I must admit that this has got to be one of our best summer vacations. No, we did not fly to Vegas, The Bahamas or anything fancy…we went home to LOUISIANA! Now every time I go home it’s a good visit but this was one to go down in history for us. We had just gone home during our spring break but it was mostly a business trip with a little pleasure. Our reason for going home this time was to celebrate my baby sissy’s 30th birthday and to meet her new friend. She flew in from San Diego, he flew in from Detroit and we drove in from Georgia. She had our time planned pretty much to the second.

Before we went to my hometown of Baton Rouge, we spent a couple of days in Lafayette where my husband is from. We spent time with his mother and siblings and ate! One thing you must know is that when we go home we EAT A LOT! LOL We took the kids to Avery Island where Tabasco Sauce is made and distributed. It’s a pretty neat trip because you actually get to see them make it and bottle it up to be shipped out to thousands of different countries. They got a kick out of it because we keep Tabasco Sauce in the house so to see that it was actually made in Louisiana was definitely a plus. We were also able to sample different sauces and get this, spicy ice cream, jalapeño ice cream and spicy soda. Later that night my husband spent an evening with the boys and the kids and I chilled at home with his mother to recoop from the heat. Now on to Baton Rouge, let the birthday fun begin.

First on the agenda was supposed to be an evening with her favorite jazz band but that fell through so we chilled at our older sister’s apartment and that turned in to be a PARTY! Big sis cooked crawfish lasagna, salad and garlic bread. Lawd! Baby sis’ friend was a hit and everybody loved him instantly, which is a shocker because she’s the baby of the family so we tend to be pretty tough on “anyone” that tries to get close to her. LOL He really is a great guy, great personality…just cool! The next day we had a double date at breakfast for crawfish and shrimp omelets and then took her “friend” on a tour of Southern University (The largest HBCU in America) and then later that afternoon we had boudin and Good ole Louisiana Pecan Candy (Pralines)! Yummo. Btw, he is not used to eating all this stuff but it’s delicious so he can’t resist! We then separated and took much needed naps and on to our next destination…the firing range.

Now, the firing range was something else because I had never fired a gun ever! I was so nervous and anxious at the same time. Two or three weeks prior to my trip I told my older sis that baby sis wanted to go but I was really scared. Seeing that we were raised with guns allllll over the house because dad was a police officer, I should have been very comfortable with them. However, I was very afraid but could not figure out why. During our conversation, she reminded me that when we were younger she (older sis) pulled a gun on me playing around but it freaked me out so bad that I blocked it out but the fear was still there. Anyway, when I walked in I immediately started sweating and shaking, I thought I was going to pass out. We rented our weapons and it was time. Once inside the room I almost had a panic attack because the sound of all these guns going off. People were just firing away like it was nothing. I didn’t think I could go along with it but of course I did. My husband was there to guide me and he made me feel so comfortable and at ease and pop, pop, pop! There I was, shooting my first gun. The first two shots were really hard but once I got the hang of it, I was good. Thanks lil sis because if it wasn’t for you I probably would have died an old lady and never fired a gun! LOL

Now here is the kicker, the swamp tour! The final thing on her agenda for us to do to celebrate her birth week was this tour. I must admit, when she first mentioned it I was like huh, a swamp tour? But the more I thought about it the more I was ready to go. She sent me a link to view the tour and get more information and I was totally sold on the idea. The tour was an hour and 45 minutes long. We went up and down the bayous of Southeastern Louisiana. Seeing the excitement on the faces of my children was priceless. I actually think my husband and I were just as excited as they were if not more. We saw dozens of alligators, turtles and cranes. My youngest son was a little bummed because we did not come across any snakes; I’m actually cool with that! We had an awesome tour guide that comically guided us through and explained to us everything we saw along the way. Near the end of the tour, much to our surprise he pulled out a soon to be two year old alligator to pass around. I have never held one or even touched one for that matter. I was eager but nervous at the same time; my saving grace was that the little booger had tape around his mouth so he couldn’t bite anyone. Needless to say, we all held him and took pictures and it was such a great experience! The swamp tour was a great success and get’s two thumbs up in my opinion.

After the swamp tour we took a loooong stroll down Canal and then Bourbon St! You can’t go to NOLA without hitting the streets. Now mind you this is the weekend of the Essence Festival so there were people galore. We managed to find a parking spot about 5 blocks from Bourbon St so a marching we went! There is no experience like New Orleans. They were partying and drinking and dancing up and down the streets. Well we finally made it to Bourbon St and Lord have mercy. We took for granted that it was the middle of the day and forgot that we were on BOURBON STREET…if you know what I mean. LOL my kids eyes were stretched beyond stretched! LOL It wasn’t that bad but it was cutting it close. We stopped at a lil spot and had alligator balls and rice, thanks to lil sis and her friend and then caught in a horrible thunder storm. New Orleans rocks!

Last but certainly not least on our last night together we all met up as big sis apartment one last time for a barbecue! All four sisters and one out of four brothers were present along with my niece and all our children were there. We had chicken; pork chops (them), hamburgers, sausages, baked spaghetti and cheese, dirty rice and baked beans! Whoa Nelly everything was delicious. We ate, drank, played spades, laughed, played spades, drank and ate again. Big sis brought out a beautiful birthday cake for the birthday girl and we all sang Happy Birthday to her! I really think she was happy with our singing….NOT!! We took dozens of pictures because we knew it would be another year or more before we would all be together under the same roof like that. As the time drew near, it was time to say good bye. Her flight was leaving early in the morning and we were heading to Florida for round two of our summer vacation. I worked very hard to hold back my tears because out of all my sisters, I’m the most sensitive. I hate saying goodbyes/see you laters! We genuinely love each other. We all hugged and kissed and disbursed to our destinations for the night and headed out first thing in the morning.

Really quick…while in Florida we went to the beach, kayaking, YOLO boarding, swimming and visiting with friends. Whew, we are all exhausted. Two weeks of family, food, fun and sun! So again, no, we didn’t go on a fancy trip to an island or another country but we went home to Louisiana where we were born and our roots are and where the ones we love and hold near and dear are. You can’t put a price tag on the experience we had this summer. Our children spent quality time with their cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. We spent quality time with our siblings and parents, nieces and nephews. Priceless!

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