I told the 4-year-old that I babysit that we were going to Louisiana for the weekend. Her eyes got real big as she exclaimed, “Wheezyanta?!” Kids say the weirdest things.
So this past weekend, Eric and I went on a little road trip to Baton Rouge, where we visited with some of my favorite people and stopped to see some more of my favorite people along the way.
This was the first real road trip we’ve taken since our honeymoon (a 12-hour drive to Rosemary Beach, Florida), so we were both pretty pumped for the journey. We started on Thursday afternoon, when I picked Eric up on time (much to his surprise, as I am almost always running behind if leaving requires packing of any sort).
Our road trip got off to a good start, with lots of good music, good coffee, and good snacks (check out the granola bars here). We hit a small snag in our plan near Elizabethtown, where construction crews must be ripping out the whole interstate or something, judging by the stagnant line of traffic. Eric is not one to sit in traffic for long, so after consulting the TomTom (hereafter referred to as ‘Sean’- the Irishman), we were headed for a detour. Was the detour faster? Probably not. Was it far more entertaining? Absolutely.
We spent several hours on the winding back roads of western Kentucky, where we encountered lots of little gems, like Big Bubba Bucks Belly Bustin BBQ Bliss, roosters running through the road, and cows giving us a little sample of something you might be unfortunate enough to see on the Discovery channel.
Somewhere before crossing the Alabama line, we ran over a big ol’ tailpipe that was just hanging out in the middle of the road. I think it was about 4 feet long. It got stuck under the bottom of our car and ripped up some big plastic thing that covers all the important stuff underneath the car. So Eric spent a little time removing everything that didn’t need to be under the car. Good thing I have such a handy husband.
Eventually, we ended up in our destination for the evening- Florence, Alabama, where we stayed with Allen and Julie Tate (favorite people sighting #1). Allen and Julie are super special friends of ours because they did our premarital counseling and performed our wedding ceremony! We miss them a lot.
We got to sleep in a bit (much needed rest for the weary travelers) before hitting the Alabama country road. This is where our dear Sean made us a bit nervous. Sean suggested we turn left here.
Michael Scott would have been in big trouble. Sean then led us down this road.
As we got closer to Baton Rouge, the humidity started creeping into our car, making my once straightened hair not so straight. (As much as I love the South, I’m afraid my hair would never agree with living there.) But the joy of watching the temperature rise to something warm was well worth the hair trouble.
At last, we arrived in Baton Rouge to begin the celebration of Nathan and Natalie’s wedding (the real purpose of the trip, and favorite people sighting #2)! I worked with both Nathan and Natalie at SAMBICA, a summer camp outside of Seattle, Washington. They were lovingly referred to as ‘Racer’ and ‘Grapevine’ way back then, and most of my favorite camp memories involved the two of them.
We were thrilled to attend the beautiful rehearsal dinner at a real Baton Rouge home, where we ate way too much wonderful Louisiana cuisine. My goodness. Those folks know how to eat. The best part was that I got to see one of my very favorite friends in the whole world (favorite people sighting #3), Becca (soon-to-be) Campbell! We also met at SAMBICA, and have only seen one another twice in the past 3 years! Anyway, we got to spend most of the weekend with Becca and her wonderful fiance, Chad.
The most exciting part of the rehearsal dinner was the outdoor dance party afterwards! I can’t believe it’s warm enough someplace to be outside at night. Crazy. In case you didn’t know, I absolutely love to dance, although I have no talent in the area. But the great thing about SAMBICA friends is that no real dance skills are required.
On Saturday morning, Chad and Becca took us to the Baton Rouge farmer’s market (who knew there were farmer’s markets that are open year-round?), where we dined on fresh strawberries and samples of salsa and cheese spreads. Yum. I can’t wait until the Lexington market starts up again.
We also hit up the Louisiana state capitol, which is, apparently, the tallest capitol building in the country. Becca, who recently took a Louisiana history class, was a spectacular tour guide and told us all kinds of crazy cool things about Louisiana. We even got to go to a balcony lookout near the top of the building where we could see the whole city! And what a beautiful city Baton Rouge is in the spring! Flowers are blooming everywhere!
After our trip to the capitol building, the Chadster took us on a tour of LSU. My goodness, what a beautiful campus! This solidifies my belief that UK is the ugliest of the SEC schools. And how cool is it that LSU has a live tiger? Way cool. My vote is for a UK wildcat. I just don’t know where we would put it. Outside the classroom building? In the center of Rupp Arena?
After our campus tour, we had a real Louisiana lunch at The Chimes. Eric and I split crawfish etouffée (a dish neither of us would have ever tried a few months ago) and a slice of fried oreo cheesecake. Oh my goodness. Delish. I think we’re going to have to start cooking food Cajun style.
After filling our tummies with all things wonderful, we took a drive down some historic street where we saw lots of plantation homes. I think Eric and I should invest in a plantation. Anyone know of one for sale?
Finally, it was wedding time! And that meant more time with wonderful friends! We spent the evening dining on more wonderful Louisiana cuisine and dancing for hours. Liz, Becca, Natalie, and I (favorite people sighting #million) even performed a rather embarrassing dance to ‘Oops! I Did It Again’, a song Liz is famous for around SAMBICA alumni.
After a marvelous few days of dancing and laughing, we had to embark on the long journey home. Luckily, we got to stop in Birmingham to have lunch with our good friend, Calvin (favorite people #million and one), where he took us to some wonderful Greek restaurant. He also gave us a driving tour of Birmingham, which is definitely my new favorite city. Perhaps we can buy a plantation there…
To sum it all up, we had a marvelous weekend with marvelous people and marvelous food. Here’s to the South!