Welcome the bayou! Stop Number Six on The Greatest Road Trip Ever Taken finds us in Louisiana. Unique in governance, geographic makeup, and loaded with parade floats, Louisiana prides itself on its differences from the other 49 states.
Louisiana was largely settled by Acadian immigrants from French Canada, driven out of their home country for refusing to pay homage to King Edward. *Note to Canada* “Not cool!”
The Acadian immigrants, renamed Cajuns, mixed and mingled with the native Creole, becoming a delightfully diverse ethnic population. The original settlers maintained much of their French culture and custom, invoking a great deal of French law into the state Constitution. The Louisiana Constitution is the only one still making reference to “The Napoleonic Code.”
Quick quiz. How did Louisiana become a State? *Hint* think “purchase.”
Mardi Gras is the annual Bacchanal that precedes the traditional time of prayer and penitence known as Lent. Mardi Gras caps off a week of revelry, parties, and parades with an outrageous mobile display down the main streets of New Orleans.
Louisiana is the 31st largest (in other words, 19th smallest) state in the U.S. by land mass. It ranks exactly in the middle (25th) in population. That makes it an urban state. The geographic center of Louisiana is found three miles southeast of Marksville which is the parish seat of Avoyelles Parish.
What’s a parish? Glad you asked. What most states call counties, Louisiana calls “parishes.” It’s another homage to their French heritage. The average Louisiana parish is about half the size of the average county.
The weather is a real story in Louisiana. It rests at, or below, sea level throughout much of the state. Hot summers and abundant rainfall cause a level of humidity unlike anywhere else in the country. Only the lowlands of Texas and low-lying portions of Missouri get anything close to the humidity all over Louisiana. Folks who like their air with texture will feel right at home in Louisiana.
The capital of Louisiana is Baton Rouge. The largest city is New Orleans. Those two are joined by Shreveport and Lafayette as cities with a population exceeding 100,000.
The highest point in the state is on 535 foot Driskill Mountain in the north-central part of Louisiana. The lowest point is eight feet below sea level in New Orleans.
Major Airports in Louisiana:
Shreveport Regional serves almost 300,000 passengers a year. Dallas is the most common destination.
Baton Rouge Metropolitan serves about a half million passengers a year. Many of them are going to or from Atlanta.
Louis Armstrong New Orleans International is the major airport in the state. Over 4.5 million passengers use it, and Atlanta is the most common destination.
Top Movies Filmed in Louisiana:
The Magnificent Seven (2016)
The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2 (2012)
Monster’s Ball (2001)
Military/Politics: Huey Long and Huey Newton.
Actors: Kitty Carlisle, Addison Riecke, Ray Walston, Dorothy Lamour, Shelley Hennig, Reese Witherspoon, Quvenzhani Wallis, and Jared Leto.
Entertainers: Jelly Roll Morton, David Lambert, Tim McGraw, Hunter Hayes, Lil Wayne, Lil Fizz, Lil Snupe, Ellen Degeneres, Wynton Marsalis, Jerry Lee Lewis, Romeo Miller, Torrance Hatch, Ian Somerhalder, Tyler Perry, Birdman, August Alsina, Kevin Gates, Mahalia Jackson, Al Hirt, Louis Moreau Gottschalk, Fats Domino, Van Cliburn, Bryant Gumbel, Willie Jones, Reginae Carter, Harry Connick Jr., and Louis Armstrong.
Authors: Truman Capote, Lillian Hellman, Paul Prudhomme, Anne Rice, and Cokie Roberts.
Athletes: Kordell Stewart, Peyton Manning, Eli Manning, Dak Prescott, and Odell Beckham Jr.,
Weird and Wonderful Facts About Louisiana:
Louisiana has the nation’s tallest State Capitol building. It is 34 stories high.
The Lake Ponchartrain Causeway is 24 miles long and is the world’s longest bridge. It connects Metairie with St. Tammany Parish on the North Shore.
In Louisiana, biting someone with your natural teeth is considered a simple assault, but biting someone with your false teeth is considered an aggravated assault.
The celebrated in song Battle of New Orleans was actually fought two weeks after the end of the War of 1812. Word hadn’t yet reached the combatants in Louisiana.
The New Orleans & Carrollton Line is the oldest street railway line still in operation.
Between April 17,1862 and May 18,1864, twenty major Civil War engagements were fought on Louisiana soil.
The town of Jean Lafitte was once a hideaway for pirates.
Gueydan is known as the “Duck Capital of America” in recognition of its abundance of waterfowl.
Due to its abundance of ozone in the air, Covington is known for particularly clean air and tasty drinking water.
Let’s take a Trip Through Louisiana:
You know we’re going to end our trip in New Orleans and stay there a good three days or more. That’s why we are going to start up north and work our way down to The Big Easy.
You will hear the natives talk about “Shree-po.” That’s Shreveport to folks from up north. We start at the Walter B. Jacobs Memorial Nature Park. The city falls away and we will be left with falling leaves, beautiful butterflies and Louisiana nature at her most benign.
Okay, that’s enough of that! The Eldorado Hotel and Casino is our next stop. Shreveport recognized the American appetite for gaming earlier than almost anywhere else. Forget, for now, the hype of Las Vegas and the grime in Atlantic City. Shreveport has everything we will need in gaming fun. The Eldorado is the best. We’re going to stay at the hotel connected to the casino for just $83 a night.
The next morning we travel 72 miles south to find Natchitoches. Don’t look at the name again. Just trust that it’s pronounced “Nack-uh-tick”. We’re going on a carriage tour of the area! That’s how we learn about the uniqueness of this part of the world. After the carriage ride, we’ll visit Cane River. It runs through downtown and has some excellent scenery as well as places to enjoy a snack and libation on its shores. Tonight, we stay at Cypress Bend Golf and Conference Center for just $82 a night.
If I told you we were going to visit Red Stick today you would tell me you want to go back to sleep. But if I say “Baton Rouge” you’ll say “Oh really” and get dressed. That’s the beauty of the French language. The capital of Louisiana, Baton Rouge has enough events and festivals to fill a 15-page guidebook of things to do. Football fans should see a night game at Tiger Stadium between LSU and anyone.
Pick your poison and enjoy the city, but don’t call it Red Stick. It makes the natives frown. We’re spending the night at La Quinta Inn & Suites Baton Rouge Denham Springs for $89 a night.
A little more than 250 miles from Baton Rouge we find the Queen city of our Louisiana vacation. New Orleans (“N’awlins if you’re from there). The name just rolls off the tongue. From Anne Rice books to gumshoe movies, the city reeks with culture, fun, and the joy of being alive. A Mardi Gras trip to New Orleans is a must some year, but every day of the year a good time will confront us on the city’s famed Bourbon Street.
How are we going to see the sights? Well, in this town there is really only one way. By carriage of course. Royal Carriages, Inc will pick us up and give us a tour through the French Quarter, Garden District and many other places that make the city so unique. Later our first night, we’ll see a concert in the city’s famed Saenger Theater. One of the beautiful venues in the world, the Saenger is a must-see stop. For who, you ask? For those who love pretty much anything in entertainment!
That’s it for the first day in New Orleans, but we’re only warming up! We will stay at the Lookout Inn. It is beautiful, and with that unique New Orleans look. Rooms from $99 a night.
The next morning we’ll stop in at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World. It is a behind the scenes look at what makes Mardi Gras tick. If you aren’t here for the Big Parade, this is the next best thing.
We saw the French Quarter from the carriage on Day One. Today, we walk it. What a place! Kid friendly establishments hard up against dive bars and strip clubs. Some of the world’s best cuisine is found in some of the most unlikely places in The Quarter.
Tonight we’ll stop in at Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse. It is the only musician-owned nightspot in the city. We will sit back with a cool beverage and enjoy some hot Jazz.
We know you had a great time in Louisiana. How could you not? It is a truly unique part of the country we were delighted to show it off to you!