Louisiana Wrap-up

Puddle jumping in the parking lot
We are all settled in here in the Netherlands and WOW! it is awesome. I am hesitant to start on a bunch of posts about Europe when I still have some thoughts to post about our time in Louisiana, as well as my left-over phone pictures of Landon. In my first impressions post, I think I commented on how people are just a little rough around the edges down here. Looking back, there were all sorts of people in Louisiana, but the ones that stayed at our hotel were mostly staying longer term working construction or at the refineries and plants, so that might be why I thought that at first. Church was amazing, the people here are so generous, loving, and kind. They invited me to their homes, lent Landon some Thomas trains to play with, and even kept me in the loop on park play dates going on during the week. Landon made friends with a little girl and boy that were precious and he talked about them incessantly while we were there. Actually, he still talks about them and the Thomas trains… It was definitely the warmest reception we’ve ever had from a ward, and it was much appreciated. 
We discovered Landon likes to eat butter!
We also really enjoyed going to the library every week. The local library actually gave me a library card that allowed me to check out three books per week, even though I did not have a proof of address. Landon loved reading different books each week and even memorized some of them. The library was smaller than our home library in Elk Grove Village, but the storytime program each Monday was well done and Landon had a great time doing puzzles, playing with the toy house, and the plastic elephant that we found there each week. 
In a place where there was not a ton of sightseeing to do, we found that we could walk or run to the library, grocery store, and pool and we did that each week. Landon took “swim lessons” each week and became more comfortable with floating on his back with less support. He also worked on independent gliding and front floating. It was a great set up because I could pay the entry fee for the rec center, take Landon to the free childcare, go swim, retrieve him from childcare, and get him ready for swimming. We both got our exercise and were refreshed afterwards. I had not swam for exercise in many months, so I gradually worked up to 2500m before we left. Now it will probably be months before I can swim laps again!
The weather ended up being slightly different from what I was anticipating. At our hotel it was always windy, and it was very cold for 1-2 weeks of our stay (not getting above 50 during the day). I was anticipating lots of park time and enjoying the outdoors, but when it was warmer than 50 it was raining. We braved the weather as best we could, but that was something that I was not prepared for before we got there. Because it was cold, the alligators were not quite out yet in force. Near the Lake Charles visitor’s center, where the above and below picture were taken, is an alligator pond. We went by that pond several times looking for the elusive gators. Finally, the day before our departure, we went back to the pond and saw all of the gators enjoying the nice sunny, warm day. Landon wanted to go back to the visitor’s center because last time we were there, there was a Mardi Gras float designing competition. One of the floats was Frozen themed, so he called it the “Frozen place!” I had to keep telling him that the Frozen float would not be there anymore because it was too far past Mardi Gras. That kid’s memory is scary sometimes. 
Gator topiary at the visitor’s center

I think I will devote a whole post to Cajun food, but I would like to announce here that it was tasty. If I ate it every day I think I would weight 300 lbs, but for an occasional treat it was quite yummy. Landon did not quite have the taste for all the spicy food though he thoroughly enjoyed the french fries that always came with his kid’s meal.

I was excited to be near a beach here in Louisiana, but again I was surprised by the beach itself. People could drive on the beach, and it was fairly polluted with trash. It is flat as a pancake down by the gulf- there was very little change in elevation from the beach to the road to the marshes and lakes beyond. That was odd for me! The wind was always very strong right by the water which cut our beach trips short most days. I love beaches because they are like giant sand boxes for toddler boys with trucks but with the cold and the wind and the rain, we did not spend as much time there as I had originally thought. 
Doormat at the visitor’s center…

Although things were not quite what I was expecting down in Louisiana, we enjoyed our time there. Because of the sheer number of industry jobs in the area, there is a chance that we could end up on the Gulf again someday for Austin’s work. I would be OK with that.

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