Preparing for our trip to Louisiana was much easier than preparing for our trips overseas. I know that anything I forget I can easily pick up with our rental car at the local Walmart. What I did not prepare for, however, was the culture shock.
|This helicopter flew missions in Vietnam. Now it is part of a Veteran’s Memorial in Lake Charles|
I have visited Louisiana before- but it’s been 15 years. It was the first airplane trip I took without my parents, and it was a swimming trip. I spent most of my time with fellow Californians, and was charmed by the sweet waitresses that called us “Honey” and “Sugar”. We spent most of our time in Baton Rouge and New Orleans, both bigger cities, and had a wonderful time. Other than that, I haven’t spent much time in the South.
|WWII tank… Landon was both excited, and scared that it was going to run over him|
That being said, I feel the same out-of-place feeling I feel in other countries here in my own country! Everyone’s accent is so thick and the pace of life is much slower than even in the small town in California where I grew up. Traffic moves slower, people move slower, grocery lines move slower. After the hyper hustle and bustle of life in Chicago, this pace will take some getting used to. There are tons of refineries and other factories here, so I think the population primarily either works at the plants and refineries or in supporting industries for the refineries. All the towns around here are pretty small, and I think people are fairly sedentary in general. Landon and I went to a few different parks and did not see kids or people there. Everyone is different from me here!
|Old City Hall, Lake Charles|
On the flip side, the parks themselves are amazing! I don’t know if they were funded by the citizens, refineries, or casinos, but these park play areas are like nothing I’ve ever seen. After spending the past few months in the extreme cold of Chicago, or in Indonesia where there are not parks, it is a welcome sight to see a park that I know Landon could enjoy for hours on end.
There are also many nature trails and reserves nearby that are said to have lots of wildlife, especially alligators. We have yet to see one, but we will continue our search! Outside of the town areas, there are lots of acres of forest and swampy bayou so that is the scenery as we drive around. It is flat, but also quite beautiful!
|Courthouse, Lake Charles|
We are staying in Sulphur, LA because that is where there is a nicer extended stay hotel with a kitchen. Sulphur has a nice aquatic center that I’m really excited to visit. It has a small museum that talks about the history of the town. And that’s it.
|Another shot of the awesome dome|
Lake Charles, on the other hand, is about 10 minutes down the road and is full of fun things to do! To reach the town, we have to go over this very tall, very steep bridge. It is a little scary, but it is so tall and so steep so that oil tankers can pass under them to the refineries up the river/lake. There are many unique, historic homes and buildings that I want to go back and explore further. I saw two amazing parks in my little drive through town, so I’m excited to see what else is in store there. A navy ship is a floating museum, and of course, we will be indulging in some delicious Cajun food.
|Lake Charles Courthouse|