After we left New Orleans we decided to swing by and old famous plantation I've wanted to visit for YEARS.
This is Oak Alley Plantation. Isn't it amazing?
Even now I still can't believe we actually were able to visit this place. Living up in Alaska I just got to thinking most of these neat places I'd dreamed of visiting would only ever be a dream.
I really do love our life. God has blessed us incredibly. Even the boys had a great time.
These trees are 300 yr old "Live Oaks" that were planted sometime in the early 1700's. They have a life expectancy of 600 years.
Seems like a long time doesn't it?
I wondered why they were calling them "Live Oaks" - I guess live oaks don't go dormant in the winter but stay green and growing all year long. The person who planted them in the alley formation that stretches over a quarter of a mile didn't build this house and never got the benefit of such grandeur. Bummer for that guy.
The house is a greek-revival style antebellum home. The strangest tidbit we learned was that one of the owners use to open the front and back doors and hold horse races where the horses raced right through the main hall of the home. They raced in the front and out the back door (or vice versa, I'm not sure), totally destroying the original marble floors. The guy must have been insane.
This was absolutely worth the side trip, if your in the area you can't miss seeing this place.
We were able to stop in and spend a few days in New Orleans. Wow. What a town that is!
We stayed at an RV park inside the French Quarter called "The French Quarter RV Resort". Although it was more expensive than we would usually pay, 1.) it was within walking distance from the center of it all, 2.) it was a bit like a fortress with high walls and 24 hour security, and 3.) they had loads of amenities which worked perfect for a 2 night stay. Getting to sink into a steamy hot tub was SO nice. One of the few things I miss about our house is my soaker tub. I took some photo's around the park if you're curious, click here to see the first photo and then hit "Newer" just above and to the right of the photo to see the rest of the park.
When we rolled into New Orleans it was getting dark but as we drove by the back wall of the RV park we saw a high brick wall with crumbling tomb roofs peaking out over the top. I have never seen a New Orleans style cemetery with tombs, it was even weirder to see such a little peak of decay.
In New Orleans the water table is said to be to high to bury people underground, so they are laid to rest in above ground tombs.
I really wanted to go see the cemetery the next day. When I asked the receptionist at the RV park about it she and another guy both said we should not go into that cemetery AT ALL. Not even in the day. I have to admit I was a bit annoyed at that answer. We were really in awe with the sneak peak we had seen, how could we not see the rest?? She explained that the RV park was right on the edge of the French quarter, the other half of the park faced "Tremes", one of the worst area's of New Orleans (according to her). She said the projects lined the side of that cemetery and was full of crime. She repeated back to me like 3 times, "do not go over there".
That wasn't what I was wanting to hear.
I went back to the RV and googled and googled and found the cemetery is called St Louis Cemetery No. 2. and dates back to 1823. From what little we saw, it looked that old. One website said of all the cemetery's in New Orleans this one was in the worst shape, not because of hurricane Katrina but because of it's location. I also saw a few of the websites warned not to go into this particular cemetery claiming the location was in such a high crime area. I just couldn't imagine people just standing by in the middle of the day waiting to pounce on those wanting to visit a cemetery. Call me naive, call me stupid, call me sheltered, but I just kept thinking people must be making a mountain out of a mole hill by saying one shouldn't visit a cemetery in the middle of the afternoon. In the middle of broad daylight. In the middle of a city. After all I didn't run across any reports of people being robbed in the cemetery...
So the next day we drove by and saw people in the cemetery taking pictures and touring as we had wanted. One lady looked like she was from Wisconsin wearing a cute patterned sweater. So we decided it looked like a pretty safe crowd to join.
I'm so glad we were able to see it.
What a strange and amazing walk that was. We've really never seen such a place. We are not at all into cemetery's, the dead, or even horror shows - this just seemed different. Historic. I don't think I've ever been in such an old place - aside from the earth itself.
Beauty within disrepair.
Apparently each tomb doesn't belong to one person, but whole families. When a person dies they are laid to rest in the family tomb. After two years there is said to be nothing but bones left. One website said it can get up to 800 degrees in those things (wondering if that could really be true?) to explain the quick decomposition.. So anytime after that 2 years (some cemetery's only require a 1 year wait) the family can open up the tomb once the next family member passes away. I guess they just move the previous persons bones to the back or off to the side and put in the next person in. Wait the period of time deemed by the cemetery and you can add another deceased family member. And so on for centuries.
It was just mind blowing.
Some of the tombs were in good shape, but many were crumbling down. A few very old were even crumbled open and 2 even showed the bones. Not laid out, but a big heap. Left like that for years. One tomb we saw had so many buried in it the bones were a couple feet deep inside. I just couldn't believe such a place existed in the U.S. Our walk through the cemetery can be found here, but be warned 2 of the photos show the bones.
It was amazing, yet chilling, and sobering.
And I haven't even told you of all the strange voodoo practices that involve certain tombs. Such a different place New Orleans is....
Anyway, enough of graves and cemetery's. We were able to tour the French Quarter...
The Garden District....
Tremes, which has so much beauty in the old buildings, many of which were abandoned.
Just about every part of New Orleans was like visiting a completely different world from Alaska. I'd love to go back and explore the city more someday.
It's taken me a few days but I said I would share my step dad's oyster rockefeller recipe, and here it is. This is a divinely rich appetizer that we prefer to eat for dinner. It's that good. In fact I don't like oysters at all, but cooked and dressed up this way, I'll eat them all day long. Yum.
First off your gonna need plenty of fresh oysters. 2-3 dozen would heartily feed 2 for dinner, maybe even leave some extra's. A restaurant usually gives 6 as an appetizer. You decide how many you'd need for your family and we'll move on to prep....
Next your gonna need to scrub any sand or mud off the shells. If you don't, it can get into the oyster later and provide a gritty crunch you won't enjoy with your meal, lol.
Next your gonna need to get the oyster shell open (also known as "shucking an oyster"). You'll need an oyster knife similar to what I have in the photo. Actually if I were gonna do this often I would get a better oyster knife, the one I have shown above wasn't all that great, but did get the job done.
Find a clean rag you don't care about and hold the oyster in it to protect your hand from being cut or scratched up.
Instead of opening the oyster where it naturally opens in the front, open it at the back end (as shown above), believe it or not it's much easier at that end. Put the knife in between the two shells, and twist. It should pop right open. Every once in a while you'll get an oyster that is impossible to get open, even with the knife - in that case pop it in the oven for 3-4 minutes (not any longer or it will dry out). It kills the oyster and relaxes the muscle that keeps the shell closed, you still have to use the knife though.
Each oyster has 2 shells, one half is flatter, the other is a bit deeper. Sometimes it's hard to tell but there's always a difference. It's best to leave the oyster on the shell that's deeper so you have more dish to hold the toppings your adding later. Throw the other shell away.
You'll need to use the knife to scrap the oyster off the half shell you'll be throwing away.
Now you have oysters on the half shell. Make sure you rinse off any dirt that may have gotten on the oyster, get rid of excess water in the shell and place on a cookie sheet.
Next is time to add the pesto sauce. You can use any recipe or even buy it at the store. The following is my step dad's recipe and I can tell you it's amazing!
1 Bag Spinach (more or less)
1 Bunch of Cilantro
1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
3 Tbsp Mayonnaise
1 Cup Kraft Parmesan Cheese (Finely Grated)
Salt & Pepper to taste
OPTIONAL: a few tbsp sour cream, finely chopped walnuts, or finely chopped pinenuts.
Throw everything listed above in a food processor (blending one at a time) until it’s almost pasty and you have pesto sauce
Cover oysters with a spoonful of pesto sauce (more or less adjusting to size of oyster) and as much freshly grated parmesan cheese as you can pack on. Bake at 400 for 14 minutes.
Here's what it should look like when you pull it out of the oven. Best eaten hot. Enjoy!
We made it out of Carrabelle and headed for a small detour before going west. Someone at the RV park had said St. George Island was a neat place to go and get sea shells. Carrabelle's beach didn't have much for variety so it kinda perked my ears up when he mentioned more shell variety to collect. The kids think any kind of sea shell is better than gold, lol.
The bridge to the Island was rather enormous, and has a big hill right in the center so the taller boats can pass under. I really wanted a good picture from a distance so we pulled off to the side of the road in a little, little town called Eastpoint which is right before the turn off to the island.
If you look you can just barely see the bridge along the horizon.
So then I start noticing my surroundings a bit more - the buildings around, the boats around, just about everything looked like it falling to the ground or rotting away. I spotted this boat and it seemed to just call out to me. Doesn't it just make you wanna go wash it?? Probably needs a lot more than a good scrubbing.
I always wonder what the story is when I see stuff like this.
So then I started to walk back to the truck and hear some clinking under my feet.... This is when I noticed the entire beach and parking lot was not dirt, but solid oyster shells.
So I walked over to the next few lots and find they are all made of oyster shells... With excess to add to that - piled up in corners,
and under buildings. They were everywhere. A few locals said they even used them for building up their driveways.
I just can't get over how odd that was.
So then it hits me we should find some fresh local oysters to have for dinner tonight and boy was I ever surprised! We found a place just down the road that sold us between 4 and 5 dozen fresh live oysters for a grand total of $8.50! I don't mean per dozen, but all together! Do you know how much fresh live oysters go for in Alaska?? We would have paid almost $80 for that same amount! I told the lady behind the counter that and I'm quite certain she didn't believe a word of it, lol! Who would believe a $70 mark up? Anyway we made Oyster Rockefeller with them which turned out Awesome. I'll share the recipe in the next post.
Anyway here's a few shots of St. George Island and the loot we picked up there!
We had such a great Christmas this year. We woke up Christmas morning and had a good time opening up presents, being cozy in our jammies and just moving slow. I love having days where I get to move slow and I love our home, it's just so cozy and Christmas day had reminded of that all day long.
It took us forever to get moving but after a little play time, we finally got dressed and headed out to go beach combing. Finding shells and exploring the beach is so much fun for all of us. And when we got down there Marty pointed out that we WERE having a white Christmas afterall - white sand that is....
It was a bit chilly but our sweatshirts kept us warm. Well, LJ got cold and stole daddies sweatshirt. Which is funny seeing an extra large hooded sweatshirt on a 2 yr old who still wears 18 month clothing. LJ looked a bit like an ewok running around in that huge sweatshirt. All you could see was the shirt with little red boots sticking out the bottom. BJ was the only one brave enough to get his feet in the water, I think he would have walked in a lot further if I had let him. He carried the shell bucket proudly and was ready to pack every shell on that beach home. I kept having to remind him that we needed to leave some for the other little boys that might be out to go shell hunting later, to which he'd say something like "Oh. Yeah!"
We even found a few empty horseshoe crab shells! This was the bigger one we found, although the front was broken, it was still very cool to find. A bit like the Sherman tanks of crab shells, don't you think?
Pete was a bit like a kid in a candy store. The beach is his favorite place, in THE WORLD. This photo makes me laugh because he was just running so fast. He'd get ahead of us just a tad, and turn back and rip by us like a fighter jet buzzing the tower. We clearly weren't moving fast enough for him so this was his way of staying close and getting his fun in. Just look at his face, it's got FUN written all over it, lol!
I'm tellin ya, this RV park is one of the best parks we've stayed at. The town is very small and not much to it, but the RV park is right on the beach, all paved,
has a pool, laundry, dog run,
it's own playground - and with it being winter we nearly had the place to ourselves.
I'd really like to come back to this place in the summer when we can go swimming. It's been a bit cold around here, and even got down to 20 degrees Fahrenheit one night. Brrrr.
Carrabelle is a neat little town on the water too. I wish I had the chance to explore it more but I guess that will leave something to do on our next visit, lol.
It's been odd too because most of the houses along the beach are on stilts.
Very weird to see, but just right for storms and rising waters.
Many of the buildings are empty. I asked a local about it and he said during the peak housing boom people were buying, building and selling like crazy. He said houses were selling for more than double what they were worth now. Unfortunately it all came to a bitter end when the economy took a dive. He mentioned many houses and new developments around town that were brand new and completely empty - empty and for sale for ages now.
This is one of the places he mentioned.
It has it's own dock that went on forever.
The whole complex is pretty big, brand new, very nice looking, and completely deserted. Kinda sad and eerie all at once.
I have more beach pictures to share from Christmas, I'll try and post them ASAP.