28 September 2013

New Orleans & Gulf Shores 2013

As I look at the calendar, it seems like vacation happened a while ago...after we got back (and all in one week mind you), Haven started pre-school, we announced our big news, Arlan traveled to MI for work, & we are in the midst of getting ready for Jr. High Boys & Girl's Camp.

Life picks right back up...

However, this blog is to keep family & friend's from distances in touch & also provide a digital copy of our time as a family so thus you will find MANY pictures below from our trip.

the journal

Leaving on a Friday, we headed to New Orleans via Vicksburg National Military Park staying in the Big Easy on Saturday & Sunday.  New Orleans is a vibrant, busy city and while we found some amazing food, plenty of family friendly activities [the aquarium, a carriage tour through the French Quarter in daytime, trolley rides], beautiful historical homes & a cemetery and did I mention-great food, it most likely won't be a city we will be returning to anytime soon.  Neat memories were made & fun sights were explored.

We then headed to Gulf Shores, Alabama for a 4 day stay at condo we found on VRBO.  This is our 3rd time using VRBO and we again, loved our stay!  On our way out of the city, we scheduled a nature tour with Pearl River Eco Tours---we got a beautiful tour of the bayous seeing some great alligators [Haven's favorite] & amazing foliage.  A bayou is something us Mid-westerner's can hardly grasp...it's sooo different than our topography.

Our condo combination of beach, pool & full kitchen proved a great respite from the city & car riding and Haven was ready to cut loose...she LOVED finding sea shells, spying for dolphins, keeping her eyes out for jelly fishes and then hermit crab hunting at night with a flashlight.  I would love to know the thoughts of a 4 year old after experiencing the ocean yet again.

On our way home, we stopped by Mammoth Caves National Park (can you tell we are BIG national park fans?!) & Abraham Lincoln's birthplace, both in Kentucky.  While we didn't chance a cave tour with Haven quite yet, we do still have it on our travel list to take her [+ siblings] back to one day when older.  We landed in Indianapolis on Saturday night to spend some time with our dear friends, the Bahlers & attend Indy church (which is so friendly & a great church to visit). 

the pictures

the start of 2250 miles

 Vicksburg National Military Park

while many states had smaller monuments in place to honor their fallen soliders, our lovely state had a large basically museum built...and we wonder why we are in the fiscal mess we are :)

a really neat Ironclad named The Cairo...we could actually walk on it & see what naval battles looked liked during Civil War times...it took 2 tons/HOUR for this bad boy to move!

 the Vicksburg cemetery

our first try at riding a trolley on Saturday afternoon...

...and then we realized we missed it & the very unreliable public transport system in New Orleans made us impatient & this was our 2nd try on Sunday morning...

one of her many trolley rides...she LOVED it!

one of my favorite pictures of the trip!  
her fish friends did NOT disappoint at the aquarium :)


On Saturday night, we found a great restaurant Mulate's, which was near our hotel & family-friendly...we went back Sunday night for some dessert and their jazz & dancing and Haven had a BALL!
Not only dancing with her Daddy but also with some very kind people who gave her some great memories!
She & they were crowd favorites!

someone was getting tired...

...riding down Bourbon St. on our horse drawn carriage tour...

...and she lasted right before we turned on to Bourbon St.-perfect timing!

 our eco-tour...alligators were so common & used to the boats and guides, that they expectantly waited for their marshmellows...or hot dogs...depending upon how hungry the guide thought each gator was :)

 our guide, a Louisana version of our friend Lynn Stoller, was hilarious...Pearl River Eco Tour guide by day, jazz musician by night :)

 a house on the bayou...and thus, no property taxes :)

 moss covered bayou water

blue heron

We made it to condo!

 we had a few things to take to our condo :)

And after unloading, we went right down to the beach!

The next day Daddy & Haven set to work making a sand castle...Haven liked to "assist" by digging everywhere & Arlan loved trying to explain fortifications & castle design...it was great!

"I'm going to just relax..." 

Haven made a friend...Ella.

Gulf Shores Pier...

...where we got to see a gentleman catch a Spanish makerel.

Many photos & walks on the beach...


someone got her dress wet :)

 Haven loved chasing the birds :)

ready for the pool!

Trivial Pursuit while we wait for dinner :) 
I know...I know...

 puzzles one morning after breakfast

We toured Ft. Morgan for a few hours one afternoon...

 a great big ship heading into Mobile Bay

 Turns out once we saw Ft. Sumter last fall, Ft. Morgan wasn't all that impressive...especially since, historically speaking, the fort was built in 1833 and was already out-dated by the time Admiral Farragut brought his Union navy into Mobile Bay in 1864.  In fact, David Farragut went right past the fort with his fleet losing only 1 ship and coming back a few weeks later to "capture it".

Having had to do many historical re-enactments solo...it was finally great to have our 3 year old help me "pull along the canons" via the tracks in the fort :)
I know...I know...
[click here for a post on previous "reenactments"]

many a Pooh story was read on our travels

family picture on the ferry

 our van on it's first & probably only, ferry ride...front row-right side.


 our very unhappy hiker when we told her we weren't going in the cave

 While this cabin isn't actually the one Abraham Lincoln was born in, it is a time-period home that would have been similar to his...it was surprisingly tall (see Haven for reference) & would have been lofted for food or growing families. Abe had only 1 sibling, a sister-Sarah, unusual for the time.

 last stop...Indy!

 love these kiddos!
Sadly, I didn't get any pictures of the darling Olivia!

tub time!

story time