Louisiana To Florida

On January 22 we left Arkansas and drove south into Louisiana. Our whole family are big fans of the show “Duck Dynasty” so we wanted to explore West Monroe a little bit.  We camped there for a few nights and had fun checking out some of the places you see in the show.  Our first night there we went to Excalibur Family Fun Center which is like a Chuck E. Cheese….you use tokens to play games and you eat mediocre pizza.  It was pretty fun though!  One morning we picked up donuts at Haskell’s Donuts and they were delicious!!!  A trip to West Monroe wouldn’t be complete without stopping by the Duck Commander warehouse and then on Sunday we attended White Ferry Baptist Church which is also where the Robertsons go.  We did see quite a few members of their family there which was pretty cool, but we liked the church even more for what it was….very welcoming, enthusiastic in worship and a Bible preaching church.  We would definitely go back if we are ever in that part of Louisiana again.

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Excalibur Family Fun Center

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Our family at the Duck Commander Warehouse  (Ben doesn’t usually wear Lance’s white t-shirt, but diapers don’t always do their job and then it becomes necessary to wear other clothes!)

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Lance didn’t actually talk to Willie….it just looks like they are best of friends!

After leaving West Monroe we crossed into Jackson, Mississippi to see their capital. We only stayed one night there and then went back into Louisiana.  We headed south to Baton Rouge for a stop at the capital.  There was quite a bit of construction going on near the capital building so we ended up parking with the camper a couple of blocks away at a spot that happened to be right in front of the governor’s mansion.  We walked as close as we could to the capital and did the picture thing and then started back to the car.  The kids had lots of energy from being in the car for a few hours so they were running all around on the grass and chasing birds.  Next thing we know Ben is playing and climbing on the fence that surrounds the governor’s mansion.  Within about one minute we had secret service vehicles boxing in our car and camper and three guys in black suits asking us who we were and what we were doing.  After answering their questions and them realizing that we were not a threat (except to peace and quiet!) they got a little less stern and asked us about our trip.  We left there with two bags of freshly made chocolate chip cookies from the governor’s chef which we enjoyed while driving to New Orleans.

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The Governor’s Mansion in Louisiana

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The would-be intruder

We camped just outside of New Orleans and were very excited to have Lance’s parents and sister meet up with us there. We looked forward to exploring the city together.  First we did some driving by the pretty historic houses and then stopped to walk through an old cemetery.  After that we parked downtown and walked around the French Quarter, Bourbon Street and Jackson Square.  We really enjoyed listening to the street musicians, especially Ben….we could hardly pull him away.  Joe even sat down and played his tuba for awhile….he ended up with $3 in his Zeeland Chix hat when he was done.  We ended our time downtown with beignets  from the famous Café Du Monde .  It was a delicious way to end our day in New Orleans.

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Elise walking through the cemetery

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Three generations of Kornoeljes….so cute!

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Our favorite musicians

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Our family on Bourbon Street

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This guy had Ben, Elise and Abby dancing

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Joe playing his tuba with Sam holding the music

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Aunt Alecia with Ben saying HI to the horses

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The whole crew at the end of the day

On Friday we went on a swamp boat ride. We saw a few alligators out in the wild, lots of turtles , pretty birds and some pretty big fish.  The captain of the boat took out a huge snapping turtle shell and alligator head for everyone to touch and pass around.  Then he pulled out a real alligator that we all had a chance to hold.  Ben was so exicted…..I’m pretty sure that alligator never got so many hugs as he did from Ben that day!  Sam was having the time of his life too, later he told us that the boat ride was his favorite thing so far on this road trip!

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Starting out on the boat ride

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There’s an alligator in the water right in the middle of the picture

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Ben caught feeding the alligator cheetos

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I would guess that this alligator has never felt so loved!

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Sam in his glory!

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Elise helping Ben wear the snapping turtle shell

Well, Mardi Gras was just getting started in New Orleans so it was time for those of us with young children to get out of town!  We drove to Mobile, Alabama for one night and then on to Montgomery the next day to see the capital.  We really wanted to teach the kids a little about civil rights while there.  Lance did a short history lesson as we drove to Selma, Alabama.  We all learned a lot about Bloody Sunday and the courageous people there who got back on that bridge afterwards and bravely walked across.   ***Just as a sidenote….Lance and I watched the movie “Selma” to preview it and then watched it again with Joe and Abby.  Even though it has some bad language and some very violent scenes, we felt it was a great way for them to see what life in the south would have been like for black people back then and also how important MLK and the march were in the fight for civil rights.

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While in Mobile we went to Lambert’s for dinner….home of the throwed rolls

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Lance ordered frog legs for everyone to try….by the look on Sam’s face I think we can assume that he was a little grossed out!

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The Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama

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Walking across the bridge

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Sam and Elise checking our a mural at a memorial park near the bridge

After leaving Alabama it was time to enter the Sunshine State….Florida! And, boy were we ready for that!!  We stayed one night in Tallahassee to see the capital and then headed down to Orlando.  Lance’s parents and sister stayed with us for a few more nights there.  Before they headed home we were able to meet up with Lance’s brother and his family.  They happened to be on a short vacation to Clearwater, Florida.  Before meeting them for supper we went to the Clearwater Marine Aquarium for the afternoon and had fun seeing sea turtles, otters and sting rays….but the highlight was seeing the dolphins.  Winter and Hope are the inspiration for the movies Dolphin Tale and Dolphin Tale 2.  We had fun watching a show with a different dolphin and left there A LOT more wet than when we arrived!

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Rosemary on the dolphin

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Ben was loving this turtle

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Hope is the dolphin on the left, Winter is on the right

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Sam asked them to make the dolphin splash….and boy did he get wet!!

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Touching the sting rays

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Lovely cousins

The next morning we said good bye to Rich, Barb and Alecia and they started their drive back to snowy Michigan.

On Friday morning Elise woke up with an extra spring in her step and very quickly was ready for the day….her motivation???? It was her special day, the day Lance was taking her to the Magic Kingdom for her Christmas present!  They were there all day and managed to fit in quite a bit….a trip to the Bibbity Bobbity Boutique to have her hair and make-up done, riding all of her top choice rides and having dinner with Cinderella and her princess friends in the castle.  She came home exhausted, but so very happy!

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At the beginning of her wonderful day

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Elise enjoying the rides at the Magic Kingdom

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Elise and Cinderella

The next week was a really nice one. We had gotten a good deal on a house for rent in Kissimmee so we moved in there on Saturday.  What a nice treat to have a break from trailer living and we were all very content to just retreat to different areas of the house and enjoy some solitude (a very rare thing in the camper!).  Lance needed to fly to Kansas City for much of that week for a customer visit. The kids and I missed him, but  just enjoyed the house and pool in sunny Florida without him.  We sure were glad to have him back home at the end of that week though!

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Enjoying the pool at our house for the week

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Reading books together

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In the camper we don’t really bake because the oven doesn’t cook very evenly so it was really nice to make some chocolate chip cookies…..this guy couldn’t wait!

On Saturday, February 13th, we had to leave the house and move back into our camper.  We stayed one more night in a campground near Orlando and then started driving south.  I’ll tell you all about it next time…….

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