Miles or Memories :: Part Two begins at Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Lousiana which is only an hours drive from Downtown New Orleans. The area of Vacherie boasts a number of Antebellum plantations to visit, however, Oak Alley Plantation is the Grandma of them all:-) Built in 1837 by the Roman family it sits on the Missippi River and the alley of nearly one hundred Live Oaks were planted over a century before the house was built. It isn’t known who planted the trees, but they obviously had a grand idea of what was to come. We reached Oak Alley in the morning as it opened and we were so fortunate to claim images of the “alley” without any other people present. One very nice gentleman followed us all around as I shot and Geri took notes so that he wouldn’t compromise the images. That was very kind:-)
The tour of the house was wonderful and our guide was exceptional in her knowledge of the family who built the house and those that lived there until now. It was so obvious that she truly enjoyed sharing her stories of the Roman family with others and especially enjoyed the great reveal of the view from the upstairs balcony. It truly is a magnificent home and those that work there do an exceptional job bring the past to life.
The view that most folks come to see….
After touring the home we made our way to the back of the property and toured the slave quarters that allowed you to imagine how the other half lived their lives.
The Oak Alley Restaurant is located on the grounds in a cottage at the back of the property. We had such a wonderful morning walking the property and going on the tour, we really didn’t want it to end. We had a wonderful lunch of Shrimp Creole and a Baked Oysters dish. While waiting for lunch to arrive, we were chatting up the two couples sitting next to us who were visiting from Texas. They were sweet enough to let me photograph their meals as well to give us a variety!!
And why not have some more dessert…we’d been walking all morning…we deserved it, right? RIGHT!
Our time spent at Oak Alley was spectacular, but we had to leave New Orleans and make out way to the next pit stop, Austin. The drive through the swamp lands was a bit taxing but Austin made up for it!! We made it to Geri’s daughter, Lyndsey’s apartment….rested up that evening and went full force the next day. Lyndsey is a student at St. Edward’s University in Austin and in a short amount of time has learned that Austin is a WAY cool city. She had plenty to show us. We toured the St. Edward’s campus and I fell in love with the “Main Building”. I didn’t check, but I hope this is named after someone called “Main”, otherwise it seems really funny that a building with this much character would be called the Main Building:-)
On the grounds of this Catholic university is a Grotto that is a praying space dedicated to the Virgin Mary. A scaled down version of the Grotto at Notre Dame and the inspiration for both places of prayer comes from the Shrine to the Blessed Virgin in Lourdes, France.
After our collegiate tour we headed to South Congress Ave. just south of downtown to take in all of the fun and quirky stores and restaurants that line the avenue. It reminds me of Broad Ripple in Indy a bit. Just fun, eclectic, interesting stops for use to spend a wonderful afternoon.
We eventually made our way to downtown Austin. We committed ourselves to a self guided tour of the Texas State Capitol and I was blown away by the beauty of this structure. I have always thought that the Indiana State Capitol building was beautiful. I loved taking my fourth graders there each year to conclude our study of Indiana History. When they say that everything is bigger in Texas…they ain’t kiddin’. Each area of the building was impressive form the Senate chambers to the House of Representatives…a wonderful building to conduct the states business. Definitely worth the visit.
As we hugged and kissed Lyndsey goodbye the next day, we were bound and determined to reach our final destination of Gilbert, Arizona. Google maps estimated that we would reach our destination in 14 hours. We decided that we would not make any pitstops except for food, coffee, gas and bathroom breaks. We would be traveling through the Texas Hill Country and it would prove a bit challenging. We hadn’t even been driving an hour when one of the brown National State Parks signs alerted us that we would be passing Lyndon B. Johnson’s Ranch in Johnson City. It was a sign…literally and figuratively….we had only abandoned our Miles or Memories? mantra for one hour and someone was telling us to get back with the program. We decided to stop at the Information Center and see what was on “the tour”. The Lyndon B. Johnson National Historic Park consists of his boyhood home, the cemetery where LBJ, Lady Bird and other family members are laid to rest, and the Johnson Settlement which was established by LBJ’s grandfather as a cattle droving headquarter. All interesting and gives a wonderful perspective of a very interesting man. Regardless of your beliefs or theories about LBJ and his ties to JFK, this man assumed the responsibilities of our nation and brought many meaningful legislation to fruition. I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of learning a bit more about the man who lived in the Texas White House. We spent the next two hours touring the entire property driving through 1500 acres of LBJ’s Ranch. Even LBJ’s JetStar plane that he used during his vice presidency and presidency is on display on the grounds.
After spending two hours on the ranch it was finally time to make a beeline for Arizona. The adventures that my SFAM and I had this time were extraordinary. I love the idea of meandering through this great country of ours and seeing all that it has to offer. It was an incredible journey and I so look forward to our next adventure!!