Southern Culture Tour, Day One: Deanna Tyler

It’s only been the first day, but I can already tell that this will be a road trip that I will always favor. Today started off bright and early at 3:00am as we boarded a fancy mini-van, dubbed the “Party Van,” which has all of the bells and whistles, including a blue light on the ceiling, much like a limousine.  We spent the first day of our trip crossing Louisiana.

After a quick stop in Lafayette for a photo opportunity at the Blue Dog Café

Junior Fellows with the Blue Dog

…we headed into Baton Rouge to tour Louisiana’s Capitol building. Louisiana’s is unique, as it is the tallest Capitol Building in the nation with thirty-four floors.  We were able to visit the Senate and House Chambers. We also saw bullet holes in the granite walls of where Louisiana Senator Huey Long was assassinated in 1935, which was a little eerie.

While on the Capitol grounds we came across the Old Arsenal. The Old Arsenal was built as a fort in 1838 and used during the Civil War to protect explosives and ammunition.  The museum inside the Old Arsenal was closed; however, it was interesting to walk around the building and discuss how soldiers could see enemies over the tall wall surrounding the building. We also came across two cannons preserved from the American Revolution War. An interesting fact about the cannons is that in September 1779, they were used in a battle in Baton Rouge — the only battle of the American Revolution that was fought outside of the original thirteen states.

Arsenal Gates With the Louisiana State Capitol Building

In New Orleans, we toured Saint Louis Cemetery One where we found the grave sites of Marie Leavau and Homer Plessy. Both grave sites took some time to find, but it was incredible to see the final resting places of two influential Southerners.  We also saw Nicholas Cage’s reserved crypt in the shape of a pyramid, which reminded me of a major film he starred in, National Treasure.

New Orleans was also the site of another exhilarating moment of the day for me. We toured Besthoff Sculpture Gardens which features famous sculptures from well-known sculptors placed around a beautiful park. My personal favorite was the sculpture from an artist I met while working as an intern at the Wynne Home Arts Center, Jesus Morales.

Jesus Moroles’ Sculpture

Seeing another of his sculptures similar to the granite sculptures he has in an exhibit at the Wynne Home was exciting.

My favorite part of today — hands down — was walking down Bourbon Street and eating REAL Cajun food. I come from a family that originated in Louisiana, so tonight’s dinner at Oceana Grill was a real treat for me. We all tried delicious appetizers of Turtle Soup, Fried and Blackened Alligator, and Chargrilled Oysters. I ordered the New Orleans Platter which had portions of Red Beans and Rice, Jambalaya, and Crawfish Etouffee. I must say that it was heavenly, but I am now suffering from a bad case of food coma. I’ve never had such great combinations of food in one day!

New Orleans Sampler–Jambalaya, Crawfish Etouffe, Red Beans & Rice, and Alligator Sausage

To cap off the best dinner we could possibly have in New Orleans, it was time to walk down Bourbon Street and to see all of the neat stores. Of course, there was the part of the street that wasn’t too appealing, but it still was interesting to see what the whole fuss of Bourbon Street is.

The Junior Fellows on Bourbon Street

It was also great to see unique architecture in the buildings. What a great way to end an eventful fun day!

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2 thoughts on “Southern Culture Tour, Day One: Deanna Tyler

  1. Deanna! I loved this blog. I could not stop laughing picturing your face in Bourbon Street. Put pictures of the “Party Van” on here! I want to see it. Keep the blogs coming!!!!!

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