quite possibly the creepiest souvenir ever
Did you miss me? Please say yes because I have a strong need for validation and love. Last week was Spring Break so our family went on a vacation to New Orleans, Louisiana. The trip didn't disappoint and not just because it was 40 degrees warmer down there. (Come on Iowa. Snow in mid-March? Really?)
Anyway, our family is always insane when it comes to doing and seeing everything we can, so instead of writing your eyes out (which I'm assuming is the reading equivalent of talking your ears off) I'm going to showcase a snippet of our trip: the bayou.
We went about forty minutes outside of New Orleans to the Honey Island swamp for this totally awesome experience. Before I start, though, I want to show you this bridge right near our boat launch. When Hurricane Katrina hit on 2005, guess how high the water level got.
All the way up to that cute little station house. I'm guessing that's at least thirty feet up. Needless to say, we saw quite a few new homes that had been raised up on stilts. Here's one we saw right on the river:
P.S. It's still a bit lower than that station house.
Anyway, let's get to the tour. We saw a ton of alligators like this one here:
I'm sorry if it's a little blurry. I had to really use the zoom on my camera to get this shot.
I didn't have to use the zoom on this one, though I admit, for a moment, I had the urge to wet my pants. I will say no more.
We also saw a mama boar with two little piglets -- or are they boarlets? I refuse. That sounds weird.) We fed them marshmallows. (We fed the alligators, too.) Here's a shot of the mama going after one. So fun to watch.
We also saw turtles,herons, snakes and some beautiful flowers. Did you know the fleur-de-lis, the official symbol of Louisiana, is based off a stylized iris lily? They grow wild in the swamp. Don't believe me? Take a peek.
Still, the coolest thing we saw had to be the merman. You heard me. I said, merman!
Oh, come on now. It's me. You KNEW I'd have to throw something goofy in here. Like this coffee I found in a store:
The blocked out word is "HECK." Promise.
And the most adorable voodoo dolls. There are a ton of these things. I predict they'll be the next craze.
Now, of course, not all voodoo dolls are cute. Here's one that looked so lonely and pathetic, I had to buy him. His name is Stan.
Seriously, he looks so horrifically shocked and dismayed by life. I felt he needed a good home.
But I'll stop now. Just let it be known that we had a fabulous time during our entire trip. And now I'm back and it sucks. This snow has REALLY overstayed its welcome.
Take me back to New Orleans!!
I just got home from a two week vacation and I just can't wait to sleep with my husband. Get your mind out of the gutter. What I mean is I've been sleeping with a twitchy kid in my bed for fourteen days straight.
When we stay at a hotel, the kids hate sharing beds with each other. They say, "It's gross." They also seem to 'accidentally' elbow each other in the jaw, so we don't mind separating them.
Still, what that usally means for me are nights filled with errant kicks and blanket tug-of-wars. It has turned me into one tired pup, which is why there won't be much writing in this post.
Instead, I've decided to share some of the unecessary junk we crammed into our suitcases. No trip is complete without a nail-biting scene at the airline counter where you worry whether or not your suitcase is too heavy.
So here I go. Below is a list of the ridiculous stuff we bought. May it shock and awe you.
To start, here's a cute button I just had to have...
One of my sons found a cute button , too. Unfortunately, we had to take it away from him because he poked his brother with the pin in the back. And, no, the irony is not lost on me.
A cute wristlet I found...
You can take the girl out of Iowa, but you can't take Iowa out of the girl.
My absolute favorite find: Action Figure Jesus!
I have to say, he has already come in handy. Just look what he did as soon as we got home!
Though we could have just eaten these instead...
That's right -- "All Natural!"
We got a few t-shirts, as well. This has to be my favorite:
In case you can't read this it says, "Confidence is the feeling you have before you fully understand the situation."
And, finally, let me share this goofy little thing we found in the Microsoft gift shop. Just squeeze the cow's belly and the foam ball shoots out of its mouth. How's that for awesome? If only I could find a way to demonstrate. Hmmm....
Oh, no. Not Action Figure Jesus?! That would be sacrilege!
WAIT. I don't believe it. Is this a miracle I see before my eyes?!
...I think I hear angels singing in the background....
Holy deflection! It IS a miracle! That Action Figure Jesus is one tough dude!
Okay, that was too cool. I think I'll going to play with Jesus a little more.
Until next time,
This post is going to be more of a rolling train of thought than a literary masterpiece because, a) I’ve still got a travel hangover from our Spring Break trip and b) I’m depressed because I’ve been using Rimmel’s Lash Accelerator for almost two months and my lashes still look nothing like Zoey Deschanel’s. Thinking on it now, though, that may be for the best. Is it me, or in the commercials doesn’t it look like she’s having trouble keeping her eyes open? Those lashes must weigh a ton.
Anyway, the lack in flow will be more than made up for by the wealth of knowledge I will share with you now. If you’re young, it will lift you to a higher level of enlightenment (lie). If you're old, like me, it will make you nod nostalgically in remembrance (no lie).
Anyway here it is.
Our car looked like this. Sweet ride, huh?
When I was young, most of our family travelling was done between the mid-Seventies and mid-Eighties. Back then families rarely flew on a plane. In relative dollars, air fare was about twice as much as it is now and gas was a little cheaper. If you went on vacation, chances are you drove. That’s what my family did.
The car ride? Boy, it was different than now. First of all, we had freedom. Seat belts had been in cars for years, but people didn’t use them often. That began in 1984, when states started passing seat belt laws. There also weren’t many car seats. Those came in the mid Eighties, too. Young kids used something similar to a booster seat. When we were babies, our parents put us in little beds that were held steady by a big prong that nestled into the back seam of the seat.
While travelling, kids held reign over the entire area behind the car’s front seat. In our family, we got half of the cargo area of our station wagon, so we made a 'fort' and took turns using it. There were three of us, so the remaining two had to share the large back seat. It looked like a couch. There were no bucket seats. Up front, the seat was the same. There weren’t two seats with a break in the middle -- no cup holders or storage compartments. In fact, there were no cup holders at all. There were ash trays that went unused. When cup holders replaced them the world rejoiced, at least the non-smokers did.
As for what we did in the car? We didn’t have Gameboys, Nintendo DS, etc. There were no IPods or portable DVD players, either. (Heck, we didn’t have regular DVD players!) In fact, few cars had anything more than a radio, maybe an 8-track tape player. Later cars had cassette players. How luxurious. For fun we would read, write or draw, or look for license plates from other states. We would also play the Alphabet Game, where we’d hunt for letters of the alphabet in order on billboards, road signs and other cars.
Oops. Wrong 'billboard.'
Speaking of billboards, they were plastered all over. There are much fewer of them today. There were more because we didn’t have those blue ‘FOOD’ and ‘LODGING’ road signs that listed businesses at every exit. Not that there were tons of food options anyway. Highways had no fast food at every turn. There are twice as many McDonalds now as there were back then. We always had sandwiches in a cooler.
One thing we had more of was hitchhikers. The practice had not been outlawed. We never picked up one. Our car was full, plus a lot of them looked pretty scary. Still, there were a few that looked just fine. We hoped they made it to where they were going. I had a friend whose sister didn’t. That’s a story I’ll never forget.
One other thing I remember was all the trash alongside the road. People chucked their junk out the window. You’d even see garbage bags in the ditches. It was just plain gross. The Crying Indian changed all that. If you don’t know about this American icon, here is a commercial:
The “Keep American Beautiful” movement took off. No one wanted to be a ‘litter bug.’
But let’s get back to technology. There were no ATMs, though credit cards had become fairly prevalent. People used cash and Traveller’s Checks, both of which you got at your bank.
As for cell phones? I wish! If you broke down, things looked grim. Instead, there were pay phones at every major business. Hotel reservations were made in advance. That is, unless you wanted to try you luck. Many people did. One year, while my family was travelling home from Colorado we drove home without a plan. On the west side of Kansas, we started looking for a hotel. All of them were booked. It took three hours later and many miles before we found a motel. The seedy place charged by the hour. We didn't touch anything. My mom refused to let us crawl under the sheets. We spread our coats on the bed and slept on top.
GPS devices didn’t exist, either. Everyone used maps. There was no internet, so there was no MapQuest or a quick way to find hotels. Mobil, AAA and Fodor all had guidebooks with listings of hotels and attractions for every region. Hotel chains also had books of their own. That's the way we got information. One thing we did have that you don't see much now was a ‘fuzz buster,’ or radar detector. It detected when cop cars were near by, so drivers could slow down and not get caught speeding. (Don’t get any ideas, punk. They’re illegal, you know.)
Well, that’s the extent to what I remember. I’m sure there’s more info out there. I’d love to hear your travelling stories, be you young, old or in between.
This post is going to be short because my family is going on vacation today and I’m, like, freakin’ out!
We’re heading to Florida and it’s not lost on me that a lot of older teens will be heading in the same direction with lots of friends and zero parents. Nothing like an unsupervised Spring Break trip to get me inspired! So if you’re one of those teens going where too many teens have gone before, I’ve got some words of wisdom:
- First of all, read my Leave No Wild Child Behind post. Rules to live by forever and always. Seriously.
- Know that the risk of getting raped is triple the national average in Daytona Beach. Don’t be a statistic. Stay in groups and stay safe.
- Stay away from dark alleys, balconies, and anyone claiming to have tiger’s blood and Adonis DNA. Also remember that the guys who seem the nicest can end up being the most dangerous.
- Realize that when someone says, ‘Come on, one more won’t make you sick,’ chances are one more will, indeed, make you sick. Also make sure never to drink from a cup you haven’t poured yourself or watched someone pour for you. Ever.
- If you’re still feeling cocky, watch the movie Taken with Liam Neeson. May it scare the bejeezus out of you and instill common sense at the same time. Plus it’s an awesome flick.
Do you know how many Girls Gone Wild videos are in existence? 15? 20? 30? There are over 150. Yep, you heard me right. We’re talking thousands of girls. Of those thousands, you know how many are glad they are in one? Only a handful and it’s because they want to get into the porn industry. The first one was released in 1998, which means many former ‘stars’ are now moms. I’m curious. Do you want to see your mom in a Girls Gone Wild Video? Think your future kids will want to see you? How about your dad? Think he wants to see you in one now?
Well, mini ‘girls gone wild’ videos and action photos can be captured by any cell phone and by anybody. Don’t become a viral video or embarrassing Facebook share. Digital photos, like herpes, last forever.
With that in mind, have a super duper great time! J If you’re trip seems somewhat lackluster, just think of me. I’m about to be stuck in a car 20 hours with my entire family.
bikini photo from jemingway's Flickr photostream