Friday, July 29, 2016

Our Family Vacation 2016

The joke is "You might be a homeschooler if your family vacations are extended field trips." And for us this is so true!

We just got home earlier this week from a trip to southern Louisiana where we visited my husband's family and enjoyed some wonderful learning experiences together! Now that we have finally dug out from under the insane mountain of laundry we brought home with us, I wanted to share a bit about our trip with you!

Getting there is always part of the fun. We split our trip down there into 2 travel days (it is roughly a 12 hour drive for us total). Along the way Big Brother watched for license plates from different states, played travel bingo with me, and listened to audiobooks. We also made a few interesting rest stops including taking selfies with a huge rocket at a Welcome Center in Alabama!

Little Brother handled the drive surprisingly well. This was his first out of state road trip! We went prepared with a bag loaded with snacks, books, and toys for him. He seemed to enjoy looking out the window and seeing new things and listening to audiobooks and music CDs. Throw in a couple good naps along the way and a stop midway down to play on a playground with some Alabama cousins, and for a 2 year old I must say he handled this trip like a pro!

We visited several very interesting places while in Louisiana:

Global Wildlife Center

I was very much impressed with this place! Thousands of animals roam free over 900 beautiful acres. Visitors are taken on tours in tractor-pulled covered wagons to touch, feed, and learn more about the animals up close! Our boys are both hopeless animal lovers, so this was a wonderful experience for them. Big Brother was excited to get to see both bactrian and dromedary camels on the tour since he had been studying about these in our Egypt/Desert unit study this summer. He was also able to feed a giraffe along with many other interesting animals! We toured at a good time of year because we got to see several baby animals like a new baby giraffe and a baby zebra. (We were warned NOT to feed or touch the zebras because they are quite moody and able to bite straight to the bone with 500 lbs of pressure! Ouch!)

If you ever happen to be in Louisiana, I would definitely recommend making a trip to Global Wildlife! For more information, click here.

Nottoway Plantation

The Civil War era has always been one of my favorite historical periods. So a trip to the deep South would not be complete for me without exploring some part of that history.

There are many of the old Southern plantation homes that have been restored to their former glory and turned into museums and tourist attractions. A few years ago we visited Oak Alley Plantation with its breathtaking views. This time we toured the largest antebellum plantation home still in existence in the South: Nottoway Plantation in White Castle, Louisiana.

The 2 hour drive from my in-law's house to Nottoway was an adventure in itself! We passed through bayou country, crossed the mighty Mississippi River, drove on dirt roads through fields of sugar cane, and passed under an alley of beautiful live oak trees. The scenery was fascinating!

We were able to take a self-guided audio tour of the mansion and grounds at Nottoway. It was amazing!

My favorite room in the mansion was the lovely white ballroom!

Once a thriving sugar cane plantation, Nottoway is now a resort. For more information, click here.

Bass Pro Shop

Ever since our last visit to Louisiana 4 years ago, Big Brother had been looking forward to another visit to Bass Pro Shop in Denham Springs, Louisiana. These stores are located in many places all over the country, and it is so much more than just a sporting goods store! It is more like a free aquarium and museum with some fun thrown in!

We enjoyed seeing many fish, a huge alligator snapping turtle, and lots of mounts. A staff member happened to be conducting a free fish workshop while we were there, so we were able to listen in on some of that.

What Big Brother really wanted to enjoy at Bass Pro was the shooting gallery upstairs. He had saved a coin pouch full of quarters for just this purpose, in fact! Our whole family had fun up there "shooting" at outhouses, skunks, and gators with special laser guns.

Besides all of these special activities on our vacation, the boys were able to enjoy spending some time with my husband's family whom they don't get to see very often. They got to visit and play with a whole host of cousins, trapse through the woods where their Daddy used to play when he was a little boy, sample some crawfish casserole, play with various pets, splash around in a kiddie pool, eat lots of pizza, taste homemade ice cream, visit with their great-grandmother in a nursing home, and enjoy Sunday School and worship services with family. Little Brother also really enjoyed getting to play guitars with Grandpa!

And that was our family vacation this year!

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