As a 13-year-old, I’m grateful to have the opportunity to travel a lot with my dad. Every year for the past 6 years, we’ve taken “guys’ trips” during my summer vacations from school. It’s a chance for us to get away, see the country, do some sightseeing, have father-son time, and enjoy food and cultures that’s unique to different regions of the U.S.
We’ve been to deserts of Sedona, AZ and visited Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon while we were there. We’ve been to Memphis, TN and visited the infamous Lorraine Motel where the great Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. We’ve been to Washington, D.C. and soaked in all the history about this great country. Places like the Outer Banks in North Carolina and Orlando, FL allowed us to enjoy the Atlantic Ocean and it’s where I got my first taste of octopus. But perhaps my favorite father-son trip was when we went to New Orleans.
It’s a city unlike any other, hence the nickname “The Big Easy.” Known for being the birthplace of jazz and having the largest wetland habitat in the country, New Orleans offers round-the-clock food, fun and excitement – even for a young teenager.
Our trip started out just strolling around the historic French Quarter, knowing we had to make a stop at the world-famous Café Du Monde for some beignets. The pillowy fried dough was so light and fluffy and it was doused in powdered sugar. It just melted in my mouth. We could’ve left New Orleans after that dessert and I would’ve been satisfied with my whole visit.
But we didn’t leave after that, and I’m glad we didn’t. We toured the Mardi Gras Museum where we learned about the history of the month-long festival and how much pride the locals have in the tradition of Mardi Gras. We learned how they put floats together and even got to try on some of the masks they wear on the floats. I think the 20-foot Spider-Man float was my favorite.
We also made trips to the World War II Museum and rode the Natchez Steam Boat on the Mississippi River. It’s the second-oldest steam-powered boat in the U.S., and I learned about how important New Orleans was in the war because it was a major gulf port that helped the U.S. transport goods and supplies to Europe.
We took in a New Orleans Saints preseason football game, and the pregame party outside the Superdome in Champions Square was amazing! It was like a concert. They had live music acts, street performers and – again – some of the best food around.
Of all the fun we had, I think the most memorable thing I did was taking a swamp boat tour at Jean Lafitte Swamp. We saw some MASSIVE alligators and got to travel through the bayou to see what really makes the city special. At the end of the tour, I got to hold a real alligator! It was about 2-3 feet long. What made the tour so memorable is that when I was about to put the gator down, it started peeing all over the place! I was lucky to move it just in time so that it didn’t spray me. (I think it was payback for me eating up so much of the tasty fried gator earlier that day at Drago’s restaurant.)
My father and I have taken lots of trips, but the music, food, culture and peeing alligators made New Orleans an unforgettable experience. And I can’t wait to go back for more beignets.
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