselves were gorgeous too, with huge trees, bridges, and well-kept lawns and pathways.  I could’ve stayed there all day but, unfortunately, we had to move on.

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04Another plantation we saw was Laura Plantation.  It was hard to see from the outside because of high fences and a lot of trees, so we climbed the levee across the street to get a better view.  I felt more in my element this high up in the air, even with all the drivers on the road below honking and waving.  It took a while to get used to such friendliness but, now, it’s really weird to fly around and not have the people you pass say hello.

03The next day was all New Orleans!  We had beignets for breakfast, walked through St. Louis Cathedral, had lunch at Red Fish Grille, and spent a lot of time on Bourbon and Royal Streets.  On Bourbon Street, we passed by many bars and clubs, including Bourbon Cowboy … but, apparently, they have stricter rules against letting birds inside than they are anyone else.  It was too bad, but we had fun walking (and flying) around the streets anyway.

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01We also spent a lot of time during the week in Midcity, where one of Ashley’s friends lives, and Uptown, but Downtown was this blue jay’s favorite!

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02After we went everywhere from Mississippi to New Orleans to the Myrtles Plantation out past Baton Rouge (the most haunted house in America), it was really hard to get on the plane to fly back into Philly.  Ashley and her family were SO welcoming and SO hospitable that they made mine and Lauren’s trip even more fun!  New Orleans, even after going through all of the setbacks and all of the drama of the past few years, is on its way to coming back and being even stronger than it was before.  It is thriving, and I contribute it in no small part to the amazing spirits of the Southern people.  Even from our first day in Louisiana, we saw that everyone was so proud to be from the South and, in particular, from Louisiana.  They love where they come from … and, now, I do too!

P.S.  Be sure to check out Lauren’s blog soon to see the rest of the pictures we took on the trip!

1 Comment

  • By Diane, February 13, 2008 @ 1:53 PM

    Anne-Jay is one lucky little bird! I’m glad her encounter with Scruffy turned out okay!

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